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Ruia Te Taitea, Ka Tu Taikaka Anake: Shake Off The Old, To Reveal The New

This year we are asking people to challenge the #outdated and spend some time thinking and talking about the advice they have been given that is harmful rather than helpful. The whakatauki above sits at the heart of this year’s White Ribbon campaign. As individuals and as a society we need to shake off the old, to reveal the new.

The outdated ideas that this campaign literally overwrites are still circulating and we need to ensure our rangatahi grow up with advice that focuses on equality, healthy masculinity and respectful relationships. When kids hear old clichés like “treat em mean, keep em keen” they’re receiving a false idea that relationships should be based on mind games and manipulation. Real, respectful relationships require us to treat our partners as our equals by listening and making decisions together.

Chair of the White Ribbon Campaign Trust ,Takurua Tawera believes, “so many of our young men are suffering from the impact of trauma and bad role modelling. We need to stand up and speak out on these issues and show in our words and our deeds that there are other options. Better choices lead to better lives for men and women.”

New Zealand has the highest rate of reported violence towards women in the developed world. One in three women will experience partner violence at some point in their lives. On average, 14 women a year are killed by their partners or ex-partners.

“We have to act now to change the future and rewrite our story”, says Mr Tawera. “We all want to turn these statistics around, but if we want to see a change in these unhealthy behaviours we have to change our attitudes. We know that research shows that stereotypical ideas about what it means to be are man are linked not only to domestic violence but also mental health issues.

“Healthy masculinity is about being kind, empathetic, finding peaceful resolutions to problems. It is about boys and men being confident in who they are without feeling pressure to be a certain type of boy or man. It is really heartening to hear men speaking out on this issue and sharing their stories of change. They are inspiring role models for young men, so they know they don’t need to perpetuate these outdated ideas and can instead engage with women as equal partners.”

The origins of our whakatauki are in the natural world. In a totara tree the taitea is the outer, white or sapwood, which soon decays, and near the centre is the taikaka or hardest wood. 

“By removing these outdated ideas,” says Mr Tawera, “we will be left with a core of strength. Share the wisdom of our whakatauki and shake off the old, to reveal the new!”


Healthy Masculinity looks like:

· Healthy masculinity is rejecting unhelpful outdated stereotypes and unspoken rules about what it is to be a boy or man.

· Healthy masculinity is about being kind, empathetic, finding peaceful resolutions to problems.

· Healthy masculinity is about boys and men being confident in who they are without feeling pressure to be a certain type of boy/man.

· Boys and men can still be ‘brave’, and have ‘muscles’, be assertive, tough, love rugby, enjoy time with other men and boys, enjoy a ‘pint’ with the lads (for men!). But boys and men should also be free to express sad emotions, enjoy cooking, dancing, gardening and anything else that does not fit into gender stereotypes.

· Healthy masculinity is treating everyone with respect.

· Healthy masculinity is recognising that people express gender and sexuality in a variety of ways.

The Man Box

· White Ribbon calls the expectations that men must always appear dominant, tough and in charge “The Man Box”.

· It’s a box that’s prescriptive and restrictive. Any different behaviours are dismissed as being not manly. 

· Often a boy and a man will believe he needs to appear tough and in-control in front of other men. This is from a fear, real or not, that they’ll reject him, possibly violently, if he doesn’t fit in. Being told to ‘Man Up’ is to be reminded to get back into The Man Box. A man may use violence to show his peers he is manly.

· Suppressing individual identities and diverse emotional responses is stressful. It’s also unhealthy as these men avoid asking for help.

· Men who break out of The Man Box to choose their own masculine identity report that they’re less stressed, more satisfied with life and have happier relationships.

© Scoop Media

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