Category: Recent Events

**This article also now appears at `The Invisible Gun of Manhood`at The Good Men Project**

There was a huge response to a recent article in ‘The National Post’ by writer Christie Blatchford regarding the men of Toronto. It was a call for Toronto to stop being a ‘City of Sissies’.

In response, I am going to share two things with you: a moment and a secret.


First, I am going to share a moment.

This is a moment in my everyday life that I personally dread. Not a moment like fearing my safety when walking down a strange, moonlit street, facing a boss and his sexual harassment-laced advances, a trip to the dentist or a strange man following me into the elevator.

I dread when my car acts up or needs attention. Some light goes on, or there is a rattling sound or grinding noise, which means walking into the auto shop.

There isn’t a moment where I feel more insufficient or I am made to feel more pathetic than when I need to do something car-related.  Growing up I didn’t have the kind of father that was forever under the hood, asking me to pass the wrench and explain how the engine works. I literally could write on one sheet of paper the entire conversations I ever had with my father. The Strong and Silent type: My father, my example of a man.

Admittedly, I should take on my deficiency of automotive knowledge and learn more about the vehicle I use everyday (I just know how to drive, change the oil and gas up). Whenever I walk into any auto shop, however, is my moment of dread.

The moment the man behind the counter raises his eyes up from typing on the computer with hands adorned in grease and calluses…

Hands toughened from years of working with them
Hands manually manly
Hands hardened and thickened
Hands that don’t feel a thing

…the moment he quickly realizes my depth of automotive know-how is thinner than the worn out treads on my tires, I see a smirk. I see eyes rolling, or a subtle shake of the head.  The soft groan under his breath is a mighty roar questioning my manhood, echoing in the empty cavity where my esteem once stood. This pressure, this feeling may seem trivial, but it is real, it is potent and it needs to be discussed.


Secondly, I am going to break the man code of silence and share a secret.

There is an invisible gun held to the head of every man and boy you know.


At any given moment, at every moment of everyday, familiar cold steel presses against the head of every man’s soul. Unseen hands take turns cocking it, pressing it against the temple. The hands belong to people you know and never knew, those you despise and those you will always love.

It is a loaded gun that we as men don’t point out, don’t signal for help with, certainly don’t discuss and don’t internally acknowledge even exists. It has been pushed into our temple since birth.

The gun is society’s impossible, elusive state of manhood.
The bullets are Vulnerability, Inadequacy and Emotion.

The fact it is invisible should not lead to us dismiss its reality. The imprint from the muzzle of this cold steel is permanently pressed into the soul and is everywhere you look. The pressure to act and be a real man is there in the school hallway, your place of worship, along the grocery aisle, next to the water cooler at work, in the jokes from the guys at the gym, sitting at the dinner table, in the music you listen to and the clothes on you back.

I am not trying to compare this everyday external and internal pressure to the realties women face in everyday scenarios. This isn’t about establishing a hierarchy of pain, but acknowledging that this issue affects us all.

What I am suggesting is that we can no longer ignore or minimize the searing impact that taunting and reinforcing ‘Man Up’ philosophy has on men.

Every one of us was meant to embrace our whole, full humanity. Yet, enforced ideas of what being a man is leaves every boy and man wrestling to supress themselves. We are raised to value an unattainable standard, and devalue anything ‘less than’, which is any aspect of our humanity labelled ‘feminine’. Men are left feeling they are not given permission (from others or from our own self) to discover our handcuffed array of emotions. Denying or forced to deny sides of our self, we are the walking dead, numb and emotionally illiterate. This leaves us numb to the very fact of the gun pressing on our soul. The sound of the resulting trauma inflected on the world is muted by a silencer, but the impact resonates like an endless echo of gunfire on women and men worldwide.

The result is fathers who have been home everyday of their children’s lives yet could not be more distant. The result is men who would rather die than go see the doctor, and so they die. The result is boys being called ‘faggots’ or Christie Blatchford’s preferred term: ‘Sissies’.The result is heterosexual boys face homophobic bullying because they don’t fit the narrow mold. The result is men and young men trapped in endless cycles of substance addition to suppress what they aren’t emotionally able to deal with. The result is young men who won’t back down, no matter what. The result is men who are ready to die over a pair of shoes which they value more than their very own lives. The result is men with disabilities made to feel a heightened level of inadequacy. The result is guys who rather approach women with aggression and violent bravado because they cannot compute vulnerability. The result is severe impacts and financial costs to our Healthcare systems. The result is LBGT communities facing a denial of their right to existence, nevermind equity. The result is women in Canada and across the world subject to devaluation, discrimination and subsequently all forms of violence.

Many men are raised to be the wrong kind of strong and don’t seek or ask for help. If we are not raising men to value their health, and in turn value themselves, how then can we expect men to extend respect to the earth, to fellow sisters and ever fellow brothers?

The gun is pressed so tightly against the souls of men, yet we are in denial as a society. People like Christie Blatchford continue to cock the hammer & would have you believe a return to this idea of manhood is the cure. It is simply the reinforcement of the poison that is destroying our existence.

The day Blatchford’s article spread across Toronto was the same day Ultimate Fighting Championship landed in town. UFC is a display of brute force and ‘manliness’ within a cage. Sports can be a space where brute dominance, physical ability and unyielding aggression are wed in an unhallowed trinity. The world of sport can also give way to joyous scenes of men in unconcealed celebration. There is always that ironic moment where the steel arena gives way to overwhelming human emotion….men fashioned as modern-day warriors in full embrace or wash in pure exposed sorrow, hugging one another, standing in tears of joy or defeat. You will even see UFC fighters hug trainers and even opponents after a bout. Apparently even UFC fighters aren’t manly enough for Blatchford’s ideal state of manliness.

Masculinity has more sides than the Octagon.

When I think of mixed martial arts fighters, I think of the discipline and how they train. The Makiwara is a padded post used as a tool for striking endlessly in martial arts training. Using the Makiwara allows you to find your way around addressing resistance to your energy & your force. You learn to train your body to generate power and be most effective when facing resistance. The misconception is that the goal is to make your fist numb and hardened therefore, powerful weapons.

I think of hands like those at the auto shop, hands that are trained to be tough but left numb. I have soft hands and a soft heart, I decided to stop apologizing for it and regretting it.

I am a man.

It is time to stand up and provoke the freedom to be a full, whole complete human being. Find the Freedom to Be Who You Are. I give hugs, Christie, full all out hugs. I am a man.

They say the size of your actual heart is the size of your clenched fist. To open your heart is to open the clenched fist.

Open up.

Let go.


Join us at ‘What Makes A Man 2012. Higher Unlearning: The White Ribbon Conference’ happening February 10th-11th at Ryerson University. Info coming soon! Follow @WhatMakesAMan_ for details! 

About Jeff Perera

Jeff is a volunteer workshop facilitator for the White Ribbon Campaign, the world’s largest effort to engage men in ending violence against women, and founded a chapter at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada working to further a gender-inclusive environment. Jeff’s awareness-raising initiatives to create inclusive spaces for people of all walks of life have earned him numerous human rights & equity awards. Jeff was the event director of TEDxRyersonUWomen, the only TEDxWomen event in Toronto,  and is co-director and curator of the annual discussion-focused ‘What Makes a Man’ White Ribbon Conference at Ryerson. He has organized & spoken at numerous events across Toronto and facilitated many sessions and workshops with the National Film Board of Canada, University of Toronto, the annual ‘YWCA Common Ground’ Conference and across Taiwan including at the ‘Garden of Hope Empower Women’ Conference in Taipei, Taiwan. At the 2010 TEDxRyersonU conference at Jeff delivered the TEDx talk ‘Words Speak Louder Than Actions’  discussing gender equity & gender roles, the impact you make as well as the impact words have on our everyday lives.

Watch Jeff’s TEDxtalk Here

Follow @jeffperera

email Jeff at




On This National Day of Remembrance and Action to End Violence Against Women….Take a moment today to listen or share.

As Men need to listen to the stories across this city, nation and world, the everyday realities for women and girls. Allow for your mind & ears to become a space for true hearing and listening. Listen to the voices & experiences of those you know, you don’t know or those the world never got to know…like the over 600 Aboriginal women missing or feared dead in Canada. Listen and encourage others to listen, and share your experiences, share your acknowledgment, your renewed vision to make a difference in your own life, and the lives of those around you. Refuse to remain silent, speak out against all forms of violence against women. Silence is Violence.

And to our Women, please take a moment to share with us, whether it is your story, your realities or those of your fellow sisters, find your voice as speak up and speak out. Silence is Violence. Do not be afraid of speaking out in fear of being labelled a feminist, for those people you fear would label you, already have made up their minds about you…when you speak out against inequality, share your personal story of injustice or refuse to remain silent: You Are a Feminist.

Lets work together to recreate every space as a space where we can listen and share. Don’t silence your voice, you are a future-changer…and agent of change.

Listen and Share this December 6th. We remember #AFutureWithoutViolence


Join us for our event tonight:

Change Starts With Us – Media Rich Discussion event with NFB MEdiatheque & Ryerson White Ribbon Campaign and the White Ribbon Campaign


December 6, 1989: The Day Canada Changed Forever
by Michael Kaufman

The White Ribbon Campaign



Visit the Movember Canada website at


Hey Ryerson Residence Students, let’s talk…

about the realities for women across campus & across the world
about the pressures that men face on an everyday basis
about what Homophobia & Transphobia has to do with violence against women

let’s talk about what this all has to do with every one of you
let’s talk about the impact you have every day
let’s talk about the difference you can make


Come see TEDxRyersonU speaker Jeff Perera in an engaging multimedia discussion about men, women, the pressures that we all face and how it affects our lives and relationships.

Tues Oct 11th, 18th or 25th at 7pm
Marion Creery Community Room (2nd floor of Pitman Hall)

A free event just for Ryerson residence students and RA’s


Wanna see some of what we deliver in the session?

Check out Jeff Perera’s TEDx talk ‘Words Speak Louder Than Actions’ from the 2010 TedxRyersonU conference

For more info or to book a session:
Email us at

The Ryerson White Ribbon Campaign works to end gender-based violence and towards change for both men and women.

Follow @ryewhiteribbon on Twitter
Follow @jeffperera on Twitter
‘like’  Ryerson White Ribbon Campaign on Facebook

Now in over 60 countries, the White Ribbon Campaign is the world’s largest effort to engage men in ending violence against women.

Follow @whiteribbon on Twitter
Visit the White Ribbon Campaign blog 
Visit the White Ribbon Campaign website

About Jeff Perera

Jeff is a workshop facilitator for the White Ribbon Campaign, the world’s largest effort to engage men in ending violence against women, and founded of a chapter at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada working to further a gender-inclusive environment. Jeff’s awareness-raising initiatives to create inclusive spaces for people of all walks of life have earned him numerous human rights & equity awards. Jeff is also curator of the annual discussion-focused ‘What Makes a Man’ White Ribbon Conference at Ryerson. He has organized & spoken at numerous events across Toronto and facilitated many sessions and workshops with the National Film Board of Canada, University of Toronto and at the annual YWCA Common Ground Conference. At the TEDxRyersonU conference at Jeff delivered the TEDx talk ‘Words Speak Louder Than Actions’  discussing gender equity & gender roles, the impact you make as well as the impact words have on our everyday lives. 

**Taken from the White Ribbon Campaign blog, click here to visit**

The entire White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) family is shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Jack Layton today. He died peacefully with his family by his side. We extend our deepest condolences to Olivia, Mike and Sarah and his entire great, big family.

Jack was one of the co-founders and visionaries of the WRC, back in 1991. He felt men had to have both a role and responsibility in working to end violence against women, that we needed to step up our efforts in promoting gender equality, and be accountable to challenging the most harmful aspects of masculinity.

Along with Michael Kaufman, Ron Sluser and others, Jack launched his indefatigable energy into the WRC. Recently his son Mike shared with me the fact that the very first WRC office was actually in Mike’s bedroom – the bed just got cleaned off when Mike was back home from school!

I have talked to many men who never otherwise would have understood the positive role they could play in working to end violence against women, if it weren’t for Jack. Handing out ribbons in Union Station, making donations, offering up everything from office space to websites, few people could effectively say no to him when it came to the WRC.

From those humble beginnings, WRC is now the world’s largest effort of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls. From Mike’s bedroom to over 60 countries around the world, men have taken up the dream of ending gender based violence. Governments around the world, NGO’s, and the UN have all recognized the importance of this effort.

This is a truly remarkable accomplishment, one that would not have happened without Jack. As one small piece of his legacy, it will continue to have a tremendous impact.

When I took on the role of Executive Director at WRC, I had the chance early on to meet with Jack one-on-one. While he freely shared stories from those early years, it was very clear his intentions were not to discuss the past with me, but the future.

He felt the time was right for great things to happen, for men to begin to move en masse to this idea that we could do better, be more caring and compassionate in our lives. That as men we could stop being afraid of equality, that we could stop being defensive about male privilege, that we could embrace the fact that we all benefit from a world with less violence against women and girls, and ultimately against each other.

I am honoured to call Jack an inspiration, a mentor, and a friend. Another time, feeling overwhelmed by the scope of the work, he told me “Always have a dream that will outlast your lifetime,” and I have thought about our work to end violence against women in that way ever since.

There are too many dreams left after your passing my friend.

But I choose to leave with another favourite quote of yours, “Don’t ever let them tell you it can’t be done.” Rest in peace Jack, we will all miss you dearly.

Todd Minerson
Executive Director
White Ribbon Campaign

Click here to visit the White Ribbon Campaign website

“There are over 6000 words to describe emotion…” From Jeff’s TEDxRyersonU
talk. Photo by David Hoang

At the 2010 Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event

Carlos was our headliner at the What Makes a Man conference

150 people attended this discussion-focused all day-and-night love fest!

Over 300 people crammed into LIB 72 to see Shihan discuss love, fatherhood and
relationships with the Urban Hip Hop Union and the Ryerson WHite Ribbon Campaign
at ‘Love , Hip Hop and the Spoken Word’. Photo courtesy Char Loro/Lovehard

One of Reilly Dow’s amazing mural charts from the What Makes a Man conference

Ryerson White Ribbon co-chairs Jeff Perera and Miranda Hassell walking a mile in her shoes!

The Behind the Masc poster from our keynote event at the What Makes a Man
conference! Poster by Jacob Friedman at Subsumo.

Jeff Perera, Miranda Hassell and Julia Hanigsberg handing our’ White Ribbon Champion’ awards to Women in ITM, United Black Students at Ryerson, SIFE Ryerson, Urban Hip Hop Union and Ryerson Student Housing Services

The ‘Ryerson White Ribbon Year End Celebration’
Tuesday May 31st at the Atrium (3rd floor of George Vari Engineering Bldg.
S/E corner of Church st and Gould st, 245 Church st)

Gallery opens 4:30pm
Awards presentation portion 5:30pm
Food provided by Salad King

An interactive art exhibition featuring works by:

Reilly Dow (ECE,, Char Loro (RTA, and many others

As we reflect on the work of the past year, join us as we engage you in some self reflection as well. We will also present ‘White Ribbon Champion’ awards to Ryerson groups who worked to create more inclusive spaces across Ryerson this year. They include:

-United Black Students at Ryerson
-Women in ITM (WITM)
-Ryerson’s Student Housing Services
-Urban Hip Hop Union
-SIFE Ryerson (Students in Free Enterprise)

Visit as we reveal details and bio’s of performers, artists, award recipients and more!
Twitter: ryewhiteribbon

The Ryerson White Ribbon Campaign works to end violence against women by inspiring men to be a part of change that affects the lives of men and women.

Coming Soon to a Post-Secondary Institution near you…

The Ryerson White Ribbon Campaign presents The White Ribbon Campaign ‘Blueprints for Change’ workshop.

Come to an interactive and engaging discussion about Men and Women!

The first one held at Ryerson University will be on

Monday, February 22, 2010 1:00pm

on the 7th Floor of Heaslip House, (The Chang School of Continuing Education building next to Lake Devo) 297 Victoria Street

The White Ribbon Campaign workshop ‘Blueprints for Change’ allows for a fun, interactive and informal atmosphere that allows for men and women to share and dialogue, while we look at issues like…

Who defines Masculinity and Femininity? A look at how we are put in ‘Gender Boxes’.

What pressures men face to ‘act like a man’?

What does it REALLY mean to be strong and tough?

What role does aggression play in your relationships and life?

What did and didn’t we learn from our fathers about what it is to be a man?

What experiences have we had in witnessing abuse and violence? How does it affect us?

What can men do to help become part of a solution to violence against women?

**email to reserve your space**

We look forward to seeing you there!
REGISTER TODAY – Limited Space. Free Event. Snacks and Drinks will be provided

**email to reserve your space**

For more information about the White Ribbon Campaign visit


Article on the Ryerson ‘Student Community Life’ website.  

“Rye’s White Ribbon Campaign Challenges You To Be a Man”

The White Ribbon campaign is looking for you to pledge; while this may instil images of college frat house movies and hazing rituals gone wrong, this time it’s for a greater cause than downing kegs and vandalizing the dean’s office. The aim of the White Ribbon Campaign ( as a whole is an initiative by men to end violence against women, and when I talked to Jeff Perera, Co-Chairperson of the Ryerson initiative, it became clear that the group was looking to examine the root of the problem, as well.

“We’re looking to engage men on campus. We’re not to say that men are oppressors; they can be part of the solution.”

At a table outside the library building this past week, men were encouraged to take the pledge that they would never “commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women”, and in turn be accepted for making that conscious choice. Part of the White Ribbon Campaign’s focus is geared towards allowing men to embrace aspects of their personality that other men may mock them for, like sensitivity and emotion.

“We’re allowing men to have the permission to be the best that they can be” Perera said, “they respect women in their lives, and in turn, respect themselves.”

The White Ribbon campaign has a full line-up of events in the coming months, including participation in the “Walk A Mile In Her Shoes” event happening on the first of October; men from Toronto will walk a mile in ladies shoes in order to bring attention to the cause and the realities faced by women.


After his appearance at Ryerson, Carlos Andres Gomez’s Facebook status read “

“Wow. what a special night last night. thank you Ryerson. thank you Toronto.”


That sums up what was an unforgettable evening or laughter, tears and community-building. It was 120 people gather as if it were at a dinner table, and we served one another food for the soul. Carlos created a space were his vulnerability, honesty and passion allowed for others to share scars and stories with a mutual trust in the space.


Paul Baines reviewed the event for Masc Magazine

Excerpts from “On Campus with Carlos” written by Written by Paul Baines in MASC Magazine.

MASC Magazine

masc magazine is a space for young men to explore how masculinity affects their lives.
masc is curious about how ideas of manhood are shaped by one’s experiences and environment.

PLEASE visit their website and read up!

Here is excerpts from Paul’s article on the Behind the Masc event! ____________________________________________________________________

I was present for an electric event last night as the Ryerson community hosted spoken-word artist Carlos Andrés Gómez.

Here’s part of their promo:
An intimate evening with spoken word artist Carlos Andrés Gómez as he comes to Ryerson for a special intimate performance that looks at what it means to be a ‘good man’ in a world where ‘masculinity’ is confined by the narrowest of definitions. It will also be an exploration of the powerful and beautiful things that can define manhood and the permission to be the best versions of what they can be.

The hosting community included The Ryerson White Ribbon Campaign, the Ryerson Hip Hop Union, United Black Students at Ryerson, V-Day at Ryerson, Come Unity, and was one of 20 upcoming events organized by The Ryerson December 6th Memorial Committee.

The evening started off with Jeff Perera telling the story of the December 6th Montreal Massacre, while reminding us that we too are on a University campus that also has engineering classes in a time when violence (in all its forms) against women is still a daily tragedy 20 years later.

After performances from V Tran, Neree Smith, and Boonaa Mohammed, Carlos weaved his room-filling stories and poems with audience conversations. We talked about dignity, beauty, courage, cycles of violence, tears, fathers, Trey Anthony, fighting, Juan Valdez, genocide, and making a difference. Carlos was comfortable and genuine with all the topics and had a response to the daily tests we have in witnessing our inner and outer violent acts. Carlos’ response to the question: “can one person make a difference?” was “every person makes a difference – what difference are you making?”

The event was called ‘Behind the Masc’ and here at MASC magazine, I’m proud of the work we’re doing and community we’re building.

A big thanks to Carlos and all those who organized and attended this precious event.


Paul is studying to be a high school teacher so that he can continue his work of looking at media and masculinity, while actually getting paid.