As we close up February’s Men’s Month, we would like to share with you a TedTalk by Tony Porter. In “A Call to Men”, Mr. Porter shares the constricting nature of masculinity.
Growing up as a boy, we were taught that men had to be tough, had to be strong, had to be courageous, dominating — no pain, no emotions, with the exception of anger — and definitely no fear; that men are in charge, which means women are not; that men lead, and you should just follow and do what we say; that men are superior; women are inferior; that men are strong; women are weak; that women are of less value, property of men, and objects, particularly sexual objects. I’ve later come to know that to be the collective socialization of men, better known as the “man box.”
He believes that the socialization of men has strongly influenced the gender dynamics and issues we see today. Manhood has become problematic not only for women, but for men as well. He very carefully explains that although not all men are violent, not all men abuse women or see them as inferior, but “men, good men, the large majority of men, we operate on the foundation of this whole collective socialization. We kind of see ourselves separate, but we’re very much a part of it.”
Mr. Porter believes that to end the epidemic of violence against women, we have to change the nature of masculinity. How would this change our youth, our boys?
I remember asking a nine-year-old boy, I asked a nine-year-old boy, “What would life be like for you, if you didn’t have to adhere to this man box?” He said to me, “I would be free.”