More and more, colleges and universities across the country are offering workshops on how to remove toxic masculinity from its campuses. The University of Wisconsin-Madison started offering such a program in the fall of 2016 and in February, the second “Men’s Project” retreat is slated to begin.
Organizers believe the workshop “creates a space for critical self-reflection and dialogue about what it means to be a man and how masculinity impacts us and those around us.”
“The experience focuses on the examination of societal images, expectations, and messages around masculinity to empower men to better understand themselves, promote the advancement of gender equity, and raise consciousness in their communities.”
Just like Duke University men’s project, UWM “operates on a transformative model of social justice allyship.” Oddly enough, this particular workshop is not open to males, per se, but “only men-identified students.” Also, much of the retreat’s lessons are organized by female “violence prevention specialist” Sam Johnson.
“A key element of the program is intersectionality. There isn’t just one masculinity; there are many,” she said.
From the school’s website:
“There is no code or guidebook of how you’re supposed to be a man,” Johnson says. By encouraging that kind of dialogue among a men-identified cohort, the goal is to create a sense of security in vulnerability throughout the six-week program.
Johnson said one goal for the Men’s Project is to ultimately prevent future violence by teaching participants to recognize warning signs of unhealthy interactions. The program will also give insights to facilitators and staff about perceptions of masculinity and how they impact the student experience, including gender-based violence on campus, alcohol, vulnerability, media sexuality, and relationships.
While “men-identified” students are underrepresented in campus leadership roles and seeking out mental health services, they are overrepresented in violence, drugs, and alcohol, Johnson added.
Those in attendance can expect to cover some of the following:
First, facilitators ask students to consider how the students’ opinions about masculinity affect their own perceptions every day. Second, they consider how those opinions affect the people around them. Finally, the program examines how those perceptions affect the whole campus community.
UWM’s media relations director Meredith McGlone (yet another woman) told The College Fix:
“Recent research suggests college campuses have not effectively addressed [male students’] needs. Research also indicates that expectations around masculinity impact the way in which men experience college.
“These expectations influence the decisions men make about friendships; spending time outside of class; careers or academic majors; and sexual and romantic relationships. Men are socialized to believe they need to act a certain way to be accepted as ‘masculine’ or have what it takes to be a man.
“This can lead to self-destructive behaviors that impair their ability to complete their education.”
However, McGlone indicated that there hadn’t been a single incident on UWM’s campus that sparked the need for such a program.
But hey, this is what a modern education looks like: neutered.
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