“In most western settings, including prisons, it’s ‘traditional’ masculinity that is dominant. Aggression, hardness, physical power and emotional reticence – not love and compassion – are the qualities most highly valued. These values are intimately connected to, and manifest in, power and systems of domination – governmental, financial, military and domestic – by which a small number of men secure the natural and economic resources of the planet for themselves, and protect their privilege by any and all means, including imprisonment, slavery and force of arms.
Many men who are raised to believe in these values, but who are denied access to the rewards such values supposedly offer – and who live without encountering alternative narratives – are angry, depressed, violent and destructive.
These are the young men who fill our prisons, who fight in the streets and in pubs, who beat their partners and their children, who fill the internet with misogynistic hate. Historically, they are also the men who are enlisted to fight for other men’s power. When we talk about finding new heroes and new models of masculinity, we have to talk about dismantling these systems of domination.
Power knows this, which is why voices calling for different models – valuing peaceful coexistence, mutual tolerance, caretaking of each other and of the planet – are most often marginalised and ridiculed, and sometimes exiled, imprisoned or killed.”
Howard Cunnell. “Traditional ideas of masculinity are poisoning our society. There is another way.”