Title IX and the Women’s Center work to bring awareness to campus on women’s safety and the responsibility of men.
The Good Men Project says toxic masculinity is a narrow and repressive description of manhood, designating manhood as defined by violence, sex, status and aggression.
R. W. Connell and Jackson Katz developed and discussed the term “toxic masculinity.” The idea is there are features of masculinity in our society that may lead to “toxic” practices. These practices include violence and extreme forms of aggression, and are linked to the safety of women today.
“Title IX focuses on incorporating educational programs that not only promotes female safety, but educates men bystander intervention and responsibility,” said Tammy Jaques, Title IX coordinator and assistant vice president for Student Affairs.
The World Health Organization is citing this type of masculinity as having an impact on the health and health-seeking behaviors of men.
“Toxic masculinity is just an act of over macho behavior,” said Emily Kelley, coordinator of the Women’s Center.
The behavior of toxic masculinity can be dangerous for women’s safety. It can cause an increase in fear and anxiety for women and can lead to abusive relationships.
“There are numerous initiatives aimed at addressing toxic masculinity, and at the core of all of these is the idea that there are multiple ways of being,” said Andrea Hunt, assistant professor of sociology and family studies.
Title IX goes into every First Year Experience class and does a Title IX/Bystander Intervention training program for all freshmen. They also have all new students take the Sexual Assault Prevention online module each year.
Title IX also conducts a Student Campus Climate Survey every fall semester. This is a survey that collects data and helps Title IX develop more effective programs to prevent power-based violence in the community and on campus. The survey is open to all students.
“The best way to combat toxic masculinity to start by asking ‘how are we raising our kids’ and are we raising them in the old narrative or one that is fresh and takes into account all the potentials of the human condition,” said Leah Heathcoat, volunteer coordinator for Safeplace.
Hunt added individuals have to move past rigid definitions of what it means to be a man or woman in society and stop putting people into those boxes.
The Women’s Center offers educational services for not only women, but also for men.
“During our annual white ribbon pledging event, we pass out cards with information pertaining to men and how to prevent sexual assault for women,” Kelley said.
The most recent report of toxic masculinity in the news is the death of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts.
According to Yahoo!, several people took to Twitter to say if what the police reported was the truth, her death was a result of toxic masculinity.
Reports from the police said Tibbetts was jogging on July 18 when she told a man to leave her alone.
“I can’t speak about the motive,” Division of Criminal Investigation special agent Rick Rahn said in an AP News article. “I can just tell you that it seemed that he followed her, seemed to be drawn to her on that particular day, for whatever reason he chose to abduct her.”
Twenty-four-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera was arrested for Tibbetts death according to AP News.
“Mollie Tibbetts was murdered because she told a man to leave her alone while she was jogging,” CNN strategist Symone Sanders tweeted Aug. 22. “Her murderer happens to be undocumented. This isn’t about border security. This is about toxic masculinity. Mollie Tibbetts lost her life because a man couldn’t take her saying no. Full stop.”
Sanders continues the thread by saying she would love if there could be a real conversation about how women’s lives are in danger because some men do not know how to check their egos.
In a post on Facebook, one of Tibbetts’ relatives also claims her death was the result of toxic masculinity.
“We must be willing to address the way we raise our boys and young men, so that violence is not a part of their response to this world,” said Sandi Tibbetts Murphy. “Like the recent murders of the Colorado family or the similarly tragic homicide of Kate Steinle, Mollie’s death is further example of the toxic masculinity that exists in our society.”
Renée Graham, writer for the Boston Globe, said toxic masculinity is killing us, literally and figuratively.
“Mass shootings, domestic violence, fatal fraternity hazing, rape culture, workplaces and schools turned into cesspools of sexual harassment and assault,” Graham said. “This is not consigned to one race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic level. Feral masculinity affirms itself every day through violence and domination. It is a detriment to social and political progress, our mental health, and physical safety. The deleterious result is a nation under siege by those compelled to affirm their power by any means necessary.”
Graham said we live under the shadow of a cocked and clenched fist.
“When terrible things happen to women, men often evoke their daughters as a reason for concern,” she said. “Perhaps they would do better to pay more attention to their sons, fathers, brothers — and their own toxic behavior — as a starting point for breaking a cycle of male violence that threatens to consume us all.”