A Call to Men

I recently came across this video on the TED talks website.  It features Tony Porter, the founder of A Call to Men: The National Association of Men and Women Committed to Ending Violence Against Women.

His eloquent 11 minute speech is a work of art.  It was definitely worth the standing ovation he received at the end.

To my male readers: what is your experience with stepping outside the “Man Box”?  Do you believe it is real? If so, what can we do to raise the next generation outside of this “Man Box”?

To my female readers: what are your reactions after watching this?

Posted on August 17, 2012, in Dating and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Stepping outside the man box, when it does happen, is a very intimate, and often embarrassing, experience. It has only happened a few times, and really only happens to me during times of extreme stress. It usually involves a good cry, a rant, and then hours of apologizing afterwards, lol. I found it interesting that when Tony’s dad cried in the car, he also apologized.
    I suppose that may come from our childhoods. Adult males making us feel bad that we aren’t being strong, either physically or mentally. I consider myself to operate freely outside the “Man Box”, but I still find it difficult to discuss how I am feeling with my loved ones.
    The reasoning behind that may even be the key to raising a generation of men that will not find themselves restrained by the Man Box.
    If we encourage our young boys to discuss their feelings more openly, and treat them with the same mental sensitivity as we do young girls, they may better understand themselves, and in turn, better understand women. This generation of men have a large lack of empathy for the opposite sex, and that is a direct byproduct of the apathy they were raised to have towards everything. THAT, I believe is the key. Raise young boys to have more empathy, and the rest will fall into place.

  2. My parents divorced when I was a baby. I alternated between living with each parent and visiting the other. My dad raised me as a boy, but my mom raised me as more of a girl. Witnessing the two distinct worlds was a very interesting way to grow up. Mom was loving, emotional and empathic. Dad was cold, distant and downright unpleasant to live with; both for me and the other women he lived with in turn. Mom didn’t have much better luck with her second husband either.

    For a long time I was extremely confused; I couldn’t identify as a man at all, so I thought I was perhaps transsexual – a woman born into a man’s body. At the same time, I couldn’t really behave like a lady either, what with having man parts.

    One day after reading a particularly emotional book (the happiest accident of my life so far!) and watching another sensitive movie, I cried the rest of the evening like I hadn’t cried since I told dad I hated him and ran off to live with mom for good (haven’t seen him since).

    Nowadays I’ve matured and come to terms with what I am: a different kind of man. I cry, feel, am sensitive, submissive and have enormous respect for women.

  3. As a boy growing up in the 1980s, feminism for me was about the vilification of men. Starting with “What are little boys made of” and continuing to “all men are potential rapists”

    The Man Box (or rather, the “Be a Man” box, since nothing in that box is actually Manly) is a feminist-type label that I would have scoffed at straight off, if it hadn’t come from the mouth of a man. I’ll admit that this made me listen so that I got his point: it’s the “Be a Man” recipe. These are cowardly, abusive traits. They make ogres, not men. These are the kind of traits that too many feminists who are the victims of ogres want to fit all men into.

    I never much cared for the Be a Man Box, so, being a Geek I didn’t adopt it, at first. But I was bullied for this by boys who built their world around it. Then I learned to fit myself into some of it.

    Interestingly, my father’s role in this was tacit. He was a reticent man, I trait I found increasingly frustrating as a teen. He didn’t show open emotion often, although he would say “I’m angry” or “I’m upset/happy” and he laughed out loud a lot. But he was always caring and a great listener, and when he did say something, it was Golden. Certainly not abusive, he always supported my Mum in everything, so I had a pretty good role model there.

    I on the other hand was a hot-headed teen who shot his mouth off all the time. So any Man Box traits I have, I got from my peers or by being an untamed youth. It makes puts me at a loss for how to break this cycle as a father?

    Now I am happily married and the father of three lovely boys, 7, 2 and 1. I wish for them to be free of this Macho stigma too, and it should to start with me. The trouble is, I’m still in the Box. No, I don’t objectify women (at least, I believe I don’t) but all the caged emotion and self control (if you mustn’t control women, at least control yourself damn it) plays out in my reactions. I certainly don’t have a lot of tollerence for crying fits, and that bit about telling his son to calm down, go to your room and come back when you can talk like a man (I would say “sensibly” but mean the same, at least subconcsiously) certainly rang true.

    I suppose fathers need two things, which happily their wives can provide: 1) support to come out of the Box safely and 2) help on how to act and react out of the Box. Women should probably be aware: the fear of leaving the Box is the same for a grown man as for the little boy who shut himself in there years ago, and his skills at dealing with the world without it are just as developed now as they were then.

    I have heard that opening up is the key to a great relationship with your wife too, with benefits that should be enough on their own to motivate men who are not fathers as well ;-)

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