Struggling with your masculinity, particularly all those unfair burdens placed on you by our hypermasculine, gender norms-promoting patriarchal society, which probably have you thinking violent thoughts right now? Well, if you’re a student at the University of Texas, you’re in luck because the folks over there at the Counseling and Mental Health Center are finally addressing masculinity as the mental health crisis it truly is — though that’s not how they would put it.
In a report for PJ Media, Toni Airaksinen provides a hilarious/disturbing look at what amounts to a masculinity rehabilitation program at Texas called “MasculinUT.” The program isn’t some wacky seminar designed by the increasingly hysterical people over in Gender Studies. No, this has been developed by the university’s mental health center which is concerned about students failing to develop a “healthy model of masculinity.” Airaksinen reports:
The program is predicated on a critique of so-called “restrictive masculinity.” Men, the program argues, suffer when they are told to “act like a man” or when they are encouraged to fulfill traditional gender roles, such as being “successful” or “the breadwinner.”
Though you might enjoy “taking care of people” or being “active,” MasculinUT warns that many of these attributes are actually dangerous, claiming that “traditional ideas of masculinity place men into rigid (or restrictive) boxes [which]… prevent them from developing their emotional maturity.”
Airaksinen notes that the school is currently looking to hire a “healthy masculinities coordinator” to run the program. The program, he notes, has been developed despite a lack of evidence that masculinity itself contributes to violence, as admitted by programs like UNC-Chapel Hill and Northwestern.
Clearly experiencing significant pushback amid unflattering reports on the program, MasculinUT issued a statement that begins with the assertion that the program “does not treat masculinity as a ‘mental health issue,’ and any such statements are simply not accurate.”
“It has become clear that some of the communication and discussion surrounding MasculinUT did not convey this fully or clearly and was not effective at reaching the broad audiences the program envisioned,” the apparently embattled program explains. “As a result, we will be reviewing the website and other content to ensure that it serves the program’s goals and will make any appropriate changes as we receive feedback from stakeholders.”
Below is the full text of the program’s defense of itself:
The MasculinUT program does not treat masculinity as a “mental health issue,” and any such statements are simply not accurate. It was established to bring more men to the table to address interpersonal violence, sexual assault and other issues.
Like other UT programs related to sexual assault and interpersonal violence, MasculinUT is housed administratively in the university’s Counseling and Mental Health Center. Its goals include helping men explore ways to reduce sexual violence, helping students take responsibility for their actions, and fostering healthier relationships on campus and beyond.
These are important goals that we strongly stand behind. It has become clear that some of the communication and discussion surrounding MasculinUT did not convey this fully or clearly and was not effective at reaching the broad audiences the program envisioned. As a result, we will be reviewing the website and other content to ensure that it serves the program’s goals and will make any appropriate changes as we receive feedback from stakeholders.
Earlier this year, the UT System Board of Regents approved funding for mental health, student safety, and alcohol-related initiatives including efforts to reduce sexual assaults on campus. The new staff position that will oversee this program, and coordinate with other UT System schools, is part of those efforts funded by the Regents.