Friday, December 1, 2017

Healthy Masculinity and Fatherhood: UpNext at A CALL TO MEN Conference

          On September 29th, UpNext, along with other social services organizations, joined the athletic and business communities at "A Call to Men: Your Influence, Your Platform," a conference focusing on raising awareness of healthy manhood/masculinity to decrease violence against women and girls. 
           The conference began with New York Giants Linebacker Mark Herzlich spoke about the impact his college years and professional sport career had on his perception of manhood. He described gender equality and emotional vulnerability as essential steps in challenging sexual and domestic violence. The audience was captivated, and moved, by his words. As the conference continued, A Call To Men's CEO Tony Porter took the stage and presented the audience with a video of a male toddler receiving a flu shot while being encouraged by his father to "man up." This video illustrated that, even from boyhood,  men are encouraged to stay with a “Man Box” – a concept to describes the restrictive, socializing of men. 
             Mr. Porter proceeded to deconstruct manhood, expose the flaws it has, and introduce the idea of healthy masculinity, which is a form of manhood that encourages accountability and respect for women. The event concluded a panel discussion, featuring Mark Herzlich; Shan Foster, Senior Director of External Affairs, YMCA Nashville and Middle, TN; Ted Bunch, Chief Development Officer, A Call To Men; and Alan Gardner, Senior Vice Present, Human Resources, Verizon Communications. These men went on to talk about how they use their influence, and positions of power, to counter gender inequalities and mentor young men on healthy relationships.
            The conference, a powerful and transformative event, highlighted topics that matter to UpNext: sexual and domestic violence, promoting healthy masculinity and relationships, and youth mentoring. The issues of masculinity presented at the conference are common within the population we serve, and it serves as a barrier to effective fatherhood. At UpNext, we challenge toxic masculinity and, with the tools provided by Call To Men Conference, we are better equipped to educate our fathers in healthy manhood.