Male Allies hosts “Unpacking Masculinity” event

Photo by Luke Sarazin

The public education program Male Allies, has partnered with Wilfrid Laurier University to offer their event Unpacking Masculinity throughout the month of March.

Male Allies is a program run by the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region (SASC).

“[Male Allies] is about engaging men and boys in the conversation surrounding gender based violence. Engaging men as active bystanders, and having conversations around enthusiastic consent and healthy masculinity,” William Fujarczuk, Male Allies Educatorsaid.

Unpacking Masculinity is a workshop in which there is an open conversation about gender based violence and what masculinity means in society today.

“Women have been talking about these issues, talking about systemic violence, for generations. So, it’s really impertinent for men to finally start having these conversations and understand that we have a really important role if we want to end gender based violence,” Fujarczuk said.

“Wherever people are coming from, they are welcome to attend. We just ask that they come with an open mind and be ready to engage in conversation. No matter where their knowledge is on gender, there is no prerequisite to join.”

The sessions are held in the Macdonald House lounge on campus at WLU every Tuesday night from 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. The final session will be held March 20.

The workshop is held weekly in an attempt to build a recurring community with those who partake in the events.

“We’re doing four weeks in a row so that it’s more in people’s routine. We wanted to provide a space that allowed us to build a relationship over time,” Fujarczuk said.

“We have a couple of staple activities that we love, that can be done in an hour or two, and those are great, and there’s some good conversations,” Fujarczek added.

“But, when we’re talking about unpacking masculinity, a lot of that is feeling comfortable to be vulnerable, and that’s something that you can’t just do in a one-hour session with strangers. It’s not a comfortable space for that.”

Fujarczuk emphasized the importance of breaking down the social stereotypes built around masculinity and manhood.

“It’s really about breaking free from the man box. We construct a man box and a woman box, and we push each other into these boxes of stereotypes. What happens when you go outside them? What can we do to start breaking them down?”

The focus of Unpacking Masculinity is to have men talk about these stereotypical views of masculinity and to build a healthier, personal definition of  masculinity. Fujarczuk states that it is a key part

of social violence prevention.

“The strongest men are people who are committed to their families, people who are willing to take sacrifices. Vulnerable, caring, compassionate people,” Fujarczuk said.

“There’s ways to do anything, take part in any activity, dress any way, that can be healthy masculinity. It’s just about being authentic as yourself and not being compliant to the man box.”

Each week’s workshop is focused on a different theme. The next workshop, on March 13, will focus on race, intersectionality and masculinity. The final workshop, on March 20, will focus on supporting survivors of social violence. Previous themes include the understanding of enthusiastic consent and bystander prevention.

“Wherever people are coming from, they are welcome to attend. We just ask that they come with an open mind and be ready to engage in conversation. No matter where their knowledge is on gender, there is no prerequisite to join. We are all at different spaces and we’re all learning from each other.”

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