UNIVERSITY PROGRAM SEEKS TO COUNTER THE TROUBLING ASPECTS OF ‘MASCULINITY’

[1/4/17]  According to a news letter from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the college is now taking applicants for a six week program that will analyze the troubling aspects of masculinity. The program, called the “Men’s Project,” is only accepting those who are male or “male identifying,” and asks them to take a step by step analysis of how masculinity effects society. The entire program begins with a “retreat” that has groups talking about what masculinity means to them.

“A key element of the program is intersectionality. There isn’t just one masculinity, there are many,” says Sam Johnson, a violence prevention specialist at University Health Services (UHS), one of the campus offices organizing the program. She explained that other components of one’s identity—including religion, sexual orientation, and race—all contribute to individual perceptions and experiences of masculinity.

These perceptions are to focus around how masculinity can become – to use a popular social justice term – toxic, and encourage violence and sexism.

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 the program certainly sounds like it is highly critical of masculinity, Wisconsin-Madison director of news and media relations Meredith McGlone says the purpose of the program is to make sure men feel more represented.

“Recent research suggests college campuses have not effectively addressed [male students’] needs,” says McGlone in an email to College Fix. “Research also indicates that expectations around masculinity impact the way in which men experience college.”


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