Football players at Wilfrid Laurier University took a break from their regular training schedule to learn what it means to be a conscientious man and how to have healthy relationships with women on campus.
On Wednesday, the young men participated in an hour and a half session led by Stephen Soucie, program coordinator with Male Allies Against Sexual Violence, which is a program associated with the Sexual Assault Crisis Centre of Waterloo Region.
“We recognize that men growing up today are often exposed to toxic ideas of manhood,” Soucie said. “That becomes problematic when those men go into university and enter a culture of binge drinking, partying and all the other things that come with university life.”
Soucie said the manliness workshop is meant to help men break down unhealthy ideas of manhood that they may have learned from popular media, like movies and magazines.
“Most men…are not comfortable with this hyper-masculine script that they are expected to perform. This very narrow, shallow idea of manhood where we are expected to be non-emotional human beings is limiting for men and it damages our relationships with women.”
“These men aren’t monsters”
Although Soucie’s end goal is to change the narrative around what it means to be a man in today’s society, he set his sights a little lower for the workshop.
“What we want to do is plant some seeds,” he said. “We want them to start questioning things—start calling into question why they think the way they think, why they act the way they act, why they behave the way they do.”
“These aren’t monsters. These aren’t deviant men. These are normal, everyday guys. These are our brothers, our best friends, our sons. Really, we need to work with them to encourage them to become the best version of themselves that they can be.”
Soucie said Wednesday’s session with the football team was to be the first in a series of conversations on the topic of manliness. He hopes to continue to hold smaller sessions with the team throughout the year.