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“I’m the boss!” – Participatory research about masculinity in school environments

boss is a someone who knows how to play football or video games very well. He is not a nerd at school, he is a player. This is the dominant shared imaginary space between young people that describes social success, to which boys should aspire. The consequences are harmful to the human development of boys, as well as to girls. Exploring and understanding the origin and mechanisms of gender construction is the first step a more just, equitable and free society.

With a transformative and sensitising approach, this project aims to accompany the participants during a process of exploration and reflection, stimulating collective critical thinking around masculinities. This project opens a space in which to ask questions, debate, question and relate experiences about how a boy or young man should be, think, and act in order to receive recognition and admiration. The project creates knowledge about the process of gender construction and frameworks of gender performativity.

 

The participants are currently two groups of young people between the ages of 9 and 16 with an interest in researching, questioning the society within which they live and understanding their own development journey. The activities are carried out in primary schools and secondary schools in Barcelona and nearby regions. This project continues with the legacy of previous projects carried out during the years 2018 and 2019.

 

During the work with each group, we use participatory techniques  in order to explore and build understanding about what gender structures are, in particular, hegemonic masculinity. Through these techniques we critique what these structures imply, how they condition us and why they are so reductive, limiting and discriminatory for both boys and men, as well as wider society.

Lighthouse contacts schools and proposes a collaboration. The participants meet for three different days with our team. There they engage in transformative and participatory research sessions around gender. These culminate with an analysis of the results and their communication in the form of audiovisual production. In this way, the videos become an accessible source of innovative results, as well as an awareness tool for those people and groups who wish to use them in their workshops or courses.