A comedic monologue about a young man faced with the prospect of losing his virginity after a date starts a conversation about masculinity and the expectations we put on boys. Featuring conversations with Alex, a 17 year old high school senior who finds humor in stereotypes of men as sex-hungry animals, and Steve Bandura, father of a teenage son who is more widely known as a coach to hundreds of inner city boys (and girls!) at the Marian Anderson Rec Center in South Philly.
What does it mean to be a man?
It’s a difficult question to answer, even for an adult.
For teenage boys, becoming a man is much more than a question. It’s a reality. It’s a process that is subject to routine scrutiny and judgment from your peers and from the adults around you. It’s the constant pressure to fit into a rigid and often narrow definition of what’s manly: be strong, play sports, get girls. Have sex. And be good at it.
Bravado, machismo, and conquest trump kindness, vulnerability, and creativity.
But do these outdated expectations really capture the essence of masculinity in 2017? And who, exactly, are the role models for young men and boys when it comes to how to act, how to treat women?
On this episode of Mouthful, a weekly podcast that places young people at the center of important issues, we talk to two men about what masculinity means to them:
- Alex Papatolis, a 17 year old high school senior and young man whose award-winning comedic monologue “Misunderstanding, Didn’t Understand” sheds a different light on a young man confronting the prospect of sex
- Steve Bandura, a father of a teenage son, more widely known for his work with youth at the Marian Anderson Rec Center, where he is the coach of the Anderson Monarchs, including Mo’Ne Davis and six other youth who captured the attention of the world at the 2014 Little League World Series
further reading & resources
To learn more about rights of passage into manhood across cultures check out this article from National Geographic.
To consider how ever-changing gender roles are creating a crisis in masculinity check out this article from Time and the book from Jack Myers.
Check out what athletes are doing to enter the fight against sexual assault with "Athletes United" via Mic.