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Here are Some Solid Resources for Discussing Masculinity on International Men’s Day

Shutterstock image of young men having a conversation

Today is International Men’s Day, a holiday that’s been 95% co-opted by concern-troll MRAs who believe that the solution to all the trauma men suffer under patriarchy is more of the toxic, regressive ideas which caused that trauma in the first place.

But.

2017 is my year of yielding nothing to POS men, and just because a bunch of gross misogynists want to make this Confirmation Bias Day doesn’t mean it can’t be wielded for some positive change. While my feminism is unapologetically women-first, and while patriarchy hurts women the most, men are also deeply wounded by it. This is a system which teaches them to hate any empathetic or vulnerable part of themselves, and which insists they perform the most toxic version of themselves to survive. That message is damaging.

Because our culture pushes a lot of disturbing messages about masculinity, it’s important to help men recognize that poison when it’s slung at them. If they’re able to do that, then instead of internalizing that poison and pushing their rage back on women, they’ll be better equipped to know trash when they see it and reject it.

Below are just a few resources that either I or my male friends have found helpful. None is perfect, but I think they all provide a solid starting point for having feminist conversations about manhood and masculinity – conversations that affirm men’s emotions and vulnerability while still giving them the tools to be better to the people around them and make a less patriarchal world.

Because, as Aaron Gillies so aptly summed up on Twitter:

  • bell hooks’ The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love and We Real Cool: Black Men & Masculinity are focused primarily on black men, but their lessons about how patriarchy teaches men to hate themselves, and to take out the pain of that self-hate on anyone less powerful than them, apply across racial lines.
  • I really love YouTuber Pop Culture Detective‘s analyses of masculinity in pop culture. I think they’re helpful for understanding how our media landscape teaches men to hate women and themselves, and they also do a great job of highlighting more vulnerable, positive depictions of masculinity in fiction.
  • The Mask You Live In is an excellent documentary from the makers of Miss Representation that examines how our narrow definition of masculinity causes real harm to boys. Patriarchal, violent definitions of “manliness” make boys “more likely to be diagnosed with a behavior disorder, prescribed stimulant medications, fail out of school, binge drink, commit a violent crime, and/or take their own lives.”
  • The MenEngage Alliance looks at masculinity from a global perspective. They share research on topics like class and masculinity or masculinities in the Arab world, as well as public education resources about how to stop “honor” crimes, how to discipline children in a healthy way, and more.
  • Justin Baldoni’s Man Enough, which will premiere on November 28, is a “weekly dinner party” where Hollywood men can have deep, honest, and uncomfortable conversations about masculinity. “Men don’t talk,” said Baldoni. “Even the idea of this show made men scoff, like, ‘Oh, who’s going to watch men talking to each other?’ … This is a show where men create a comfortable space for each other to go deep and have a conversation and we hope that this stuff happens in real life, too.”
  • The article on “The Woke Misogynist” is a great illustration of how feminism should actually affect your real-life interactions with women, not just your Twitter.
  • Dr. NerdLove primarily focuses on dating and relationship advice, so some of those pieces can get problematic, but the site also includes great discussions of toxic masculinity, reclaiming manhood, and positive role models in pop culture.
  • Next Gen Men, a Canadian group that’s “focused on building better men,” has a detailed resource sheet of TED talks, articles, and tutorials for understanding masculinity and toppling patriarchy.
  • We here at The Mary Sue have shared a bunch of pieces about masculinity in pop culture, including discussions about the subversion of toxic masculinity in Stranger Things and Transformers: Lost Light, Steve Rogers’ image of manhood, Steve Trevor’s equal and happy relationship to Diana, Stucky shipping, and the character of Warren from Buffy. 

What are some of your favorite resources, books, or articles for discussing masculinity from a feminist perspective?

(Featured image via Shutterstock)

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