Masculinity Defined: Deconstructing stereotypes about manhood

Pictured, from left, are the “architects” of The Gentlemen’s Architecture Conference: Ryan McShane, President of HR Evolution; Samm Smeltzer, CEO and Creative Director at Leadership Arts Associates; Rich Fino, Director of Professional Development at Long & Foster Realty; Douglas (DK) Knight, Chief Connector at Connect the Dots Movement; Marvin Worthy, Founder & CEO of Worthy Consulting; and Tony Hernandez, founder of Reflective Wisdom. (Our York Media)

The day after Rich Fino received the promotion of a lifetime at work, news of a different sort arrived. Something came up on his blood test results: elevated liver enzymes – exceptionally elevated. He was told he had roughly six months to live.

“The specialist said it was most likely some sort of stage-4 cancer or advanced liver disease,” Rich remembers.

Later, biopsy results ultimately revealed that he was suffering from fatty liver disease.

“I still have elevated enzymes — though not nearly to the same levels,” he says today. “The chance of that condition leading to cirrhosis of the liver is significant in my late ’60s.”

The sobering process of that emotionally intense time helped him find his calling in life.

“That week,” he says, “changed my definition of being a man.”

“When you think about masculinity and how we have traditionally defined a man, there’s one thing commonly missing from all our male heroes, and that is this: accountability.” – Rich Fino, Breakout Facilitator. (Our York Media)

Why organize an event for men?

What exactly does it mean to be a man? It’s a topic Rich and others will discuss at the upcoming The Gentlemen’s Architecture Conference.

Hosted by Leadership Arts Associates, the all-day event on November 2 at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York will explore long-held definitions and deeply ingrained concepts of masculinity.

“The only place we found that men had to discuss what the role of masculinity meant to them was in a church setting,” says Samm Smeltzer, CEO and Creative Director at Leadership Arts Associates. “Roles for men and women have changed, and while there are some great events already in place that help women develop their roles, there wasn’t one for men.”

Putting together an event that challenged the definition of masculinity meant calling on some of the region’s men who were already asking some important questions.

That includes, Rich, who works as the Director of Professional Development at Long & Foster Realty, but also Douglas (DK) Knight, Chief Connector at Connect the Dots Movement; Ryan McShane, President of HR Evolution; Tony Hernandez, founder of Reflective Wisdom; and Marvin Worthy, Founder & CEO of Worthy Consulting & Training.

“Men have been held hostage to a belief that limits their ability to demonstrate love towards their fathers, brothers, and sons. The gender socialization process has taught men to deny any verbal or physical expression for one another.” – Marvin Worthy, Breakout Facilitator (Our York Media)

Gaining new perspective

Rich routinely missed family opportunities, choosing to sacrifice family time for family financial security.

“I missed the fact that time is the No. 1 thing a man can provide for his family,” he says. “That led to unfulfilled relationships and guilt when I wasn’t working.”

He thought his promotion might change that. His liver diagnosis changed it quicker.

At the conference, Rich will share his take on “an accountability mindset” versus “demonstrating accountability.”

“I developed a plan for each area of my life,” he says, “to define key milestones and ensure healthy alignment.”

Rich will help conference attendees work through a “One-Page Man Plan” themselves, hopefully gaining new perspective – as he did – by understanding how to be collaborative and proactive with those you partner with in life.

“Examine the terms that historically define masculinity, as opposed to the terms associated with a new environment of masculinity, and you’ll begin to see a shift from aggressive and competitive to one of more personal awareness and collaboration.” – Ryan McShane, Breakout Facilitator (Our York Media)

Defining Masculinity

The traditional definitions of being a man are changing, and the people behind the “Masculinity: Defined” conference want sons, fathers, brothers, and husbands to start talking about it.

“We will explore our long-held definitions and deeply ingrained concepts of manhood,” says Tony, keynote speaker and one of the driving architects of the conference.

Tony comes from a working-class family in Lancaster, where he grew up dreaming of being a teacher.

He spent more than 20 years in early childhood education – a predominantly female profession. He progressed from teaching early elementary kids in a public school to pre-K children in a private school.

“I was their first male, Latino, early childhood teacher,” he says.

“We want to empower men to share their own stories as we share ours. By starting the conversation, we can define masculinity for ourselves.” – Tony Hernandez, Afternoon Keynote (Our York Media)

Accepting their identities

During those years, Tony began to focus on understanding diversity, equity, and inclusion in today’s complex world.

“I created a classroom environment where boys and girls could be more accepting of their own identities,” he says. “As an adult male, I wanted to show them that men can be empathetic, nurturing, and provide a sense of belonging.”

Tony was also struggling with his own concept of masculinity — the result of a difficult relationship with his father. He resolved those feelings and felt it was time for a shift.

“I thought if I could help students feel connected in the classroom,” he explains, “I could help men understand how to connect with themselves and with others.”

He eventually stepped outside the classroom and started his own coaching business. Many of the principles Tony explored as a teacher will be part of his keynote address.

“Too often, stereotypes and assumptions are driven by outside sources, like the media or popular culture mediums. We men need to be aware of our own definitions of masculinity, not those impressed upon us from these outside sources.” – Douglas Knight (DK), Morning Keynote. (Our York Media)

Starting the conversation

Provider. Protector. The roles that previously defined masculinity have changed. And in today’s society, “being a man” can mean different things to different people.

“We want to empower men to share their own stories as we share ours,” Tony says. “By starting the conversation, we can define masculinity for ourselves.”

Event information

What: The Gentlemen’s Architecture Conference: “Masculinity: Defined”
8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2
Where: Heritage Hills Golf Resort, 2700 Mt. Rose Avenue, York, PA 17402
Cost: $119

From left, Samm Smeltzer, Rich Fino, Douglas (DK) Knight, Marvin Worthy, Tony Hernandez, and Ryan McShane discuss “The Gentlemen’s Architecture Conference: ‘Masculinity: Defined'” event. (Our York Media)

Story presented by Leadership Arts Associates

 Call: 717-430-2850

 Address: 218 East Market Street, York, PA 17403

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