HOUGHTON - Do you have a fantastic beard or mustache? Do you want to win prizes, trophy plaques and bragging rights? Keep reading! Dial Help and the social media male leadership group Men Matter are sponsoring the first ever "Healthy Man" Beard and Mustache Competition December 12 at the Bluffs Ballroom in Houghton.
"The beard is probably the most noticeable male physical characteristic there is, and what we want to do is create a dialogue around the issue of what Healthy Masculinity is," said Kevin Weir of Dial Help. "One thing 'Healthy Masculinity' is not about is denying maleness."
While much has been talked about how society shapes our views of women and femininity, often absent is the conversation about how society shapes our views of men and masculinity.
"Thanks primarily to the female advocates of gender equality in our community over the past decades, such as the Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter, many of us know society puts expectations on women, how they should look and how they should behave, but we often don't talk about the limitations and expectations that are put on men, about how we should look and behave," said Weir "A lot of us men, starting at very young ages, will regulate ourselves and others by immediately viewing vulnerability, perceived weakness, or any feminine-type appearance as straying from what it should mean to be a man."
This type of hyper-masculinity has consequences for men and for the women they love.
"Oftentimes as men and boys, when we see another male not living up to our expectations of masculinity, we immediately make sure he knows it by referring to him as a 'nancy,' the 'b-word', the 'p-word', a 'sissy' or insist that he, 'grow a pair' - any type of perceived feminizing remark will do. So in the male experience, the worst thing you can be,is a woman or perceived as feminine in any way. This automatically makes women lesser and this is part of the problem we face, most of us men, and I will admit I have been guilty of this type of behavior in past, have actively participated, or failed to challenge this behavior when we have seen it. This is a failure in male leadership.
"We are also socialized as men into a culture where female objectification and hyper-sexualization is so normalized that as men we often roll our eyes when this topic comes up...until our own daughters take their cues from this same culture. Often times this becomes crystal clear when a young man shows up at our doors for our daughter's first date," Weir said.
Most men are not violent against women, but most violence against women is perpetrated by men. If you are one of the majority of men that are not violent, this contest is one way you can make a real impact in helping us all create healthier U.P. communities.
"Violence against women is a very serious topic and can be very hard for men to talk about, so we thought a beard competition would be a great way to have an honest conversation but at the same time lighten up the gravity of the issue without minimizing it."
Any resident or college student in Houghton, Keweenawa, Baraga and Ontonagon counties are eligible to enter the competition. In addition to submitting a picture of your beard or mustache, each contestant must write a 1 to 3 page essay or post a 1 to 3 minute YouTube video focused on 'What is Healthy Masculinity and what role does it play in my life.'
"When we're talking about healthy masculinity we're not focusing so much on getting enough exercise, nutrition, or sleep, although those things are very important," Weir said. "Instead we're focusing on what does it mean to be a healthy man in such a way that creates less violent and thus healthier communities."
Based on the submissions, ten finalists will be chosen and invited to compete at the live mustache and beard judging event on December 12th.
"Half the contest will be weighted on the overall aesthetic value of the beard - whether that's traditional or free-style, you can get as creative as you want," Weir said. "Some characteristics the judges might consider include: length, color, style and originality."
Judges include representatives from the Houghton Police Department, Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter, Michigan Technological University Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Gogebic Community College, Rick Allen from Early Spring Productions and Jeff Hauswirth, personal fitness trainer and local author. In addition to the beard judging, the essays of each finalist will be read and YouTube videos viewed. The top three winners will receive prize packages from sponsors including McGann's, Surplus Outlet, Stormy Kromer, Auto Zone, MTU Athletics, Jeff Hauswirth, and Otterbox. The top three essays and videos will also be printed or linked to in the Daily Mining Gazette following the competition.
Although this is the first event of its kind sponsored by Dial Help and Men Matter, Weir believes it will help people think about their roles in these sometimes complex issues, even as bystanders.
For more information and to enter the contest, visit dialhelp.org.
If you would like to support ending violence against women, join Men Matter by scanning the codes below with your smartphone or find us on Facebook and Twitter.
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