This could have been a post praising the video. This could have been a post applauding the Student Union’s leadership in driving a conversation about the toxic effects of hypermasculinity within our community and on our campus. This could have been a post cheering on my successors and former colleagues—but it isn’t.
Instead, this is yet another post by a woman wondering aloud why the fuck men in our community are so goddamn fragile.
Over the past month, women have been bravely naming and shaming powerful men for their abusive actions through movements such as #metoo. This year’s Breaking Stereotypes campaign could have offered another voice in support of those and other women. Instead, it disappointingly comes across as a majority male executive on a majority male campus seeking to be victimized.
Meanwhile, it is estimated that one in five university students—the majority of whom are women—are sexually assaulted; but sure, let’s talk about “Manning Up.” Let’s talk about the implication that the alternative to masculinity is “not being enough.” Let’s talk about the assertion that existing as a woman or non-binary is “not being enough.” If the goal was to break gender stereotypes, then this year’s campaign has missed its mark. All that I observe is a reinforcement of existing stereotypes by further suggesting that engaging in an activity so benign as to enjoy a seasonal espresso drink *must* signal an absence of masculinity. As if masculinity could not be inclusive enough to also extend to those who enjoy Blake Lively-led TV shows. What a garbage line of argumentation!
Imagine being told that being compared to women and having feminine tendencies was so traumatizing as to cause mental distress? Or are we not actually talking about mental health in this campaign? Because this could have been a conversation about gender constructs and their impacts on the mental wellbeing of our community and campus. This could have been an opportunity to engage transgendered, non-binary, and even (god forbid) female students and offer a platform to share the impacts of toxic masculinity and hypermasculinity on their lives. Instead, the campaign absolved itself of any responsibility to deconstruct harmful stereotypes by failing to even scratch the surface of its purported theme, all the while coopting “mental health” as a buzzword “for the likes.”
Instead, we have a bunch of dudes aspiring to be recognised as “bros” and “homies.” You cannot complain about being denied the space to express yourself in non-traditional masculine ways if you actively and constantly seek to be recognised for being an active participant in ‘lad culture.’ It does not work that way. This isn’t even a case of faux male feminism; this is the No-Name Diet Coke version.
And we are not required—nor are we obliged—to sit here and praise men claiming to be “woke” when they cannot bring themselves to say the word “feminism.” Thank you for mansplaining my own patriarchal oppression to me. I’d like my 18 minutes back, please.