Unpacking the “Man Box”

Dynamic duo Ted Bunch and Anna Marie Johnson Teague dare boys to be different.

Picture of the Cover of THE BOOK OF DARES

“I dare you.”

These familiar and effective words are used to taunt kids around the globe. I know my own kids and grandkids rarely back down from a dare.

There is usually a certain amount of danger or riskiness in those words, but authors and anti-violence educators Ted Bunch and Anna Marie Johnson Teague use the goading for good in their new book, The Book of Dares: 100 Ways for Boys to Be Kind, Bold, and Brave.

In a world where women are ostracized, condescended to, treated unfairly, and abused by men, Bunch and Johnson Teague founded the organization A Call to Men. The group’s goal is to transform society by promoting healthy, respectful manhood.

What does healthy manhood look like? It means “valuing and respecting women, girls, and LGBQ, Trans, and nonbinary people — and respecting and valuing oneself by striving to live authentically.”

Practicing healthy manhood requires leaving behind the stereotypes of a “real man,” as illustrated by A Call to Men’s term “the Man Box.” Nestled within this cube are the stereotypical characteristics of a real man: “strong, successful, powerful, dominating, fearless, in control, and emotionless.” In the Man Box, women are viewed as less than, as objects or property, thereby perpetuating disrespect and violence against women and nonbinary individuals.

A Call to Men doesn’t condemn boys and men, but “offers an invitation to them.” The group teaches men and boys how their views about manhood, and about women and girls, have been defined by collective socialization — our culture and the media perpetuate the notion that society values women less than men. A Call to Men challenges men and boys to think outside the Man Box.

The Book of Dares is their most recent effort to teach boys compassion and sensitivity.

Read the rest of my article at Washington Independent Review of Books.

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