Written by Travis Wing. Travis is an original ManUp member and has worked as a ManUp leader since 2014.
When ManUp began in 2014, I was the proud father of a very young daughter. This meant that everything I was learning about Sexual Violence was interpreted through the mindset of “how could this affect my daughter?”. Every case study, every horrific story and every testimonial made me wonder how I could possibly shelter my daughter from the widespread rash of sexual violence in our high schools.
Two years later my wife gave birth to our second child, a little boy. This marked an amazing shift in my perspective on sexual violence. Rather than asking myself “how can I find a way to prevent my daughter from being victimized?”, I started to ask myself, “How can I be sure my son won’t adopt any of the crippling and devastating mindsets that are at the core of almost every instance of V.A.W.?”. I started to wonder, who’s sexuality and identity is at greater risk of falling victim to this broken system that our culture is constantly employing as a driving force in the maturation of our young people?
Our culture has used mass media and social media to fuel a systematic degradation and deviation of typical socio-sexual values, ideals, behaviors and fantasies. We have leveraged stereotypical traits of hypermasculinity to extort a compliance to increasingly selfish and pornografied narratives that has embedded themselves into the ideals of many of our young men. Constant exposure to hypersexualized male dominated imagery that subordinates and objectifies women has managed to penetrate the minds of our next generation. While it has yet to turn our boys into bad people, I believe it has left us with a very cloudy understand about love, romance, sexuality and relationship.
When I ask “What am I supposed to tell my son?”, that is a very literal plea for help. I know that he will grow up absolutely inundated with explicit and implicit messaging that teaches him that the beauty and pleasure lies in the exploitation of a sexual object. I do not know how to teach him the amazing value and beauty of healthy relationships.
MINDS ON MEN – QUESTIONS TO PONDER
- We are starting to understand that stereotypical hypermasculin traits do not lead young men into healthy / happy relationships. Which traits are the ones that we should aspire to? What traits are valuable to us and the ones we love on a day to day basis?