was originally an idea born out of the Oakland Men’s Project as an exercise used to open up discussions about how gender roles are enforced in society and how notions of masculinity are often connected to violence. Men are asked to divulge the different messages they hear in the statement, “Act like a man.” Most often, this triggers painful memories of rejection, humiliation, abuse, lack of acceptance and powerlessness.

The “Man Box” is essentially the space men are trapped inside when confronted with male stereotypes, such as men are always strong, sure of themselves and dominant with no emotions. To be outside of this box, opens men up to being called pussies, wimps, losers and fags. And women think they have it bad. Being a man today must be very confusing (we see glimpses of this when we catch the boyfriend sneaking our moisturizer in the morning and looking both ashamed and defiant, with radiant skin no less).

The artists in this exhibition, all men, each take on what it means to be a man today in their own way, some with humor and some with unflinching realism.

SFist Shelly, contributing

IMAGE -- Shaun Leonardo, "Self-Portrait Superhero" 2005

The Man Box and Beyond