Women’s History Month is a celebratory time for women to embrace and for others to highlight their accomplishments and contributions in history. Within the HBCU community, diversity and inclusion are the main goals for Florida A&M University. FAMU Advance has spearheaded a week of virtual events that discuss the importance of women and gender equity.
On Wednesday, to continue the celebration, Tony Porter, chief executive officer with a Call to Men, discussed the importance of understanding The Man Box mentality through intimate conversations. The Man Box is a term coined by A Call To Men to illustrate the collective socialization of men.
The Man Box identifies the limitations on what a man is supposed to be and what he believes. In The Man Box, women are objects, the property of men, and of less value than men. The teachings of The Man Box allow violence and discrimination against women, girls and other marginalized groups to persist.
In an inclusive conversation with Porter, he discussed gender equity and the idea of men believing they have to identify with the patriarchal norms of society. According to Porter, men often feel like they’re stuck in The Man Box with all of their dubitable emotions. They are taught to be emotionless because they believe they have to portray the image of being tough as opposed to how women are portrayed as sensitive and emotional.
“Women and girls have submission to express a full range of emotions,” Porter said. “While we teach boys that it is OK to express the emotion of anger, we teach men that that is the one emotion that we accept from each other.”
According to Porter, men will often not point out women’s strengths because of the male patriarchal society that most deem as normal. It is normal to find women taking on male-dominant traits because they are trying to find their way in a patriarchal society.
“In a male-dominated society, collectively speaking, if you took all of the men in this country and put them on one side of the room, then took all of the women in the country and put them on the other side — men run, control, and dominate this nation,” Porter said.
In terms of what Black men went through in the past, communication consultant for FAMU ADVANCE, Terrance Gilbert shared his insight on the conversations revolved around the collective socialization of manhood, and how it does not permit men to discuss fear or pain unless it involves anger.
“Going back to history, Black men have been dehumanized, beaten and broken down. As a result, anger that they cannot express among peers and in public often comes home. It results in abuse and violence,” Gilbert said. “In a nutshell for Black Americans, it is a byproduct of white supremacy as most dysfunctions in our communities.”
The Man Box was established in efforts to ensure that men can have a positive impact on Black women, families, communities and more. Porter’s end goal is to create a critical mass of men who value women instead of seeing them as objects.