The Manbox

While at Vassar College, I helped construct a large wooden box in the most heavily trafficked part of campus.

I and the other members of Vassar’s sexual assault hotline CARES were so impressed by Tony Porter‘s concept of the “man box” that we decided to erect a physical manifestation. We defined the manbox like so:

The manbox represents a set of traditional images about masculinity that society has built for us, a construction that in some ways creates an environment that enables and tolerates violence against women.

For Sexual Assault Awareness Week this year, CARES has built this box to facilitate a conversation about manhood: how and whether these socially defined roles support those men who are abusive, and how well-meaning men who are pressured to stay in the manbox can break out of it and speak out against domestic and sexual violence.

We covered the Manbox in paper and invited passersby to write, on the inside of the box, qualities that society expects of men – like being tough, not backing down, and being in control. The outside of the box was intended for attributes that are not usually part of society’s perception of masculinity – like being emotional, or being unsure. A rousing discussion ensued. The full-size images are intentionally large so that you may follow them:

Inside

Outside

A thank-you again to Tony Porter (co-founder of A CALL TO MEN) who got us going with a talk he gave at Vassar in 2007, which later became a TED talk you should watch. See also the original flyer for the manbox.


  • QR005

    Mmmm… I think that the idea of “man box could go deeper. I mean… this “manbox” is an idea about masculinity, but i’m sure it is not tho only one.
    What I think is that every one build his “ownbox”. I don’t know if you reed the book “man-box” writen by Abe Kobo. I think it’s about those boxes we build around us.
    Ah, and for the society, I don’t think there is “a” society to build stereotypes, but many peoples who build those things together.