The Mold Your Masculinity campaign is focused on unhealthy masculinity and the harms that come with it. Our goal is to help men rise to create their own healthy masculinity by educating youth and adults in Sitka on the harms of the man box. The man box is a set of societal beliefs that pressure men to be a certain way. These rigid expectations, detailed below, increase risk of harm to self and others.
Reconstructing societal norms or beliefs can be challenging without understanding the issue. SYLC looks to show men and boys that it is okay to be yourself and push to limit these harmful effects of the man box. Through these messages, we hope men will be able to mold their own masculinity--embrace their true selves and not feel obligated to conform to harmful norms. Together, we can shift the narrative around masculinity from social expectation to personal expression so young men and boys can live a healthier, happier, and more meaningful life.
SYLC members and other young people in the community reflect on the impacts of harmful masculinity norms and how they can help create a more accepting and inclusive community. Check out the films to hear them read their letters!
Scroll down to write your own letter using the same prompts! Participants will be entered into a drawing for a $50 Harry Race gift card.
Young men continue to be told “being a man” means using violence to resolve conflicts, refusing to seek help even if they need it, and sticking to rigid gender roles. Those who believe in the most restrictive ideas about manhood are consistently more likely to bully, binge drink, be in traffic accidents, harass, show signs of depression, and have considered suicide.
Men and boys who conform to these beliefs are said to be in the "man box," a set of harmful societal norms that endanger the physical and mental health of men and boys and those around them.
Several studies conducted in the US, UK, and Mexico searched for the costs of harmful masculinity. Take the quiz to see the "cost of the man box."
Check out the studies:
We All Play a Role
This ad by Gillette, titled "The Best A Man Can Get," shows examples of healthy masculinity and shows how Gillette aims towards these goals. The video has over 14 million views and twice as many dislikes as likes. Pushing back against societal norms is challenging, and many were not receptive to Gillette's message. This serves as a reminder that it will take all of us working together to shift the narrative around harmful masculinity.
Negative feedback included:
"Does Gillette want men to start shaving their legs too?"
"I'm researching every product by Proctor & Gamble, throwing any I have in the trash, and never buying them again until everyone involved in this ad from the top to the bottom is fired and the company issues an official apology."
"Gillette is telling its customers that they are the problem and need to change. That masculinity is bad and all men are responsible for the actions of a few."
"Stop trying to emasculate men! Let them be men"
Comments saying that Gillette is "crapping all over" the guys who've supported the company and "gender-shaming" men.
Write your own "Dear Men" letter, paragraph by paragraph, using the prompts below!
Avoid obscene language, be thoughtful and careful with your words, and don't be afraid to be vulnerable. Submit your finalized letter using the button! Letters may be shared anonymously on social media.
If you're willing to film your letter or would like to be entered into our drawing for a $50 Harry Race gift card, add your contact info to the submission form!
"Dear Men" Prompts
1. I know you face challenges that society tells you to live by, like...
What are some challenges men and boys face living in today's society?
What are some of the messages men and boys receive?
2. But did you know...?
What's most important to you that you want people to know?
Describe the harms that unhealthy masculinity norms have caused or can cause on you as an individual, on others, and on the world at large.
3. There is another way...
How can masculinity be freeform or of one's own choosing?
To me, being a man means...
This is how I define masculinity...
4. In an ideal world...
This is how I'm choosing to live outside of societal norms...
These are the traits or characteristics that I will embrace and embody...
This is what I wish for you...
Here's one step or action I'm taking... What are you going to do?
Content warning: potentially triggering topics such as sexual violence, interpersonal violence, and suicidal thoughts are covered in these letters.
The Mold Your Masculinity campaign has been in development for the past several years since SYLC members noticed an issue with rape culture in our community and society and its connection to harmful masculinity norms. SYLC members then asked to be trained on how to deal with these issues that were so prevalent. SYLC would like to thank Amanda Capitummino for assisting with the training of SYLC members on harmful masculinity, Lee House for putting together our campaign videos, and Alyssa Russell for her help with our amazing posters!