Booking a workshop for your students or team which deals with serious and difficult topics like masculinity, violence against women, misogyny, consent and mental health may feel a bit daunting - why?
These are issues you know your students or team want to talk about and need to talk about. They may not be a priority on the curriculum. They're not part of mandatory staff training. But understanding and exploring them in a safe and effective way is crucial for students' personal development and the overall healthy culture of your school or organisation.
We understand that approaching these conversations alone can open an enormous can of worms, with an intimidating amount of questions. What if someone brings up Andrew Tate? What if the men in the room feel attacked? How do you cater the session for differing religions and cultures?
That's where we come in.
Voicebox runs workshops and assemblies on all of the above, with a particular focus on the role of masculinity. How does our view of masculinity influence our opinions, actions and reactions? How can we differentiate between healthy and unhealthy forms of masculinity? Can healthy masculinity make a positive impact on our lives and the lives of those around us?
These are all questions we explore in our workshops, in which we value every participant's answer. There is no shame, and there are no wrong answers. Every person we've worked with defines masculinity slightly differently to the last, which is why we know these conversations are so crucial to be had in effective ways with trained professionals.
To date, we've worked with over 12,500 young people and participants and over 69 organisations; our breadth of experience covers a vast range of age groups and backgrounds.
In this blog post, we explore the objectives, methodologies, and impact of our transformative workshops for KS2, KS3, KS4 & KS5. From candid discussions to experiential drama-based exercises, we uncover how participants confront or conform to societal pressures or stereotypes, examine their own behaviours, and ultimately strive for personal growth.
What do our workshops cover?
From misogyny, to mental health, to Andrew Tate, the topic of 'masculinity' covers a wide field. It's a multi-faceted concept with varying definitions depending on who you're talking to. That's why we break it down into the simpler concept of gender stereotypes for KS2, and form our sessions for KS3 and above around the question: What does it mean to be a 'good' man?
Our KS2 sessions are aimed at fostering healthy attitudes towards gender and masculinity from a young age. Through engaging, age-appropriate activities, discussions and storytelling, the workshop addresses emotional expression, empathy, respect for oneself and others, and how to challenge gender stereotypes.
Participants explore the impact of societal expectations on gender roles, learn to recognise and confront dangerous behaviours, and discover the value of open communication and mutual support. By nurturing an environment of inclusivity and understanding, the workshop empowers both young boys and girls to cultivate positive identities, forge meaningful connections, and contribute to a more equitable and compassionate society.
Our workshops for Key Stage 3 students and above (which go hand-in-hand with our Introduction to Masculinity assembly), offer a comprehensive exploration of masculinity in contemporary society. Through a combination of interactive games, drama-based exercises, group discussions, and reflective activities, participants delve into nuanced topics such as emotional intelligence, consent, healthy relationships, and the intersectionality of gender and identity. We look at examples of 'toxic' masculinity (or what we refer to as 'unhealthy' masculinity) and challenge them by thinking up ways of practising healthy masculinity through exploring real-life scenarios and mental health activities for students.
The workshop provides a safe and supportive space for individuals to challenge ingrained stereotypes, confront unhealthy behaviours, and cultivate empathy and respect for themselves and others. By promoting critical thinking and self-awareness, we empower attendees to redefine masculinity on their own terms, fostering a culture of inclusivity, authenticity, and positive masculinity in their communities and beyond.
What age groups do we work with?
Voicebox runs workshops for students in KS2, KS3, KS4 and KS5. While a lot of our work takes place in the classroom or school hall, we've done multiple larger masculinity-based projects with organisations such as St Margaret's House, Harrow Council, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Brit School and St Hilda's Community Centre (among many others!).
If you're wanting to collaborate with us on a project, get in touch with Jack at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What sort of language is used in the workshop?
While our approach and content may differ between primary and secondary students, we always try to talk about masculinity in terms of 'healthy' or 'unhealthy'. Because is masculinity toxic?
We don’t think masculinity itself is toxic. However, certain aspects of it, can and regularly do have a negative impact on both individuals and those around them.
These traits are what is more commonly known as 'toxic masculinity', and this term has come to be familiar across all age groups and identities. However, while it accurately conveys the harmful nature of certain behaviours and attitudes associated with traditional masculinity, it can elicit defensiveness from some students, and be a counterproductive term to use.
Shifting the language to 'unhealthy masculinity' allows us to discuss the same issues without immediately alienating those who might feel attacked. We also encourage teachers to adopt this terminology beyond the workshop and in their own teaching practice.
Who's leading the workshops?
Our team of expert facilitators have all undergone training in delivering masculinity workshops.
There will be one facilitator per class or group, depending on the number of participants. The team will arrive at least 30 minutes before the first workshop and can lead multiple sessions throughout the day depending on your organisation's needs.
We encourage teachers to be an active participant in the workshop, especially in terms of managing behaviour, while remaining as objective as possible; it's always exciting to hear what the students really think!
Are the workshops just for boys?
Absolutely not! Masculinity impacts us all, regardless of gender. When working in mixed schools, we really encourage teachers not to separate the class by sex. Often when students are in a diverse environment, they have an opportunity to interact with an opinion, perspective, belief or experience they wouldn't otherwise be able to.
What if someone brings up Andrew Tate?
It's understandable to worry about the dreaded name popping up during a workshop - but we're not afraid to hear it.
We know that 67% of young people have encountered Andrew Tate's content, with 52% of 16-17 year old males, and 44% of 18-24 year old males retaining a positive view of his material. Tate projects the idea of being a strong confident man, which is easy to consume and can strike a chord with many young men who want to be just that. However, underneath all this is a warped, dangerous and highly misogynistic view of women in relation to men.
Not all of Tate's fan's subscribe to the misogynistic side of his views, but the name has become so hot and topical (as with 'toxic masculinity') that often young men are scared to bring him up for fear of being shut down.
We actively welcome what could otherwise be uncomfortable topics in our workshops; our aim is to openly discuss topics that may not be commonly discussed, such as why someone may find Andrew Tate’s content appealing. We want to help students identify the unhealthy aspects of Tate's messaging themselves, and develop their critical lens when it comes to masculinity.
How do I make a booking?
If you'd like your students or team to engage in open dialogue and reflection on the role of masculinity in their lives and the lives of those around them, you can book directly through our website or book a free consultation with one of our team (or email us if you prefer).
Does Voicebox have resources on masculinity?
Our blog is filled with free articles, research and resources to help readers feel confident in understanding these complex topics. Check out 3 of our most recent posts below: