Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Inclusion Day 2015: Mapping a new course

By Tony Barone

Inspired by the presentation and events of this year’s Inclusion Day Conference at York University on January 28th the following is my takeaway regarding our beliefs and our own navigational map that we use to move through our current social context.

We have all, as men, made mistakes. Mistakes made by poor decisions backed by egotistical and perceived desirable outcomes. Many times these mistakes are the result of skewed masculine views of maintaining control, taking risks, and aggression relative to our beliefs to provide for others, protect others, and prevent challenges to our manhood.

Some (essentialists) say that these decisions are unconscious defaults or innate programed reactions to our understanding, as men, to deal with our circumstances. This is an excuse for behaving badly. I believe differently. I believe that we have choices and that those choices require a new map, a new path, a different navigation to get us there.

So what does this new map away from hegemonic masculine behaviours such as violent crime, anti-social and disconnected makeup, and abuse, look like? Well, it needs to guide us to be more socially-connected, have more emotional connections, have a strong but sensitive understanding of the world around us.

In re-plotting our new map we must look to admiration not desire. Taking note from the old philosophers, we too often have acted as slaves to desires which will never be satisfied. We must be open and understanding about gender equality and identity, and to the struggles that may come with one or both. We must seek to understand sexual preference and exception without prejudice. We must embrace our diverse communities both professionally and personally and abandon the very notion of “normal.” We must begin a new learning process that questions our traditional beliefs and views about masculinity, removing our mask of traditional and commercial male ideals.

In addition, we need to write down our feelings; cultivate our emotional connections; acknowledge sadness and be willing to grieve, even cry; listen, sing, and dance to music; look for true value in our relationships; learn to appreciate the materials things we have and consciously choose to have less; and, finally, take the leap of faith to place our egos in the hands of others.

It is not just about what you do, it is about who you can become.

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