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Redefining manhood


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How do we raise our boys? Which impact does it have on their emotional and physical health? Which initiatives exist to challenge the traditional vision of masculinity?

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Redefining manhood

  1. 1. When patriarchy is crushing our men
  2. 2. Which messages do we teach our boys?
  3. 3. Starting when they are toddlers, boys and men are consistently and belligerently taught to suppress their emotions.
  4. 4. Boys are forced to conform or face the threat of expulsion and abuse • Real men do not express their emotions, except for anger • Real men are financial providers not care givers • Real men are heterosexual and dominant in and out of the bedroom • Real men are leaders and have the final word in any discussion • Real men are never unemployed • Real men are always confident • Real men play sports and talk about sports as their primary mode of interaction
  5. 5. The pop culture environment that surrounds boys introduces them to a world where traditionally masculine traits- like toughness, aggression, and stoicism- are highly esteemed and where female influence is all but absent.
  6. 6. Even myths portray men as aggressive and physically dominant
  7. 7. Men are not naturally more violent but they are taught to be, as the “right” way to react
  8. 8. And we progressively suppress their emotions
  9. 9. And boys are increasingly worried about their appearance
  10. 10. With dramatic consequences
  11. 11. Traditional and toxic masculinity are harmful to our boys
  12. 12. And later to our women…
  13. 13. Men have a higher chance to be imprisoned
  14. 14. Whenever there's a mass shooting or massacre, there's a 98% chance the perpetrator is a man.
  15. 15. 20 s e x u a l a b u s e o f c h i l d r e n “requires a high index of suspicion and familiarity with the verbal, behavioural, and physical indicators of abuse.”5 As such, most victims of child sexual abuse suffer in silence. Nature and scope Methodological and ethical challenges associated with interviewing young children make research into child sexual abuse difficult. As a result, most population-based analyses are retrospective: Adults (age 18 and older) and, in an increasing number of surveys, adolescents (usually age 15 and over), are asked whether they had ever been exposed to “unwanted” sexual activity during childhood. “Childhood” in these studies varies from under 18 years of age to under 12 years of age.6 Unwanted sexual activity is often broken out by researchers into two main categories: “contact” abuse, including vaginal or anal penetration with a penis, finger or an object, or giving or receiving oral sex; and “noncontact” abuse, such as being forced to watch pornography, to disrobe or to view each others’ genitalia. Outcomes of these studies vary widely. According to data collated from 25 countries worldwide, estimates of exposure for girls range from as low as 2 percent in Samoa and Serbia and Montenegro to 30 percent or higher in Barbados, Costa Rica and Switzerland. For boys, estimates range from 1 percent in Norway to 20 percent in Nicaragua.7 It is generally impossible to compare these statistics because none of the research is standardised. Exactly what constitutes child sexual abuse and which types of abuse are included differs from study to study.8 Based on available data, the World Health Organization estimates that approximately 25 percent of girls and 8 percent of boys around the globe have been subjected to some form of child sexual abuse.9 Given its hidden nature, these numbers most likely underrepresent the true scope of the problem. Regardless of its limitations, the growing body of research on child sexual abuse has shed light on some common characteristics of this type of violence. Girls, for example, are significantly more likely to be abused than boys. In many parts of the world, however, boys may be even less likely to report violence than girls, making the true extent of child sexual abuse against boys a critical area for further study. In one notable survey of secondary school and university stu girls reported sexual abuse as childr boys.10 But these findings are except studies found that girls are one-and-a-h report child sexual abuse than boys.11 indicates that compared with boys, gi victimisation throughout childhood an adolescence.12 Police statistics from co Lithuania, South Africa and the United all reported rapes are committed again which are under age 12.13 In addition, much greater risk of incest than boys. to 60 percent of sexual abuse in famili Perpetrators who abuse boys are mor although in the Sri Lanka research cit members as the primary perpetrator physical and/or learning disabilities are While women do commit sexual vio majority of abusers are men, regardl Contrary to popular perception, few pe fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, uncl or family friends. They may be men power in the community, such as teach They also can be older children a schoolmates or other acquaintances. The peak age of vulnerability to child at between age seven and age 13, bu significantly underreported because o and, in the case of retrospective stud “virgin cure” infant rape in sub-Sah attention to the problem of sexual abu part of the world. The “virgin cure” is Evidence suggests that it is currently Caribbean uncommo Allegedly intercours HIV/AIDS diseases, the extent of virgin-cure inf researchers in South Africa.20 Its preva well as in other in parts of the world devastating for a baby: While women do commit sexual violence against children, the vast majority of abusers are men, regardless of the sex of the victim. 74 v i o l e n c e a g a i n s t g i r l s i n s c h o o l s institutions are dominated by male teachers and male students, and decision-making at all levels rests clearly in male hands. In Southern Sudan, for example, less than 7 percent of teachers are women, and in Bolivia only 16 percent of all head teachers are women. Women hold only 30 percent or less of teaching posts in 16 countries of sub-Saharan Africa.10 Female teachers usually are concentrated in urban settings, with far fewer in rural and remote areas. Such male-dominated contexts make it very difficult for girls to assert themselves and to challenge male power. Doing so may mean ostracism and losing the support of friends and family. Reports from South Africa, for example, indicate that boys specifically target girls they perceive to much larger number of them (63 percent) knew other girls who had been approached. Girls reported that teachers were quite open about their intentions, making advances on girls during class and sports activities. Some girls were thought to accept such propositions for financial benefit, to be favoured in class, to avoid punishment or to gain better marks.15 In South Africa, one teacher who sexually abused a number of students offered a young woman high grades in exchange for sex: “I went to his dorm and walked to the lounge. He gave me a hooch [an alcoholic drink]. I was lame. I knew what was happening to me, but I couldn’t move. He picked me up and took me to his room and started taking my clothes off. He took his clothes off. He’s twice my size and, like, five times my weight and has so many muscles. Then he penetrated me. When I came to, I got up and went to my dorm. … I was scared to tell anyone because I was afraid no one would believe me. I had been Boys may feel the need to “prove” themselves, and one way of doing so is to sexually harass girls, either verbally or physically — and to do so publicly. In some circumstances this may go as far as gang rape.
  16. 16. We put Emotional Toughness over Emotional Literacy • The long-term challenges emotional isolation can create are incalculable. • Living emotionally guarded lives is robbing men of their hope, their aspirations and for millions of American men, their very lives. •
  17. 17. We are raising our boys to lack empathy • Boys 4 and 5 years old are told to shake it off, man up, don’t be a crybaby, and, worst of all, don’t be a girl. • This is because the Man Box devalues any form of emotional expression traditionally deemed to be feminine. • A devastating result of this anti-feminine bias is that women, gays, and trans people face epidemic levels of bullying, rape, misogyny, homophobia, and violence.
  18. 18. Last century, it was still ok to be close to your male friends in the US
  19. 19. The term “homosexuality” was in fact not coined until 1869, and before that time, the strict dichotomy between “gay” and “straight” did not yet exist. • Attraction to, and sexual activity with other men was thought of as something you did, not something you were. It was a behavior — accepted by some cultures and considered sinful by others. • But at the turn of the 20th century, the idea of homosexuality shifted from a practice to a lifestyle and an identity. • You did not have temptations towards a certain sin, you were a homosexual person. Thinking of men as either “homosexual” or “heterosexual” became common. • And this new category of identity was at the same time pathologized — decried by psychiatrists as a mental illness, by ministers as a perversion, and by politicians as something to be legislated against. • As this new conception of homosexuality as a stigmatized and onerous identifier took root in American culture, men began to be much more careful to not send messages to other men, and to women, that they were gay. • And this is the reason why, it is theorized, men have become less comfortable with showing affection towards each other over the last century. • After WWII, casually touching between men in photographs decreased precipitously. It first vanished among middle-aged men, but lingered among younger men. • But in the 50s, when homosexuality reached its peak of pathologization, eventually they too created more space between themselves, and while still affectionate began to interact with less ease and intimacy.
  20. 20. Touch Isolation: How Homophobia Has Robbed All Men Of Touch • The lack of touch in men’s lives results in a higher likelihood of depression, alcoholism, mental and physical illness. • Put simply, touch isolation is making men’s lives less healthy and more lonely.
  21. 21. Men are more lonely • Men who do not connect emotionally, find it more difficult to form lasting friendships, typically relying on their wives or workplaces to provide social connections. • When they divorce or leave their workplaces, those relationships falter, being more circumstantial than emotionally resonant. • The results? Widespread chronic loneliness for men as they enter middle age. • One in three men aged 45 or older reported himself to be lonely or socially isolated, according to a 2010 survey conducted by AARP.
  22. 22. The impact on health • Between 1999 and 2010, suicide among men aged 35–64 rose by nearly 30 percent, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. • Although rates have been rising for both sexes, the study found that middle-aged men are three times likelier than women to end their own lives—27.3 deaths versus 8.1 (per 100,000).
  24. 24. Which initiatives are shifting the balance?
  25. 25. Millennials are leading a much broader acceptance of diversity • This generation is witness to a collision between traditional masculinity and a new wave, one that values intimacy, caregiving, and nurturing.
  26. 26. In Lebanon, ABAAD is campaigning to challenge the traditional view of masculinity
  27. 27. Program H encourages critical reflection about rigid norms related to manhood
  28. 28. Once Upon a Boy is a no-words cartoon video that tells the story of a boy and his experiences growing up, including peer pressure, his first sexual relationship, his first job, and becoming a father. • The video is designed to engage young men, educators, and health professionals in critical reflections about rigid models of masculinities and how they influence young men’s attitudes and behaviors. • e-upon-a-boy
  29. 29. In Rwanda, Brazil and elsewhere, Promundo is engaging fathers via prenatal visits
  30. 30. The Duke Men’s Project offers a nine-week program that discusses male privilege, patriarchy, “the language of dominance,” rape culture, pornography, machismo and other topics.
  31. 31. Men as partners: promoting positive masculinities
  32. 32. A brave man stands for women
  33. 33. TIPS FOR MEN: HOW TO BE A 50/50 PARTNER #LeanInTogether BraunS / Getty Images
  34. 34. TIPS FOR MEN: HOW TO BE AN ALL-STAR DAD #LeanInTogether Jodi Jacobson / Getty Images
  35. 35. TIPS FOR MEN HOW TO BE AN ALL-STAR DAD Involved dads raise happier, healthier, and more successful children.1 Moreover, kids benefit when that involvement goes beyond the traditional paternal role. When parents have 50/50 partnerships, children grow up with more egalitarian views and can envision more possibilities for themselves. Telling your kids “you can do anything” is not nearly as effective as showing them they can! TIP 1 BE AN ACTIVE FATHER TIP 2 CLOSE THE WAGE GAP AT HOME TIP 3 CHALLENGE GENDER STEREOTYPES TIP 4 HELP YOUR DAUGHTER LEAD TIP 5 DON’T TELL YOUR SON TO “MAN UP!” 1 BE AN ACTIVE FATHER SITUATION
  36. 36. DID YOU KNOW? Fathers who participate in caregiving are more patient, empathetic, and flexible and enjoy greater job satisfaction.5 Fatherhood is also linked to lower blood pressure, lower rates of cardiovascular disease, and a longer life.6 TO “MAN UP!” 1 BE AN ACTIVE FATHER SITUATION Spending time with your kids makes a big impact on their lives. Children with involved fathers have higher self-esteem, better cognitive and social skills, fewer behavioral problems, and higher academic achievement.2 This is true at every income level and regardless of how involved mothers are. When fathers participate in their lives, daughters have higher self-esteem and are more willing to try new things and sons are better equipped to cope with stress and less likely to fight.3 What’s more, teenagers who feel close to their fathers end up in healthier, happier marriages.4 SOLUTION Be an active and involved dad. Help with homework, read books together, talk about your kids’ daily experiences and goals. You don’t have to be perfect—you just have to be engaged. 1 LeanInTogether.Org #LeanInTogetherHOW TO BE AN ALL-STAR DAD
  37. 37. into small, achievable steps. Encourage her to reach outside of her comfort zone to build confidence. Just as she practices soccer or piano, she can practice small acts of assertiveness like ordering at restaurants or shaking hands when she meets new people. Get your daughter into sports or other organized activities where she’ll learn to collaborate, speak up, mess up—and try again. 5 DON’T TELL YOUR SON TO “MAN UP!” SITUATION As important as it is to teach your daughter to lead, it is equally important to teach your son to respect his feelings and care for others. Movies, video games, and comic books bombard boys with stories of men who are strong, aggressive, and in charge but rarely vulnerable or nurturing. Boys often emulate these oversimplified characters. As a father, you can model a more complete definition of manhood. SOLUTION Teach your son to value intelligence and thoughtfulness over toughness. Encourage him to respect his own feelings and have empathy for others. Avoid language like “man up” or “be a man,” which can be as damaging to boys as words like “bossy” and “know-it-all” can be for girls. Model gender equality for your son by supporting the women in your life and celebrating their achievements. DID YOU KNOW? Equality begets equality: Boys who grow up in more equal homes are more likely to create equal homes as adults.17 3 LeanInTogether.Org #LeanInTogetherHOW TO BE AN ALL-STAR DAD
  38. 38. TIPS FOR MEN: HOW TO BE A WORKPLACE MVP #LeanInTogether HeroImages / Getty Images
  39. 39. Getty Images partnered with Lean in to portray new masculine images
  40. 40. Redefining manhood • What does it mean for you to be a man? • Which stereotypes have been harmful to you? • Is there anything you would like to change in the way boys are raised? • Which change would you like to contribute to?