News & Politics

Brown University Now Features ‘Safe Spaces for Men’

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The Brown University Health Services office now offers “safe spaces for men” to help them “unlearn toxic masculinity” and combat traditional notions of “what it means to be a man.”

Viewing masculinity as if it were a public health crisis, “Unlearning Toxic Masculinity” offers a three-pronged approach for helping male students recover: a weekly discussion group to unlearn “toxic masculine norms,” a biannual magazine, and a video series.

The crux of the programming revolves around Masculinity 101 Peer Education, a peer-to-peer weekly discussion group that convenes male students to talk about issues such as “Cultivating Empathy” and “Harm and Healing.”

Eight students have already been hired to facilitate these workshops, PJ Media has learned. According to the program description, the workshops vow to teach students what “healthier norms of masculinity can and should look like.”

Warns Brown University: “Modern society is quick to bestow unearned privilege on men … there is nothing in place to teach men — young men especially — how to avoid abusing that privilege or how to leverage it for good.”

Unlike programming at other schools, the Masculinity 101 Peer Education program notes that it is open to all students regardless of gender, and especially since its programming also is dedicated to destroying the male-female gender binary.

“Folks of all genders are taught to accept the gender binary as a biological imperative that can never be questioned when, in fact, the gender binary is a social construct that needs to be dismantled,” the website states. “Masculinity 101 rejects the notion of the gender binary as the end all be all and works to promote a more holistic understanding of oneself encompassing one’s many facets and contradictions.”

The program is led by the Health Services’ BWell program, which also offers counseling for students battling eating disorders, drug problems, and other general mental health issues.

Though the school did not respond to an inquiry on why masculinity should be viewed as a health concern as opposed to, perhaps, a healthy sign of identity development, it does appear that the school believes masculinity causes violence.

Ultimately, says Brown University, the school “is investing in creating safe spaces for men to unpack all of the things they have learned about masculinity and what it means to be a man. The goal is to help those socialized as men to unlearn some of the notions that have led to such profound harm being enacted toward others and toward themselves.”

Brown University costs $73,000 per year to attend.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen