Done Trying To Be Man Enough?

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A LONG JOURNEY FROM OUR HEADS TO OUR HEARTS

How can we be not just good men but good humans? In a warm, personal talk, Justin Baldoni shares his effort to reconcile who he is with who the world tells him a man should be.

"I woke up after 30 years in a state of conflict. A conflict of who I felt like I was at
my core and who the world tells me I should be as a man. I don't want to fit into the
current broken definition of masculinity.  I don't just want to be a good man. 
I want to be a good human.”

 

Problem

The scripts we have been given since birth:
“Girls are weak. Boys are strong. This is often subconsciously communicated to hundreds of millions of young boys and girls all around the world. This is wrong, this is toxic and it has to end.”

Wisdom

As men, we must not only embrace the qualities that we are told are feminine in ourselves but to be willing to stand up, to champion and learn from the women who embody them.

 

Watch this inspiring Ted talk by Justin Baldoni.


 

Insights:
Masculinity is exhausting

“I have been pretending to be a man I’m not all my life.
Pretending to be:
Strong, when I’m weak.
Confident, when feeling insecure.
Tough, when I’m hurting.
I’m tired of performing: It’s exhausting trying to be man enough for everyone, all the time.”

As a Young Boy

“As a boy, all I wanted was to be accepted and liked by all the other boys. That acceptance meant that I had to acquire a disgusted view of the feminine. Since we’re told that feminine is the opposite of the masculine, I had to either reject embodying any of these qualities or face rejection myself. ”

Masculinity is not inherently toxic

“Not everything we have learned is toxic. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with you or me. We don’t have to stop being men. We need balance.”

Take an honest look at the scripts that have been passed down to us from generation to generation and the roles we choose to take on as men in our everyday lives.
“My first scripts came from my dad: Loving, kind, sensitive, nurturing; I resented him as a kid. I blamed him for making me soft.  In the small town of Oregon, I grew up in, being soft meant being bullied.  My dad wasn’t traditionally masculine. He didn’t teach me to use my hands, how to hunt or how to fight. He taught me what he knew: being a man is about sacrifice, taking care and providing for your family.”

Suffer in secret

“My grandfather, a state senator, worked as a janitor during nights and never told a soul. Why couldn’t he reach out to another man and ask for help? Why does my dad think to his day that he has to do it all on his own? Some men would rather die than tell another man they’re hurting. It’s not because we are all strong silent types. A lot of us men are good at making friends and talking: just not about anything real: work, sports, politics or women, we have no problems sharing our opinions. But when it comes to our insecurities, struggles or our fear of failure, we become paralyzed.”

Forcing himself to be vulnerable

“If there is something I’m experiencing shame around in my life, I practice diving straight into it. No matter how scary it is, because in doing so, I take away its power.”

Where are the Men?

“If I want to practice vulnerability, I have to build myself a system of accountability. My fan base has proved to be engaged and kind. 89% of them are women.”

A Challenge to Men

“I understand. Growing up we tend to challenge each other. We’ve got to be the toughest, the strongest, the bravest men we can be. For many of us, myself included, our identities are wrapped up in whether at the end of the day we feel like we’re man enough.  But I’ve got a challenge for all the guys:
I challenge you to see if you can use the same qualities that you feel like makes you a man to go deeper into yourself. Your strength, your bravery, your toughness. Can we redefine what those mean and use them to explore our hearts?

Are you brave enough to be vulnerable? To reach out to another man when you need help? To dive head first into your shame?
Are you strong enough to be sensitive? To cry whether you are hurting or you’re happy, even if it makes you look weak?
Are you confident enough to listen to the women in your life? To hear their ideas and solutions, to hold their anguish and actually believe them, even if what they’re saying is against you?
Are you man enough to stand up to other men when you hear “locker room” talk when you hear stories of sexual harassment when you hear your boys talking about grabbing ass or getting her drunk? Will you actually stand up and do something so one day we don’t have to live in a world where a woman has to risk everything to come forward and say the words “Me too”?

As men, it’s time to see past our privilege and recognize that we are not just part of the problem. Fellas, we are the problem. The glass ceiling exists because we put it there. If we want to the part of the solution, then words are no longer enough.”

So, women

“On behalf of men all over the world, who feel similar to me, please forgive us for all the ways we have not relied on your strength. And now I would like to ask you formally to help us because we cannot do this alone. We are men. We are going to mess up… We need your help in celebrating our vulnerability and being patient with us as we make this very, very long journey from our heads to our hearts.”

Finally to parents

Instead of teaching our children to be brave boys or pretty girls, can we maybe just teach them how to be good humans?

Q: HOW CAN WE SUPPORT EACH OTHER IN MOVING TOWARDS HEALTHY MASCULINITY?
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The Men Feminism Left Behind

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EMBRACE THE PROGRESS!

Snapshot in time: published 3 days before Donald Trump was elected to be the president

 

Problem

“While feminism has transformed American culture, our politics and the lives of women, men haven’t evolved nearly as rapidly. Women changed. Too many men didn’t. What happens next?

Wisdom

“Men don’t need more masculine posturing or promises to restore them to forever-gone greatness. What they need is to make their own move toward gender equality, to break down the stereotypes and fetters of masculinity. Feminists, understandably, have focused on women; we have enough to do without being tasked with improving the lot of often-misogynistic men, too. If the white men who feel ignored, disrespected and lost want to see their lives improve, they should take a cue from the great feminist strides women have made and start to embrace that progress. Life really is better with more fluid gender roles that allow individuals to do what they’re good at instead of what’s socially prescribed. Every feminist I know will tell you that men bring much more to the table than physical strength or a paycheck, and that we would love a world in which men were free to be resilient and tender, ambitious and nurturing, expressive and emotional.”

CLICK HERE TO READ JILL FLIPOVIC’S INSIGHTFUL PIECE ON THE NEW YORK TIMES

Insights:
Feminism Update

“For women, feminism is both remarkably successful and a work in progress: We are in the work force in record numbers, but rarely ascend to the highest ranks. Sexual violence is taken more seriously than ever, but women still experience it, usually from men they know, at astounding rates. Women are more visible in public life and create more of the media and art Americans consume, but we still make up just 19 percent of Congress and 33 percent of speaking roles in the 100 top-grossing films.

The World Is Changing

Still, young women are soaring, in large part because we are coming of age in a kind of feminist sweet spot: still exhibiting many traditional feminine behaviors — being polite, cultivating meaningful connections, listening and communicating effectively — and finding that those same qualities work to our benefit in the classroom and workplace, opening up more opportunities for us to excel. And while we do find ourselves walking the tightrope between being perceived as a nice bimbo or a competent bitch, there are more ways to be a woman than ever before. It’s no longer unusual to meet a female lawyer or engineer. No one bats an eye if we cut our hair short, wear pants, pay with a credit card in our own name, win on the soccer field, or buy our own home. Men haven’t gained nearly as much flexibility. The world has changed around them, but many have stayed stuck in the past. While women have steadily made their way into traditionally male domains, men have not crossed the other way. Men do more at home than they used to, but women still do much more — on an average day, 67 percent of men do some housework compared with 85 percent of women. Male identity remains tied up in dominance and earning potential, and when those things flag, it seems men either give up or get angry.”

Q: HOW CAN MEN ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT GENDER ISSUES WITHOUT BEING ATTACKED FOR IGNORANCE?
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Are You Putting Yourself in a Man box?

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DON’T “ACT LIKE A MAN.”

Telling powerful stories from his own life, Tony Porter shows how acting like a man, drummed into so many men and boys, can lead men to disrespect, mistreat and abuse women and each other.

Problem:

Men’s violence against women is the number 1 health concern for women internationally.

Wisdom:

Men must become part of the solution and break free of the “Man Box.”

Watch this insightful talk as Tony Porter explores toxic masculinity through sharing powerful stories from his own life.

Insights:
Man Box:

As men, most of us have been socialized to stay within the parameters of the Man Box. As a society, we reward those that rank high within this box and punish those that venture outside of it.

Man Box, based on research of Robert L. Levant

 

Punishing Masculinity Violators

Examples of how we punish those that venture outside the Man Box.

 

Growing up in New York 

Tony recalls being taught from an early age that men have to be tough, strong, courageous and dominating. Men must not show pain, emotion (with the exception of anger) or fear. He was taught that men are in charge, they lead and that they are superior. He was taught that women are weak, of less value and sexual objects.

Starting From Childhood

Tony bravely shares stories about how differently he used to react to emotions expressed from his daughter than his son. He reminisces about the first time he saw his dad cry and the its lasting impression on him. He tells stories about his first sexual experience as a 12 year old.

Violence Against Women

Tony suggests violence against women stems from collective socializing of men that assigns less value to femininity, views women as property and objectifies women sexually.

Q: HOW CAN WE BREAK OUT OF THE MAN BOX AND TRULY BECOME FREE?
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The 3 Most Destructive Words a Boy Can Hear: “Be a Man!”

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THE 3 SCARIEST WORDS A BOY CAN HEAR: “BE A MAN!”

Joe Ehrman is a sports insider. He was a college All-American athlete who played professional football for 13 years. Among numerous awards, Joe has been named “The Most Important Coach in America” for his work to transform the culture of sports.

 

“If we could change these words, we could change the world”.

 

The Problem:

Boys are taught, from a very young age, they must separate their hearts from their heads to be men. They’re taught that to have and show emotions is a failure of masculinity. Is that not the repression of the very thing that makes us human?

Wisdom:

As a pastor over the past 30 years, Joe often accompanies individuals on their death bed. He has consistently observed that men judge the success of their lives on 2 criteria only:

1- Relationships: To love and be loved: How is your relationship with your partner, parents, and children? Are you loving and allowing yourself to be loved to the best of your capability? As men, who are incentivized from a young age to compete and dominate, most of us aren’t raised to be relationally successful.

2- Cause: Make a world a better place: Every one of us has a responsibility to give back. How are you making the world a better place? What causes are you committed to?

Watch Joe Ehrman talk about his experiences with toxic masculinity and offer us his wisdom into what healthy masculinity is build around.

What can I expect from this video?

Joe looks at the impact of toxic masculinity through the lens of sports.

Why sports?

Sports will engage more individuals, families, and communities than any other shared activity or organizations globally. Sports have become almost religion-like. They offer their followers values for success, codes of conduct and heroes.

Sports have always been a metaphor for social change. Until recently that we have moved into the “win at all cost” mentality, sports have been the vehicle for social progress. Think the about the impact of Jackie Robinson, Mohammad Ali and Billie Jean King in bringing important topics into political and mainstream consciousness.

Q: DO YOU REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME SOMEONE TOLD YOU TO “BE A MAN”?
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Locker Room Talk. Says Who?

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VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IS NOT A WOMAN’S ISSUE. VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IS A HUMAN ISSUE AND IT REQUIRES ALL OF US PARTICIPATING. 

Having spent the past three years working intimately with male athletes, Alexis Jones is redefining “manhood” one locker room at a time. After growing up a Texas tomboy with four older brothers and working in “the lion’s den of dudes” at Fox Sports and ESPN, Alexis takes an inspiring, hysterical and at times inappropriate approach to empowering young men to better respect and protect the girls and women in their lives with her exclusive locker room curriculum, ProtectHer. (Viewer discretion advised.)

 

The Problem:

How young men are being programmed to think about, to talk about, and to treat women.

Wisdom:

1- Be brave enough to author your own life, come up with your own definitions and think for yourself.

2- Violence against women is not a women’s issue. Violence against women is a human issue and it requires all of us participating. Aexis invites us to:

  • Become aware of our programming
  • Broaden our definition of manhood
  • Respect ourselves and others

3- Finally, she encourages us to have real talk with men we are inviting to join us. We have to give them real language and tools they can use in the moments we are asking them to be brave.

“Yo, I just want to make sure you’re cool with us having sex?”

Is a perfectly fine way of asking for consent.

Watch Alexis share her wisdom on how she has been recruiting men to be part of the solution, one locker room at a time.

 

Q: HOW SHOULD WE BEHAVE AS MEN WHEN WE BECOME PART OF THESE CONVERSATIONS?
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What Obama And 50 Cent Can Teach You About Power

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EFFECTS OF RACE IN GENDER ROLES AND MASCULINITY

Every conversation about equality must take intersectionality into consideration. This short documentary is an example of how race contributes to inequality.

Problem:

“In the black community masculinity is associated with how many women you have, how many kids you have, how many times you have been in and out of prison and how much drugs you have sold.”

Wisdom:

We have to become aware of this narrative and evolve our understating and judgment beyond this simplistic perspective.

Watch this short documentary film examining the contrasting styles of manhood exhibited by Barack Obama and Rapper/Mogul Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent

Insights:

“Barrack Obama and 50 Cent represent two sides of masculinity in the black community.”

Barrack Obama: The Intellectual

50 Cent: The Gangster

 

Gangster Rap Made Me Do It

“In 2000’s, gangster rap defined a new generation of manhood in the black community. It made black middle class men lose their place in manhood; Not in the real sense, but in the sense of media image. 50 Cent is the poster boy for this mold: violent criminal who controls people with fear.”

“Power is often associated with aggressiveness: What you can take, what you can control. That’s what masculinity in America strives for: Dominance.”

“Gangster rappers became the blueprint for young boys in US and around the world who may not have strong male role models in their lives. Very soon the narrative for success became that black on black murder and controlling women’s bodies gets you paid.”

“For those from other races, particularly white men, who may not have many strong relationships with black men, they also bought into this narrative.”

44

“This explains why Barrack Obama being an intelligent black man was considered such a contradiction.”

“Barrack is exploding this narrative. His intellect is one of the foremost things you notice about him. He is the antithesis of the angry, out-of-control negro.”

“Obama made it cool to stand for tolerance, understanding and equality.”

Shoutout to Michelle 

“As important as Barrack was culturally, Michelle may have played a more important role. For black women there was an affirmation that their strength could still find them a great guy.”

Underdog vitality: They’re not supposed to be here

“Yes, Barrack and 50 represent different parts of manhood in black communities in America, but they also share commonalities. They’re both playing and winning at games that was not designed for them to win.”

“50 Cent is someone who was born into a family connected to drug business, grew up fatherless, lost his mother at a young age and became involved in drug dealing himself. He has managed to maneuver through the system to build one of the most recognized brands in the world.”

“I know black men for real, not just through movies or music videos. I know these men to cry, to love their families, to want to be successful, to be afraid, to be weak, to be vulnerable and to have every human emotion possible.”

Q: HOW CAN WE EVOLVE OUR PERSPECTIVE BEYOND THIS NARRATIVE? WHY WOULD THAT BE IMPORTANT?
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