Author: Sheldon Kitzul

More currently referred to in many recognizable terms: “the man box”, “men’s mask” (as in Masks Off), “toxic masculinity”, among others. You may have heard many of them used. But wait, there’s more – it’s what is meant when we hear about “mansplaining”, “male privilege”, and “entitlement”. Where does all this negative masculinity talk come from?

A number of years ago, R.W. Connell suggested the idea of Male Hegemony. We’ll get into that in a moment. For now, what’s the story behind ReImagining Masculinities?

Jeremy Loveday and I have been working (independently of each other) on men related issues for a number of years. Jeremy as a spoken word artist and Victoria City Counselor, and I am an educator and work with single fathers and other men, speaking publicly on these issues. In the summer of 2017, we were having coffee together and almost simultaneously came to the realization we wanted to put on a conference for men and men-identified people. We began meeting and making a list of people who would be like-minded while also contributing to the greatness of this conference. Since I sit on the Board of Victoria Sexual Assault Centre with Sean Dhilon, we brought him on board as a very well connected feminist friend. . Our core planning team was complete when Nick Sandor, who delivers positive sexuality workshops in the schools, agreed to join.

Things have really taken off. The time is now for this kind of event. We have just witnessed the #MeToo phenomena starting in the Fall of 2017 and this conversation isn’t letting up, as politicians in Canada are facing the consequences of entitled actions toward women and other marginalized community members. Everyone we talk to is a YES to be involved or connected to ReImagining Masculinities.

As we hit the New Year, we’ve had Lorraine Murphy come on to manage social media communications, Natasha Lee handle our branding and website design and Jordan Watters join the team to provide deeper connection with youth and schools in the region. This is a high caliber, brilliant, and well connected team. I’ve not worked with such a group before.

We haven’t yet touched on the phenomenal group of advisers we are privileged to have on this team. Dr Annalee Lepp is Associate Professor, Gender Studies, University of Victoria. She has been wholeheartedly behind this project from the beginning . Professor Michael Kehler is the new Professor of Masculinity Studies at the University of Calgary’s School of Education. This is the first department of its kind position in North America. Finally, Paula Greene is the Executive Director of the Men’s Trauma Centre in Victoria, BC. She jumped on the opportunity to be connected with this conference as something she considers long overdue.

You can see that our team is both diverse and balanced in that we recognize the idea of male hegemony in our society and work intentionally to diminish it. Even, and perhaps especially, in the planning and delivery of a conference on looking at what it will take for us to shift our view of masculinities. Male hegemony has for so long defined masculinity in very one dimensional ways – men (those born male, identified as male and identify themselves as male and heterosexual) present and behave in a certain way. That way includes displays of strength, self-reliance, dominance, ownership and sexual dominance of women. And those who are outside of this box are not considered fully masculine.

We think there are ways of being male that ARE outside of this one dimensional way of being. We think there are numerous MASCULINITIES. This project is about Imagining what those Masculinities could be and what we can do to promote that.

SK