I have a degree in outdoor education and years of experience working with young people. I’ve worked as a head counsellor at a summer camp, taught in schools, volunteered in at-risk youth mentoring programs and coordinated a festival’s youth program. I’ve facilitated slam poetry workshops. I’ve intervened in suicide attempts. You get it.
Throughout my professional experience I’ve studied gender and masculinity, and I’ve seen firsthand the consequences of hegemonic masculinity. Things like isolation, bravado, violence and misogyny. Because of this, I believe that raising boys in ways that are more connected and nurturing is a critical step towards improving the mental health of boys and men, as well as ending violence against women. This doesn’t mean undermining boys’ masculine identities. It means expanding their definitions of manhood.
As a young man who is skilled at building strong, authentic relationships with boys, and versed in gender theory related to masculinities, I believe that I have a valuable role to play in the movement for gender justice. Not a unique one, of course. But a valuable one.
The premise of this podcast is that boys have inner lives—personal, emotional experiences that are often hidden from view—and that if adults are going to play an effective role in boys’ lives, they need to better understand those experiences and how they are expressed. I’m currently producing the first season of the podcast: five episodes, each centred on a different boy’s experience and interwoven with the perspectives of experts and leaders in progressive masculinity.
The podcast originated as a Tumblr blog in which I recorded quotes and multimedia related to masculinity and boyhood. That project is ongoing and is as useful for me as an archive as it is for other people to follow.
In various places I’ve been asked to share my knowledge and skills with fellow educators, summer camp staff as well as with boys themselves. My availability depends on other freelancing- and adventure-based work I’m pursuing, but offering leadership in training peers and young people is something that is very important to me. Some recent examples are below. Contact me if you’re interested in discussing further.
‘The Mask You Live In’ Evening Activity
Developed and ran four evening sessions at a summer camp on what’s ‘allowed’ and ‘not allowed’ for boys, and how we wear ‘masks’ to hide emotions and appear invulnerable. Used part of Jennifer Newson’s The Mask You Live In as a base. Collectively worked with about 150 boys ages 10-16, and debriefed with the counsellors to help them process their own experiences and how they could best help their campers with some of the things that had been revealed.
Male Staff Homophobia/Masculinity Training Session
Led a discussion on what is inside and outside the ‘boy box’ and what kind of culture of masculinity we wanted to create—as the male staff and therefore important role models—for the boys at a summer camp.
‘Masculinity at School’ Inservice
Wrote and delivered a staff inservice at an outdoor school that centred on the impact of traditional masculinity on boys’ experiences with education, emotional literacy, sports and homophobia; using firsthand examples from their recent class groups as bases for discussion.
‘Masculinity and Outdoor Education’ Seminar
Wrote and delivered two workshops that discussed the historical shaping of traditional masculinity in the context of 19th century boy-focused early outdoor education programs, presented new research on boys’ interactions with hegemonic masculinity, education and sport; and applied those theories to outdoor and experiential education today.
My writing about masculinity has been featured on Medium, The Good Men Project and Ravishly. Subjects have included boyhood masculinity, homophobia, transgender youth, feminism and gender justice. I’m currently working on setting up a Medium publication to support youth workers writing about similar subjects, but that’s a work in progress.
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