HMAP Trains New Healthy Masculinity Leaders
The Washignton, DC Healthy Masculinity Training Institute
Based on theories and skills that have shaped the Healthy Masculinity Action Project (HMAP), the Washington, DC Healthy Masculinity Training Institute was filled to capacity. Participants came from a variety of organizations including colleges, religious institutions, Greek life, domestic and sexual violence coalitions, and even an energy corporation.
The training institute began with a reading of the “inclusive” statement shared at the start of every HMAP event and then transitioned into group work focused on developing a description of healthy masculinity based on people’s experiences. The two trainers then introduced the role of storytelling in HMAP by discussing why we tell stories, sharing a personal masculinity story, and discussing with participants how the stories might connect with unhealthy and healthy masculinity. The rest of day one focused on unpacking unhealthy masculinity through dominant stories.
Day two started with a conversation about the relationship between healthy masculinity and masculinities, then moved onto the role of counter stories in healthy masculinity, creating healthy spaces for healthy masculinity, and engaging different male audiences through healthy masculinity. The last exercise of the day, “Gut Check,” provides a way to help men tap into their healthy emotional intelligence in bystander intervention situations.
On the final day, participants discussed self-care, including how the topic relates to unhealthy and healthy masculinity. They then deepened discussion about healthy masculinity and bystander intervention and swung into action by roleplaying bystander scenarios and intervention strategies. To close the institute, three storytellers shared an experience related to pornography to initiate a conversation modeled after the conversations held at the HMAP Healthy Masculinity Summit and Town Halls.
Responses to the Healthy Masculinity Training Institute:
“The HMTI experience was great. Not having done this work extensively, I feel that I was provided the knowledge and skills to successfully facilitate discussions. I am confident in my ability to move forward and engage others in those conversations.”
“...this is the on-the-ground work WE have to go out and do.”
“This was a wonderfully receptive, smart, and open group."
Howard University Healthy Masculinity Campus Conversation
“Show no emotion.” How men are taught to smother a rich and complicated emotional life was one of the topics of conversation at the Howard University Campus Conversation the evening of October 29, 2013. In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Howard University Interpersonal Violence Prevention Program, the Men of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, the Men of Drew Hall, and Men Can Stop Rape hosted the event, attended by more than 50 people, the overwhelming majority of them men.
Four outstanding male storytellers – a dean, a student, and two university alumni – kicked off the conversation with personal stories that took place in the Marines, on the basketball court, in a dorm, and in a close relationship. Hands shot up across the room in response, and for the next 50 minutes, students used their heads and hearts to speak about unhealthy and healthy masculinity.
The Howard men showed their emotions at the Campus Conversation.
This event would not have happened without the support and commitment of the following people: Dr. Barbara Griffin, Dr. Tricia Bent-Goodley, Akosoa Latrice, Mr. Tyrone Barksdale, Dr. Marc Lee, Lavar Youmans, Lamar White, Dr. Christopher St. Vil, the Men of Omega Psi Phi, the Men of Drew Hall, Roselena Martinez, Melanie Ortel, and Sherri Cunningham.
Men Can Stop Rape thanks the Verizon Foundation and Verizon Wireless for sponsoring this event.
Check out The Hilltop piece about the Campus Conversation here.
Let's Talk About Healthy Masculinity and a Genderless World
By Patrick McGann
Director of Strategy and Planning
Men Can Stop Rape
By now, many of you may know that the Healthy Masculinity Action Project (HMAP) has used storytelling to start conversations at the Healthy Masculinity Summit, Training Institutes, Town Halls, and Campus Conversations. This past year I’ve spent a lot of time formally and informally talking about healthy masculinity and listening to people talk about it. Someone occasionally voices the idea that healthy masculinity keeps us bound to gender instead of liberated from it and that our shared humanity can serve as a freeing agent. I’d like to share my thoughts on this subject, and in the spirit of HMAP, I’ll start with a brief personal story.
Feminism and a Genderless World
In 1983 as a Texas Tech University graduate student, I became involved with Abby, another graduate student. A year later we married, and shortly thereafter, she declared herself a feminist. Okay, maybe it wasn’t an actual declaration. She didn’t stand in our living room and announce while I was watching TV, “I am now a feminist.” It became clear by the books she read, the classes she took, the topics she brought up – and the arguments we had.
In the living room of our two-story, $150 a month, rental house in Lubbock, I told her – pretty zealously – that feminism was trapped in a tunnel vision, that it only focused on half the population and the well-being of people was lost. We’re all humans. This didn’t set well with her.
I have since come to have some understanding of why my “humanity” argument didn’t fly. A few of those reasons, I believe, apply to the idea of healthy masculinity and a genderless world.
Early in my graduate career I was heavy into reading about the ‘sixties and counterculture. One book whose title I can no longer remember focused on the creation of a commune with the intent of establishing a new society free of all harmful mainstream ideologies. After a short while, the banished ideologies started popping up here and there. It turned out that it was no easy walk to freedom. The commune residents positioned these unwelcome ideologies as outside the new environment and external to themselves. In actuality, they had internalized them as well. This mis-positioning resulted in people unintentionally replicating the very things they were trying to escape.
Based on this example, we can’t wipe away the old simply by embracing the new. Just because a man has gotten on the healthy masculinity bandwagon doesn’t mean he’s free of unhealthy masculinity. If we men are responsible about all of this, we’ll commit to deconstructing unhealthy masculinity – both internally and externally – for the rest of our lives. And we’ll teach deconstructing it to the boys in our lives.
But we need to do some reconstructing too. Otherwise, we’re left with a deconstruction void. Identity is a basic part of human life. We all have our identities shaped for us and participate in shaping them ourselves. We are more willing to deconstruct identities if more appealing identities are waiting in the wings.
In prevention work, we talk a lot about behavioral and attitudinal change in young men and boys, but if the attitudes and behaviors don’t fit with identities that young men will enthusiastically assume, we’re less effective. Men Can Stop Rape’s Men of Strength Club not only fosters young men and boys’ attitudes and behaviors connected to preventing gender-based based violence and other forms of violence. It also presents young men with a positive way to think of themselves in relation to those attitudes and behaviors. The Club reshapes social norms among peers by reconfiguring group and personal identities so that members are connected to something important that is bigger than themselves.
Moving from masculine identities to gender-free identities is a large leap, probably an impossible leap for the overwhelming majority of men and boys. I myself find it hard to grasp. And where do transgender people fit into this schema? I could more easily recognize the possibility of a gender continuum – something a number of theorists advocate. And running across this continuum would be the principle that no gender shall cause harm.
Strategy and Masculinity
So how do we create that gender continuum for men and boys? And I’m not referring to the guys in the violence prevention choir. I mean all of us. We need a strategy – a plan, a path, a process – that helps men and boys begin to break down the gender binary. We’re not Nike. We can’t tell them: Just Do It! During trainings, Men Can Stop Rape sometimes represents this binary through the two words most frequently used in ads for boys’ and girls’ toys: BATTLE and LOVE. How do we create conditions for men to move closer to love?
In another exercise we do during trainings called “Describing Healthy Masculinity,” we ask people to come up with personal examples representing healthy masculinity, and the end results are words that can be linked to love: a man who’s caring, respectful, non-violent, emotionally supportive, a good listener, questioning, empathic, and more. Someone often points out that these are words used to describe women. Healthy masculinity may not be our final resting point. Maybe it's a strategic, practical first step for men and boys to move in between the two gender poles. Maybe it’s a way for them to start considering “and/both” instead of “either/or.” Maybe it’s one way to bring all the genders closer together.
Of course, whether this is the case isn’t up to me. It’s really up to all of us. Whether healthy masculinity is a viable and valuable strategy is something everyone will have to answer and act on. So let’s keep talking about it.
Patrick McGann, Ph.D. has been involved with Men Can Stop Rape (MCSR) since the organization’s inception in 1997. Patrick has co-authored a sexual assault prevention strategy for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and has played key roles in conceiving, planning, and implementing the Healthy Masculinity Action Project. He regularly gives presentations across the country on engaging men in the prevention of gender-based violence.
Healthy Masculinity Summit Report Now Available
The Healthy Masculinity Action Project (HMAP) is proud to announce the release of the Healthy Masculinity Summit Report which can be viewed and downloaded here. The report documents the results of the Healthy Masculinity Summit, which was sponsored by the Verizon Foundation and held in Washington, DC, last October to launch HMAP. Read the press release about the report here.
Hundreds of men and women from across the country participated in conversations about the potentially positive impacts of healthy masculinity. The promotion of men's nonviolence and healthier life choices was considered across a wide spectrum of societal areas: athletics, the workplace, faith, technology, business, youth development, education, communities of color, fatherhood, mental health, gender-based violence, LGBTQ communities, media, and trafficking. Together, the collection of insights and observations derived from the more than 20 summit conversations serve as a compendium of critical knowledge that will shape the work of HMAP.
Throughout this year, with the support of the Verizon Foundation, HMAP will host regional summits, community town hall meetings in select cities and university campuses across the country as well as a Youth Leadership Summit to continue the discussion on how men can stop the violence. Check the Town Halls page for continuing updates on this series.
Thanks to Our Sponsors, Participants, and Allies for a Momentous Summit
Men Can Stop Rape would like to thank all of the sponsors, participants, and allies of the Healthy Masculinity Summit on October 17-19. We would especially like to thank the Verizon Foundation for being the Co-Host Sponsor of the Healthy Masculinity Action Project. Check out some of our many photos from the three-day summit above and check out the Verizon Foundation's Samantha Yakal-Kremski's blog on the Health Masculinity Action Project here. You can find recordings of the first full day's Morning and Lunch Keynote Conversations here.
Even if you weren’t at the Healthy Masculinity Summit in October, you can be a vital part of this initiative by organizing a Healthy Masculinity Town Hall or Campus Conversation in your community. And we can provide you with resources to help you. Send an email to email@example.com today to ask for assistance.
HMAP is a two-year project of Men Can Stop Rape, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Men Stopping Violence, Coach for America, Women of Color Network, and A CALL TO MEN. It is designed to raise the visibility of healthy masculinity and build a new generation of male leaders across the country who model non-violent, emotionally healthy masculinity, serving as positive change-makers in society.
Break the Cycle tweeted during the Healthy Masculinity Summit, “#healthymasculinity is building a society based on collaboration not domination.” The summit was built on the idea and practice of collaborative dialogue; the Healthy Masculinity Town Halls or Campus Conversations are similarly structured.
Make healthy masculinity more visible in your community. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org today to ask for assistance.
The Verizon Foundation is proud to support community programs and nonprofit organizations committed to providing education on domestic violence prevention. We believe that everyone needs to be engaged as advocates to create a stronger voice for awareness and to help change behaviors at the grassroots level. We are delighted that organizations like Men Can Stop Rape are educating men and boys on healthy masculinity and relationships so that our communities - and those who live in them – can continue to thrive. Together we – men and women – can help end domestic violence.
Director of Healthcare Philanthropy and International
The Verizon Foundation
Learn more about the conversations that will take place at the 2012 Healthy Masculinity Summit and download the Healthy Masculinity Action Project brochure. See the HMAP Allies below and on the About page.
HMAP National Partners: Men Can Stop Rape, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Men Stopping Violence, Coach for America, Women of Color Network, and A CALL TO MEN.
Healthy Masculinity Action Project Allies