(Michele Blood, LifeZette) Have gentile, southern gentlemen gone the way of the dodo bird? If you happen to be a student at UNC-Chapel Hill, you might think so. Or at the very least, that males must be added immediately to the endangered species list.
Students at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill are encouraged now to participate in a 10-week “men’s project.” Its goal: to “promote healthier masculinities on campus ,” according to its website.
Participants in UNC’s Fall 2017 Men’s Project will meet for two hours a week for “facilitated discussion and activities.” The objectives include “learning about the impact of violent masculinity on ourselves and our society.”
The Men’s Project, begun in 2013, is co-sponsored by UNC’s Student Wellness Department and its Carolina Women’s Center for Gender Equity. Programming is funded by the Verizon Foundation. LifeZette reached out to Verizon for comment but did not hear back.
The Men’s Project YouTube channel features video “selfies” of participants. One offers a musical entreaty in its closing with these lyrics: “Join Men’s Project because some men know patriarchy sucks.” The comments on that particular video are less than kind.
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Not everyone is on board with programs such as this, including some in the mental health community. Counselors, spouses and parents of a recent male college graduate, Ruth Altamura-Roll and Steven W. Roll — a New Jersey licensed professional counselor and licensed associate counselor, respectively — are among them. Said the couple, “There needs to be a middle ground for men to be able to express their feelings and be men … [Sometimes] militant feminists look to emasculate men.”
The counselors also said, “Men are either taught to not have feelings and consequently only show anger, or they are feminized.” The couple advocate for a more balanced approach in which society encourages men to “have feelings,” and simultaneously rejects equating masculinity with violence. The pair believes equating masculinity with strength and self-esteem rather than shame and guilt is a more sound approach.
The great institutions of the famed Research Triangle — UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University, and North Carolina State University — appear to be aligned, at least partially. As reported earlier by LifeZette, Duke University is holding up its end with its Men’s Project. Among the three vertices, only North Carolina State University appears to be “lagging.”
Are men violent, oppressive, and slack-jawed beasts to be avoided? Of course not. To its credit, video advertising from the UNC group does point out that very few men actually behave violently. Similar programs and initiatives such as those offered at Vassar, Berkeley, and Duke vary in their approaches — but they all seem to share one common element they hope to communicate: Masculinity is problematic.
Men and women, obviously and ideally, should love and respect one another as equals. Though programs such as UNC’s Men’s Project may have some laudable intentions, they also sport some considerable failings.
Most human beings can rally behind the notion that neither men nor woman should perpetrate violence. Where opinion diverges is the point at which it becomes socially acceptable or even socially applauded to lump all men into the “oppressor” group, along with the not-so-subtle undertone suggesting something about masculinity itself is to blame.
Perhaps the key is celebrating the positive elements of both masculinity and femininity — and how the two were masterfully designed to intertwine and complement one another.
One point is for sure: Demonizing one gender to elevate the other is neither a viable nor veracious answer to reducing violence.
Republished with permission from LifeZette via iCopyright license.