Community Update

Digital Empowerment Toolkit Now Available!

At World Pulse, we recognize the need for ongoing learning—for you and for your community! Our toolkits aim to provide the resources you need to advance your social change work.

We are excited to introduce our Digital Empowerment Trainers’ Toolkit, a dynamic resource to help you bring the benefits of connecting online to women in your community. Check it out today! »

Simplicity could never be more complex.

I am tired, sick, or second guessing myself. I am sick, tired of thinking twice before I do something, with the thought “will this seem suggestive?” or “will this bring the kind of attention that will embarrass me?” Of course, like I have countless mentioned, some of these incessant worries are a part of my internal world; but how much of these concerns can be attributed to the world in which I live? I live the reported most democratic, most liberated, most progressive country in the world, and yet I often find myself shackled to the rigid gender roles of the American, Christian society. And it is stifling.
My vision for the world feels, to me, incredibly simple. I want to live as we truly feel we should. I want to live the life I want to live, free of the brain poison of ‘wedding fever’ or ‘biological clocks.’ I want to see my male counterparts free to live beyond the astoundingly and stubbornly inescapable gender role of (aggressive) powerful Man. Oh, what would it be like for a man to have the fluidity that the feminine gender is able to enjoy? This is a question that is frightening bare from the rhetoric of pop culture. We can all argue and scream and strain about the injustices and assumptions we women face; but how often do we sit back and ponder the injustices that boys and men face as well?
I work with young, mostly black, juvenile offenders. These boys are also labeled intellectually impaired, which can be interpreted as low IQ. Or could be interpreted as the most gullible, rigid of the misogynists. These are the young men who fully believe in the words of their role models: conquer, smoke weed, sell drugs, sleep around, laugh at relationships, cars, guns, gangs, diamond jewelry. I had never planned to do my feminist work with males, but doing such has greatly expanded what my goals have become. With girls, I want them to understand that they are so much more than a vagina and breasts. That these things do not define them, but that they cannot be ignored either. I have my work cut out for me with these boys. And believe me, they do not understand that they are more than a penis that should strive to enter any partially willing female nearby. They are the unwitting victims of the male gender role, and perhaps the black male gender role. They are labeled offenders, angry, aggressive, uncontrollable. I feel obligated and on fire with a passion to show them that are special and that they can achieve something, anything more than what has been laid out for them.
What is my vision, let me not digress. Again, simplicity, which is truly maddening in its complexity. I want each baby born to feel free to reach his or her own potential, what that may be. I want to be free of all the preconceived notions of our time. This includes that fear I have discussed, the fear that one cannot change the whole. I will not give this up.
I want to be chosen to be a part of Voices of Our Future because I want to begin a relationship with women all over the globe to explore and attack this dreaded gender role. I want to examine the male gender role, and break down every piece of the puzzle of sexual violence, sexual exploitation, and overall disrespect toward women. I know that, whether I am chosen or not, I have started something within these four weeks, and I will keep moving forward.


YAOtieno's picture


Hi Megan. Glad you decided to write. And yes we all have those moments when we second guess ourselves so don't worry about it.

I like that a your approach is from a different angle, the male angle which is often neglected.

Please clarify what you mean by the second part of this statement - They are the unwitting victims of the male gender role, and perhaps the black male gender role.

Maybe give us the context of why the "black male"



A candle looses nothing my lighting another

Megan.Aileen's picture

Male Gender Roles

Sure, thanks for asking about this. The boys I work with are mostly black, and what I have absobed from the many pervasive stereotypes of America, is that the 'young black male' stereotype equals aggressive, criminal, oversexualized, and fatherless. I certainly do not put stock in this stereotype, and I feel this is because I am educated, and equipped with reasoning skills. My kids were not given the attention they needed; not the positive attention that is. And sure, many of them lack a male role model, but that should not mean that they cannot live a life of their choosing. So, in reference to your question, I wrote that statement specifically about the boys with whom I work. I belive there is a 'white male gender role' as well, and hopefully, can explore this one as well (maybe in a book!)

Please give me any input you have into a stereotypical 'black male gender role' and 'white male gender role.' I think its just AMAZING how racism and sexism intertwine still in the definitions of manhood!!

Katharina's picture


Hi Megan,
I enjoyed reading your post a lot. You stress a very interesting aspect. I'm disturbed by the gender roles you wrote about as well and I think it is absolutey crucial to not only work with women, but with men (or boys) as well. I'd really like to hear more from you how you perceive or if you perceive any peer pressure within these groups or gangs you are working with.
All the best,

joyacomeaux's picture


You really do have your work cut out for you.
Good for you for taking this on.
I am sure you are making a difference in their lives.
If not immediate, long term.
I wish you all the strength and courage that it will take for you to nurture yourself in the process.

jbaljko's picture

The male point of view

It was - how shall I say this - refreshing, maybe is the word, to read your post. We often forget that while we push towards redefining ourselves and our place in the world, we co-exist with men, and that their roles balance ours. Men and boys also need support as well. Thank you for taking on this important work.

Can you explain a bit more what kinds of dialogs you're having or activities you're doing with these young people and helping them break their prescribed gender roles? How do they respond, and how do you hope they will use these conversations down the road in their lives. Like you said, you certainly have your work cut out. Keep moving forward.


"The secret of happiness is freedom,
and the secret of freedom, courage."
-Thucydides, ancient Greek historian & author

NatashaLeite's picture


Hi Megan,

As you pointed out working gender means as much empowering women as it is working on how to build more suitable models of masculinity. What most don´t see is that the same stereotypes that many times oppress women also limit men to live their lives to the fullest potential. Keep up the good work!



Megan.Aileen's picture

Exactly Natasha!

Yes! One of the things I want to expose is that the horrible and sickening behaviors, the rape culture, the misogyny, and the oppression of liberated gender roles, is a RESULT of (male and female) gender roles. I am reading a book about the feminine in Native American cultures, and it seems that the "conquering" Europeans feared and then went out of their way to suppress the matrilineal nature of their societies. And I can attest to this, as an American, no one was taught that these indigenous people were appointing women as politicians (or their equivalent, obviously). We were basically allowed to assume that all other cultures are like ours: a Patriarchy.
This fear of letting women be equal, in my opinion, limits the male gender role so completely! What, are men supposedly so insecure that they cannot deal with a female and equal counterpart? This is what the gender roles of my country seem to convey.

Magazine »

Read global coverage through women's eyes

Inside Congo's Growing Sisterhood

Inside Congo's Growing Sisterhood

Community »

Connect with women on the ground worldwide

Face to Face with the U.S. Special Envoy to DRC

Face to Face with the U.S. Special Envoy to DRC

Campaigns »

Be heard at influential forums

WWW: Women Weave the Web

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Programs »

Help us train women citizen journalists

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

Blog »

Read the latest from World Pulse headquarters

Highlights of the 2014 World Pulse LIVE Tour

Highlights of the 2014 World Pulse LIVE Tour

Partners »

Join forces with our wide network of partners

Nobel Women's Initiative

Nobel Women's Initiative