College program will help students cope with 'toxic masculinity'

Missouri State University (MSU) has created a program to help men tackle “toxic masculinity,” citing rising levels of “depression, anxiety and mental health concerns” among male students.”

The program, called “Men Addressing Social Construction” (MASC), is a collaborative effort launched by university officials to facilitate student dialogue and help “men and male-identifying students” appreciate the impact “toxic masculinity” has had on their lives.

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Coordinator of Multicultural Programs and LGBT Student Services Matthew Banks told The Standard that students “are struggling with things in a system like toxic masculinity,” which he defined as a “pervasive idea that punishes men who are ‘feminine’ or experience ‘feminine’ tendencies.”

Additionally, Banks argued that an “identity-based” approach was necessary to address the issue and help things “get better,” noting that while the program aims to address “men and masculinity,” the organizers “didn’t want this to be a ‘men’s program.’”

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“So, really, it was intentionally built not for men, but for masculine people, because toxic masculinity affects you whether you are designated as a man at birth, whether you identify as a man or whether you are masculine-of-center,” he elaborated.

Participation in the program’s first two discussion groups, each of which meet weekly for eight weeks, is by invitation, with Banks reporting that “a couple students who identify as agender but are masculine-of-center” as well as “some trans men” are enrolled.

Banks leads one group while Dean of Students Thomas Lane leads another composed of members of the Student Government Association and its Senate. Lane, notably, said he was eager to join, and stated that the group’s intent was to help men learn, bond, and “do self-work around areas for social justice.”

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Further, MASC will focus on helping men “be more vulnerable,” according to Banks, who said that this will help students when they “go into the real  world” and have to  build “relations outside of MSU.”

Campus Reform reached out to organizers of the program, and is currently awaiting a comment. This article will be updated if and when a statement is received.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @SFarkas48