By Grace Vasquez
When I read the headline “Men Take Classes To Unlearn Toxic Masculinity” I had to pause and seriously ask myself, “What the heck is “toxic masculinity?” Anyone?
Yeah, me either. So I decided to read the article. Apparently there is a program that many universities are now offering that will help male students “learn how social constructs of masculinity harm them and the people around them, and work to construct healthier masculinities.” Did you get that?
One male student featured in the article said “It was eight weeks of guys discussing how they can address their actions with better self-awareness and less toxicity.” Oh, so basically, learn manners and consideration? Did I get that correct?
Student Stephen Hicks went on to explain what they actually did in these classes to unlearn “toxic masculinity,” “We spoke of emotional labor, consent, violence, communication, empathy, and vulnerability,” he adds, noting that the last subject, in particular, was a struggle for him: “[I was] trained and conditioned to be tough growing up.”
The program itself has its heart in the right place in that it wants to help prevent more sexual assaults and it also wants men to be more accountable on how they treat others not just women, “but gender non-conforming people, and other people of marginalized identities.” All of this is of course well and good but the real problem probably began way before these guys got to college.
While it’s always good to try and improve oneself, I believe everything we learn and who we are begins at home. So perhaps universities can also teach classes on the importance of family, faith, and the responsiblity of being a good role model for your children.
Being Hispanic, “macho” is a word we grew up with and I guess could be veiwed as “toxic masculinity.” My mom would throw that macho label at my dad every now and then when she’d get upset with him. Honestly, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Dad was very much masculine in every sense of the word but he was also very loving, hard working, loyal, strong faith, sensitive and a great role model for my brothers and me.
Now that I think of it, my mom may have been more “macho” than my dad. Hmm, maybe I need to take that toxic masculinity class. ~grace