This has been a pretty depressing week for the world. Between the absolutely deplorable violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the fatal attack on flight MH17 and the loss of so many lives, including those of AIDS researchers and activists, the abysmal treatment of asylum-seekers by the Australian government, and so much more, I know a fair number of people who have enforced a media blackout on themselves just to get through the week.
So, in this Masculinities Mondays, we’re going to focus on some of the positive stories that might help to reinstate some of that faith in humanity that I know many of us lost a little bit recently:
- First up, is a great article by Anthony Carter about the importance of taking a positive, rather than demonizing, approach to masculinity. He writes:
Society and the way people, not just men think, is the real problem, the true enemy; and there was no way to truly feel good about myself and my male allies if I believed we were all flawed beyond compare and hopeless…I want us all to seek out and work towards becoming incredible men. Men who can be all things. Vulnerable and action-oriented. Playful, kind, and to the point. The type of fathers, uncles, brothers, and lovers who can be counted on to take care of children and be secure enough to say, “I don’t know. I think we should ask someone who has more experience in this area.” We need men who can think and love and a world that doesn’t fear or demonize them as a result of this choice.
- On Tuesday, the Girl Summit 2014 kicks off in London, encouraging the world to take a stand against female genital mutilation and child and forced marriage. Those in London can educate themselves and their friends/families/person they met on the bus about these issues by visiting the Too Young To Wed photo exhibition being held at the London School of Economics from the 21st of July to the 1st of August.
- A group of Indian comedians have released this excellent and hilarious parody video of sex education in India. Blatantly pointing out the importance of open, honest and relevant sex education, this video has lessons for parents, educators, and policy makers all around the world.
- And, while we’re on the topic of sex in India, meet Dr. Mahind Watsa – a 90 year-old sex guru who has been providing to-the-point advice to people of all ages for the past 50 years. Through his advice columns, Dr. Watsa provides advice on everything from safe sex:
Q: Two days ago, I had unprotected sex with my girlfriend. To prevent pregnancy, we bought an i-Pill. [emergency contraceptive] But in the heat of the moment I popped it instead of her. Can it cause any complications for me?
A: Next time round please use a condom and make sure you don’t swallow that too.
To challenging misconceptions about female virginity:
Q: My girlfriend and I are 22 years old. We had sex a few months ago, for the first time, but she did not bleed. How can I identify if she is a virgin? Please help. I am confused.
A: Is this the way you love your girlfriend? You are a suspicious person. Haven’t you heard that there are several other ways by which the hymen can split, such as by playing a sport?
To consent and bestiality:
Q: I am a 32-yr-old happily married man from Karjat. Recently, I’ve been having mixed feelings about cheating on my wife. I have a goat; her name is Ramila. Over the past two months, I have been thinking about how it would feel to make love to her. Is this normal? Will I contract a goat-related STD? Please help!
A: Ask Ramila whether she would like it! Bestiality is not considered normal and it is illegal.
And just other concerns that some readers have:
Q: Is it safe if penis is kept in the vagina when sleeping?
A: Usually when the penis returns to flaccid state, it will slide out of the vagina. Even if does not, rest assured the vagina will not have it for breakfast.
- Although not new this week, the MenCare films always restore my belief in the possibility of social change and the power of nonviolent masculinities. They’re all great and worth watching but, if you don’t have time to see them all, I recommend Brazil, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
- And, finally, speaking of fatherhood, we’ll end this week’s Masculinities Mondays with Seth Menachem’s story of letting his son wear dresses. Menachem writes:
I don’t want him to ever feel like he wasn’t able to express himself because his parents didn’t support him…If my son is gay, so be it. Maybe he is. Maybe he’s not. Maybe he’ll be a cross dresser. Maybe not. I have no control over any of it. All I can do is be supportive.
Thanks for reading, and here’s to a more peaceful week ahead, filled with less hate and more understanding.