High-profile rape cases involving college students have turned the spotlight toward sexual assault and harassment on university campuses in the United States.
Be it Brock Turner, the infamous Stanford rapist who was released after only serving half of his six-month sentence in county jail, or UC-Boulder student Austin James Wilkerson, who sexually assaulted an intoxicated freshman and got away with two years of work or school release, the growing rape culture has become one of the most worrisome problems in the country.
Therefore, in order to give male students a “safe space” to discuss issues such as male privilege, patriarchy, dominance, rape culture, pornography and harassment, among other things, the campus Women’s Center at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, have introduced a nine-week program called The Duke Men’s Project.
Yes, it is a place for men to gather and contemplate how “toxic masculinity” produces violence.
“Our purpose is twofold: to foster constructive male ally ship, and to question and deconstruct toxic masculinities,” reads project’s website. “We also understand how masculinity in its normative form alienates most — if not all — men, and recognize the part normative masculinity plays in alienating men and reproducing violence. We want to deconstruct toxic masculinities to reconstruct healthier, more inclusive notions of masculinity.”
The student newspaper’s editorial board has endorsed the new program as “not a reeducation camp being administered by an oppressed group in the service of the feminization of American society.”
The Women’s Center launched the project in the spring and has since held talks by sociologists on “sex, power and violence.”
“We want to explore, dissect, and construct an intersectional understanding of masculinity and maleness, as well as to create destabilized spaces for those with privilege,” said the organizers. “Duke is an environment where some are rarely made uncomfortable while others are made to bear the weight of their identities on a daily basis — we aim to flip that paradigm.”
The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill also runs a similar program where they ask participants to contemplate how masculinity plays a harmful influence in lives.