On Wednesday, November 18, Alexander - founder of Ride For A Dream - Lavinia (who also works for Ride for a Dream) and I co-facilitated a really powerful workshop on unpacking feminism and masculinity at Ryerson University. The most powerful take-away message I had from this experience was that ideas, social norms and gender norms get embedded into our gender identities at a very young age. Many of the participants in the workshop talked about how, as kids,they learned that their "utility" was the primary defining feature of their masculinity, while female participants talked about how compliance and obedience was expected of them.
I think that having discussions with students, starting in primary grades, about what they think it means to be a "boy" or "girl" could be very powerful. We have to break down and unpack the expectations and pressures we assign ourselves based on our gender. Gender is fluid and should not prescribe the way we behave or the things we do. If we unravel these ideas at an early age, hopefully it will create more equitable, inclusive and safer communities.