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 Breaking the Boy Code 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 definitely important to me.
I’ve run inservice trainings discussing masculinity within outdoor education, focusing mainly on the impact of traditional masculinity on boys’ experiences with education, emotional literacy, sports and homophobia. As part of my role as head counsellor I’ve facilitated staff training sessions on masculinity culture at summer camp, as well as activities for boys ages 10-16, discussing the ‘mask’ of masculinity and the importance of emotional connection.
These are just a couple examples. I’m flexible. Visit jonathonreed.com/speaking or contact me if you’re interested in discussing further.
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 write on a Medium publication as part of the Breaking the Boy Code project.