In today's rapidly evolving society, the traditional definition of what it means to be a man has been undergoing a profound transformation.
Masculinity is traditionally tied to stoicism, physical strength, and unwavering dominance. Objectively, these traits can bring certain benefits, but over the last decade or so, worrying stats about men's mental health have sparked conversations on what masculinity actually means, and both the healthy and unhealthy sides of it.
In this blog post, we'll explore the evolving definition of masculinity, the challenges and opportunities it presents, and the importance of redefining masculinity in 2023.
Breaking Free from Stereotypes
Historically, the concept of masculinity has been burdened by stereotypes that can be harmful to both men and society at large. The idea that men must suppress emotions, be the primary breadwinners, and exhibit unyielding strength has contributed to a narrow and unrealistic view of manhood. However, today's society is challenging these stereotypes by beginning to celebrate vulnerability, emotional intelligence, and diverse expressions of gender.
Embracing Emotional Intelligence
One of the most significant shifts in the modern understanding of masculinity is the recognition of the importance of emotional intelligence.
While phrases like "man up" are still commonly used, there is a wider encouragement of men to understand, express, and communicate their emotions in healthy ways. This is something we focus on in our workshops and assemblies, helping participants explore practical ways of demonstrating healthier masculinity.
This shift in attitude not only benefits individual men's mental health but also leads to healthier relationships and more empathetic communities.
Navigating Changing Gender Roles
The changing dynamics of gender roles in society have also played a pivotal role in redefining masculinity. As traditional gender roles become more fluid, men are freer to explore a wide range of interests, careers, and roles without fearing their masculinity be compromised. While we still have a long way to go, the idea that certain tasks, responsibilities and occupations are inherently "feminine" or "masculine" is being slowly dismantled.
Mental Health and Self-Care
The stigma surrounding men's mental health has been very gradually eroding as society acknowledges that seeking help and practising self-care are signs of strength, not weakness. Taking care of mental well-being, reaching out for support when needed, and actively challenging societal pressures that hinder mental health are all elements of healthier masculinity.
We explore this deeper in our workshop Healthy Masculinity: What it means to be a ‘good’ man, during which participants understand the reasons we should aspire toward healthy masculinity while learning what it looks like in practice, enabling them to take the tools to better take care of themselves, and thus around them, beyond the workshop and into the world around them.
Promoting Positive Role Models
Promoting positive male role models is crucial in shaping the evolving concept of masculinity. With figures like Andrew Tate on the rise, it's more crucial than ever to celebrate the role models who demonstrate sustainable and healthy ways to be a man in 2023.
Marcus Rashford, Jordan Stephens (from Rizzle Kicks) and Brendan Fraser all spring to mind as great role models for men and boys in an age of prioritising mental health, challenging gender stereotypes and accountability.
It's celebrities and figures like these who champion these values that create a ripple effect, encouraging more men to redefine their own identities.
Educational initiatives that focus on teaching young boys about healthy masculinity, consent, emotional intelligence, and the importance of respectful relationships play a vital role in shaping the next generation of men. By dismantling harmful stereotypes from an early age, we can foster an environment where boys feel empowered to be true to themselves without the constraints of outdated norms.
That's where our work comes in. Voicebox's mission is to promote healthy masculinity by working with primary and secondary school students to discuss, explore and challenge uncomfortable topics in a safe, fun and engaging way.
Led by expert facilitators, our workshops, assemblies and projects are designed to empower participants to combat gender stereotypes, challenge toxic masculinity (or 'unhealthy masculinity' as we like to call it), and prioritise mental wellbeing. Learn more about our work here.
If you're interested in booking one of Voicebox's workshops or assemblies, you can fill out a booking form here.
If you have a question or would like to chat through something with one of the team, you can book a free consultation here.