Recently I went to watch my cousin in a boxing match. He had enrolled into a 10-week challenge called “how to be a man”. I noticed that throughout the match, the organiser kept referring to the phrase “how to be a man” and at one stage even encouraged other guys who “want to be a man” to give the program a go and get into the ring. If I wasn’t wearing a short skirt that would have guaranteed a flash to the crowd, I would have got in there too!
It really got me thinking about the words “be a man” and the backward gender stereotypes and pressure we put on men today. Besides certain genitalia and those don’t even have to be present these days, who gets to decide what traits are “manly”?
Recently, a good friend of mine was telling me about an incident that happened at a buck’s night her boyfriend had been on. There was a rule in place that you were not allowed to “touch” the topless waitresses serving the drinks. Who would have guessed that this would have had the same effect as dangling chocolate in front of child’s face! Who can resist when the temptation is there but the words are no? The sight of nipples can not be ignored by some men, even when “touching” is forbidden. So as the story goes, the men accidently “bumped” into the topless waitress, that is until my friend’s boyfriend told them to stop otherwise we would send the girls home. To me, this is the type pf behaviour that constitutes a man. He stood up for what was right, regardless of the outcome.
Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Triple M radio personality Gus Worland and we talked about his mission, ‘what being a man is all about’ and of course his organisation “Man up”. Man up is a three-part documentary series and social awareness campaign funded by the Movember Foundation aimed at getting to the bottom of male suicide and saving lives! It encourages men to talk about their feelings and emotions, showing that “real men” can and should be able to open up and talk about what is going on in their life, and that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. What does this have to do with men accidentally touching nipples? This is both about challenging the idea of what it means to be a man. Men should be able to stand up for what is right but also be able to be venerable, emotional and talk about their feelings. To me, that is also a way to stand up for what is right because it is right for men to be emotional too.
The ability to punch might make a man in some eyes, but it’s words and even tears that will have a longer lasting positive effect…..
To find out more about Gus’s campaign and how you can get involved go to http://manup.org.au