When Donald Trump infamously used the expression "locker room talk" to justify bragging about grabbing women by the p******, the already-loaded term became a dog ear for what is wrong with America's gender dynamics, arguably setting the the stage for the #MeToo movement that has swept across the nation in recent months.
As women of all ages continue sharing their stories of sexual harassment, it has become painfully clear that power dynamics between men and women are harmful. And this harmful dynamic can be found everywhere from low-wage work environments to Hollywood sets. Gender inequality is at the forefront of public consciousness and conversation.
A Local Response to Hypermasculine Culture
Nationally, the Time’s Up campaign has received recognition for its efforts to end sexual harassment and provide legal defense to victims. While such action mainly offers support to women, local organizations are convening in Kingston with a slightly different solution: helping young men redefine manhood in order to combat mistreatment of women. TMI Project, A Call to Men, and Stockade Works are teaming up with Kingston High School football players to create the memoir writing and storytelling workshop Locker Room Talk to confront the dangers of a hypermasculine culture.
“We must look to create spaces for boys and men to express themselves. Having the permission and ability to share one's own story impacts how men and boys perceive themselves—and women” says TMI Project co-founder and executive director Eva Tenuto. “The #MeToo has created an empowered, public space for women to unearth their stories; if men also had a space to share, it would allow for a foundational shift in adopted, assumed behavior as it relates to women.”
The TMI Project workshop encouraged the group of young men to open up in a way they previously may not have feel empowered to. "TMI Project’s methodology is effectively teaching a new generation of boys to be expressive, authentic and respectful of girls and women,” says Stockade Works founder Mary Stuart Masterson.
The participating Kingston High School football players will give a live storytelling performance of Locker Room Talk on February 9 at 7pm in the Kingston High School auditorium.
Before they perform a keynote speech will be given by Tony Porter, of A Call to Men, an organization that focuses on educating men on issues of manhood and preventing violence against women. Porter has been featured on a TED Talk and various mainstream news outlets speaking about the "manbox."
Porter will also participate in a panel discussion with the storytellers and TMI Project representatives after the performance.
Stockade Works, a nonprofit film production organization based in Kingston, stepped in to document the experience of the Locker Room Talk workshops. The forthcoming documentary follows the teenage athletes as they participate in TMI Project’s writing and storytelling workshops.
“Stockade Works is proud to be documenting the process so the message can be shared en masse to create real and lasting social change," says Masterson.
In the documentary, the high schoolers respond to a presentation by Porter, who explains the concept of the “manbox” as “how men are collectively taught,” or “the collective socialization of manhood.” Throughout the process they are encouraged to talk about their emotions in a way they may not have felt acceptable under their previous socialization.
The release date for the documentary has not yet been announced, but you can hear the students' stories live on February 9 at 7pm. Reserve tickets to the event.