"They (young boys/men) really buy into a culture that doesn’t value what we’ve feminized" - Dr. Niobe Way.
This is very important work. Society has long perpetrated psychological warfare on young boys through privileging hyper-masculinity as the standard to which they must adhere at all costs. It’s not only a root cause of homophobia, but it also impacts girls and women throughout their entire lives. The same boys that they interact with on the playground are the same ones some will marry and start families with later on.
One of the really depressing legacies of America’s obsession with brute masculinity is how it affects heterosexual men - it limits the acceptable ways in which they can interact with each other without attracting the wrong kind of attention. What’s a safe enough distance to walk beside a friend or sit beside him at the movies? How long is too long for an embrace? The list is endless.
Sport plays an integral role in how this hyper-masculinity is sustained, and is often a safe haven for it to metastasize unchecked. Coaches, parents, the media etc. glorify athletes as gladiators and the epitome of what it means to be a man. The socialization of boys in sport reinforces the bad habits that we instigate from the time our children are in the womb - ascribing colour schemes based on sex, projecting our own expectation on who our children will become before they’re even born. Again, this is not just a problem for boys. Masculinity and femininity have a reflexive relationship that also affects/limits the behaviours/activities we deem acceptable for our young girls.
This is such a difficult issue to address because most people don’t see it as a problem. How can we fix something that doesn’t need fixing? The truth is that we’re failing our boys by not encouraging them to express feelings, to interact with “what we’ve feminized” as a society. It’s all too much to live up to when one doesn’t fit within the prescribed way to perform one’s masculinity. This conception of how to be a man is archaic and we need to find a way to move past it. Hopefully, projects such as this will make the issue more visible and relatable to the masses.