BY JOHN W. COLEMAN
Our society is undergoing dramatic changes in how we see and respond to gender realities and relationships—from fluid sexual identities to the #metoo movement. One stubborn change that many should welcome—including many in the church—is in how we see masculinity and how some traditional views of that social construct often hinder and certainly harm relations between men and women.
Several men will offer enlightened views about hyper versus healthy masculinity at a half-day seminar, titled “Breaking Out of the Man Box”*—on Saturday, September 28, from 9 AM to 3 PM—at Simpson House, 2101 Belmont Ave, Philadelphia. The cost is only $20 , CEUs are available, and online registration is still open until Friday, September 27. Men and boys, and the women who love them, are urged to attend with open minds and hearts ready to learn and share what they learn.
The event is sponsored by the Eastern PA Conference’s new Domestic Violence Committee. The 2018 Annual Conference established that committee to address the lethal sin and scourge of domestic violence that harms too many women, men, children and families—including many seated in pews and pulpits of our churches.
The Rev. Rickie Houston, a domestic violence specialist and trainer with the organization A CALL TO MEN will deliver a keynote message and then join in a panel discussion on the topic. Houston has trained groups across the U.S. and West Africa, including community and religious groups and professional sports teams, like the Carolina Panthers of the NFL. He teaches them to help boys and men develop respect for, and help end violence against, girls and women. That learning requires also respecting themselves and their own healthy emotions.
“We look at what society has taught us about what it means to be a man,” Houston said in a radio interview. “Many of us are not allowed to show emotions except anger….We’re taught to keep our other emotions inside, unlike women.”
“We’re not here to indict men,” he explains, “but just to have a conversation” about how men are socialized in harmful ways and how they can change.
Houston, who trains men, women and boys, believes in a developmental, holistic approach in his ministry that includes the “interaction of spiritual and social consciousness.” He is a prevention specialist for the Wilmington (N.C.) Domestic Violence Shelter & Services and the pastor of Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church in Wilmington, N.C.
A CALL TO MEN, is part of movement, that includes organizations, authors and media producers, all working to help men and boys unlearn and heal from toxic masculinity, which is learned male attitudes and behaviors that contribute to confused aggression and intimate-partner abuse by men.
Educating men all over the world on healthy, respectful manhood A CALL TO MEN is a violence prevention organization and respected leader on issues of male socialization and its intersection with violence, and preventing violence against all women and girls.
“Millions of young people today refuse to blindly accept traditional gender norms,” says A CALL TO MEN CEO Tony Porter. “They reject the harmful lessons of collective male socialization—the rigid set of behaviors and expectations that we call the Man Box. They are ready, willing, and able to forge a new path.”
The morning panel discussion will also feature Chester County Domestic Violence Center staff who help athletic coaches teach healthy attitudes and behaviors among male teens through the Coaching Boys into Men program there. And the Rev. David Piltz, a campus minister, pastor and Eastern PA Conference Coordinator of Young People’s Ministries, will offer insights from his work as a Marriage and Family Therapist who once staffed a domestic violence response hotline.
Afternoon workshops will focus on:
NOTE: A CALL TO MEN is internationally recognized for training and educating men and boys to embrace and promote a healthy, respectful manhood. The organization’s approach is grounded in the social ecological model, advocated by the Centers for Disease Control, as a framework for primary prevention of gender-based violence, and supports the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Goal 5: Gender Equality). A CALL TO MEN has 20+ years of experience working with and training men and boys, including the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, National Hockey League, the United States Military, the Department of Justice, the United Nations, corporations, organizations, and educational institutions across the United States and abroad.
*NOTE: What is the Man Box?
A CALL TO MEN coined the term the Man Box to illustrate the collective socialization of men. The Man Box identifies the limitations on what a man is supposed to be and what he believes. These expectations are taught to men – sometimes unconsciously – and reinforced by society. In the Man Box, men are supposed to be: powerful and dominating, fearless and in control, strong and emotionless, and successful.
In the Man Box, women are objects, the property of men and of less value than men. The teachings of the Man Box allow gender-based violence to persist.
Watch A CALL TO MEN co-founder and CEO Tony Porter’s TED Talk offera powerful message about manhood and the role of men in preventing domestic and sexual violence. Speaking to an audience of women, Porter makes a call to men everywhere and shares powerful stories from his own life.
Listen to an informative radio interview with Rickie Houston on CoastLine (November 30, 2018), titled “A Call To Men And The Meaning Of Manhood.”