Guest Post by Darci. Darci is a mom of 2 boys and 2 cats with a master’s degree in public policy. She enjoys reading, eating desserts, and researching gender dynamics and politics.
I grew up with feminist leanings that have deepened with years of research, knowledge, and personal experience. After having sons, I started studying what it’s like to be a boy and man in America. And I have been appalled at how much the patriarchy harms them too.
A common theme throughout the books, podcasts, and documentaries I have researched is loneliness. Access to a safe space for meaningful discussions with other boys or men has proved most beneficial in overcoming this challenge.
The church already has the infrastructure to help more men heal from and avoid patriarchy’s damaging effects on their health and relationships — but I don’t think we’re effectively using it. Here is my wish list for one year of Elder’s Quorum and Young Men’s lessons:
January Topic – Masculinity
Key Point: There is no one way to be masculine.
- What is the difference between a “real” man and a “good” man?
- This activity comes from Michael Kimmel in which participants name qualities that describe a “real man.” Then they name qualities defining a “good man.” There is usually an interesting discussion on the discrepancy between these lists and which one Jesus is most aligned with.
- What do we think men are expected to be like versus our authentic selves?
- Man Box activity: This activity comes from A Call to Men. Draw 2 boxes on the board; label one “woman” and the other one “man.” Read a list of adjectives in rapid-fire succession and ask participants to say which box the adjective fits in. Then have students write down 5 adjectives describing themselves; it helps them realize you limit yourself when you try to fit in a box.
LDS Living: How Jesus Christ Shows Us What Masculinity Truly Means
February Topic – Bravery
Key Point: Many types of bravery exist, such as being brave enough to be vulnerable.
- What are different types of bravery (e.g., going to AA meetings, seeking help to stop being abusive, mental health support, speaking up for harassed people)?
- How can we be brave enough to be vulnerable?
LDS Living: What I’ve learned about the role of vulnerability and brotherhood in preparing myself for Zion
Cultivating Meaningful Connections
March Topic – Pressure
Key Point: Everyone feels pressure, and you’re not alone.
- What pressures do we face from culture at large, church culture, family, and self?
- What and how much of those pressures are helpful? Which are harmful? How can we deal with the harmful pressures?
That Your Burdens May Be Light
Bearing One Another’s Burdens
April Topic – Emotional Literacy
Key Point: Recognize different emotions and be your whole self.
- How can I recognize and name my different emotions?
- What emotions does society deem acceptable for us to feel and which emotions do we actually feel?
LDS Living: The Surprising Way the Book of Mormon Can Teach Us About Emotional Intelligence
May Topic – Power Over vs Power With
Key Point: True power does not incorporate domination.
- What is the reality of power? What is the true reality of power? How do these realities intersect?
- How can I better include the true reality of power in my life?
D&C 121: 39
Power’s Reality, Power’s Illusion: Policy at the Intersection of the Two Kingdoms by Valerie Hudson
LDS Perspectives Episode 100: The Myth of Redemptive Violence with David Pulsipher
Endowed with Priesthood Power by Sister Jean B. Bingham, Sister Sharon Eubank, Sister Reyna I. Aburto
June Topic – Creative Problem-solving
Key Point: Solve problems peacefully.
- How do various forms of media affect our thoughts and actions about solving problems?
- How does creative problem-solving work in real life?
- This activity comes from BAM. People partner up, and one person is given a ball while the other has 30 seconds to get the ball. Often, people try to physically grab the ball. The teacher can ask questions that will lead the group to realize that instead of assuming they needed to use force to get the ball, they could have just asked for the ball.
Maxwell Institute Podcast #134: Proclaim Peace with Patrick Mason and David Pulsipher
July Topic – Female Role Models
Key Point: Being called feminine should not be considered demeaning.
- What can we learn about and from Heavenly Mother?
- Which inspirational women from scriptures and church history do we know, and what can we learn from them?
Gospel Topics Essays: Mother in Heaven
BYU Studies: A Mother There by David L. Paulsen and Martin Pulido
Women in the Scriptures
At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women
August Topic – Boundaries
Key Point: Set your own and respect others’.
- What are boundaries and why should I set my own?
- How can I respect others’ boundaries? How can I handle hearing “no” from others?
How to Set Boundaries for Well-Being
LDS Living: How to Handle Rejection as Christ Did
September Topic – Partnership
Key Point: Think partnership over patriarchy.
- How can I treat my partner as an equal?
- How can I create and maintain good friendships?
Equal Partnership in Marriage
Equality of Men and Women
Friendship: A Gospel Principle by Marlin K. Jensen
October Topic – Sex Ed
Key Point: Learn guidelines for having respectful sex.
- How do various forms of media and porn affect our thoughts and actions regarding sex?
- How does consent work in real life?
Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments by Jeffrey R. Holland
The Body, a Sacred Gift by Diane Spangler
November Topic – Bystander Training
Key Point: Become a good bystander.
- How can I be a good bystander while among strangers?
- How can I be a good bystander while among friends and family?
Saving Lives by Alton L. Thygerson
Alteristic Green Dot
December Topic – Integrity, Privilege, and Responsibility
Key Point: To be a man of integrity, you need to be your full self in all places.
- What is my true self and how can I figure that out?
- How can I stand as a witness of God in all places, in all times?
Be Strong and of a Good Courage by Thomas S. Monson
Organizations for further inspiration:
- A Call to Men – trains and educates men and boys about a healthy and respectful version of manhood, focusing particularly on rooting out violence against women
- BAM – meetings that emphasize boys’ ability to think about how they’re thinking via check-ins; group activities focused on cooperative problem-solving; and conversations based on six values: integrity, accountability, self-determination, goal-setting, positive anger expression, and respect for womanhood
- Boys Leading Boys – a group where boys talk with and learn from each other on topics such as being a good bystander, a good man, effects of media and porn on relationships, etc.
- Coaching Boys into Men – sports coaches include 15 minutes/week in their practice to help boys reshape their beliefs about gender stereotypes and adjust their idea of normal language and behavior
- Green Dot Bystander Intervention Program – bystander intervention training program
- Mentors in Violence Prevention Program – bystander training focused on gender violence prevention
- Promundo’s Program H – provides a place for boys to consider society’s rules regarding men’s and women’s acceptable behavior, how these “rules” harm everyone, and learn about power imbalances and bodily autonomy
This is absolutely wonderful! So much good here!!!
I’d add at least 50% non-American resources as well, because Global church and, well, most academic masculinity studies research and publications are outside of North America.
But honestly, you have done your work and it is fabulous! Your boys and your ward are lucky to have you!!! Please send in more guest posts!! You rock!!!
So many great resources here. Thanks for putting in the time!
Love this! I’m raising 3 boys and would love to know some of your favorite “books, podcasts, and documentaries.” Thanks!
This is great. It would be wonderful if class time at church could be better utilized towards healing and wholeness.
Oh, thank you, thank you for putting this together. It paints a beautiful picture of what could be. I see so much arrogance in about half of the young men and men in the church. The other half are harmed. The documentary The Mask You Live In was eye-opening for me to see how much patriarchy hurts males.
What a great list, Darci! I especially appreciate the sections that deal with boys’ and men’s interactions with girls and women, like the sex ed, women role models, and partnership ones. These are lessons that we men in the Church especially dearly need. A vague handwave at D&C 121 and the weasel “equal partners” language of the FamProc is about all we have now, and that’s of course inadequate.
So needed! Love this – thank you!
Thank you for this! I’m going to use it for family home evenings for my kids!
This is terrific. I love how you found so many mainstream Latter-day Saint sources to support these lessons about healthy masculinity.