Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Men Need Love: Augustana celebrates male empowerment

Although college often serves as an intersection for a variety of backgrounds and identities to merge together in one institution, most recent data from 2019 show that two-thirds of Augustana students are white. For almost ten years, the Multicultural Men’s Association (MMA) has given an opportunity for men of color to find community through on-campus events.

Thursday, Feb. 22, MMA and the Office of Student Life collaborated together to sponsor Men Need Love. Hosted in the You Belong Lounge, the event focused on discussing the stereotypes, stigmas, and expectations surrounding masculinity. 

The presentation featured Zachary Draves, head of the office of sexual assault prevention and education as a guest speaker, as well as a powerpoint from MMA going further into the details of the issues in our society about our view on what men should and should not be.

“There is a high rate of suicide, addiction and loneliness among men and boys,” Draves said. “The way to remedy that is to give men the space they need to open themselves up, cultivate relationships with other men in meaningful ways and to create a definition of masculinity that is healthy and authentic to them.”

One of the biggest topics of discussion was toxic versus healthy masculinity, with men in the audience sharing their experiences and opinions about how culture, family and peers can promote negative stereotypes. Expectations in relationships, careers and personal care for men can affect their daily lives and are often passed down from generation to generation through fathers, brothers and grandfathers.

The discussion included topics such as challenging gender stereotypes, discussing ways to seek and build connections, self-reflection, self-care and different perspectives on how to build your own life outside of what people expect from you. This presentation aimed to provide a safe and comfortable space for men to talk about topics that encourage and enforce positive and healthy male empowerment. 

Senior Anjual Joyner, an ambassador for the office of student inclusion and diversity (OSID), ran and organized the Men Need Love presentation. Joyner said this meeting is hopefully a beginning for future presentations and discussions.

“I feel like everyone should take this step forward and take the initiative to become better mentally, physically and spiritually,” Joyner said. “You’re not alone. I feel like a lot of people do a lot of these types of journeys alone, and that with the right people in the right environment with the right resources, services and education can facilitate any questions or problems they might be looking for.”

Even as Augustana takes steps to combat toxic masculinity and harmful stereotypes against men, the issue of negative ideas about masculinity is still very much a broad issue in the United States and abroad.

First-Year Mahi Mahi, an international student from Bangladesh, said that he sees a noticeable difference in the gender expectations and roles of men and women in the United States compared to his home country. 

“In my country, there is not a lot of male empowerment because men have very dominant roles in my society,” Mahi said. “80% of the population doesn’t really see any problem with the way things are, it’s just the norm there. But in the United States, there is definitely a noticeable change in the gender equality system. It’s not perfect, but it’s better.” 

OSID and MMA continue work to make changes on these harmful and negative stereotypes and stigmas that follow men on campus, so everyone can feel free to be themselves on campus.

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