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The Men’s Story Project: Promoting Healthy Masculinities via Men’s Public, Personal Narrative-Sharing

Abstract

The Men’s Story Project (MSP) is a scalable social and behavior change communication initiative that fosters critical reflection and dialogue about masculinities by creating public forums where men share non-fiction, personal narratives that challenge male norms and model healthy, gender-equitable masculinities. Via focus groups and in-depth interviews, this qualitative evaluation study examined impacts of the MSP for 20 MSP presenters and 31 college audience members who attended an MSP production at a public university in California in the Spring 2009 semester. Key thematic findings for MSP presenters included value placed on the men’s group experience; having their stereotypes and prejudices challenged; empowerment and healing; reinforced commitment to cease/prevent men’s violence; and expanded gender justice engagement. For audience members, key thematic findings included gaining an expanded conceptualization of masculinity; learning about intersectionality; having their stereotypes and prejudices challenged; and finding significant overall educational and social value in the MSP. The MSP’s effects on audience members were facilitated by experiences of emotion, empathy, parafriendship and role modeling elicited by the first-person narratives, and the social learning environment fostered by the collective, public experience. Directions for further international research and practice are discussed.

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Funding

This research was supported by Award Number T32MH019105 from the National Institute of Mental Health. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Mental Health or the National Institutes of Health.

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Correspondence to Jocelyn Lehrer.

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Peretz, T., Lehrer, J. The Men’s Story Project: Promoting Healthy Masculinities via Men’s Public, Personal Narrative-Sharing. Glob Soc Welf 6, 245–257 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40609-018-00133-0

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Keywords

  • Masculinity
  • Masculinities
  • Narratives
  • Testimonials
  • Gender-based violence
  • Intersectionality
  • Role models