Feature

Terry Crews: Cracking the Egg of Male Stereotypes

(Photo Credit: hollowverse.com)

“I’m a man, and I’ve got to look like a man. And I can’t admit that I’m afraid, I can’t say that I’m weak. I can’t say that I’m tired. I’m not allowed to say that I’m sleepy, or I’m hurt, or that I can’t handle this. … When I crack that egg for my son, he was free. And I’ve got to learn to keep cracking that egg for myself, every time.” Terry Crews interview on The Agenda

One look at Terry Crews, and you would think: “there’s a man”. But you would doing so for the wrong reasons. Sure, he’s spent his lifetime modelling the traditional gladiator physique, playing in the NFL, and even being known for his Old Spice commercials. But Terry Crews is a Progressive Man.

Ask him why feminism is so important, and you will get this answer: “Let’s not even go back to slavery, let’s go to civil rights: the people who were silent at the lunch counters, when it was the black lunch counter and the white one. … [If] you were quiet, you were accepting it,” By simply letting stereotypes and institutional power work their magic, you are doing nothing, and certainly not contributing to any progress. He goes on to emphatically forward:

“Same thing with men right now. If you don’t say anything, you are, by your silence — it’s acceptance. I’m not going to be silent.”

He was recently in town for the What Makes a Man Conference presented by the White Ribbon Campaign, and sat down for a full length interview with TVO on The Agenda. 

This is THE conversation on modern manhood. Watch the entire interview here:

Mad love to Terry Crews for being TPM’s Progressive of the Month for December.

Where Are All the Men?

(Photo Credit: teachingonpurpose.com)

Here’s the scoop:

A few weeks back, I looked around the room I was sitting in and found myself as the only man there. There I was, surrounded by 20 other people, and I was the only guy. 20 women, and me. There are certainly many ways that this statement can be interpreted, but I’ll curb the mystery.

I work as a university administrator in higher education, and more specifically, in student life. I was in a room with 21 people, and I was the only man.

Our jobs are to provide meaningful opportunities for post-secondary students to grow and develop awareness and skills in everything from leadership, global cultures, professional skills, etc. Pretty much everything that isn’t academic. This can be done in a variety of forms, from mentorship to peer-to-peer learning, to service learning and community engagement, to international mobility programs (or exchange as it’s called more typically). It’s all really great stuff, and I’m delighted to be to be a part of it.

My own professional background is in community- and youth-oriented initiatives and arts and culture, so I fit right in. Effectively, the programs and services we develop and offer help students (ideally) to figure out who they are, and to discover all the (non-academic) things that they’re made up of.

On the surface, this is great stuff, and I am blessed to work with such a committed group of individuals that are highly educated and honestly concerned with how to do this work well. But with this power to create educative (as well as miseducative) experiences, I’m left wondering “where the hell are all the men?” Have we entirely given up on participating in this conversation?

The answer isn’t so clear.

Maybe this is simply a trend that represents education as a whole. This Queen’s Journal article reflects on a “2011 survey of Queen’s reported that 59 per cent of full-time students are female. In 1950, only 21.6 per cent of Canadian undergraduates were women, according to Statistics Canada.” While there are still male-dominated faculties and professions (engineering, computer science, finance, for example) we need to ask ourselves: why is this shift important?

Perhaps the women’s movement and progress towards equal rights has a lot to do with it.

Perhaps our economic model is at play here – universities need students, and need money. This argument can also be used when thinking about the civil rights movement, and the equity and diversity movement with respect to the LGBTQ community. Just a thought.

As the only man in the room, here are a few thoughts that I had, which I’m sure would not have been the case 30 years ago:

1. They all make more money than me. I know this because they are either in higher positions than me, or I’ve seen their salaries.

1b. Where’s the justice? I mean really, we’re doing the same work, so they can’t be paid more. That’s not right. Right? Sarcasm has its benefits, and is always a welcomed delivery device.

2. The system is reversing, and young men need to be prepared to compete. Queen’s sociology professor Cynthia Levine-Rasky hopes that this will lead them to step up their efforts to do so because “[i]n the past, male privilege went unchallenged.”

I won’t attempt to answer these questions here. Our work is to help students become who they are, and how to best exist in this ever-changing world.

But, when this conversation is missing an entire side of itself, young men will still have to compete. For those of us in the workforce, and in leadership roles, and in education, we need to understand that we’ll have to be better role models simply because there are fewer of us here.

That’s where we are. What are you thoughts on the male presence (or lack thereof) in education?

10 Songs that Explore What it Means to be a Man

(Photo: Danny Clinch)

The exploration of the question – what makes a good man – cannot be completed without some input from the arts, and in this case, music. Below are several selections that attempt to define the term from multiple perspectives.

1. Muddy Waters – Mannish Boy

A timeless blues standard, and a self-affirming pep talk that could be used equally either before a sports event or speaking in public.

2. The Heavy – What Makes a Good Man?

Truly, it’s what I’m trying to discover, too.

3. Raphael Saadiq – Good Man

You might remember Raphael from Tony!Toni!Toné! or Lucy Pearl, but he’s pretty much trumped all of that on his own.

4. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings – How do I let a Good Man Down?

Can Sharon Jones please run for president?

5. The Philosopher Kings – I Am the Man

Put Jarvis Church in front of a mic, and you’re usually guaranteed awesomeness. Case in point; we’ve been blessed here with another self-affirming strut-walk of a song.

6. K-OS – Man I Used to Be

“Ya holler and ya holla/ you folla you fall”. Damn, ain’t that the truth. A great introspective account of what can go on inside our heads.

7. Nina Simone – Sinner Man (Felix Da Housecat Remix)

A very literal interpretation of the video, which blends in the 7 deadly sins, and of course, running.

8. Cinematic Orchestra feat. Roots Manuva – All Things to All Men

The line that gets me is “be a man my dad said/ but what the hell did he know?/he lost his dream/lost his flow/and I don’t want to be alone/I’m born KING so where’s my throne/I’m too intense/I’m too deep/I’m too nice for life/so what makes this place so nervous?”

Also, the album Everyday is probably one of the best, ever.

9. Pearl Jam – Better Man

The apparent story here: “before a performance of the song at Pearl Jam’s show on April 3, 1994 in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Fox Theatre, Vedder clearly said ‘it’s dedicated to the bastard that married my Momma.’ He was referring to the man who helped raise him and later divorced his mother.”

10. Tom Waits – Little Man

Nothing like the epicness of Tom Waits sharing his take on fatherhood. Some good pieces of advice in here, even for those of us who are no longer ‘little’.

What are some other songs we should have included? Let us know in the comments box below!

A Guerilla Education: Rage, Isolation, and the Band that Made me a Man

(Photo: AP; Jeff Chiu)

In 2013, I wrote a piece for the Good Men Project, and opened up a little about what the power of experiential education and music had to do with the man I am today.

Ultimately, it is about how arts and culture can be as powerful an educator as anything else, while highlighting that the public education system itself still has a ways to go in terms of either being unable or unwilling to provide the whole picture when it comes to global and local issues, such as NAFTA, indigenous genocide, or big oil.

“To me, the suburbs are like the top 40—easy, apolitical, and blasé. There was, and continues to be, absolutely nothing in the top 40 playlist that I can relate to; not forties and blunts, not bitches and hoes, and not “Britney, bitch”. The content in these songs has nothing to do with me. In scanning this landscape, I wondered where the hell was my voice reflected in all of this nonsense. I am a first-generation Canadian, whose family narrowly escaped the horrors of both the Holocaust and Communism. I had to find my place. It was through this lens that I began my quest into the musical landscape.”

Read the article in its entirety here.

Why a Condom Does a Better Job Than a Ford

(Photo: Toronto Star; Andrew Francis Wallace)

In this post, we focus on the ability of a random mayoral candidate to recount some of the most basic pieces of information during this radio interview with 98.7FM. Ultimately, this is the kind of thing that compels me to squeeze the temples of my forehead between my middle finger and thumb, wincing at the sight before me. It’s painful to watch and think that THIS is one of the best options we have for mayor of Toronto.

Let’s have a brief look at some of the topics covered:

The TTC versus transit around the world? Wrong.

Mayoral administration creating jobs? Oh, man – facepalm.

Tourism? Not important enough to be truthful about.

Those are some pretty basic things to get wrong, and we haven’t even begun to address larger issues like poverty, crime, or education.

Luckily, I’m not the only one feeling this. This Toronto Star article counted 21 inaccuracies in the interview. Look, we can all appreciate that full honesty shouldn’t be expected in a political campaign; to do so would be naive. It’s no surprise that part of the job description of being in politics requires – let’s just say – the ability to be quick on the toes, and sharp with the spin. (It’s not how I wish it to be, but such is the world in which we live, at least until proportional representation becomes the norm at the ballot stations.)

Doug Ford is certainly no exception to these characteristics of the political life, and while it’s easy to pick on him for his bullish personality, his ‘holier than thou’ attendance record as Councillor, or his ignorant bravado, it’s the fact that he is an “outright lies” kind of liar that irks me.

I would think this of any politician, no matter which side of the spectrum their politics came from.

I can understand 2 or 3 mistruths out of, say 20 – that’s about equivalent to the average failure rate of a condom. But, when basic journalism can detect 21 (!) in one conversation, we need to ask ourselves why Doug Ford is sleeping with anyone in the first place. Clearly, it’s not just an oversight – it’s systemic. It’s an indication of how one operates on a daily basis and this interview was just a simple pit stop on the campaign trail – not even the big race. Basic extrapolation would suggest many more mistruths in larger, and more important settings.

In striving for the highest level of public service in the city – an honour in fact – #DOFO shows a complete lack of respect for the position, the process, and the citizens (not just taxpayers) of this great city. Kudos to the Toronto Star for showcasing the systematic deception spewing from the Ford camp, and for reminding us that there are still citizens in this city that want a condom to do its job.