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Maskulinity-Revolution Starts at Home

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To begin the discussion about hypermasculinity Cross-Cultural Center program specialist Elisa Serna asked the question, “What do you picture when you hear the word man?” “strong,” “tall,” “overpowering” were some of the words uttered around the room.

At first, these words seem to describe the stereotypes associated with masculinity, but later evolved in the discussion to reveal their negative counterparts. Maskulinity: Revolution starts at home is the last discussion in a third part series focusing on how healthy masculinity can be taught in the home from a young age and implemented in the educational field.

The discussion based series was held on Nov. 27 in the Cross-Cultural Center on the third floor of the USU from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and organized by Serna, a fourth year human development major.  

Serna presented a three minute video called, “The Mask You Live In” which depicted males of all ages and different racial backgrounds being told normalized phrases such as, “be a man” and “stop with the emotions”.

The room was set up with chairs forming a circle to create an interactive discussion with a notecard on each chair revealing a stereotypical phrase that is often said to young boys while growing up. For example, the girl sitting next to me had the notecard which said, “Pink is a girl’s color.” Reversing the sexism, she noted that growing up she didn’t even like pink and she liked other colors like blue instead.

An important note contributed to the discussion was the need to change the dynamic of how we raise boys. To do this, the organizers ameliorated the audience by saying it has to do with the way we use language and is linked to gender norms within our society.

According to eige.europa.eu, “Gender norms are ideas about how women and men should be and act. Internalised early in life, gender norms can establish a life cycle of gender socialisation and stereotyping.”

The Maskulinity series zeroed in on this point and the discussion was informative of how gender norms are embedded in our daily lives without us even realizing it sometimes.

A popular example that floated around the room was the stigma of, “Boys don’t cry” and both boys and girls responded to this talking about how damaging it can be to not cry, and to not have that emotional release.

Masculinity has become such a growing topic of interest in schools and in mainstream media because social studies and data are now showing us the link between toxic masculinity and domestic violence.

In an article titled, “Dear Fathers: Let’s Talk to Our Sons about Toxic Masculinity,” associate professor of Psychology at the University of Alaska Anchorage stated, “-we are largely responsible for the troublingly high rates of violence against women, as well as the epidemic of sexual assaults against children, women, and men.”

Although the series is focused on masculinity and the changing effects of it, the discussion also asked of the opinions of women and how do women play a role in masculinity?

Serna made the point, this was done to make men feel less attacked and it wasn’t as if they were saying men are the problem but rather its a collective issue with all genders contributing to it.

Lastly, Serna left the room with four simple things they could enforce everyday to fight gender sexism: refrain your language, don’t assign a gender to objects, take action in your own words, and take accountability of the people around of you.

 

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