Helping Men Break out of the "Man Box"
Steve Adubato goes one-on-one with Tony Porter, CEO of A CALL TO MEN, to discuss how his organization not only works to prevent sexual abuse amongst women and men, but also strives to help men break out of their “man box” by identifying the limitations of what a man is “supposed” to be while providing the tools to rise above it.
"We are pleased to welcome Tony Porter, Chief Executive Officer, A CALL TO MEN. An author, educator, activist, and I want to thank you for joining us. Alright, thank you Steve for having me. Let's get right into this. You have been coaching, teaching, mentoring, inspiring men for many years, and by the way, we're gonna see your website up here as well. You talk about breaking out of the, quote, "man box". What is that about? When we talk about the "man box" it gives men a visual right? What we're actually talking about is the collective socialization of manhood, how men are collectively taught to think and act, and in many cases, behave. I mean we don't all do the same thing. You know you may do things different than I do, but we all have a basic understanding of how manhood is defined, because it's taught to us from the time we're little boys. So we use the "man box" to give men a visual. We talk about all the ingredients in that box that come to define many aspects of manhood. Men are tough, men are strong, men are courageous, men are athletic. Men are dominant? Dominant, no fear... Which is a problem sometimes? A big problem. No fear, no pain, you know, so much of how we define what it means to be a man, it's in that box, is, at the end of the day, to distance ourselves from how we perceive to be the experience of women and girls. So if women and girls can ask for help, men, we don't ask for help, we don't offer help, we don't accept help... That's right. You know, all of these notions of manhood is what's inside of that box. You know, you're making me think about something. You and I... born around the same time? Mm hmm. You grew up... and you were born in Harlem, raised in the Bronx, I was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, and proud of it. Brick City. Mm hmm. But the pointed the story is that... the point I'm raising is our son, one of our sons is 13, and we were talking about something, and he started crying pretty quickly, and I just laid into him. Yeah. I said, "Chris what are you... cry... what?" And I start talking about crying... Mm hmm. ...because I didn't think it was appropriate or helpful for him to cry. Right. I said, "Crying doesn't solve problems." My wife said, "Just back off." Yeah. And..."