Spe­cial Fea­ture

Esquire Shop­house

Esquire (Singapore) - - Contents -

What it means to be a ‘man’ to­day is rapidly chang­ing. Reg­u­lar hosts of Esquire’s The Bite pod­cast—Ben Hop­kins and Nor­man Tan—were joined by spe­cial guests to dis­cuss mod­ern-day mas­culin­ity. From rigid archetypes and their im­pact on men­tal health and male sui­cide, to equal­ity and the role that me­dia has to play in shap­ing so­cial con­structs and ex­pec­ta­tions, here are some of the high­lights from the panel con­ver­sa­tion that stretched over two days at the Esquire Shop­house. “It’s a mat­ter of per­spec­tive. I don’t think we wake up with a men­tal state of, ‘Oh, let’s be a man to­day.’ It’s not about what it means to be a man, but what it means to be a per­son. How do we make our lives more mean­ing­ful for our­selves and for the peo­ple around us.” — Ter­ence Quek, Asia-Pa­cific CEO of or­gan­i­sa­tional de­vel­op­ment com­pany Emer­ge­net­ics “There’s a lot of talk about equal­ity. But how do you de­fine ‘equal­ity’? It’s not about shar­ing the bill or women open­ing their own doors. To me, that’s more about fair­ness. Equal­ity to me is more about em­brac­ing the dif­fer­ences be­tween men and women, ac­cept­ing peo­ple for who they are, and giv­ing them equal op­por­tu­ni­ties to thrive de­spite their dif­fer­ences.” — An­gela Ng, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of learn­ing and de­vel­op­ment con­sult­ing firm ANtre­pod

“We are con­stantly told from a young age that mas­culin­ity is driv­ing a par­tic­u­lar car, achiev­ing a cer­tain body im­age or ac­quir­ing sta­tus and suc­cess. It’s his­tor­i­cally been about what oth­ers thought about you. But to­day, I think how we see mas­culin­ity has been flipped. It’s more in­ter­nal val­i­da­tion and be­ing au­then­tic to your­self. Do I mea­sure up to my own val­ues? Did I do right thing? Am I happy with who I’m be­com­ing?” — Ben Hop­kins, founder of health op­ti­mi­sa­tion com­pany BioOnics

“When I ex­plain the so­cial hi­er­ar­chy of men and women to my son and daugh­ter, I use the anal­ogy of a see-saw. The man has been sit­ting on top for the long­est time, and to him, he thinks it’s even. But the woman has been at the bot­tom and sees the op­pres­sion. And with any at­tempt to achieve equal­ity, the see-saw will bounce up and down be­fore there is equi­lib­rium. For the man, any at­tempt to equalise the so­cial hi­er­ar­chy will be seen as op­pres­sion; like they’ve given up a lot. They will only be able to see the full pic­ture if they step off the see­saw and see it for what it is—and that takes em­pa­thy and com­pas­sion.” — Calvin Soh, founder of so­cial en­ter­prise One Kind House

“His­tor­i­cally, male self-worth is tied to money, suc­cess and power. And there’s this be­lief that when we achieve that, we will reach a sense of ful­fill­ment. But it’s im­por­tant to tell men that not every­one dreams the same. Don’t put your­self into boxes. We need to learn from women to build com­mu­nity and to talk about our feel­ings. It takes a lot of strength to be vul­ner­a­ble.” — Nor­man Tan, ed­i­tor-in-chief of Esquire Sin­ga­pore

“Men have a script that is very lim­it­ing: strength is the only cur­rency and anger is the only emo­tion. It’s dan­ger­ous for men and for men­tal health. Hence the high de­pres­sion and sui­cide rates in men. And with the whole #metoo move­ment, it’s also very dan­ger­ous for women.” — Lavinia Thana­p­a­thy, vice-pres­i­dent of Sin­ga­pore Coun­cil of Women’s Or­gan­i­sa­tions

“I think my dad has al­ways raised me and my sis­ter the same way. We’ve al­ways been treated the same. But when I go to school and I talk to other peo­ple, I’m start­ing to re­alise that men and women are not treated the same. For ex­am­ple, I don’t get why a woman is paid less than a man in the same job.” — Dy­lan Soh, the 16-year-old son of Calvin Soh, founder of so­cial en­ter­prise One Kind House

“There’s an on­go­ing move­ment of men try­ing to dis­cover their mas­culin­ity. Es­pe­cially with the dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion and so­cial me­dia, we are mov­ing away from per­fec­tion-based mas­culin­ity to val­ues-based mas­culin­ity. And you see this with how brands mar­ket their prod­ucts. There’s a huge push at Unilever now to push brands with pur­pose.” — Paul Loiz, global brand

di­rec­tor at Unilever “Men and women are not the same, but the lan­guage of equal­ity is help­ful. Right now, women are un­der­per­form­ing in Sin­ga­pore. Mul­ti­ple stud­ies have shown that you can in­crease the GDP of a coun­try by over 20 per­cent by sim­ply al­low­ing women to per­form to the top of their eco­nomic po­ten­tial. And it’s not a zero sum game. Women do­ing bet­ter doesn’t mean men won’t also do well. But women have a con­fi­dence gap. When women ap­ply for a job, they look at the re­quire­ments and feel like they need to ful­fill all the cri­te­ria be­fore even ap­ply­ing for a role. For men, if they ful­fill 60 per­cent of the cri­te­ria, they put their hand up and go for it. And it’s dif­fi­cult to be a fe­male leader. Lead­er­ship is about fail­ure. You will try things and it will screw up. But we don’t raise our girls to take enough risks. We raise our boys to take risks, but we raise our girls to be per­fect.” — Lavinia Thana­p­a­thy, vice-pres­i­dent of Sin­ga­pore Coun­cil of Women’s Or­gan­i­sa­tions

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.