“Machismo!” shouted a young college student in the third row.
“Tough!” “Violent!” “Homophobic!” shouted three other young men, sprinkled throughout the packed lecture hall. Ethan Wong, a student at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, who was dressed in a slim business suit, nodded as he wrote each word on the chalk board.
The roomful of young men was brainstorming all the qualities associated with masculinity. Wong was one of the organizers of the National Conference for Campus-Based Men’s Gender Equality and Anti-Violence Groups, a long and clunky name for an unprecedented event that took place last weekend at his school. It was the first time that young guys from around the country — guys like Wong, who recognize that the kind of masculinity they are describing is toxic for men, too — gathered to share strategies for getting college men involved in gender-based activism and discuss the work ahead.
In attendance were about 200 individuals, representing 40 colleges and two dozen organizations, many of them sporting titles like Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse, Men Can Stop Rape, and Men Stopping Violence. Notice a trend here? This contemporary movement of gender-conscious young men is largely identifying themselves in terms of what they are against. They’re not rapists. They’re not misogynists.
They’re also not particularly effective in imagining what they do want to be. Case in point: back to Wong at the chalkboard. The negative associations with masculinity poured off the tongues of these feminist-friendly college kids. They’ve taken Women’s Studies 101. When their buddy says, “That’s so gay,” they spit back, “That’s a sexual identity, not a dis.” They let a few tears fall during the Take Back the Night March. They devour Michael Kimmel’s Guyland and proselytize about Byron Hurt’s documentary, Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes. This generation is saying no to toxic masculinity.
But what are these young men saying yes too? We’ve all failed to envision an alternative…click link for the rest
This is very good and an important discussion to be having.