Like many, I love the holiday season. It’s a great time of year to visit with loved ones, get some much needed rest, and give (and receive) gifts. As you begin to think about what gifts you plan on exchanging with your friends, family members, loved-ones, classmates and co-workers, I thought I would share some gift suggestions for the men in your life.
Reading is one of my favorite things to do, so books are always at the top of my list of gifts to give and receive. Three new books I would recommend are The Education of Kevin Powell A Boys Journey into Manhood by Kevin Powell, Manhood: How to Be a Better Man-or Just Live With One by Terry Crews and Breaking Out of the “Man Box” by Anthony Porter. These books allow men to explore masculinity from various perspectives.
Give a t-shirt. It’s a simple way for men to share the message of non-violence and healthy masculinity, as well as support survivors. White Ribbon Campaign sells one of my favorite t-shirts, It’s On Us has t-shirts that support the campaign from the White House and Generation Progress intended to change the culture around campus sexual assault. For the musicians in your life, check-out the 1BlueString Store for t-shirts and a few other gift ideas.
Make a donation to your local rape crisis center in the name of a man in your life. Making this type of donation will inspire these men to continue donating their time and money to these organizations. Also, consider giving a TAASA membership. An annual membership supports TAASA’s efforts to end sexual violence in Texas.
Subscriptions to Magazines
In place of giving the guys in your life a subscription to a contemporary men’s magazine, give them an annual subscription to a magazine, like Voice Male or 4Fathers instead. Both will help to inspire, challenge, and transform their relationships.
Finally, one of the greatest gifts that we can give is our time. Commit to spending time with the boys and men in your life by being a Compadre, becoming a coach, serving as a mentor with Big Brothers or volunteering with Watch D.O.G.S..
As you continue to look for the perfect gift for the men in your life, ask yourself: does the gift I’m giving challenge traditional notions of masculinity, or does it reinforce strict gender norms? And, whatever you decide, make your giving memorable and meaningful. Give a gift of healthy masculinity.
Machismo – el simple hecho de ésta palabra revuelve un sinfín de emociones. Para algunos, les produce un orgullo de hombre, y para otros, expone a la negatividad y el abuso. Creciendo, asocié ésta palabra con una cosa; la lucha libre. Mi luchador favorito fué Randy “Macho Man” Savage, y después de ver sus muy conocidas movidas en TV, trataba de imitar todo con mi hermano menor y con mi padrastro durante las luchas, demostrando así que yo también podía ser “macho”. En aquel momento, la palabra “macho” personificaba lo que yo quería ser – un luchador que fuese genial, poderoso, fuerte, y en control. Después de todo, éstas características no solo eran la imagen de mi luchador favorito, pero también estaban siendo actuadas en frente de mi por otros hombres en mi propia familia y comunidad. Estaba siendo condicionado a ser un hombre macho o machista, pero ¿qué significa éso? ¿Qué es un machista?
Muchos estudios se han conducido para responder ésta misma pregunta, pero una cadena de respuestas conflictivas aún existen. Por cada conotación de la palabra “macho”, parece haber un debate filosofical. La definición literal, sin embargo, es muy difícil de refutar. En simple terminos, la palabra “macho” significa una cosa – “hombre”. La palabra “machista”, por lo tanto, es actualmente algo redundante porque ser un macho es simplemente ser hombre.
El choque sobre machismo ocurre cuando la gente empieza a identificar ser “macho” con ser “hombre”. Los niños aprenden ser hombres a través del televisor, música, películas, literatura, y más importante, de los hombres que existen en sus vidas. Cuando van creciendo, por lo tanto, cada hombre deberá decider por él mismo que tipo de hombre quiere ser. ¿Pondrá las drogas y el alcohól antes que a su familia ó vendrá entusiásta a su hogar para dedicarle tiempo a su esposa e hijos? ¿Será el esposo que golpea a su mujer así como su padre golpeó a su madre ó será el que tratará a su pareja con igualdad y compartirá las responsabilidades del hogar? ¿Se reunirá con sus amigos para hacer bromas racistas, anti-feministas, u homofóbicas, ó sera el que busca entendimiento para esos que son diferentes a él? ¿Será el que engatuse a otros jóvenes a participar en prácticas chovinistas, ó servirá como un modelo positivo a seguir, desafiando estereotipos tradicionales? Al final, solo él puede decidir.
Para mi, el fanático de la lucha libre, la decisión llegó después de mucho autodescubrimiento. Llegué a la conclusión de abrazar la idea de que ser un macho -es ser un hombre- sin todas las ideas preconcebidas. Hay mucho espacio para el error cuando tienes que descifrar las cosas por tu propia cuenta. Así, aunque tenga una imagen clara de que clase de hijo, hermano, amigo, y esposo quiero ser, aún necesito ayuda y apoyo ocasional de los hombres en mi vida para asegurarme de que mi imagen permanesca enfocada.
Todo hombre necesita pintar su propia imagen de qué clase de hombre quiere ser, y si suficientes hombres pintaran con respeto, entonces tal vez, una gran obra de arte de tolerancia y no-violencia sería creada en nuestras comunidades.
Now that you’re well into another busy school year of working with men on college campuses, military bases, athletic teams, places of worship, etc., I thought it would be a great time to share my collection of videos that I use on a regular basis in my work to train prevention workers on strategies to engage men in gender-based violence prevention work.
The Ladder of Manhood presented by Jeff Perera
Masks Off – A Challenge to Men by Jeremy Loveday
A Call to Men presented by Tony Porter of A Call to Men
Antonio Banderas – Stop Violence Against Women NOW! by United Nations Development Programme
Violence Against Women – It’s A Men’s Issue presented by Jackson Katz
Porque by National Latino Network
It Ends Where it Begins by White Buffalo Calf Women
Shit Men Say to Men Who Say Shit to Women on the Street by Stop Street Harassment
Warriors Against Violence by Warriors Against Violence
It’s On Us: Sexual Assault PSA by The White House
Man Prayer written by Eve Ensler for V-Day
The Heart of A Boy – Tuval’s Story by It Starts With You
Men. Lead by Example by Vera House
Men Against Sexual Assault by The University of Arizona
The BeMore Campaign by The Family Partnership
A Needed Response by Samantha Stendal
MCN’s Engaging Migrant Men: Para. Manténgase calmado. Y evite la violencia. by Migrant Clinician’s Network
Emma Watson HeForsShe Speech at the United Nations by HeForShe Campaign
Be A Man presented by Joe Ermann
Red Riots: Coaching Boys Into Men by Futures Without Violence
Please share the videos you use in your prevention work with men in the comments section below.
In the past, I have shared various quotes by men about our role in ending violence against women, and I wanted to gather my favorites here in hopes that you will share them with the boys and men in your life.
Via UN Women
Via MTV Act
Via This is Personal
Via Eyes on Life
Via Walk Free
Share your favorite men’s anti-violence quote or meme in the comments section below.
LEGOs can be found everywhere in my house right now as they are the new obsession of my 4-year old son, Joaquin. Half-built sets are strewn upon our dining room table, completed masterpieces sit proudly atop his toy chest, and a few single bricks inevitably find their way beneath my feet as I step on them in the dark. Ouch!
With each LEGO creation that Joaquin builds, destroys, and rebuilds, learning is taking place. He is understanding how to follow directions precisely to complete a task, but at the other end of the spectrum, his creativity is being allowed to blossom. As he connects one brick to another, his fine-motor skills are improving, and he is practicing colors, numbers, shapes, and most importantly, problem-solving and perseverance.
Unfortunately, when building his LEGO City, he is also learning a very narrow definition of masculinity. This Christmas, Joaquin was gifted with several sets from the LEGO City series, all of which contained male minifigures (police officers, fire fighters, city workers, etc.) with the exception of one set (60017 Flatbed Truck). Included in this particular set was a businesswoman who is the driver of a sports car. While my son was impressed with the car she was driving, I, regrettably, realized that the set was encouraging a scene in which the businesswoman’s car breaks down, and the mechanic with the flatbed tow truck must come to her rescue, setting up a damsel in distress scenario.
As his father, I must find ways to make him aware of this subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) re-enforcement of gender roles, something that the company has increasingly come under fire for over the last few years, especially from young girls, like 7-year old Charlotte Benjamin.
Her letter recently went viral, and when I came across it, I thought it would be a good idea to share it with my own LEGO enthusiast. In a moment together, I read aloud the letter to Joaquin, and as I came to the end, he said, “Yeah, Dada, but I don’t make the LEGOs.”
With the infinite wisdom that he possesses at 4-years old, Joaquin is correct. While neither of us “make the LEGOs,” we do buy them, and as such it is important that we challenge the stereotypes portrayed through the LEGO products and show our support as allies with the girls who are already seeking change from the company.
Other parents who have written on this same subject agree that gender disparity in LEGO products is a problem that can be solved. Here are a few suggestions to help boys begin building a different type of LEGO City:
- Talk with boys about the lack of girl minifigures while playing with LEGO toys and ask them how that makes them feel.
- Ask boys (if they haven’t already noticed) about the difference in packaging and placement of LEGO toys in most retail stores.
- Purchase LEGO minifigures separately which include girl minifigures such as snowboarders or police officers and encourage your boys to incorporate them into their play.
- Encourage boys to write a letter or email to the LEGO Corporation asking them to introduce more girl minifigures into the most popular sets.
- Purchase LEGO Friends sets for boys as a way to begin breaking down the gendering of toys.
- Switch female LEGO heads with male bodies and male accessories to create unique female characters.
- Encourage the boys and men in your life to support/join efforts like the Brave Girls Alliance who are challenging gender stereotypes in advertising and products designed for girls.
- Download and encourage boys to use the #NotBuyingIt app from The Representation Project to call out limiting depictions of boys and men in advertising.
By putting collective pressure as consumers on LEGO and other corporations to change their toys to represent a diverse society, I hope that my son Joaquin will not have to write a similar letter to that of Charlotte Benjamin when he is 7 years old. Instead, I hope that as his LEGO collection grows, so too does LEGO’s understanding of gender equality.
In the comment section below, please share how you have addressed this issue with the boys and men in your life, as well as any additional suggestions you have for seeking further change from the LEGO company.