Dismantling Man Box Culture
Friday, March 11, 2016
Appleton North Stand Up group leaders presented at the 2015 Voices of Men breakfast.
Contributor: Shannon Kenevan, Voices of Men Community Engagement Leader
Have you ever heard the phrases, "Act like a man," "Man up," "Real men don't cry," or "You throw like a girl"? Then you know Man Box Culture. It's the part of our culture that raises boys to believe that the only emotion that "real men" can have is anger, men need to be tough and have all the answers, and women are of lesser value than men.
Fox Valley Voices of Men is an organization of men who are helping end sexual assault and domestic violence by dismantling Man Box Culture and building a culture of healthy manhood. Voices of Men was founded in 2007 when four local domestic violence/sexual assault agencies (Reach Counseling, Christine Ann Center, Sexual Assault Crisis Center and Harbor House) gathered men for a "Men's Summit." Voices of Men’s signature event is an annual breakfast, which drew nearly 1,100 people in 2015.
Recently, Voices of Men has seen exciting growth in school-based programs. Appleton North High School's Stand Up Club was started in 2014 by two students who were inspired by the Voices of Men movement. Last month, Stand Up worked with Voices of Men to teach the Man Box vs. Healthy Manhood curriculum to over 425 ninth graders at Appleton North. The ninth graders got it - not everything they brainstormed for the Man Box was bad (for instance, “enjoy sports and guns”, “eat meat”, and “drive trucks”), but being stuck there and not being able to get outside of the Man Box is.
In February, Voices of Men also launched the Horizons Elementary School boy’s group, the first chapter at the elementary level. The Horizons group is the sixth school chapter to launch in the past 16 months, with three more chapters on their way soon – exciting stuff! The group is being co-facilitated by a teacher, a Boys & Girls Club staff member, and two senior high school students who lead the Stand Up chapter at Appleton East High School. When facilitators asked the boys why this group was important to them, a sixth grader replied: “Many of us will be fathers someday. Some of us haven’t had great parent role models, so I’m hoping this group will teach us how to be better dads.” This is how we change Man Box Culture.
You’re invited to join us for the annual Voices of Men breakfast. This year’s breakfast will take place on November 2, 2016 from 7:15 to 9:00 at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel and will be live-streamed at satellite locations. Register online to attend the breakfast. For more information about Voices of Men, visit our website.
United Way Fox Cities participates on the Voices of Men Leadership Team and serves as the fiscal agent for Voices of Men.