“What Makes A Man, UTSC?” seeks to educate students about the diversity of gender identity by challenging traditional ideas of what it means to “be a man”. This campaign resulted from UTSC students’ growing concern about society’s inaccurate and often toxic portrayals of masculinity. Men seem to be burdened with unrealistic expectations such as having to be muscular, risk-taking, rich, and “in control”. These expectations stem from our male dominated society, where positive qualities are immediately attributed to men, placing unnecessary pressure on them and depriving people of other genders their recognition. The purpose of this campaign is not only to relieve men of that pressure, but also to eliminate stereotypes about people of all genders. The EDO’s campaign included a discussion café, biweekly Q&A booths, a school-wide poster/online educational campaign, and a keynote speaker event featuring Jeff Perera.
The discussion café was a guided, casual conversation between EDO staff and UTSC students. In the series of Q&A booths leading up to the café, students interacted with EDO staff and volunteers by signing whiteboards and posters, expressing their opinions about masculinity. These posters were placed around the school, while pictures of the whiteboards, saying “You don’t need to ___ to be a man!” were published online. During the discussion café, students explored the following ideas related to masculinity:
- Stereotypes of masculinity and their effects on people of all genders
- The damaging outcomes of a male-dominant society
- The intersection between masculinity and sexuality
Our keynote speaker event featuring Jeff Perera was a partnership with the Doris McCarthy Gallery during their “Another Perfect Day” exhibit by Janet Werner. This exhibit features paintings which depict different facets of womanhood and femininity. Jeff Perera’s talk featured themes from his past work including male violence against women, deconstructing the “man box” containing outdated conceptions of masculinity, and exploring the link between gender and sexuality.
About Jeff Perera
Jeff Perera is a Community Engagement Manager for the White Ribbon Campaign, the world’s largest effort to engage men and boys in re-imaging masculinity and helping end violence against women. Jeff speaks to people from all walks of life (from organizations to community spaces to grade school, high school and post-secondary students) about how society’s unattainable concepts of masculinity are affecting men and boys as well as impacting women and girls. Jeff also started Higher Unlearning, the online space to explore how ideas of gender and masculinity play out in everyday life.
Taken from www.higherunlearning.com