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What do college students think about masculinity? About fatherhood? About the trauma & violence faced by men in society?
Kevin Roy, a family science professor at the University of Maryland (& father of 3 sons), encourages his students to discuss these topics (& more) in his popular class, “Man Up.”
“Young women come in saying, ‘what is going on with guys?'” Kevin says. “The young men who take the course are really interested in exploring different ways of thinking about, ‘what is it to be guy?'”
Discussing “Toxic Masculinity”
A lot of people enter the class with the impression that “masculinity is toxic. That men, by nature, do horrible things,” Kevin says, noting that many students (both male and female) have had negative experiences with men prior to his class.
He uses a public health lens to help students explore the idea that, “Men aren’t toxic by nature or nurture. What’s toxic is men’s choices and behaviors that are harmful.” He helps students explore and understand the threats men face to their masculinity, as well as the ways men may respond.
One thing many students don’t understand at the beginning of class is that “men never feel safe in their masculinity,” Kevin says. “They’re always challenged; you always have to earn it and you can always be called out.”
Helping Boys Consider Fatherhood
Modeling may be the best way to help boys understand the roles and responsibilities of fatherhood, Kevin says, noting that it’s most helpful if boys see fathers engaged in the gamut of parenting — feelings and all.
“If we want our boys to be that way, we have to be that way with them now,” he says. Exposure to men in caregiving roles outside of the house — teacher, childcare provider, nurse — are also helpful.
In this episode, Jen, Janet, & Kevin discuss:
- Young people’s hunger to discuss masculinity
- The diversity of the fatherhood experience
- Threats to masculinity
- Body image pressure
- Boys’ friendships
- Making space for dads to connect
- Marriage and fatherhood
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:
- We Must Expand that Definition of Masculinity for White, Cisgender Men: ‘Ted Lasso’ Offers a Guide – Baltimore Sun op-ed by Kevin
- Nurturing Dads: Fatherhood Initiatives Beyond the Wallet, by by
- Body Image, Eating Disorders, and Boys — ON BOYS episode
- Gender Equality, Boys, & Men — ON BOYS episode with Richard V. Reeves
- Dads Matter (w Marion Hill) — ON BOYS episode
- The New Masculinity — ON BOYS episode
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