Separating Violence from Masculinity

More than twenty years after the war in the Balkans, generations of young men & women are still thick in struggle. Desperation, anger & frustration have led to increased violence by many young men and ideas about what masculinity entails have fueled the fire.

According to Aleksandar Slijepsveic, youth coordinator at Be a Man club in Banja Luka, cultural messages about manhood have driven home the belief that manhood means “[toughness], being strong, defending the family, the nation, the people.”  Violence and manhood are, thus, attached at the hip and (can) set certain behavioral/identity-related expectations.  But is this the case?  Is violence an inescapable part of what masculinity entails (or ought to entail)?  No.  And breaking this conception is crucial to the health and well-being of young men, women & society at large.

This short film, Post-War Machismo: Be a Man, follows the transformation of a young Bosnian teen named Dragan who turns his life around through the innovative Be a Man program — an initiative aimed at youth living in post-war Balkan nations that attempts to help challenge/break stereotypes about what it means to “be a man,” to promote non-violent masculinity (i.e., separate violence from masculinity), and find healthy alternatives for anger & apathy.

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