These are the questions that Super Being Labs sought to answer with its project, Being Mankind.
The idea stemmed from a conversation about positive male role models and the need to discuss these issues more, starting at an early age.
“Understanding yourself well is far more important than trying to subscribe to outdated gender stereotypes”
“Boys are growing up with this kind of weird idea of what it is to be a human, and expectations from outdated gender stereotypes stop them from understanding who they are,” Darshan Sanghrajka, founder of Super Being Labs, told The PIE News.
“We decided to create a book of diverse stories that showed how being human, understanding yourself well, so you can be kind to yourselves and those around you, is far more important than trying to subscribe to outdated gender stereotypes.”
The stories are international. One tells the story of a male a nurse from Kenya, another is about a man from Iceland and his relationship with his wife.
SBL is now trying to take the book to countries like India and the US with the aim of creating a global activity that just gets kids at a very young age thinking about how they understand masculinity.
Volume 2 is also on the way, and the team has written a film and is working on a stage play, Sandhrajka said. People are also asking for translations of the book.
“We are starting off with a book to get it into the hands of the people that care about it. People will become advocates for it. We are building a community around it.”
“[Talking about masculinity] has a whole load of knock-on effects,” Sanghrajka said. “Things like empathy, anti-bullying, mental health, kindness, compassion, respect and identity which helps with LGBT rights and protecting against things like sexual violence.”
Super Being Labs funded the project with a Kickstarter campaign. Around 3,000 people now have the books, which means that schools also have them. For each book bought, another is sent to a school.
“We created a whole PHSE (Personal, social, health and economic education) syllabus around it for primary school kids to get involved with,” Sanghrajka said.
Teachers have reported that the stories have changed classroom behaviour, parents have talked about mental health issues that they wouldn’t previously done, according to Sanghrajka.