Theme: Exploring Masculinity in Our Lives
Maleness Life LinesTime: 1 or 2 meetings
In this activity everyone draws a line that depicts the key events in their lives that have effected their sense of "maleness". They then talk about these to the rest of the group.
Each person takes one sheet of 2 X 3 foot flipchart paper. Place it in front of you so that the 3 foot side is on the top/bottom. Imagine that, running from left to right, is a time scale so that the left side of the paper represents when you were born. About a quarter from the right side represents where you are now and the last quarter represents you in the future.
Draw a line from the left side of the paper to the right that represents the "highs and lows" in your journey of maleness. The line should in some way visually convey when events in your life, that you feel significantly effected your masculinity, occurred. The last quarter of the line can be used to convey significant events you feel are still to come.
Use large tipped felt markers to make these lines. Make sure the markers don't "bleed through" the paper. If they do, use a second sheet underneath.
Then, use arrows, key words and other symbols to indicate what events the line depicts. Try to make these large and clear enough so that others will be able to read them from 20 feet away. Here's an example:
You don't have to use straight up and down lines; use circles, spirals, loops, or whatever seems best to convey what you want to convey.
Take about 20 minutes for people to draw their lines.
After everyone has completed drawing their lines, if you have enough wall space, tape each person's line to the wall. Each person, in turn, will stand beside their line and describe it.
If you don't have enough wall space choose a space where one man's line can be taped to the wall and everyone can see it. Each person, in turn, will tape their line to that space, stand beside it, and describe it.
Each person will spend some time describing their time line. Others can ask questions and make comments at any time, during the presentation or after it. Read or handout copies of the groundrules below.
Explain to the group that this exercise can bring up a lot of personal information about a person. You don't want to rush it. Figure on 30 minutes per person. If you have 6 or more members, you will probably need to stop before everyone has shared their line. Then the others can have their turn at the next meeting.
It is also very important to leave at least half an hour at the end of meeting, even if everyone has not gone, to discuss what came up. Of particular interest will be the similarities and differences in how men come to define their masculinity and who is important in that.
Decide now who will present their line at this meeting and who at the next.
You can ask any question to help clarify or understand what a person said or means.
You can ask for further information about what is on the line or what was said.
You can share your observations about things you found interesting, touching, unusual or that affected you some way.
You cannot tell a person that their line is in any way wrong or incorrect.
You cannot give a person advice or tell them how they "should" be, feel or do things.
Don't play amateur psychologist. Be curious, not judgmental.
Take a 15 minute break about halfway through the evening.
Preparation for next meeting.Time: 15 minutes
Choose a time and place for your next meeting.
If there are members who haven't presented their lines yet, that will be the activity at your next meeting.
If everyone has presented their lines, go on to meeting 4 in this Handbook. For that meeting, someone must volunteer to memorize and recite the enclosed short (2 page) folktale. He can use prompts, like index cards, to help his memory but he should strive to tell it as if it was his own story. This should be someone with a flair for the dramatic. He will also facilitate the meeting.
It will help the activity succeed if members refrain from reading the story before the meeting.
You will need to make 1 copy of "Mythology and Folklore in Men's Work" for each member of the group.
Each member will need to bring writing paper and pens/pencils to the next meeting.