What does it mean to be a man in America? Or a father? What should it mean? And how can we incorporate men more fully as partners in both child rearing and in the continued movement for gender equity? These are the questions we explored with Ashoka Fellows Dr. Charles Daniels Jr and Gary Barker on Welcome Change. You can watch the full conversation here. Here are a few highlights:
Building social supports for fathers
What if physically “absent” fathers could nonetheless be emotionally present, available, and supportive? This is one of the key questions that drives Dr. Charles Daniels, founder of Boston-based Fathers’ Uplift. He and his team created the U.S.’s first mental health treatment facility for fathers and their families, to ensure that men are supported in their transition to fatherhood.
Building community and sustainable relationships that allow men to be vulnerable and ask for help are essential to Fathers’ Uplift’s approach. The model is spreading nationwide, serving thousands of dads directly, and changing the culture of care.
On being a man in America
Gary Barker is a leading global voice in engaging men and boys in advancing gender equality and positive masculinities. He is the founder of Promundo and co-founder of MenEngage, a global alliance working in 70 countries. Their work points to a direct correlation between healthy masculinity and gender equity.
Charles and his team use a “candy shop” approach with their men: “You’re going to this candy shop of manhood, masculinity, fatherhood. What type of man do you want to be based on the things that you like and you don’t like? This is foundational.” Along with redefining what it means to be a man in America and committing to it, Fathers’ Uplift is redefining how to treat men, no matter what their accomplishments or mistakes.
Race & masculinity
We’re living through a political moment in the United States and beyond where a certain kind of masculinity is being weaponized by the far-right, with a real anti-feminist, anti-black backlash. Here’s what Charles & Gary had to say about it:
Finding common cause
Whether queer, straight, gender-fluid, Black, White, or Asian… harmful ideas about masculinity affect everyone — albeit differently — across identity lines. Gary reflects that we need to find common cause, recognizing that our liberation is tied up together.
This conversation is part of an insight series on what’s next for gender equity, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.