The Masculinities Project at the WCC exists because most of the messaging that surrounds us defines masculinity in terms of power, dominance, and control. This leads some men to believe that “being a man” means conforming to a very narrow and self-limiting definition of manhood. This has been called many things – the “man box,” the “mask of masculinity,” the “tough guise” – but the bottom line is it’s a fiction that no one can live up to. There are many, many ways to be a man. We believe:
Men suffer real consequences because of gender stereotypes. Violence, control, and poor communication are all associated with social definitions of masculinity that are imposed on us. Gender equity is also about giving people of all genders the freedom to be who they want to be without fearing social exclusion.
We can work towards a more equitable society by learning about ourselves and advocating for gender freedom. The closer we look at the subconscious reasons for our behaviors, the better we can change them to be in line with our personal values. Engaging more deeply with efforts for social change goes hand in hand with personal fulfillment.
Our upbringing colors the way we see the world. To understand why we need lasting change and how to make it happen, we often have to step outside ourselves. Listening to and actively empathizing with the experiences of people of all genders shows us a clearer picture of ourselves and how we interact in the world.
“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” - Lilla Watson, Aboriginal elder, activist and educator