New Year, New Masculinity (2016)

After last year's successful post, Sebastiano from Defying Gender Roles talks new year resolutions once again

Resolutions, dreams, goals. After the debauchery brought by the holiday season, January offers us a new opportunity to define what are the things we want to aim for in this 2016. For some, it would be to pick up an instrument, perhaps to travel or leave behind bad habits. Regardless of the purpose, it is undeniable that this month offers us a clean sheet. It is also great time for gyms! 8 out of 10 people who sign up for gym memberships in January won’t make it to the end of the year.

Since I was 16, every year I sit down and write my goals for the year to come. In 2011, my partner and I started to do it together. Throughout the years, writing this list has proven to be incredibly helpful. It has allowed me to keep on check my ability to make personal commitments, stick to them (or not) and move closer to the person I want to be with. Many decide to engage on new enterprises inspired by the coming of a New Year. However, the value of this exercise resides primarily in a simple task: to write them down. Also, it is pretty fun to devote time to dream purposefully.

In 2014, I decided to take my New Year resolutions to the next level. I included in my list as a goal “to pursue actively a new masculinity”. This was the result of a process of learning, reflecting and thinking constantly about what it means to be a man. To get myself against the robes, I decided to share it as widely as possible. Accountability works better when you have people around holding you responsible for your deeds.

For 2015, my goal was “to speak up purposefully against gender inequality” motivated by the lack of conversation about men and their role in gender issues. I was very pumped about the idea to get more men and women interested in reflecting on how gender roles shape their lives. So before sharing my goal for 2016, let me share with you how 2015 went. Remember, accountability first:

  • Develop a social platform to create awareness on ways to defy harmful traditional gender roles. This means, to get out of my comfort zone, put my ideas out there and get people excited about defying gender roles.

Defying Gender Roles was created. A multi-lingual online group to engage men and women to discuss about how to challenge prevailing harmful gender roles and norms in society, and how those roles/norms shape the way in which each of us experience life. Today we have 1,267 followers and growing! If you want a join us, check our Facebook group

  • Talk to more people about why current concept of masculinity has problems and needs to be fixed. Sometimes, sharing ideas about the need to rethink what it means to be a man might seem emasculating. I am okay with that.

I had the awesome chance to give a TEDx Talk at Colby College titled: “What it means to be a man today and the struggle for gender equality” It was scary at first but there it is !

  • Decrease my tolerance for normalized gender inequality. Sometimes I catch myself laughing at the wrong joke or being quiet when an authoritarian figure reinforces harmful gender roles. Now I know the difference.

I keep working on this one. It is really tough to deal with engrained cultural and social practices. Even when you are aware of them. It is a daily battle to change these behaviors.

In this 2016, I want to share three specific goals with you all. If you find them appealing, use them! If you come up with your own, please share them with us in Defying Gender Roles using the #DGR2016:

  1. Share when I am sad: As men, we are used to share only our best. Sharing when we are sad is difficult, especially in this era of social-media information where everybody seems to be happy and successful. My goal is to share openly when I am sad and allow people around me to be part of that as well.
  2. Be aware of power: gender is only a piece of the puzzle of power. Race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religion are key factors on how we experience power. The goal here is to be aware of these multiple factors and how they interact with gender, to understand better how power operates. At its core, gender is a structural power relation.
  3. “I love you” more often: love is the most powerful feeling we have in this world, yet as men, we tend not to say “I love you” very often. This is especially true when referring to other men. But guess what, most of our deepest relations are with our friends and fathers. Let’s say more “I love you” to men in our lives.

I want to invite you to devote some minutes to think about this, and why not, to include specific resolutions about how to challenge gender roles in 2016. Have fun!

Read last year’s post here to see what has changed.

Sebastián Molano

Sebastián Molano is a Colombian gender specialist and development worker living in Boston. Currently, he consults for different NGO's on how to promote gender justice and engage men and boys in development projects. You can check here his TEDx Talk in gender isses: [a href=""][/a] With the support of his awesome life partner/wife, Sebastián writes about the need to engage men and women in a needed, healthy discussion about new and liberating re-configuration of gender roles. He leads Defying Gender Roles a multi-lingual group that seeks to engage men and women in how to challenge harmful prevailing gender norms and roles. Check it out:
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