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Duke Program Aims to Help Male Students Eradicate ‘Toxic Masculinity’

A program at Duke University is asking male students to eradicate their “toxic masculinity.”

Duke University is looking for 15 male students to participate in a nine-week program that aims to  “destabilize masculine privilege” and “interrogate masculinity.” The program, which is entitled the “Men’s Project,” is now in its second year and seeks to help male students engage in the process of “unlearning violence.”

“There is a misinformed narrative that gender equity and feminism hurts men,” a description of the program suggests, adding that “through conversations on the limits of masculinity and healthy alternatives we demonstrate that men have much to gain.”

A Facebook page for the program describes the initiative as an opportunity for male students to engage in conversations about gender oppression.

The Duke Men’s Project is an initiative to call men in to conversations about feminism and gender oppression. It aims to create a space of brotherhood and fellowship dedicated to interrogating male privilege and patriarchy as it exists in our lives, our campus and our society. Our intention is to rework current narratives of masculinity for a healthier alternative; one that is inclusive, equitable and positive. There is a misinformed narrative that gender equity and feminism hurts men, but through conversations on the limits of masculinity and healthy alternatives we demonstrate that men have much to gain.

The project is a nine-week effort, where “a group of 15 male-identified students [will] unpack expressions of masculinity through a feminist lens.” Participants in the program will go on to study concepts linked to “male privilege,” such as pornography and “rape culture,” before moving on to the important notion that men take up too much societal space and leave little room for women.

 The Learning Community discusses masculinity while understanding how it exists under multiple spheres of oppression (like patriarchy, white supremacy, heterosexism, cissexism, and rape culture). We also hold larger talks and discussions for all genders to engage with conversations that are linked to masculinity and male privilege. Past events have focused on pornography and rape culture, male privilege and taking up space, and gender disparities in emotional labor.

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