by Boysen Hodgson

In September, 2015, the men’s body products company AXE’s global parent, UNILEVER, reached out to the ManKind Project, among a number of other organizations focused on men’s personal development, gender equality, violence prevention, and men’s mental health, to gather feedback about a new direction for the AXE brand. Representatives from MKP USA and AXE’s branding and marketing leads had a productive, in depth, and very honest, conversation. Boysen Hodgson (representing Marketing & Communications), Jon Levitt (representing Organizational Development), and Chris Geyer (representing the Young Warriors) were invited to view early cuts of what has become the ‘Find Your Magic’ Campaign and ‘manifesto’ for AXE. (Watch it below) We were all pleasantly surprised and buoyed by the direction we saw AXE taking. And the latest development in their efforts reinforces the positive direction.

They are now actively helping to redefine and expand definitions of manhood. UNILEVER / AXE has worked with Promundo (a DC based research organization) over the last 18 months to conduct some groundbreaking research on attitudes and beliefs about manhood among young men in the United States, the UK, and Mexico. The study is a great read and points to issues that the ManKind Project has been working on for years in our personal growth work with men.

A few key findings:

  • Young men continue to get some rewards for living ‘inside the box’
  • Young men’s bravado masks deep insecurities, depression, and frequent thoughts of suicide
  • Young men are unlikely to seek help or express vulnerability
  • Young men’s behavior in the man box is risky: drinking, reckless driving, and violence are commonplace
  • The Man Box is a very violent place, for men, for women, and for everyone else
  • Young men’s sense of self-esteem continues to be deeply tied to external factors (body appearance, muscularity, physicality) rather than internal realities or qualities

Following the release of the report, we reached back out to Axe / Unilever to congratulate the company for further illuminating the tipping point we have reached in redefining manhood. I hope that the ManKind Project will have the opportunity to assist Unilever and other corporations as they continue begin helping men break out of the ‘man box’ in their efforts.

The ManKind Project remains on the cutting edge of this evolution, and we’re proud to be part of the conversation. The peer reviewed studies done on the ManKind Project’s trainings and men’s groups have found significant changes in men’s perceptions of masculinity as a result of participation: away from isolation and rigidity and toward authentic emotional connection and camaraderie.

The ManKind Project has the tools, programs, and support that breaks men out of the man-box; to set their own course for a purpose-filled and fully-expressed manhood.

Get involved. Submit a request to get involved in a local ManKind Project community or find a training near you.

“Young men need support to break out of the box; they cannot do it on their own. If conforming to the pressures of the Man Box were obviously disadvantageous to men, few men would do so. As the study shows, however, the picture is more complicated. Navigating the rewards and punishments of manhood is a real dilemma for young men. In this reality, all of us – young men and young women, parents, educators, the media, teachers, romantic partners, and all members of society – have a role to play in reinforcing positive, equitable, unrestrictive ideas of manhood. In other words, it is time for all of us to work to break out of – and break – the Man Box.” ~from the report

Read the full report: The Man Box – Full-EN-Final-29.03.2017

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