Men's Story Project

Men taking a public stand for for healthy masculinities and gender justice. 

The Problem

The Challenge: In the U.S. and around the world, dominant social ideas about masculinity often contribute to health and justice problems including men's sexual and physical violence against women, violence between men, bullying, homo/transphobia, HIV/AIDS, men's reduced seeking of physical and mental health care, and gender inequality writ large. But mainstream dialogue on masculinity is still quite uncommon – people often don't realize there's much to talk about, or that can be changed, as to how boys and men are raised, pressured and socialized to be "men." We need widespread transformations on social notions of masculinity, for everyone's benefit.

The Men's Story Project (MSP) was created by Dr. Jocelyn Lehrer in 2008 to address this need.

The Solution

The Men's Story Project was created in San Francisco in 2008. It helps groups create live story-sharing events, documentaries and social media where men and boys publicly explore social ideas about manhood - through the a personal lens. As a movement-building project, the MSP helps groups "crowdsource culture change" in social ideas about masculinity, in locally-led ways, via men's own stories.

In each MSP production, diverse men, boys, and folks who identify with maleness share bold, personal stories with a live audience - on topics including family relationships; violence against women, violence between men; sexuality; gender identity; bullying; sexual health; journeys of personal change; gender equality, and intersections with race/ethnicity and other aspects of identity. The presenters share their stories in diverse mediums (e.g., poetry, prose, music, dance). The events are followed by an audience-presenter dialogue and resource fair. MSP presenters have included students, community members, athletes, veterans, celebrities, and others. Films and social media are created based on the live events, and the productions often foster the creation of ongoing groups through which men can continue learning and taking action.

The MSP's 21 live productions and two films thus far have been resoundingly positively received - including CNN coverage, Amnesty International sponsorship, university awards, and frequent reference to the MSP as "revolutionary." The MSP has a world-class Advisory Council (e.g., Van Jones, Jackson Katz), and is a partner of Harry Belafonte’s Sankofa organization, which engages leading artists for social change. A peer-reviewed evaluation study shows many positive impacts.

Planned Use Of Funds

As a movement-building project for healthy masculinities, the MSP is intended to be locally-led by group by campuses, NGOs and other groups far and wide. Funds from Shared Nation will allow us to provide the MSP training materials and training/coaching time at no or low cost to nonprofit groups that want to create local MSP productions, but can't afford the cost of training. This will facilitate scaling of the Men's Story Project to new communities and organizations in the U.S.

Stage of Development

  • Early Stage
  • Established Prototype
  • Scaling
  • Other

Organization to Receive Funds

The MSP's 501c3 fiscal sponsoring organization is Fractured Atlas, which serves as fiscal sponsor for over 4000+ nonprofit projects.