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Tuesday 6 June 2023 Dublin: 12°C
Anthony Keedi
Anthony Keedi: Damaging concepts of “manhood” should be done away with – for the good of both men and women.

GENERATIONS OF MEN have been taught the same script: be a man, a strong man. Hold back from showing emotions. Fight wars, and fight anyone who challenges your masculinity.

I was an undergraduate psychology student at the American University of Beirut when I first began questioning traditional gender expectations.

During a break to visit my parents back in the United States, I came across a book called I Don’t Want to Talk About It by Terrence Real.

The title really struck me because that was my go-to phrase. That was my response anytime someone would ask me a personal question – a question that required me to show vulnerability.

I read this book and began to understand how men are socialised from a young age not to show sadness or fear, and to normalise their pain.

I started to realise that these expectations of masculinity make men more prone to violence, substance abuse and isolation. So much of my own aggression was fuelled by masculine anxiety.

From a developmental perspective, too, we have caused so much conflict and division in the world by raising boys to believe their value is decided by the power they hold over others.

I began to reflect on my own life, and how I used violence to resolve disagreements and deal with stress.

I had always been looking for a greater connection with the people in my life but gender stereotypes had prevented me from bonding with anyone in a meaningful way.

Damaging ideas about masculinity are hurting men and the people they love, and it is not until we break free from these stereotypical roles that we can allow the other parts of ourselves to thrive.

This is what inspired me to start working in the area of gender equality.  I only began living a peaceful life once I started to question my own sense of manhood.

Now I help to run a psychological clinic that helps men to understand how their concept of masculinity is affecting others.

It is so important that men start to understand gender socialisation and consider the impact of their privilege. Because that is where change happens.

It is only when we critically reflect on themselves, and understand how we have all been shaped by patriarchy, that things can improve.

Anthony Keedi is a psychologist with Abaad, a gender equality NGO in Beirut. He was in Dublin earlier this week to address a conference held by the Irish Consortium on Gender Based Violence.

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