Ohio News Connection
“Boys will be boys.”
“Nice guys finish last.”
And “Man-up” are just some of the expressions that men may be told throughout their lifetime.
While they may seem harmless, research shows such stereotypes can actually support violence.
Glenn Harris is the coordinator of the Engaging Men program at the Ohio Men’s Action Network (OHMAN) which works with men and boys on violence prevention. He explains hyper-masculine attitudes and behaviors lessen the value of women, and contribute to the idea that men must be strong and in control.
“Getting to some root attitudes and beliefs that start very early age and are often perpetuated through various social constructs — whether it be athletics, whether it be certain male fraternal structures and different things of that nature that continually feed to this notion of what being a man is,” Harris states.
OHMAN’s workshop, The New Playbook: Standing Strong to Promote Non-Violence, helps men construct positive masculinity, and learn about bystander intervention, leadership and community organizing, so they can influence others about non-violent and respectful relationships.
Harris says popular culture can also perpetuate violence, and offers the example of the slang term “wife beater,” which is used to describe a sleeveless, white undershirt.
“Men often walk around with a certain sign of strength when they have that shirt on,” he points out. “How do we eradicate that from the vocabulary? Out on the football field, in the classroom, out on the recess? How do we start to remove language and some of the things that can dishonor boys and girls to be predisposed to violence?”
Harris adds the COVID-19 pandemic has forced his group to get creative with technology, and workshops are currently being transitioned to an online space. But there is a silver lining.
“Which opens up the door to more men, because now I don’t have to commit to an eight-hour workshop,” he states. “I can now take modules at my own leisure. In addition have an opportunity to self-reflect as I go through these modules and not immediately going on to the next topic, so-to-speak.”
Harris notes the network is also working within the LGBTQ community and other minority populations that are often disproportionately victims of some of the violence.