Men are living in boxes that they put themselves in.
And I don't just mean that they are forcing themselves to be more manly, but also enforcing heteronormativity and hypermasculinity onto other males. By no means do I hate men or think they're less than me. But engaging in behavior that regularly puts down vulnerability and softness is a cruel punishment for being human. This series was born out of a compelling passion for others and a hope that men, or people in general, begin to value different ways of being.
Boxed Man (Alien Boy)
11” x 14” Oil on canvas According to A Call To Men, the “man box” is the limitations set by society and experience of what a man is supposed to be. All genders are affected by this. My subject’s skin is green, a popular color for aliens, to remind people that forcing men to continue in these unhealthy conditions to be a man alienates them from family, friends, and themselves. “What is the Man Box?” A Call To Men, www.acalltomen.org/news/2017/7/21/what-is-the-man-box. Accessed 3 February 2019.
Boxed Man (Dad's Mad)
12" x 12" Oil on canvas From personal experience, men are only allowed to feel certain feelings within the man box. The sad reality is that men are shamed into quietness when it comes to other feelings: sadness, loneliness, regret, weakness. And yet, how could they not feel these things? It is channeled into anger, as men are allowed to feel that.
Boxed Man (Forbidden Tears)
12" x 12" Oil on canvas While anger is allowed, tears are forbidden. Did you know that "in 2017, the suicide rate for men was 3.5 times higher than it was for women?" How sad it is that we can't just allow men and boys to feel their pain and then heal. Instead, we let them suffer and die in silence. "Understanding Suicide Among Men," Verywell Mind, https://www.verywellmind.com/men-and-suicide-2328492. Accessed 4 February 2020.
Boxed Man (No Joke)
20" x 16" Oil on canvas Inside the Man Box, men are more likely to bully others in verbal, physical, and online settings. Violence and sexual harassment against women is also perpetrated by those who live their lives according to this code. Heilman, B., Barker, G., & Harrison, A. (2017). The Man Box: A Study on Being a Young Man in the US, UK, and Mexico. https://promundoglobal.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/TheManBox-Full-EN-Final-29.03.2017-POSTPRINT.v3-web.pdf. Accessed 21 April 2020.
Boxed Man (Depressive Episode)
16" x 12" Oil on canvas When men find themselves in a difficult position, emotionally, is it okay to be left to their own devices because they're supposed to be tough? According to the American Psychological Association, this can have very dangerous effects, from depression all the way to school shootings. Azar, Beth. (2009) "Science Watch: Singled Out," American Psychological Association, https://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/04/social. Accessed 21 April 2020.
Boxed Man (Drama King)
16" x 12" Oil on canvas When you are outside the man box, oftentimes you are labeled as "other." Other can refer to a litany of terms - gay, feminine, freak, gross, despicable, disgusting, etc. All terms associated with the feeling of being ostracized. And staying inside is more harmful to the soul. Where do these men go?
Boxed Man (Open Country)
20" x 16" Oil on canvas As disheartening as this series can be, I see an opening up for men. People are beginning to understand that equality is for everyone - including more feminine qualities for more masculine people. Because that's what humans need. I look forward to seeing men embracing their fullest selves.