Paddle Your Own Canoe

Childhood is intended to be a joyous time when children are awarded the luxury of acting out of impulse; encouraged to follow their dreams. However, boyhood is a rite of passage into manhood, resulting in boys being prohibited from any act deemed childish or girly. From infancy, boys are expected to embrace the signifiers of their adult counterparts; dressed in male clothing and playing with weapons originally designed as a way to enforce dominance. A boy is expected to defend himself through violence and even in his darkest hour, show no emotion. He is taught to value control, power and strength; rejecting anything considered to demonstrate weakness or failure. 

There have been many positive advancements in regard to challenging the female stereotype; while some men, currently living in a state of flux, are resisting change, clinging onto a nostalgic past when men’s authority went unchallenged. The relentless pressure to live up to the unrealistic male stereotype is too much for some, with men in the UK being three times more likely to end their own life than women and 93% of the prison population made up of males. 

It is my belief that men are raised to resent weakness, whether female, other males or in themselves. Through my body of work, I highlight the restrictions placed on boys as a direct result of masculinity in order to create a discourse on the negative impact of patriarchy on the next generation of men.

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