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How I talk to teenage boys about rejecting toxic masculinity

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Neu California
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How I talk to teenage boys about rejecting toxic masculinity

Postby Neu California » Mon Jan 16, 2023 5:02 am

The Australian ABC wrote:When Mufaro Muneri faces a classroom of teenage boys and tells them "it's OK to cry", he usually spots a few eye rolls.

But after a day of discussing the harms of toxic masculinity, and challenging gender stereotypes, the 28-year-old from Melbourne receives plenty of handshakes — and hugs.

Mufaro works for Man Cave, a not-for-profit that describes itself as a preventative mental health and emotional intelligence charity, empowering boys to become great men.

It runs programs in schools across Victoria and New South Wales.

Mufaro is also working alongside Respect Victoria to encourage men and boys to work together to prevent violence against women.

We spoke to Mufaro about the work he's doing. These are his words.

What inspired you to get into this work?
During lockdown I was listening to a podcast and the CEO of Man Cave, Hunter Johnson, was a guest.

He was talking about how we don't really have a way for young boys to grow into manhood.

I was so blown away, thinking, "I wish we had this kind of program in school."

I went to an all-boys school, and there was a high rate of suicide. If we'd had these kinds of talks, maybe I'd be sitting at the pub with some of those guys now, talking things out over a drink.

I started following The Man Cave and one day they were accepting applications.

It's an inclusive charity where we welcome all people from backgrounds and gender — that appealed to me.

In the job I talk to boys about masculinity, and how sometimes we feel we have to resort to certain behaviour to prove it.

That can range from simple school banter, to getting into fights. It might look tough, but that's not really tough.

I find doing the workshops a powerful experience.

You sit back when you get home and think, "That was such a beautiful day."

What are some of the gender stereotypes you address?
The biggest one is definitely getting the boys to understand it's OK to show emotions. It's OK to cry.

Most say they are told to man up, don't be a wuss — keep things bottled up.

I show them instead that they can talk to each other. It's important to seek help.

It's OK to text a mate or talk to a teacher, for example. Say you really need to talk to someone.

I talk about suicide stats and how important it is to listen to yourself, and others, and prioritise mental health.

I also explain that when you hold in emotions [because of traditional gender stereotypes], that can sometimes lead to violence. And that violence could be towards someone you love, like a partner.

It's about trying to dismantle the idea that violence is normal.

How do you help boys feel confident to call out sexist behaviour?
I ask the boys to reflect on moments they might have seen — perhaps it was boys having some banter about a girl.

They might say, "I could have stepped in." That reflection can encourage them to do better next time.

It might be as simple as saying, "Please don't say that. That doesn't align with my values, and I don't want that to be your values either."

I used to work at a bar, and there would be times I'd see men talking to women aggressively. Or see them crossing her boundary.

With the tools I have now, I could have intervened. We can all benefit from this kind of reflection.

We tell the boys, "Don't be afraid to speak up. Stepping up is better than stepping back."

How have you grown since working in this space?
Since starting this job, I have been able to express my emotions better.

I used to bottle things up. If someone called me a racial slur (my parents are from Zimbabwe), I would just laugh it off.

Deep down it hurt me.

Now I'm able to say, "I'm not sure you understand how that crossed my boundary. I don't like that."

It's beautiful to be able to hold that space for someone else, and myself.


This idea is highly beneficial, IMO. Anything that reduces sexist behavior and teen suicides can only be called a damn good thing.

But what do you think? Is this a good idea, is it the right approach?
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Postby Saiwania » Mon Jan 16, 2023 5:54 am

It is only ever all about women and what they want out of or from men. The boys are right to be skeptical if that is the case, if this is just another gynocentric plot to diminish the male roles and prospects.
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Postby Ghost Land » Mon Jan 16, 2023 6:03 am

Saiwania wrote:It is only ever all about women and what they want out of or from men. The boys are right to be skeptical if that is the case, if this is just another gynocentric plot to diminish the male roles and prospects.

Even I have to side with the option generally considered 'liberal' on this one. It's not healthy to tell someone he has to bottle up his emotions or make him feel bad about feeling upset about something just because he's a guy. In fact, that exact mindset is behind why so many men of my dad's and grandpa's generations have been conditioned never to tell anyone when they're feeling sad, worried, or vulnerable, and end up with all their adverse emotions coming out in the form of rage.

Men should be allowed to cry. Men should be allowed to experience the normal human emotions of sadness and fear, and be able to express them in a healthy manner - as opposed to feeling guilty about those emotions and feeling as though they have to bottle them up in order to be 'a man'. Why? Because we men are people too. Bottling up our emotions or being unable to tell someone when they crossed a boundary in fact only makes us weaker.
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Postby The Selkie » Mon Jan 16, 2023 6:06 am

Personally, I find this is a good idea. Sure, the approach might not be for everyone, but teaching children that they can seek help, that it is okay to show emotions, that talking with people is a beneficial thing - that is something good. I wouldn't call it "rejecting toxic masculinity", though, but that's most likely just me. ; )
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Postby Kerwa » Mon Jan 16, 2023 6:10 am

Ugh. When I was in school occasionally we’d have middle class pricks come and “talk” to us about shite - usually something the dopey teachers believed to be the crisis of the day. Normally these individuals got called puffs and had their cars keyed.

This kind of thing is just out of touch and another non-profit grift.

Everyone knows what the problem is/are but doesn’t want to talk about it/them.

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Postby Saiwania » Mon Jan 16, 2023 6:12 am

Men/boys should be fine as they are, provided they don't hate on women/girls but also don't waste so much efforts on putting women first, before their own self interests or development. The backlash against feminism can probably be lessened, if men could stop simping for female attention entirely or avoid what could breed resentment until later.

Crying makes you feel better, but doesn't really solve anything. Why not do that in private? There is a time and a place, but it usually isn't where people are counting on you to not fall apart.
Last edited by Saiwania on Mon Jan 16, 2023 6:16 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby -Astoria- » Mon Jan 16, 2023 6:13 am

Kerwa wrote:Ugh. When I was in school occasionally we’d have middle class pricks come and “talk” to us about shite - usually something the dopey teachers believed to be the crisis of the day. Normally these individuals got called puffs and had their cars keyed.

This kind of thing is just out of touch and another non-profit grift.

Everyone knows what the problem is/are but doesn’t want to talk about it/them.

And the problem, in your view, is...?
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Postby The Huskar Social Union » Mon Jan 16, 2023 6:13 am

The Selkie wrote:Personally, I find this is a good idea. Sure, the approach might not be for everyone, but teaching children that they can seek help, that it is okay to show emotions, that talking with people is a beneficial thing - that is something good. I wouldn't call it "rejecting toxic masculinity", though, but that's most likely just me. ; )

I agree, sounds like a solid idea and i hope it helps a lot of these young kids.
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Postby RunDown » Mon Jan 16, 2023 6:14 am

The counter of this is the swing too hard in the other direction. It is Ok to cry and show emotion, but it's not required.

There has been a swing to that if you don't immediately open up then you're embracing toxic masculinity. The discussion needs to be more on Allowing the feeling of emotions and their expression, but also that it is not a requirement.

Too many times those who are more reserved start to get hate because they don't want to be open, Toxicity is show on both sides now, when the whole idea of preventing Toxic masculinity is that you don't have to fit a mold, being yourself is alright.
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Postby A m e n r i a » Mon Jan 16, 2023 6:14 am

How do you talk to teenage boys about rejecting the growth of crystal gorillas from banana trees bent on taking over the Earth? What's that? They don't exist? Exactly.

Ghost Land wrote:
Saiwania wrote:It is only ever all about women and what they want out of or from men. The boys are right to be skeptical if that is the case, if this is just another gynocentric plot to diminish the male roles and prospects.

Even I have to side with the option generally considered 'liberal' on this one. It's not healthy to tell someone he has to bottle up his emotions or make him feel bad about feeling upset about something just because he's a guy. In fact, that exact mindset is behind why so many men of my dad's and grandpa's generations have been conditioned never to tell anyone when they're feeling sad, worried, or vulnerable, and end up with all their adverse emotions coming out in the form of rage.

Men should be allowed to cry. Men should be allowed to experience the normal human emotions of sadness and fear, and be able to express them in a healthy manner - as opposed to feeling guilty about those emotions and feeling as though they have to bottle them up in order to be 'a man'. Why? Because we men are people too. Bottling up our emotions or being unable to tell someone when they crossed a boundary in fact only makes us weaker.


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Postby Stellar Colonies » Mon Jan 16, 2023 11:43 am

The first step could be labeling it something less...toxic.

The central focus should also be towards helping them instead of this merely being an afterthought which is part of something designed to primarily benefit others.
Last edited by Stellar Colonies on Mon Jan 16, 2023 11:49 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Restored Sumeru » Mon Jan 16, 2023 11:48 am

The Selkie wrote:Personally, I find this is a good idea. Sure, the approach might not be for everyone, but teaching children that they can seek help, that it is okay to show emotions, that talking with people is a beneficial thing - that is something good. I wouldn't call it "rejecting toxic masculinity", though, but that's most likely just me. ; )


I firmly agree. Learning how to seek help and who offers the best help is essential. It is OK to cry, it's not OK to continually do it and wallow in misery. Seek help, improve your life. I think the phrase "toxic masculinity" itself isn't a good phrase as it has caused too many men to think they cannot be masculine. Instead, let's go for a positive approach. Cultivating "healthy masculinity." Using a good father as a role model. Strong, decisive, resourceful, yet gentle and loving. A benevolent guide.

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Postby The United Penguin Commonwealth » Mon Jan 16, 2023 11:58 am

Saiwania wrote:It is only ever all about women and what they want out of or from men. The boys are right to be skeptical if that is the case, if this is just another gynocentric plot to diminish the male roles and prospects.


yes, sai, telling people not to repress their emotions is a female plot to destroy men. you’ve cracked the code.
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Postby Kenowa » Mon Jan 16, 2023 12:01 pm

Yay, lets brainwash people in a bad situation with our biased ideals! If you want to talk to them about that kind of stuff, wait until they are not vulnerable and are able to form a coherent opinion.
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Postby Ifreann » Mon Jan 16, 2023 12:03 pm

Saiwania wrote:It is only ever all about women and what they want out of or from men. The boys are right to be skeptical if that is the case, if this is just another gynocentric plot to diminish the male roles and prospects.

Helping boys handle their emotions in a healthy way so they don't kill themselves is clearly a gynocentric plot to diminish the male roles and prospects as suicide stats. :roll:
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Postby Hannoura Az-Zengi » Mon Jan 16, 2023 12:09 pm

Saiwania wrote:It is only ever all about women and what they want out of or from men. The boys are right to be skeptical if that is the case, if this is just another gynocentric plot to diminish the male roles and prospects.

Definitely! Speaking out about your feelings is clearly a feminazi plot!
Yeah, NO. I'll stick to woke fools in Tiktok, not attacking a male for showing your emotions. That's my opinion.
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This thread is making me mad :eyebrow:

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Postby Mtwara » Mon Jan 16, 2023 12:45 pm

Nothing wrong with the principle, not a lot in there about the practice.
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Postby The United Penguin Commonwealth » Mon Jan 16, 2023 12:47 pm

Kenowa wrote:Yay, lets brainwash people in a bad situation with our biased ideals! If you want to talk to them about that kind of stuff, wait until they are not vulnerable and are able to form a coherent opinion.


what are these biased ideals?
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Postby Greater Cesnica » Mon Jan 16, 2023 3:08 pm

Saiwania wrote:It is only ever all about women and what they want out of or from men. The boys are right to be skeptical if that is the case, if this is just another gynocentric plot to diminish the male roles and prospects.

Sai do you want young men to kill themselves? If not, why is this such an issue for you?

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Postby The free city of Kravolec » Mon Jan 16, 2023 3:12 pm

Greater Cesnica wrote:
Saiwania wrote:It is only ever all about women and what they want out of or from men. The boys are right to be skeptical if that is the case, if this is just another gynocentric plot to diminish the male roles and prospects.

Sai do you want young men to kill themselves? If not, why is this such an issue for you?

this is sai we are talking about
everything is their issue

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This thread is restoring my faith in NSG.
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Postby Ostroeuropa » Mon Jan 16, 2023 3:36 pm

A few red flags but some other stuff I view mildly positively. I also find it typical and tiresome that they've gone into this with a preconception about what type of man they want these boys to be and are trying to sculpt them to be that, because women have decided that's the type of person men should be, revealing they haven't really learned any lesson before and the dehumanizing attitude to males marches on.

I don't see anything about asking the boys what they want masculinity to mean and how to achieve it and so on.

Saiwania wrote:It is only ever all about women and what they want out of or from men. The boys are right to be skeptical if that is the case, if this is just another gynocentric plot to diminish the male roles and prospects.


You're more right than most people in this thread for the above reason. I also think it's entirely facetious as we're going to see what usually happens in these circumstances at some point to the extent that it's a joke/meme among MRA communities about MensLIb crap like this.

"It's okay to talk about your emotions."

"Okay. I'm pissed off at the way women treat men."

"No not those ones!"

I can practically guarantee you this person isn't really going to encourage boys to actually express themselves or ask for help in a meaningful way. They're going to specifically guide them only to express themselves in ways women want, and to seek help about problems other men cause them, while either gaslighting the boys or throwing genuine shitfits over them wanting something different and expressing that differently than expected.
Last edited by Ostroeuropa on Mon Jan 16, 2023 3:40 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Postby Restored Sumeru » Mon Jan 16, 2023 4:15 pm

Ifreann wrote:
Saiwania wrote:It is only ever all about women and what they want out of or from men. The boys are right to be skeptical if that is the case, if this is just another gynocentric plot to diminish the male roles and prospects.

Helping boys handle their emotions in a healthy way so they don't kill themselves is clearly a gynocentric plot to diminish the male roles and prospects as suicide stats. :roll:



For once we are legitimately on the same side. We need boys to open up about their feelings to avoid fates like drug use and suicide.

I say the issue is: how to open up/who to open up to.

I would say open up to your parents (I do because my parents are awesome), but not everyone has that kind of loving family. I think Barack Obama raised some kind of notion of being "My Brother's Keeper" in one of his speeches. Maybe we could start with something like that?

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Postby Jewish Underground State » Mon Jan 16, 2023 5:34 pm

Saiwania wrote:It is only ever all about women and what they want out of or from men. The boys are right to be skeptical if that is the case, if this is just another gynocentric plot to diminish the male roles and prospects.

I do not believe that this is a "gynocentric plot to diminish the male roles and prospects." However I do believe that the anti toxic masculinity movement will not be won by feminists convincing men to not bottle their emotions but rather by men telling other men to not bottle their emotions.

And while treating women fairly is important it should not be the main focus, the main focus should be men learning how to feel emotions without feeling like they've failed at something.
Last edited by Jewish Underground State on Mon Jan 16, 2023 5:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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