Yale Student Warns Men Can't Be Left Alone Unless They're Apologizing for 'Toxic Masculinity'
On Tuesday, a Yale student argued that men cannot be left alone because male-only groups foster "toxic masculinity" while female-only groups allow women to fight back against the patriarchy. She argued that female-only "spaces" provide important relief from masculinity.
"Women have been creating places to be free of this pressure for centuries. Spaces that exclude men allow us to use our energy in creative, innovative and exciting ways rather than constantly working be heard," Avigayil Halpern, a junior at Silliman College, wrote in a column for the Yale Daily News. "This is a creative potential that is sometimes stymied on our coed campus, and it can thrive in spaces without men."
So women should be able to meet in sex-segregated groups. But men should not have the same freedom, Halpern argued.
"Men’s spaces also allow men relief — without women around, the pressure to treat us as people lessens. Men’s spaces often foster a toxic masculinity in which men assess and compete for women, and it is far easier to make a rape joke in a room of only dudes," the student wrote.
Women should be able to meet alone, but men's gatherings should be suspect, Halpern claimed. "Male-only groups on campus deserve scrutiny and criticism. More often than not, they prop up rather than challenge existing sexist structures."
Men cannot be allowed to gather with other men, because they would not face the "pressure to treat [women] as people." Halpern so distrusts men she thinks them utterly incapable of treating women with respect unless there is a social apparatus to force them to do so.
She defended this distrust by mentioning the #MeToo movement against sexual assault. "Men have social power in ways that others don’t. Recent discourse around sexual assault and harassment illustrates this perfectly: Women are often forced to choose between pleasing men — sexually or otherwise — and losing their jobs," Halpern wrote.
Indeed, men like Harvey Weinstein and Larry Nassar horrifically abused their positions of power and authority to force women and young girls into sex acts. These men and others like them are monsters, rightly excoriated by society. But they do not represent all men, and women are not uniquely the victims of these abusers. Indeed, some — like Kevin Spacey — abused other men.
Even so, Halpern seemed to suggest all men would be like Harvey Weinstein or Larry Nassar if given the chance, and that their sexist power structures place women at a permanent disadvantage. "The constant pressure of being around men extends beyond sexual coercion and even into the most mundane moments," she wrote.
"At Yale, I regularly watch men speak over women in class and at parties — on the day that I wrote this, I was interrupted twice by a man in just one seminar. It’s common for extracurricular groups to be formally led by men, although women often do most of the unseen and unappreciated logistical work," Halpern wrote. "Women expend an incalculable amount of energy navigating these sexist dynamics, deciding if it’s worth asserting ourselves or if it’s easier to let a sentence trail off or just book the meeting room ourselves."