Michael Kehler | Rules of Being a Man: If We Know Them, Why Don’t We Change Them?

From TEDxYYC 2021

Michael Kehler | Rules of Being a Man: If We Know Them, Why Don’t We Change Them?

Men routinely stick to the rules and boundaries to prove they are the right kind of man. Rarely do we ever question the rules of masculinity but instead we constantly maintain and police the rules of masculinity. And while we don’t talk about the rules for being a man, we realize the impact on how we act and how we form relationships because of what we know about being a man.

By examining some of the unspoken rules of masculinity we can begin to actively change how men “act” as men and consider more authentic forms of masculinity not dictated by societal norms. Reimagining masculinity involves re-thinking the rules that restrict and limit our perceptions of what it means to be a man and embracing richer, more diverse forms of masculinity.

Originally from Kingston, Ontario, Michael Kehler is the Research Professor of Masculinities Studies in Education at the University of Calgary. From teaching high school English to research and teaching at university, Michael has established himself as a masculinities scholar examining the intersection of masculinities, schooling, reading, homophobia, men’s body image, health education, and men as activists, change agents. His passion centers on raising questions that challenge the daily assumptions about being a man and the taken-for-granted ways that education routinely maintains definitions of masculinity. His research often starts with boys who have in some way been pushed to the margins, left unheard or unspoken. Whether it is boys who enjoy reading, adolescent boys who struggle to reject the pressure to man up and muscle up, or men speaking out against sexism and homophobia, Michael’s research has continued to question the static and linear arguments often assumed to explain boy’s behaviours and attitudes. Michael offers evidence-based research starting with the experiences and narratives of masculinity captured in the day-to-day lives of boys and men. Locker rooms, school hallways, and places in between as well as outside of schools provide the context where Michael’s research shows the nuanced and often seamless ways that boys “do” boy while maintaining levels of privilege and unquestioned power among “the boys”. While widely published in academia, Michael appears in the media regularly both nationally and internationally. He is currently conducting research in the UK examining how men can actively challenge homophobia within sport. Within Canada his current research projects include investigating how boys have navigated school peer friendships during COVID-19 and exploring teacher practice that disrupts masculinity in schools.

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