Category: 2012 Fall

Patrick McGann

A Thousand Points of Light? A year ago when I typed into a Google search bar “defining healthy masculinity,” one of the first links to appear was “Choosing Healthy Masculinity and What That Means” on the website of the organization where I work, Men Can Stop Rape, I thought, “Oh, good. Maybe we’ve already defined it.” Joe Samalin, my former colleague who wrote the piece in 2009, characterizes healthy masculinity as “a group of high school boys volunteering at a local domestic violence shelter… or, straight and cis-gendered college men partnering as allies with LGBTQ student organizations… and, the...

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Jackson Katz

Irreconcilable Concepts “Healthy masculinity” incorporates two distinct but nonetheless intertwined concepts: “health,” which suggests a biological perspective, and “masculinity,” which is a social construct. This interplay between the biological and the societal represents one of the great dialectics of our time, and raises a fundamental question: what does it mean to be a “healthy” man when the very idea of what it means to be a man is so contingent on the maintenance of an economic and social order in which men are arranged hierarchically in relation to one another and as a group are in a position of...

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Any Gender Is A Drag

Michael Kaufman What is healthy masculinity? There’s no such thing! After all, masculinities are social constructs, descriptions of the power relations between women and men and among men. Especially in their hegemonic versions, they are a set of stereotyped assumptions about what it means to be a man. They are systems of ideas—ideologies. But the thing is, masculinity doesn’t exist, at least not as we think it exists, as a fixed or timeless reality or as a synonym (healthy or harmful) for being a male. Years ago I described masculinity as a collective hallucination, as if we’d all taken...

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A Collective Journey

Steve Botkin Healthy masculinity is remembering and reclaiming a caring, loving and sensitive self from the dominant legacies of patriarchy. Even as the boy grows to be a man, learning each gesture of domination or control, he is also searching for ways to express his inherent, healthy desire for connection and natural capacity for compassion. Healthy masculinity is men respecting, and being respected for, the full range of our feelings, no longer denying our pain, our fear, our anger or our joy. It is men from different backgrounds, lifestyles and communities learning to feel safe with, listen to and...

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Beyond Boxes

Paul Kivel Describe a healthy masculinity. Sounds easy at first glance. But the word “masculinity” immediately calls up feelings and thoughts—from cultural meanings and practices the word has accumulated—almost none of which seem healthy either to the bearer or those around them. A certified masculinity and its benefits were the devastating “rewards” that male socialized people were given for colluding with ruling elites and carrying out their violence. My colleagues and I have long invited men to step out of the “Act Like a Man” box that glorifies certain attributes and calls them “true” or “successful” masculinity. Do we...

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The Courage to Grow

Tom Gardner “What are you afraid of?” That was a question I wanted to put to a young friend whom most would define as courageous—a man’s man. He never flinched from tough, physical sports like ice hockey, or dangerous assignments connected with his work abroad. But he seemed to be running from something more challenging—a committed relationship. Mind you, relationships are not for the spineless. They take a lot of work, and, most threatening of all, they require looking inward. They may require even reconsidering everything you thought you knew about being a male in this world. Why are...

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Healthy Males, Healthy Females

E. Ethelbert Miller The term “healthy masculinity” seems somewhat problematic to me. Is there a bar or level of measurement we should all attempt to reach? Should masculinity even be linked to topics or issues of health? Are we looking at our actions, thoughts or simple conditioning? Is this a term that’s now a part of our vocabulary because of how men wrestle with their identity and the handling of power in this society? Social change often demands a realignment of power relationships between groups. As women become more empowered does it threaten male privilege? Do men respond by...

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Escaping the Man Box

Ted Bunch Men must challenge our views and beliefs about each other. A major obstacle will be to confront our traditional male socialization and how it limits us and boxes us in. We must get out of the socially defined roles that sexism, patriarchy, and male privilege provide for us. In addition, we must end our collusion with the violence, objectification and demeaning thoughts and behaviors that we as men engage in toward women. This will require that we address our fears and anxiety about stepping out of our—often harmfully—defined roles and challenge the traditional images of manhood. The...

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Men’s Existential Vulnerability

Charles Knight Men’s health suffers from anxiety associated with deeply felt needs to control the world. Boys, much more than girls, are taught to seek power over things and relationships. Many men sense that control is a male privilege and feel that control should be within their reach. In reality most men have little effective control over the world or their relationships: other men control many aspects of their lives and as a result there is a persistent orientation toward anxious competition and too often doubts about self-worth. Beneath this social level there is the existential vulnerability of living...

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Loving, Passionate and Grounded

Juan Carlos Arean I’ll be totally frank. I understand the label of “healthy” when we talk about masculinity, relationships, communities. In fact, it’s in the name of the very network I lead. However, I don’t like to stop there. When I die, I’d hate to be remembered only as a “healthy” man in a “healthy” relationship or as a “responsible” father. I want my family (and others) to think of me as a loving, passionate, grounded, joyful man and father (who also happens to be healthy and responsible). So, for me, a loving, passionate, grounded, joyful man is someone...

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Men Are Human First

Robert Jensen The list of traits we claim to associate with being a man—the things we would feel comfortable telling a child to strive for—are in fact not distinctive characteristics of men but traits of human beings we value, what we want all people to be. The list of understandings of masculinity that men routinely impose on each other is quite different. Here, being a man means not being a woman or gay, seeing relationships as fundamentally a contest for control, and viewing sex as the acquisition of pleasure from a woman. Of course that’s not all men are,...

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Democratic Manhood

Michael Kimmel In the twenty-first century I believe we need a different sort of manhood, a “democratic manhood.” The manhood of the future cannot be based on obsessive self-control, defensive exclusion, or frightened escape. We need a new definition of masculinity in this new century: a definition that is more about the character of men’s hearts and the depths of their souls than about the size of their biceps, wallets, or penises; a definition that is capable of embracing differences among men and enabling other men to feel secure and confident rather than marginalized and excluded; a definition that...

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Healthy Masculinity Is Oxymoronic

Allan Johnson The idea of a “healthy masculinity” is oxymoronic, because what patriarchy takes from both women and men is the fullness of our humanity, which is the only valid standard against which to measure the health of a human being. I can think of no positive human capability that is best realized by being culturally assigned to one gender or another, nor can I imagine a truly healthy way of life that does not include the work of understanding and embodying what it means to live as a full human being. To ask what constitutes a healthy masculinity...

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What is Healthy Masculinity?

Reflections by Some Members of the Voice Male National Advisory Board and Other Colleagues and Allies With a healthy masculinity summit in October [2012] in Washington, D.C., a key component of an ambitious two-year project to “spread the message of nonviolent, emotionally healthy masculinity,” it seemed timely for Voice Male to ask several members of its national advisory board, and other colleagues and allies, to address in short essays their thoughts about the challenges inherent in trying define “healthy masculinity.” What follows are the voices of those who responded just before the magazine went to press.   Healthy Masculinity...

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Dark Knights Falling

Now Can We Talk about Masculinity and Men? Even though it was–once again–a man who went on a shooting spree, the national conversation following the mass murders on July 20 has so far failed to focus on the root causes of this latest lethal outburst: men’s mental health and how men are socialized. Until we acknowledge those issues, we can only expect more tragic bloodlettings. The massacre at the Century movie theater complex during a showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo., ended with 12 dead and 58 wounded. The shooter, James E. Holmes, was arrested and...

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Fall 2017

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