Socially there are a lot of expectations based on our perceived gender identity. We usually call these socialized expectations gender roles and gender norms. These socialized norms are constantly reinforced and become so widely accepted that they become stereotypes. The video below illustrates how stereotypical beliefs about “women’s work” (household cleaning, cooking and doing laundry) can be easily passed on from generation to generation but also can easily be challenged by people who support gender equality and #healthymasculinity.
***Admittedly the video is heteronormative (depicting a straight couple as the norm) but its message is still powerful regarding gender equality.
Conversation starter: What are some other examples of gender stereotypes that you have seen reinforced in your life?
Socially there a lot of unpsoken rules about being a man. One of the main rules according to Robert Brannon includes “no sissy stuff” or “avoid feminine behaviors”. A primary example of this is men crying publicly. Now there are exceptions to this rule especially in sports. Men are allowed to express emotion after a “heartbreaking loss” or during a retirement speech.
There are a lot of “real men” stereotypes that not only describe how men are supposed to behave but also include what men are supposed to look like. The messages about what a man is supposed to look like tend to reinforce norms around strength and toughness. Popular examples include James Bond and Captain America. When a man in the media doesn’t fit into the “man box” definition of celebrated body types that is usually used for comedic relief. An example of this includes the actor Will Ferrell. The video below discusses how the media reinforces messages about masculinity and body types.
Conversation starter: What are some examples of media messages you have seen about what a “real man” is supposed to look like?
Men tend to listen to other men. Research illustrates that men care about and are influenced by what other men think, do and say. One aspect of #healthymasculinity that can be really hard is calling out other men who engage in behaviors that are disrespectful or aggressive. The video below shows how.
Conversation starter: The video illustrates a simple way men can be allies just by speaking up when something sexist or misoygnistic is being said. What is an example of when you witnessed or have been a part of a situation when a group of guys checked their friends?