Two male students drinking coffee and studying at cafe

Duke Offers Men a ‘Safe Space’ to Contemplate Their ‘Toxic Masculinity’

By Jillian Kay Melchior | 9:24 am, September 30, 2016

Duke University is famous for its science and engineering programs, as well as its dominance in college basketball.

Now, it may also become known as a great place for men to gather and contemplate why they’re such horrible people.

The Duke Men’s Project, launched this month and hosted by the campus Women’s Center, offers a nine-week program for “male-identified” students that discusses male privilege, patriarchy, “the language of dominance,” rape culture, pornography, machismo and other topics.

The student newspaper’s editorial board endorsed the new program yesterday, insisting it was “not a reeducation camp being administered by an oppressed group in the service of the feminization of American society.”

But it’s easy to see why they felt the need to defend against such concerns.

Junior Dipro Bhowmik, who sits on the leadership team, recently said the goal of the Duke Men’s Project is for male students to “critique and analyze their own masculinity and toxic masculinities to create healthier ones.”

Alex Bressler, another junior on the leadership team, said the program would help men “proactively deconstruct our masculinity.”

Duke’s new program is patterned off of a similar one at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where participants are asked to contemplate how masculinity plays a harmful influence in lives.

There the program seeks “to shift the culture of masculinity toward more non-violent norms”—the underlying assumption being that violence is currently the norm for men.

It’s hard to imagine any other group on campus participating in a similar program—much less doing so under the banner of a “safe space.”

— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.