When you think of a feminist, let alone a vocal feminist, you probably don't visualize a former professional football player. The hyper-masculinity of professional football encourages the opposite of feminist ideals. But athlete-turned-actor, Terry Crews, recently wrote a book called Manhood: How to Be a Better Man -- Or Just Live with One and is taking a stand to embrace feminism, and redefine masculinity.
No, this doesn't mean making men like women. It means cultivating vulnerability in men, to be able to say that they're scared, that they don't have an answer or solution, or that they feel weak. I believe that this is the definition of true courage, true strength. But mainstream maculinity, taught to many boys growing up, is that their emotional fears are shameful. If we want men to view each other and women as fully human, and deserving of respect, we need to allow and encourage men to develop a full range of human emotions and the ability (and safety) to express these emotions.
This is the kind of vulnerability that leads to true intimacy. Like Crews states in the video interview below, true intimacy is "to be known." I know that for most men and women, "to be known" is what they most desperately want, but most desperately fear.
We live in a world where an 23-year-old woman was attacked (and later died) in a fast food parking lot because earlier that day, she had the courage to defend two teen girls from male harassment. Crews' words are poignant and he takes on the challenge of being a role model. He states, "We're not battling individuals, we are battling a mindset." Yes. And mindsets come from cultural gender teachings. So what are you teaching to the next generation of boys? Respect for themselves (in all their strengths and weaknesses) with compassion for others...or something else?
(Photo of Terry Crews pulled from this webpage.)
~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego -- Sociologist, Sexologist, Sex Speaker