Let’s talk about the “disposability of men” for a moment. A huge topic that doesn’t get nearly enough discussion in our opinion, but is something we’ve talked about on The Good Men Project for years.
From concussions in the NFL and high school football, to sending men off to war, to the invisibility of boys who are being sex trafficked, to men who are being exploited as cheap manual labor—there is something in our collective consciousness that treats men and boys as disposable. Men have historically been the first to war, the first into a burning building, the last to exit a sinking ship. Men are seen as the champions of economic progress and the ones who are there to put into place the infrastructure that drives our transportation and communication systems. Every year thousands of men die in the coal mines, railroads, sewers, satellite towers and other dangerous workplaces that are too often taken for granted.
What we think of as “progress” often comes with an enormous price tag for men and boys. A clear example of this is in the ship-breaking yards of Chittagong. Cruise ships, ocean liners, freighters get pulled up on a beach and the most impoverished men and boys in the surrounding community break them down with mallets and bats. This is where ships go to die; it’s where men and boys do, too. And who is is called upon to clean up environmental messes caused by catastrophic climate change? Men. And often poor or marginalized men. After the nuclear disaster in Japan, they hired homeless men to help clean up the nuclear waste because the had a hard time finding other people to do it. (If you are interested in exploring the intersection of environmental concerns with our other issues, please join our Environmental Activism Facebook group here.)
Men and boys are also the invisible victims of rape and sexual assault. There is no clear language, few outlets for them to talk about it, and an often society-driven reluctance for them to come forward.
Our Disposability of Men Social Interest Group has been meeting to examine these cultural issues and to work for social change. (JOIN US! At the very least, join our Facebook Page) One area that we have begun by focusing on is the issue of CTE, concussions, and traumatic brain injuries in football. We have been following and leading in the reporting on these issues in NFL and youth football for years. The issues of concussions, CTE, and violence in sports are also part of a larger set of social questions in our culture about masculinity and the disposability of men.
Here are some topics that you can use as prompts for posts that would fit our brand and our mission. We hope you will join in and add your voice to this profound and important conversation:
Social change can happen through education, storytelling, and coming together with other groups and communities on these issues. Our below topics reflect that.
1. Part of our work includes the telling of personal stories of men who have been harmed or neglected, from athletes (in Pro or College Football, Youth Football, boxing, rugby, wrestling, ultimate fighting) to veterans to miners. It is incredibly powerful to simply share share your story about that experience.
2. Many parents don’t understand the risks of head injuries. Creating an education ‘Parents Guide to CTE, Concussions, and Head Injuries.’ Many also don’t understand the risks of other non-concussion injuries, like Post-Concussion Syndrome.
3. We should be telling the stories of heroes in the world who are doing good work in shedding light on the issue. For example, in connection with football, people doing good work or being outspoken on the issue of CTE, whether former players like Chris Borland, medical professionals like Dr. Jeff Kutcher, coaches that are revising their techniques, practices, and leagues, or activists like Debbie Pyka and Kimberly Archie of Save Your Brain.
4. An exploration of those playing flag football instead of tackle football at the youth level.
5. Stories reporting on the new and incoming results of youth brain studies – CTE, brain damage – for kids who played youth football only. We are working on one such piece now, and will have many more.
6. The culture and masculinity and how and whether it gets in the way or positive change. We’ve written about this a bit. We can do so much more. For example, some say “mothers will make this change.” But what about the fathers; dealing with the macho culture and mentality so many men have about football.
7. How to reduce risk and prevent brain injuries.
8. Stories of men dealing with PTSD and how to help them navigate dealing with this or other invisible injuries.
9. Creating a video PSA of kids talking about why their brains are important to them.
10. Any other examples of where men are put into positions of danger—through heroism, war, dangerous jobs or other. What does that say about our society?
Please note—these are thought-starters only! We are really looking for stories about the kind of change you want to make and how you are going about doing so. Submit by clicking on the button below, and you’ll get easy access to our Submissions portal as well as guidelines and TOC.
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Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/US Army