Brown student calls for 'revolution' against 'toxic masculinity’

A Brown University student has called for a “men’s revolution” to “liberate not only men, but all of society, from the constraints of toxic masculinity.” 

In a recent op-ed for The Brown Daily Herald, student Quentin Thomas argues that such a revolution is necessary because “toxic masculinity” causes men to “perpetrate harm against another individual and himself.” 

“Upon hearing the phrase ‘toxic masculinity,’ one might first think about how it impacts other people. What can often be overlooked, though, is that men suffer greatly from toxic masculinity, too,” he asserts. "Thanks to toxic masculinity, men are encouraged to constantly meet a range of unrealistic expectations: to exaggerate dominant traits, embody stoicism through extreme emotional suppression and never show any signs of weakness."

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Thomas identifies himself as a student coordinator for the school’s emerging Masculinity Peer Education Program, a newly formed program which facilitates discussions on masculinity in efforts to promote a “healthier” social environment. 

Formally referred to as Masculinity 101, the peer education program launched last semester with a mission of “unpacking male privilege,” “acknowledging harm and promoting healing” and helping men “avoid abusing that [male] privilege.” 

“Folks of all genders are taught to accept the gender binary as a biological imperative that can never be questioned when, in fact, the gender binary is a social construct that needs to be dismantled,” the program description states. “Masculinity 101 rejects the notion of the gender binary as the end all be all and works to promote a more holistic understanding of oneself encompassing one’s many facets and contradictions.”

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While the program is new, a Brown University spokesman told Campus Reform that eight male students have already been hired as Peer Educators to facilitate workshops including “Cultivating Empathy” and “Harm and Healing.” 

A workshop called “Privilege 101,” for instance, provides students with “a tangible definition of privilege and specific examples of male privilege,” then asks them to “reflect on the role privilege plays in their life” and “work towards developing strategies for engaging with their privilege.”

Unlike with other college masculinity programs, the curriculum for Masculinity 101 is created “for students, by students,” albeit under the guidance of Marc Peters, the school’s Health Promotion Specialist whose primary duty is promoting “healthy masculinity.” 

The goal of the program is “not...well-served by being exclusionary,” and thus, unlike most other college masculinity programs, it is open to women and non-binary students too. 

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In his op-ed, Thomas predicts that educating men on “toxic masculinity” will ultimately pay dividends for society as a whole. 

“In the age of the #MeToo movement and Women’s Marches,” he writes, “it’s time for men to have a parallel revolution—one that will liberate not only men, but all of society, from the constraints of toxic masculinity.” 

Campus Reform reached out to Thomas for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen