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Photo by Jose Hernandez

“Traditional Masculinity” Isn’t Under Attack Because It Doesn’t Actually Exist

Mark Greene explains why man box culture is the real challenge

The “attack on traditional masculinity” is yet another derailing, false, and reductionist political binary designed to divide us at the ballot box. Which means we’re going to be hearing a lot about it.

For political binaries about traditional masculinity to work during the 2020 election cycle, all sides have to agree that traditional masculinity is white, monolithic, and conservative.

It is not.

The full spectrum of masculinities is an exercise in nearly infinite variation and diversity. Just as there is a wide spectrum of masculinities within, for example, the subset of gay masculinity(s), so there is a wide spectrum of masculinities in the subset of traditional masculinity(s).

Put simply, traditional masculinity doesn’t exist. Traditional masculinities do, by the thousands.

Which is why we need to be careful about how we talk about masculinity. When we push back against sexual abuse and violence by pointing a finger at traditional masculinity instead of our dominant culture of masculinity, we empower reactivity inducing political binaries that impede our progress toward solutions. We can disarm these binaries and make a powerful shift in the dialogue by locating our collective challenges where they actually belong in what author and activist Paul Kivel calls “the act like a man box.”

Man box culture results in the abuse of women, precisely because it relies on the denigration of the feminine as its primary mechanism for policing boys.

Boys who fail to conform are called “girly or gay” (Way, Deep Secrets, 2011). When they fail to “man up” they are called sissies or faggots. This drumbeat of denigration takes place daily, if not hourly, over the course of decades, the side effect of which is generations of men who view of women and gays as deserving of contempt.

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Connection is what men actually need.

Men will never find the sense of belonging they seek in the suffocating, bullying confines of the man box. Our sense of belonging resides alongside the freedom to explore fully diverse, authentic lives. Organizations like The Mankind Project and Evryman are creating brotherhood among men who span the racial, sexual, cultural and political spectrum, proving that men want and need connection across the ugly and divisive binaries of man box culture.

Mark Greene is the author of The Little #MeToo Book for Men

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Written by

Author THE LITTLE #METOO BOOK FOR MEN Writer/speaker on inclusion, masculinity. BBC, New York Times- http://remakingmanhood

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