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Toxic Masculinity 101 Is Being Taught on a College Campus

             10/2/2018

University Teaching Toxic Masculinity

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Garrett Robinson, is a senior running back on the Brown University football team. He also teaches training sessions for incoming freshmen on the team about topics such as the danger in being domineering off the field, asking for help, and how to watch the “locker room talk.” Robinson told the Daily Beast, “ There were a few sarcastic responses playing into stereotypes of what you’d expect around this topic, but mostly, people were more engaged and understood it was serious.” The Brown University program, titled “Masculinity 101,” is part of a developing trend at universities that call upon members of the student body to address and educate their peers to unlearn toxic masculinity. “Football is a very masculine sport,” Robinson said. “So to hear things that I accepted as normal being challenged, like players insulting each other by saying they ‘play like a girl,’ made me want to get involved.”

According to Neil Irvin, executive director of Men Can Stop Rape, men should be the ones to break harmful notions of masculinity. “For some men, they think if they’re not raping anyone, that’s enough. But we’ve seen that it’s not. We need to train men on healthy masculinity at a young age.”

While the term “toxic masculinity” is largely uncontroversial at liberal schools, it can still be quite polarizing, particularly in right-wing or religious communities who may see it as a threat to traditional gender roles.

Many of the programs on campuses report new energy since the #MeToo movement began, while some unlikely campuses have addressed the issue for the first time because of #MeToo. Other universities, such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Biola University, also have similar instruction. Biola University, an evangelical Christian school in southern California, which made headlines last year for their dubious treatment of transgender students, held its first ever event discussing toxic masculinity last spring. Jordan Lansbury, a residence hall director there, was one of two organizers who planned and produced the event. He said that the #MeToo movement helped open up support for the conversation, which wound up being the most well-attended event during their sexual assault awareness month.

“We made the point that men have to be kind and compassionate, and we cite examples of Jesus behaving this way,” Lansbury said. “It’s against Christian values for men to abuse their power, physically or culturally.”

After the event, students wrote down what they learned on cards:

“There is no reason for a woman to be less of a person.” “It was really helpful to think about the lack of hesitancy Jesus had in speaking to the woman at the well.” “I learned that the idea of “being a man” is made up.”

Lansbury said he’s encouraged by the response to the event and sees no reason why religious schools can’t address these issues. “The conversation will continue,” he said. “The #MeToo movement has made it impossible to ignore.”

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