John Legend Is Helping Teens Redefine What It Means To Be a Man

The singer is starting a programme that helps high school boys develop a more inclusive and expressive definition of masculinity.

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'In high school, sports culture is so dominant, and the most popular kids are usually the athletes, particularly for men,' singer John Legend said in a just-published interview with Mashable.

'So it's hard to feel as confident about yourself if you're not at the top of that food chain, if you're not the biggest, the fastest, the strongest.'

In order to conquer that social hierarchy, some young men might be tempted to embrace toxic masculinity. To be tough, emotionless and void of all feeling. We all, of course, know exactly where that leads.

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Legend, however, has another idea: 'encourage young men to love themselves and love who they are.'

That's why the singer and poet Carlos Andrés Gómez are teaming up with Axe for 'Senior Orientation,' which will connect both men with senior boys in high school in Colombus, Ohio.

Carlos, a former teacher and social worker, developed a curriculum that aims to help these teen boys redefine masculinity on their own terms.

Together they will mentor the students and help them develop artistic performances. The programme will culminate in a school event this autumn where their mentored students will perform.

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'It's encouraging creativity, encouraging individuality, rejecting things like bullying and behaviors that belittle other people,' Legend explains.

By tapping into their artistic side and recognising that they're allowed to feel their feelings, the boys are urged to drop their toxic views of masculinity for something that better. The goal is to help them embrace and express traits they feel are stifled because of traditional stereotypes.

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But where exactly does toxic masculinity manifest? Legend has a good idea.

'I think [fear] is the case with a lot of toxic masculinity,' he says. 'It's fear of powerlessness, fear of being replaced or displaced or not being dominant and then lashing out in a way that is violent ...

'And I think there's some sense of grievance that you see particularly with those who are marching in Charlottesville where they feel like something's been taken from them and they're trying in the most heinous ways and the most toxic ways to reclaim some position in society.'

In a world of pussy-grabbing Trump, we're all for it.

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