Media, hook up culture, alcohol, violence, pop culture; expectations around masculinity impact all of us. Understanding the connections between our experiences and experiences of masculinity and issues in our society can help build stronger communities. These conversations can help us better understand ourselves and empower men to work as allies to promote gender equity and social justice.
Unfortunately, college men don’t often get the opportunity to discuss messages around masculinity and how these messages have impacted them and our communities.
A collective of UW-Madison colleagues wanted to explore how masculinity shows up on our campus. They came together to form the Men and Masculinities Initiative, their first course of action is initiating the Men’s Project at UW-Madison.
The program is based on a similar initiative at Washington University in St. Louis where Ashley Viager (First-Year Seminar Coordinator, CFYE), Robert Brown (Associate Director, MSC), and other colleagues provided space for men to come together for critical self-reflection and dialogue on what it means to be a man in our society.
Past participants shared this about their experience with the Men’s Project:
“I realized vulnerability can be a choice you make actively. You can choose not to identify with certain types of masculinity and identify with parts you want to. I feel like when masculinity becomes a choice as opposed to something people are telling you to do, you live such a better life”
Students also appreciated the sense of community they could foster, “You can meet people who share different views around masculinity,”
“A good thing for me personally was seeing these things that men struggle with. Men usually don’t like to talk about it, and I think having the chance to talk in the open about things we feel vulnerable about and things we need to do better really important.”
The program is a cohort model, allowing students to build community with each other over time as they explore topics such as media, pop culture, vulnerability, sexuality, hook up culture, alcohol, relationships, violence, among others. Each theme is presented through various means: films, documentaries, spoken word, articles, and interactive activities.
UW’s Men’s Project begins with an off-campus overnight retreat on Saturday, February 10 and follows with six weekly 2-hour on-campus dialogues where there will be two cohorts of 10-14 students who identify as men , and each cohort will be led by two UW professional staff members.
Interested students can apply by logging in and filling out an online application on WIN https://win.wisc.edu/form/start/114994.
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