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Central Birmingham venue TBC

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A chance for men to meet and discuss how we can resist and lessen the restrictive influences of masculinity, making life better - in the process - for the women and girls we share our lives and spaces with, and for ourselves.

We know we are not pre-ordained to act out the narrow versions of 'being a man' sold to us all too often by culture: 'Be tough!', 'take control!', 'be the champ!', 'don't ask for help!', 'smash that!', 'no pain!', 'take no lip!'... and all that stuff.

We know that gender is a set of socially-constructed stereotypes which men and women are invited / cajoled / coerced from birth to act out - these stereotypes are not innate and therefore can be challenged.

We can expand our understanding of what it means to 'be a man', to value emotions and diversity of self-expression, to prize caring, nurturing and openness.

We need to acknowledge how things can go very wrong if we rigidly adhere to masculine 'scripts': in terms of relationship abuse, violence (against women and girls, other men and indeed ourselves), risk-taking behaviour, detachment, friendlessness, ill health, depression, imprisonment, neglected creative or artistic impulses, not asking for help... it's a long list.

We will be talking about:

  • the reality and the impacts of 'The Man-Box' as illustrated in some key resources such as Tony Porter's seminal TED Talk HERE

  • the invisible entitlements we have as men (acknowledging intersections of ethinicty, class, sexuality), as discussed eloquently by Michael Kimmel in his TED Talk HERE

  • the basic truth that Male violence Against Women & Girls #mvawg is not a 'women's problem' but a men's problem that affects women and girls - and we will be asking each other what steps we can take to end that violence. ref Jackson Katz's TED Talk HERE

We aim to do this in a way that is clearly cognisant and supportive of the incredible struggles - through feminism - by women over the decades for their full human rights - a struggle by no means over.

There will be a few speaker contributions from men who work in relevant fields. Confirmed to date:

  • Michael Conroy, @michaelconroy68 - 14 years in Secondary Education, (formerly of A CALL TO MEN UK & White Ribbon UK), trainer/consultant in 'understanding social influences on boys and young men'

  • Stephen Burrell, Durham University, Centre for Research into Violence & Abuse (CRiVA), @the_daily_panda - 'Engaging men and boys in the prevention of men's violence against women in the UK'

Other speakers tbc. Hopefully followed by group discussions, laying the foundations for future networking. It'll be what we bring with us. if you're not keen on group discussions but would like to come and listen in - that's fine!

Key quotes:

"The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations." Chimamanda Adichie

"If it would destroy a boy to a be called a girl what are we then teaching him about girls?" Tony Porter

"Privilege is invisible to those who have it." Michael Kimmel

“The wounded child inside many males is a boy who, when he first spoke his truths, was silenced by paternal sadism, by a patriarchal world that did not want him to claim his true feelings. The wounded child inside many females is a girl who was taught from early childhood that she must become something other than herself, deny her true feelings, in order to attract and please others." Bell Hooks

"Calling gender violence a women's issue is part of the problem. It gives a lot of men an excuse not to pay attention" Jackson Katz

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United Kingdom

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