• January 6, 2021 at 10:55 am #3041
    Huong Nguyen

    1. Stereotypes and Cultures that hurt males
    a) What male stereotypes can you identify within your immediate community? Explain why you believe these are stereotypes.
    There are many male stereotypes prevalent in my immediate community. These include stereotypes such as males should not show weakness or their emotions, men should exert dominance in spaces, men are meant to be in powerful positions, and that they are meant to be the designated breadwinner in the home environment. These stereotypes are damaging and often contribute to an even bigger problem which is the inability of males to overcome and move through some of the societal negative stereotypes that surround masculinity. Therefore, as a young male in society, it is important that I identify the presence of these stereotypes and reflect on how to be part of eradicating them from societal norms. It is important that I raise awareness and start healthy conversations in safe spaces with regards to debunking these stereotypes that affect both men and women.
    b) What measures do you believe can be instituted in order to ensure that these stereotypes can be broken down?
    As mentioned above, the most important measure that I believe needs to be instituted in order to ensure that these stereotypes can be broken down is starting a healthy conversation in a safe space. This all has to start from a young age. For example, enabling little boys and girls to play with the toys that they want to play with regardless of whether that is a doll or a car or both. It is also includes allowing them to choose the activities that they would like to be part of regardless of their gender – whether that be dancing or playing football. But it is also important to empower little boys to be expressive rather than bottling their emotions, to show them that it is okay to show vulnerability and that it is okay to ask for help. During adolescent years, it is important for role model individuals such as parents and teachers etc to create spaces where healthy conversations can take place surrounding the topic of male stereotypes and how damaging it can be to the development of one’s self.
    c) How do you think we can change the points of view of older generations in order to see the harm that male stereotypes are having on the younger generations’ mental health?
    Although this will be more difficult, it is not impossible. Whatever can be learnt can also be unlearnt. With the passing of time, a lot of changes has happened to society. What was once deemed acceptable in a previous era is no longer acceptable and vice versa. Therefore, it is important to approach this topic with much needed sensitivity and emotional intelligence whilst also displaying the urgency of the matter. Too many lives of both men and women have been directly impacted in a negative manner due to the damage caused by the enforcement of male stereotypes in society. It is now time to tackle this forgotten epidemic and work towards a society that promotes equality, equity, feminism and healthy masculinity amongst males and females.
    2. Healthy versus Toxic masculinity
    a) Do you believe that toxic masculinity is still evident within today’s society? Please substantiate your answer.
    Unfortunately toxic masculinity is still very prevalent within today’s society. It is evident in the manner in which majority of our men behave. They tend to bury their emotions instead of expressing them. They struggle with their ego structure and often would rather blame others for their misfortunes rather than internally reflecting on what the potential cause may be thereof. In addition, many males struggle in silence because of the fear of being seen as ‘weak’ or ‘unmanly’. This is further proven by statistics by the WHO in 2015 that showed that men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women. This alarming statistic is a wake-up to our society and the world at large to start promoting healthy masculinity and the importance thereof before it is too late. Far too many men and women have suffered as a result of this, and it is high time that we start working towards empowering our men to be health masculinity advocates.
    b) Can toxic masculinity be unlearnt? Please elaborate on your answer.
    Yes. Toxic masculinity can most certainly be unlearnt. As mentioned in the video shared with us, we need to start moving away from approaches such as “Boys will be boys” to “Boys will be what we teach them to be.” And whatever can be learnt (toxic masculinity) can be unlearnt. This will require collaboration from all spheres of society from educational institutions to religious institutions and can only be effectively achieved through working towards empowering young boys to become men that practice healthy masculinity.
    c) How, as a Kectil Colleague, would you go about shifting the narrative from toxic to healthy masculinity?
    I will be able to shift the narrative from toxic to healthy masculinity by being a positive example of healthy masculinity. As a young male in society, it is incredibly important that I internally reflect on whether I am doing enough to wholly practice healthy masculinity in my day-to-day life. I need to acknowledge my weaknesses and seek help where necessary. Once I am able to succeed in doing so, I will be able to empower other men to also start making the move from toxic to healthy masculinity.
    d) What do you believe the benefits of integrating a sense of healthy masculinity into a community are?
    I firmly believe that the benefits of integrating a sense of healthy masculinity into a community are plenty. We are essentially changing the narrative entirely. A lot of the problems that we face in society, such as crime, gender-based violence, gender inequity in the workplace and mental health dysfunction can be attributed to the negative effects of toxic masculinity and male stereotypes. By starting healthy conversation in safe spaces about how men can be equipped with the knowledge, attitude and skill set to practice health masculinity, we are investing into a generation of men that will work towards the eradication of not only the male stereotypes and practice of toxic masculinity, but also be part of the much-needed solutions we need to effectively tackle many evils such as crime, gender-based violence, and gender inequity in society.
    e) How do you believe we can enhance healthy masculinity practices within our communities, especially in the context of lockdown and the pandemic?
    We find ourselves in very unprecedented times where many have lost their lives and livelihood to the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has posed major healthcare system and economic challenges globally. However, although much has been lost, we have also gained an appreciation for life and for the many opportunities (albeit limited) that we are able to enjoy on a daily basis. There is definitely place for the enhancement of healthy masculinity practices within our communities during this time. Due to the lockdown, many people have had to start working remotely from home – both men and women. This can be used as an opportunity for us to critically reflect on our practices in our day-to-day lives prior to COVID-19 and think about how we can better contribute to life beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents need to spend some time with their young sons and daughters and explain the importance of healthy masculinity and effective feminism in society. In essence, we all need to start being the change we would like to see in society.
    3. How Males can use their innate skills to protect females and advance/improve society
    a) What natural abilities do you think men have to support females and transform the community?
    As mentioned, men are by virtue relatively stronger than women in terms of physical activity. Therefore, it is important for males to acknowledge this privilege and use it to support females and transform the community as opposed to contributing societal evils such as gender-based violence. It is incredibly important that men treat women with respect, dignity, and compassion, as is expected of women from men. If men and women worked together harmoniously, then a lot of great transformations can be achieved in society.
    b) Comment on how males are using their natural abilities in your community.
    In my community specifically there is less evidence of publicly displayed toxic masculinity in comparison to greater society. However, it is still present and therefore needs to be tackled sensitively and appropriately to achieve favourable outcomes. For example, in my community, the males have developed a neighbourhood security watch where they patrol the community after-hours to make sure that there is no crime or gender-based violence that takes place in the community. This is an example of how males are using their natural abilities in my community in an efficient manner.
    c) The world has seen great milestones in the area of women empowerment. This came with a shift in roles among men and women. What impacts do you see women liberation movements have on males in your society?
    There has definitely been great milestones that have been achieved in the area of women empowerment. This has led to the much-needed shift in ‘roles’ amongst men and women. On a societal level, many positive changes have been made in recent years. We have more gender equity in the workplace, better transparency in the election of community officials and also better understanding amongst male and female residents of the community. There has been a shift from toxic to healthy masculinity although there is still a lot more room for improvement.
    d) Single out an outstanding young male in your country/ region who you believe is putting their abilities to good use. Write about what this person is doing (with facts) and why you chose them among the many.
    As discussed in my Kectil Assignment 2, I would like to highlight an outstanding male in my country who has put their abilities to good use.
    Dr Alexander Faizi Rawhani, also known as, Dr Smile / Lexleo, is a South African celebrity dentist, singer songwriter and philanthropist.
    He has a great following of 92 000 followers on Instagram (@lexleodrsmile) and is known for using his platform to share his multiple talents, which include being a dentist, musician, jeweller, and philanthropist.
    In the impoverished and rural townships of Gauteng, he runs 11 different classes for children, youth, and old people, with the aim of uplifting these individuals in their communities by teaching them what generosity, wisdom and patience are.
    In a recent interview, he stated that, “If you don’t use your time in this life to develop and acquire the virtues and attributes of God and use them to serve humanity, then you are wasting your time”.
    He also spends a lot of time on social media doing live chats with his many followers where he aims to educate and inspire the youth to strive towards achieving holistic success. In addition, he emphasises the importance of being diverse in one’s endeavours. “It is very important to show the youth that being diverse is good – you are allowed to do various things, not just focus on one thing. People seem to think they have to be one thing or another, for instance, do I have to be a rapper or a doctor, but you can be both. The critical thing is to prioritise what you do in terms of service to humanity,” he said.
    “Dr Smile” serves as an inspiration to me and many others who envisage to embody the essence of what it means to serve as a change agent in our communities and country at large.
    e and f) How do you think women and men can work together to develop the community they live in? What shape should an ideal women liberation movement in the contemporary world take Physical ability?
    This can be achieved through mutual respect, dignity, compassion, and integrity offered to each other. We are living in a time where many of our people have either lost their lives or livelihood to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, we need to work together to develop our communities in a sustainable, holistic, and futuristic manner. It is important for ideal women liberation movements in the contemporary world to become allies with males in succeeding to achieve women liberation in all spheres of society. Together, they are able to achieve great success in ensuring equity for all in society.
    A Kectil Peer Panel Discussion was held virtually during the month of November 2020 via the Microsoft Teams platform. The Peer Panel Discussion was attended by four medical students at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences in Cape Town South Africa.
    The Kectil Peer Panel Discussion consisted of five discussion points which included:
    Kectil Male Promise Leaders’ Campaign
    Male Stereotypes in Society
    Healthy versus Toxic Masculinity
    Kectil Generation

    All panellists unanimously agreed with the pledge and felt strongly about its implementation in today’s society. Members of the panel felt that males need to lead by example and ensure that the message of the ‘Kectil Male Promise’ should be echoed far and wide in both their personal and professional lives. We felt that the current ‘Male Promise’ is very inclusive and representative of the urgent change that is required in terms of shifting male stereotypes and toxic masculinity to that which is positive and responsible. The males on the panel discussion agreed that they need to be models of excellence in the sphere of positive masculinity and endeavour to support and empower the females in their surrounding so that they may feel safe and unfearful and lead to prosperous and equitable lives.

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