New Book ‘Dares’ Boys To Be More Emotional, Kind

“It’s the collective socialization of manhood that we’re talking about.”

By Laura RiceJanuary 11, 2021 12:50 pm, , ,

What does it mean to be a man in a time when there are calls for “dismantling the patriarchy”? How do you raise a boy in a world filled with examples of toxic masculinity?

Authors of a new book hope it’s a helpful tool for boys ages 8 to 13. “The Book of Dares: 100 Ways for Boys to Be Kind, Bold, and Brave” is aimed at building emotional awareness and helping kids grow into a healthy manhood. It’s co-authored by Ted Bunch and Anna Marie Johnson Teague who are with the organization A Call to Men.

On embracing being a boy:

“I love being a man,” Bunch told Texas Standard. “We love men. We love boys. [But] we also want to challenge the things that are hurting them, that are stopping our boys from being their full, authentic selves.”

“To make every boys’ lived experience the best it can be, we have to be intentional about encouraging their authenticity, about helping them develop empathy, about educating them on healthy relationships and healthy masculinity, and promoting their emotional literacy,” Johnson Teague said.

On what it means to dismantle the “Man Box”:

Bunch says the “Man Box” is made up of society’s messages of how manhood should be treated: “always being in control, having to know the answer for everything, not asking for help, not showing any emotion except for anger.”

Bunch says these ideas can become problematic, even dangerous, for men.

“The suicide rate, it is much higher among men than women,” Bunch said. “And by the way, it’s much higher among male youth than female youth. … We start teaching our boys that they have to live within this ‘man box’ at a very early age.”

©Al Torres Photography Inc

Anna Marie Johnson Teague and Ted Bunch.

On promoting kindness and authenticity through “dares”:

“We talked with thousands of boys across the country and so many in Texas who unanimously shared with us that dares were frightening, but they were also so intriguing,” Johnson Teague said. “So what we wanted to do is take a concept that they were familiar with and that they were attracted to and turn it into 100 challenges, positive challenges.”

Examples of these dares included wearing a female athlete’s jersey.

“Because it’s really about the athleticism, isn’t it? Not about the gender,” Bunch said.

On promoting gender equity:

Several of the “dares” are about treatment of women and girls – including about promoting equal pay. Bunch says equity and authenticity are themes throughout the book.

“If we can take barriers away and that child can then pursue simply who they are, not based on gender, but based on who they are inside, then we’re going to have healthier people,” Bunch said. “We’re going to have people who are more in touch with their own humanity and that we’re going to have a more fair and equitable society.”

“We are being intentional and creating space for new conversations with boys,” Johnson Teague said. “So it’s definitely not something they’re used to … but we find that they’re really hungry to have these conversations; they’re eager to have these conversations. They need an outlet, you know, because it’s not something that they have been given in the past.”

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