We are all shaped by the societies we are raised in. Growing up, we are taught to live up to certain expectations and standards, especially in terms of our gender. But the standards for masculinity that have emerged during the last centuries, do not always result in positive things. Rather, they can be destructive and limiting. It is for example expected of a “real” man not to show weakness, be sensitive or cry. As a man, you should not seek help from anyone. Men are expected to dominate any space they enter, use sexist jargon to fit in, and to demonstrate their strength through power. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are a few tips on what you as a man can do to contribute to a more positive male role. Read, reflect and spread the word!
Together with an amazing group within Fatta, I have created this concept that will shift focus and give concrete tips on how you who identify yourself as a man can be a part of this journey away from the macho culture and towards a more equal society. I was the art director, graphic designer and illustrator in this project.
The campaign was launched with a debate article in Swedish, that can be read here: https://www.svt.se/opinion/sexuellt-vald-maste-bli-en-mansfraga-sex-tips-for-man
1. Be a role model
Examine yourself, both your role in society as well as your role in intimate relationships and with acquaintances. How does current norms of masculinity affect you? How does porn impact you and your perception of sex? What kind of man do you want to be? Are there parts of you that you don’t get to express, are there norms you feel that you have to fit in to? Do you feel that you can’t be yourself? If that is the case, what can you do to change it? By contributing to a wider discussion of what it means to be a man, you can be a role model and help other men to see past the narrow standard of masculinity we live in.
2. Dare to speak up
Be the brave one in different situations. Dare to be the one who “ruins the mood”. Refuse to be part of sexist jargon. Don’t laugh at sexist jokes. Don’t pretend that you don’t hear when someone says something stupid. Challenge, question and speak up - take the fight against everyday sexism!
3. Listen to women’s stories
What is it like being a woman or a non-binary individual in today’s society? What privileges do you as a man have compared to them? It is important as a man to listen to the stories of those who have been victims of sexual abuse and sexism. They are the ones that knows best what it is like. What can you gather and learn from their stories? Practise being more perceptive in different situations to counteract mansplaining and verbal abuse. What does interpretative prerogative entail? Let the voices of women and non-binary people be heard!
4. Think about consent
Everything but a yes, is a no! Pretty obvious, right? But we’re not always that great at asking for, or recognising, consent. Consent has to be a part of you, and your everyday life. What does voluntariness and reciprocity mean? And how do you know that someone else is giving you their consent? Reflect on how different people express their will. If you are unsure, ask. Also reflect on if you have ever proceeded against someone’s will.
5. Learn from others
For over hundred years we have fought for gender equality. You are not the first one in this fight, but you are also not the only one. Listen to the knowledge and experiences of previous feminists. Learn from history, from what has been done and what is being done. The more knowledge you gather, the more you can contribute to our common fight for an equal society.
6. Affect your surroundings and the ones in power
How can you contribute to a more equal society? Mobilise together with others or join an organisation which strives to change today’s masculinity norms. Talk about consent with your friends. Ask your boss or the principal of your school. What does the management at your work or school do for equality? What does your town do? Influence politicians and other decision-makers. Together we can change the world – and you are needed!
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