Vanderbilt University has decided there's something wrong with men.
They like sports, they think about sex a lot, and they major in business instead of gender studies.
So women are going to straighten them out. From Sept. 10-17, the Vanderbilt Women’s Center will sponsor “Healthy Masculinities Week.” But actually, the program is more about how masculinity is essentially unhealthy.
There’s the program’s poster, for example, featuring a sinister black silhouette of a guy with his back turned toward us. A thought balloon issues from his head packed with all those bad man-thoughts: “Don’t Cry, Have Sex, Play Sports, Major in Business, Man Up.”
Then there’s the keynote speaker, Jackson Katz, anti-sexism warrior and author of The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help. (The title of Katz’s planned speech cleverly modifies this into “Why Some Men Hurt and How All Men Can Help.”) For Katz, the word “macho” means something Very Bad Indeed. Here he is writing for the Huffington Post in 2013:
My colleagues and I who do this type of work experience an unsettling dichotomy. In one part of our lives, we routinely have intense, in-depth discussions about men's emotional and relational struggles, and how the bravado about "rugged individualism" in American culture masks the deep yearning for connection that so many men feel, and how the absence or loss of that can quickly turn to pain, despair, and anger. In these discussions, we talk about violence as a gendered phenomenon….
We talk amongst ourselves about how so many boys and men in our society are conditioned to see violence as a solution to their problems, a resolution of their anxieties, or a means of exacting revenge against those they perceive as taking something from them.
Shorter version: We gotta change men so they’ll be, uh, less masculine.
Other items on the Healthy Masculinities agenda include: “Policing Masculinity in the Gay and Bi Communities” and “The Portrayal of Manhood in Magic Mike.”
I’m waiting for a “Healthy Masculinities Week” in which the heroes are Chris Kyle and the French Train Four, and men learn how to grab a gun and protect the women and children in their lives. But I don’t think that would be sponsored by a campus “women’s center.”