A poster campaign asking ‘What does it mean to be a man?’ has been launched by Somerset County Council.

The new ‘passionate and proud’ posters aim to challenge stereotypical views of men and issues such as aggression and homophobia. Launching this month, the posters form part of an ongoing drive to educate young men that regardless of their background or culture, understanding what it means to be a man can be a minefield.

“Young men are frequently influenced by peer pressure and may often take risks that might be anti-social in order to ‘become a man’” says Mark Withers, Somerset County Council’s Boys and Young Men’s Development Worker. “The set of posters were produced by young men through a process of exploring issues around masculinity and allowed them to challenge those negative stereotypes.”

The general feeling among those who work with boys and young men’s groups are that young people become confused about how they should portray their identity because of issues such as aggression, homophobia, vandalism, crime, unsafe sex, early parenthood, low self esteem, depression and even suicide.

“It is unfortunate that in much of our daily lives we are bombarded with slogans and images of how the stereotypical man should be,” says Cllr Pauline Clarke, Somerset County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Strategic Children’s Services. “Through the Pride Project, Somerset County Council has been able to give young men the chance to express themselves and challenge some of those views about men.”

Designed as a set of four, the posters are also being displayed in youth groups, clubs and young people’s meeting places across Somerset.