Topic: Porter talks about the “Man Box” which is an identification of the stereotypes that are purposefully or inadvertently place on men, determining the “shoulds” and “should-nots” of how men should treat women and how this impacts the way they function in the world.
This TED Talk was brought to our attention by the new webzine, The Good Men Project.TED talk is related to addiction in that it continues to show how social environment impacts how, why, when and where a person starts using drugs, abuses drugs and can eventually become an addict.
We have talked about Sheena Iyengar’s TED talk on culture, relating this to the way a person’s choice to do drugs is determined by his/her culture. Porter’s TED talk looks at the specific ways men and women function in American society, based on men have been taught to act towards women. This TED talk contributes to our continual examination of how social environment impacts the way we live, breath, think and act, showing that drug addiction is made up of a mix of complicated, ingrained factors.
Porter begins his speech with a powerful list the characteristics that he says make up the collective socialization of men or the “man box”, i.e. all of the things that define what it means to be a man:
- Men have to be tough.
- Men have to be strong.
- Men have to be courageous.
- Men have to be dominating.
- Men cannot have pain.
- Men cannot have emotions, with the exception of anger and definitely no fear.
- Men are in charge, which means women are not.
- Men lead and women should just follow and do what men say.
- Men are superior. Women are inferior.
- Men are strong. Women are weak.
- Women are of less value.
- Women are property of men.
- Women are objects, particularly sexual objects.
These are generalizations that do not apply to all men and do not regulate all there is to being a man, Porter acknowledges. However, he continues to say that these elements do exist and should be deconstructed.
He has several powerful points including:
“We have this fear, as men, that has us paralyzed, holding us hostage to this man box.”
“If it would destroy a boy to be called a “girl”, what then are we teaching him about girls?”
When we look at this TED talk and Porter’s call to closely examine the constraints we put on men (and women) in terms of how to act and treat others, what ways do we see this
1. Leading a person to turn to drugs because he feels he has nowhere to turn to be himself and free of constrains on his feelings?
2. Influencing the way we treat addicts, whether they are our sons, brothers, fathers or friends?
3. Changing what we expect a person to do to get better or not get better because of their sex?
As Porter says, there are many ways we should deconstruct this box we put men in. What are your thoughts? How do you think these restraints affect men, addictions and rehabilitation?