Officially introducing my ‘To Be A Man’ portrait series project.
I started this project towards the end of 2018 as a means to challenge the concept of toxic masculinity. The rise of women’s movements such the #Metoo campaign and increasing awareness of mental health issues specific to men has highlighted the prevalence of Toxic Masculinity all over the world.
Toxic masculinity refers to the socially-constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, power hungry and sexually aggressive. It restricts the kinds of emotions and characteristics that are socially acceptable for boys and men to express. Toxic masculinity has become the standard upon which the "real man" is defined, but also by which ones masculinity can be challenged.
Our culture doesn’t always leave space for men to express inner struggles therefore boys grow up facing a lot of pressure to conform to what society says is ‘normal’. That said, failure to embrace these ‘manly’ qualities often renders harsh consequences not only for men themselves but those around them. For example, substance abuse, depression, self-harm, aggressiveness, objectification and violence towards not only women but other men as well, homophobic and transphobic sentiments and so forth.
My goal with this photo series is not to label men as bad, evil or incapable of change, but show that it is so important to speak up and fight stigma. Men too face a great deal of pressure to conform to these expectations created by a system that has long catered towards patriarchy.
I by no means claim to be an expert on this subject but I wanted to create a diverse collective of men who believe it’s okay to possess and express the qualities and characteristics that society says they shouldn’t. I hope that this will spread and reach the men who are struggling to accept that things like emotional vulnerability and compassion are strengths and not weaknesses.
I will be releasing this project within the next couple weeks so stay tuned to see what men think being a man today should mean. :)