Matt Banks, Men and Masculinities KC
July 29, 2018
Hello Region IV-West. I am Matt Banks (they/them/theirs) and I serve as the Men and Masculinities Knowledge Community representative, working with the national KC to promote discussions and work around masculinities on college campuses. In particular, we focus on discussion, research, information distribution, and programmatic development support for individuals working on masculinity projects across the country.
As someone who does masculinity work on my campus, I often get questions about the wording the KC uses, namely why is in Men AND Masculinities. That is usually followed by why is masculinities plural. Here is a quick explanation of why we use that specific language.
Masculinity work was originally branded as “men’s programming.” Many programs were created in an effort to engage men in efforts to stop violence against women and reduce levels of power based violence on college campuses. Programs typically focused on topics related to dating and relationships, sexual consent, and Title IX.
Although engaging men in violence prevention work is important, this initial framework was rather limiting in its scope. First, the programs did little to address men’s specific needs around mental health and social pressure that continued to hurt college men. Numerous research studies have found links between traditional masculine gender socializations and an increased likelihood of mental health problems while also making men less likely and more resistant to seeking treatment (Addis & Mahalik, 2003; Eisler, 195, O’Neil, Good, & Holmes, 1995).
Additionally, much of the programs focused heavily on straight, white, non-disabled, binary definitions of masculinity and manhood. Little to no attention was given to men of color, queer men, transgender men, gender non-conforming individuals, disabled men, and individuals from the Global South and Asia. The programs’ focus on a hegemonic, singular definition of manhood and masculinity left out many individuals, meaning early programs often saw little buy in or attention from underrepresented students populations.
These reasons are why the Men and Masculinities KC has taken on that specific label. Given the multiple identities masculine individuals can hold and the intersections of oppression they can experience despite their masculine privilege, it is important to adopt an expansive framework when doing masculinity work. It is important to recognize how we each define, internalize, and live our specific masculine traits and identities. It is important to realize this does not necessarily hold true for every masculine individuals. It is important to realize there are in fact multiple masculinities.
The MMKC’s mission is to promote self-engagement with gender identity and expression for masculine individuals. We work to address the needs of masculine students while also working to challenge the same students in combatting oppressive systems they inadvertently and consciously uphold and benefit from. Our work seeks to make men and masculine individuals active partners and accomplices in social liberation.
Feel free to check out more information and connect with the Men and Masculinities Knowledge Community.
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/naspammkc/about/
Twitter Handle: @NASPA_MMKC
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