International Men’s Day

Today, 19 November, is International Men’s Day. To commemorate the day, we encourage you to take the opportunity to discuss the male norm, male group dynamics and the macho culture of men. As Kristoffer Ahlström writes in newspaper DN today “Modern man, but the same man”.

“Thank God there is a guy coming to talk about this” is often the first comment I get from teachers I meet when I call in to run through a new school visit to talk about trafficking, sexual abuse and Fair Sex.

During my school visits I often encounter exactly these depictions of ‘the man’s norm’, male group dynamics and the macho culture. There are boys that giggle, those that are comedians at the girls’ expense, that question why buying sex is wrong or why it would be bad to call someone ‘a slut’.

Quotes such as “what is the single guy supposed to do if he’s not getting any?” or “guys have a bigger need for sex” or “guys are more sexually active” are used as the arguments for legitimising the male behaviour.

Every time this situation happens I notice that there are those boys that do not at all agree. Those that would disagree but don’t dare. The risk and fear to be interpreted as unmasculine, to be mocked or ridiculed means that they don’t oppose the others. The male group dynamic when it is at its worst. When we guys egg each other on, push the boundaries and mock others and ourselves.

As Kristoffer Ahlström writes today “The wish to shock and provoke intensifies, there is no ceiling, nothing to hold yourself to, the group itself sets the boundaries – boundaries that are consistently pushed.”

Unfortunately we can also say that when it comes to the purchasing of sex, the trends are similar. Today approximately 7.2% of all Swedish men have paid for sex. The classic stereotype of the middle aged single man with a good personal economy is far away from the truth of today. Instead we find that the police in Stockholm say that the trend looks very different today compared to how it was for only a few years ago. Those that today pay for sex are young men. Men between 19-25 years of age. Guys that are not alone, and also do not purchase sex alone. Instead, they are in a group – as a ‘fun’ thing to do together. Over and over again. The male group dynamic at its worst, when the group itself set the boundaries – boundaries that are consistently pushed.

That I as a man visit schools to talk about these issues is not the solution. But it could maybe be a step in the right direction. A step that encourages guys to question their own group’s behaviour. An opportunity for the individual to set his own clear boundaries, to stand up and be a part of the real change?