Took the trouble of sharing all these posters from the #MasculinUT page because this is such a beautiful and important project. Historically feminism has given less attention male gender roles and it's time to address that. Way to go, @UTaustinVAV ! ?? pic.twitter.com/fkDWGPuY6Q— Maria the Witch (@maria_thewitch) April 30, 2018
The University of Texas started off a new program with the mission to expand the notions attached to the word “masculinity.”
One would assume the program, dubbed "MasculinUT," which promotes the ideas that it is okay for men to cry, express themselves, be nice to women and still be considered “macho” enough, would be welcomed by all. But, unfortunately, that is not the case.
The program has drawn criticism, especially from conservatives, who claim the program implies there is something wrong with being “masculine." Although that is not what the program is about at all.
Since the program is produced by the university’s Counseling and Mental Health Center, critics have seized the opportunity in claiming the institute is treating masculinity as if it was “mental health issue.”
Conservative political commentator Rush Limbaugh criticized the program.
“So there you have it, University of Texas. Texas? In red state Texas masculinity is being treated as a mental health challenge, that too many men are simply crumbling under the pressure to be a man. So if it’s not a good thing for a man to be a man, then what are they going to turn men into? What do you think is the alternative? If masculinity is a problem, then what are these guys going to become?” he asked.
What Limbaugh does not get is that the program is not against the idea of men being men but it aims at providing an opening for men to talk about societal pressure, sexual abuse, violence openly. It tells them to act “masculine” but define it as they want to: dress up, put make-up on. It tells them that it is acceptable to not be molded by what is considered “acceptable” practice.
I'm proud to be a part of #MasculinUT along with some amazing people. If you have any real questions, message me, or better yet, go to https://t.co/IhyekjCaiI and read about it. pic.twitter.com/43JFtHu8KD— Austin Phillips-curve Smith (@AustinPSmith96) April 30, 2018
The conservative criticism was so immense, the university was prompted to release an official statement, clearing their stance and where they want to take the program.
“The MasculinUT program does not treat masculinity as a ‘mental health issue,’ and any such statements are simply not accurate,” a statement read. “It was established to bring more men to the table to address interpersonal violence, sexual assault and other issues.” Addressing rigid conceptions of masculinity is part of that.
The campaign website further explained what the program wants to achieve: “By addressing masculinities and gender expression, we are not trying to incite defensiveness, fear or anger, or suggest that all masculine people are violent. They aren’t. We want to provide students with the language and concepts to understand who they are and how our culture, particularly ideas about gender, influence our everyday thoughts, feelings, and behavior.”
It is hard to believe that even in 2018, transgender individuals have to fight for their rights, women are oppressed and discriminated and any attempt to change notions about how men are “supposed” to act are debunked so ferociously. It makes you wonder if anything will ever change for the better.
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