What Makes A Man?
What makes a man? This age-old question has become a topical matter in recent months with the emergence of popular news stories about domestic violence making headlines. When the opportunity arose to work alongside the Canadian chapter of the White Ribbon Campaign to execute a full branding refresh, website design and social media strategy for the annual What Makes A Man Conference, the stories and perspectives about masculinity tugged at my heartstrings and urged me to take part in the cause. Our mission became so much more than branding alone- it focused on creating spaces where men could talk.
In a culture of rising feminism, the gender tides are turning and churning. But when Beyonce is belting out "all the single ladies" atop a pedestal where femininity reigns supreme, where does this leave the male population? What space do they have to be vulnerable, to develop emotional literacy, and to learn about healthy relationships? Are there vulnerable, tear-your-heart-out conversations taking place in locker rooms and bars about the pressure of measuring up to unrealistic male stereotypes? I think not. Not enough, at least.
What makes a man in today's society? How does modern masculinity look, feel, and sound? These are loaded questions that are mighty hard to make sense of. There is no right answer, either- only wildly varying perspectives based on a vast landscape of personal experience.
Along with creating online touchpoints where men could engage with the cause, how would we entice them to attend the conference and participate in the discussion? The answer: Terry Crews, the conference's celebrity keynote speaker. Terry is the celebrated author of Manhood, host of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, former NFL player, and longtime funny front-man responsible for some of the most entertaining viral videos; the famous Old Spice ads. Terry wowed the crowd with his candid discussions about his journey from alpha male to the loving husband and father he is today. His voice garnered media attention from news outlets such as The Huffington Post, The National Post, CBC Radio's 'Q', Global News and CTV News.
The two-day conference sparked inspiring discussions from a number of wonderful speakers, and their perspectives all pointed to a similar thread: the stereotypical "man box" must be re-defined- for the sake of masculinity as a whole. In order to move forward, we must leave the toxic stereotypes behind.