The annual Men’s Project is set to begin soon. It hopes to educate participants in the variety of ways that the lens of masculinity comes back to haunt men and others. A program orchestrated by the UConn Women’s Center, the Men’s Project approaches timely and important topics, even if it may miss some of the audience that needs to listen the most.
Ideas of masculinity and femininity have a larger impact on day-to-day life than many consciously think about. Stereotypical men have a harder time reaching out to others and being open with their emotions. Friendships between men can often feel strained given this lack of communication. The physical nature of masculinity can also have an effect in how guys feel they have to work through issues, much to their own detriment. The Men’s Project hopes to question these patterns of behavior that most guys just accept and looks for a better way.
Masculinity in its toxic forms also happens to make things worse for many other groups. Of course, there is the recent wave of sexual assault cases, most of which were perpetrated by men, coming to light in the public. Men that do not fit into the heteronormative, masculine standards also face ridicule, suspicion and worse as a result of their deviations. The Men’s Project hopes to look at events like these through the lens of masculinity, seeing how such a rigid concept can feed into problems with the world.
Questioning how ingrained social norms affect matters big and small is an important skill that anyone can appreciate. Terms like “toxic masculinity” have been written off by many men as some sort of conspiracy against them, but this is not the aim; it is merely trying to evoke a moment of reflection and consideration. Whether men are aware or not, there are certain expectations placed upon them that end up stifling them.
The Men’s Project is not an attempt to emasculate, compel, or condescend men. It simply asks guys to think: are you acting as you truly want to, or are you just expected to behave this way? And if it is the latter, is there a way to fix this?