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  • Jonathan Isserow

Getting Out of the Man Box with Mark Greene

I could not be in New York City with out the chance of meeting the eponymous Mark Green who is a thought-leader in the gender equity and  men's mental health space. On his website, Remaking Manhood you can also find the Remaking Manhood: Healthy Masculinity Podcast ,which he co-hosts with Charles Matheus. It makes for rich listening and is another amazing resource to explore the progressive men's work taking place on the East Coast.

One of the central tenants that Mark draws on is the idea of the Man Box. This is the narrow and limiting codes of conduct around masculinity that young boys are inculcated into from the get-go that severs them from more vulnerable and relational feelings that may be perceived as either feminine and/or gay. From inside the Man Bod, boys and men police each other and themselves, in order to comply with its regulations and to stay within. The cost of this, to personal connections and to the self, is high.

Mark has thoughtfully written about the History of the Man Box , tracing its development from Paul Kivel's "Act like a Man Box', to Tony Porter's user friendly 'Man Box' in his A Call To Men site and hugely popular TED talk. The seven pillars of Man Box that have become a cultural edicts include: self-sufficiency, acting tough, physical attractiveness, rigid gender roles, heterosexuality and homophobia, hypersexuality, and aggression and control.

The difficulty with Man Box culture is that it privileges success over connection. It perpetuates isolation and disconnection. It is the restoration of this connection that Mark places as central to his work by illuminating these dangers of Man Box. The concept of the Man Box can be a useful shorthand to understand a particular kind of construction of masculinity. Alongside this is also the need to develop subtle conceptualisations of healthy masculinity to ensure all kinds of men might engage with this work. Another dimension of our discussion included Mark providing insights into where energy might be placed for future work. We discussed doing this at the level of early childhood - to challenge and expand notions of masculinity. We also discussed the need to support men restore connection at all developmental stages. Thank you so much, Mark for your insights, time and generosity!

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