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Manhood and Masculinity

“In the bosom of the patriarchal two-parent and single-female-headed family many of us learned that men and women are different and that these differences often led to conflict, that men had the right to rule over women and children, that punishment was good, that patriarchal authority was always right and that children really held the same status as slaves whose primary task was to obey.” 

-bell hooks in WE REAL COOL - Black Men and Masculinity




Lion Observations--How Behavior is Learned:

Lessons of “manhood” and “masculinity” are learned each and every day through interactions with the adults, male and female, who interact with the child from birth. These lessons are not formal sit downs, though, that can be a function if the child is fortunate enough to have a positive male or female to share their values. The most impressionable lessons a child learns is through observing the behaviors of the adults around them.  Lessons learned inform values, and beliefs. The perspective from which a child views the world is based on the way they are treated.

If a child feels valued and loved they see the world as a positive place. Children, who are devalued, abused and discredited, conversely, will see the world as a hostile place.

The passing of values and beliefs has a correlation with the socio-economic and educational standing of the caregivers. The higher the socio-economic standing and the higher the education level the more pro-social the perspective of the children.


Lion Approach:


Through dialogue and exercises, individuals will examine whether their idea of manhood is serving them well or is it costing them, and keeping them stuck. Individuals will be encouraged to explore the following concepts:


Patriarchy: a society which is male-dominated, male-identified, male-centered. It also involves as one of its key aspects the oppression of women.


Masculinity: the possession of masculine qualities. Male qualities include: control, strength, efficiency, competitiveness, and toughness, coolness under pressure, logic, forcefulness, decisiveness, rationality, autonomy, self-sufficiency and control over emotions.


Male-Dominated: means positions of authority-political-economic, legal, religious, educational, military, domestic-are generally occupied by men. Men are often identified as “head of household”. Male-Dominance creates a power differential, men can claim the larger share of income and wealth. Male-Dominance-shape the culture: control content of movies, books, create laws, rules etc. that benefits their interest. When men occupy the superior positions it is a short leap to “Men must be Superior to Women”.


Male-Identified: core cultural ideas about what is considered good, desirable, preferable or normal are associated with how we think about men and masculinity: for example use of pronouns we refer to being human as “man” or to doctors as “he” nurses as “she”.


Male-Centered: focus of attention is primarily on men and what they do. Men tend to dominate conversations, by talking more, interrupting more and controlling content.


Female Objectification: femininity, prized for their beauty as objects of male sexual desires but as such they are often possessed and controlled in ways that ultimately devalues them.


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