Posted by: malechallengemedia | June 2, 2010

Why I wrote ‘Kicking a Goal for Masculinity’

Sport was originally used by many cultures to ‘build character’

My book encourages a sports-led evolution towards a healthy masculinity impacting the wider community. One of the ways boys grow up to be good men is from good role-modelling from other boys and men. Boys soak it up from good men (or bad) by osmosis.

And… as a dear colleague noted, I omitted the role women and girls may play in helping boys become good men. Sometimes the opposite happens when girls and women may have a negative influence resulting in boys being confused about their gender identity. My partner, Grace Gawler, reminded me of aspect and indeed how misogyny ( hatred of women) may be exacerbated by ‘poor’ mothering. (This article is becoming very communal)

But in general masculinity is learned, it is a societal construct that changes with time and from culture to culture—different to maleness which is biological and fixed. Today with fewer males in school teaching, with single parent families common, with visual media widespread, masculinity is significantly influenced by sportsmen’s behaviour—on and off the field.

My book encourages sportsmen to explore what a healthy masculinity looks like, what “Being a Real Man in Sport” involves, and how to model that to boys and young men.
Alex Karras encapsulates the book’s philosophy. He said: ‘It takes more courage to reveal insecurities than hide them, more strength to relate to people than to dominate them, more “manhood” to abide by thought-out principles rather than blind reflex. Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles and an immature mind.’

Confusion about Masculinity: In today’s fast moving society, there are many confusing and mixed messages about how to be a “real man.” This is magnified in sport, be it at school, community or national level. Male programming is a root cause of very large societal problems, from war, rape, gang violence, sexism and domestic violence.

Language in Sport: The language of sport is hard and filled with insults suggesting that a boy who is not tough enough, who does not live up to the masculine mystique, is really a girl or homosexual. The language heard by young boys, underpins many male attitudes.

Machismo and Misogyny: Sadly Australian men are known overseas as macho and misogynistic. Many Australian women say they would never marry an Australian man; describing them as arrogant, boorish, loutish, unconscious, sexist, racist, violent, un-evolved, even Neanderthal. My book encourages sportsmen to challenges those images
The Sport-Alcohol Connection: Australians are high alcohol consumers–male programming in sport reinforces the old myth that a big drinker makes a real man. Men commonly boast about their drinking; our young men think it normal to drink 30 beers at a party. The terrible consequences include; rampant alcoholism, road deaths, family dysfunction, serious health problems and violence—domestic and sexual, to name a few. It is high time to debunk the sport influence on male programming around alcohol.

A Better World: Sportsmen have the potential to shape and influence the lives of boys and young men who are often confused about masculinity and are searching for positive role-models. Sportsmen have an opportunity not only to provide those role-models for boys and young men but they can help shape masculinity for the betterment of our local and global community.

Great Role Models: My book has stories from famous sportsmen who are doing that including, Alex Karras, Kris Massie, Troy Jaques, Jackson Katz and Joe Ehrmann.


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