Masculinity is the word we use to describe how boys and men are expected to behave in order to be a man. Since the 1960s, people have begun to challenge what it means to be masculine. This has led to multiple ways of being a man, or multiple Masculinities. Explore how artists have been some of the most important people challenging these ideas around identity.
Masculinities: Family Activities
Get the whole family involved in 'Masculinities' with our interactive exercises exploring the themes of the exhibition.
Disrupting the Archetype
Some artists have questioned traditional, simple ideas of what it is to act as or look like a man.
Artists have documented lots of examples where people don’t accept traditional gender roles, but simply want to act in the way that makes them happiest, like the woman bodybuilder below.
Activity: Now you become the artist! Draw a picture of yourself doing something you love.
Male Order: Power, Patriarchy and Space
Some men have been brought up expected to behave in ways that are not very healthy, such as behaving aggressively and not sharing their feelings.
These men have often not allowed other types of people into power.
Activity: Write down at home why it is important that people can share their feelings.
Activity: Why is it important that all types of people are allowed to be in positions of power?
Write your answer down.
Too Close To Home: Family & Fatherhood
Family can be very important for some boys and men in helping them to find out their own identity.
Activity: These days, families come in all shapes and sizes! What does your family look like? Draw a picture of your family at home.
Because homosexuality used to be illegal (and still is in many countries), members of the LGBTQ+ community had to be secretive, so they sometimes used special fashion codes to communicate with one another.
Activity: Now it’s your time to dress up! Experiment with different clothes you have in the house. Why not photograph yourself with your new look?
Reclaiming the Black Body
For a long time, the image of black men was controlled by white people in power.
Increasingly, black men have been able to describe what it is to be a black man themselves, with black artists demonstrating their individuality and uniqueness.
Activity: Write down at home why you think it’s important that people are allowed to define themselves.
Women on Men: Reversing the Male Gaze
Lots of art is full of images made by men about women, where the women aren’t shown as powerful. Lots of men also feel like it’s OK to stare at women, even though they know it can feel intimidating to be stared at. Women artists have tried to show how this is a problem by flipping this around and having men experience the discomfort of being stared at.
Activity: Artists like Marianne Wex have looked at how men move differently to women and take up more space. Ask someone you’re with, ‘How do you think men and women move and act differently?’ Do you think this is fair?