Man Up talks masculinity with high schoolers

Edward ScownGeraldton Guardian
Students from Champion Bay SHS heard a talk from Man Up
Camera IconStudents from Champion Bay SHS heard a talk from Man Up Credit: Picture: Edward Scown

Geraldton high school students are learning a new, modern definition of “manning up”.

Students from various high schools last week took part in sessions hosted by Perth organisation Man Up, with the aim of redefining masculinity for young men.

Man Up is led by medical student Haseeb Riaz and marketing major Gareth Shanthikumar, who started the business in 2019.

They say the phrase “man up” has represented masculinity for decades and reinforces to men and boys that “(it is) not OK to cry, be vulnerable or be scared”.

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In the sessions, students were encouraged to discuss male relationships, culture and coping mechanisms.

“We see these young men open up about some topics they’ve never been able to speak about before,” Mr Riaz said.

“In that age group, people start going through the stresses of their life. People start drinking...consenting to relationships, driving, partying.”

Students are introduced to the concept of the man box, which identifies traditionally masculine traits such as strength and aggression as inside the box.

Students then identify traits which are not stereotypically masculine, and place them outside the box.

“Students identify that, to be a good man, you don’t need to be just inside (the man box), or just outside. You need to be able to regulate.”

Man Up is part of a growing trend addressing men’s mental health, but with instances of family violence rising over the past year, Mr Riaz says their messaging around masculinity does not just concern men.

“Most of the people that engage with our mission are young women, and that’s because with masculinity, when it turns bad...women are the ones that have to deal with the effect of young men not being able to regulate that behaviour,” he said.

A session was also held at Geraldton Regional Art Gallery.

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