Aspects of Healthy Masculinities
Masculinities are plural
- Allowing multiple expressions of masculinities (or gender diversity): Healthy masculinity is plural: healthy masculinities. A healthy model of masculinity respects the range of ways to express a male identity.
Development of empathy and emotional maturity
- Developing and expressing empathy: Young men and masculine-identified students in college have an opportunity to listen and learn about the experiences of others. This enables college men and masculine-identified students to witness and understand issues from perspectives other than their own. Learning about the experiences of gender violence and sexism from those who are most impacted can help college men and masculine-identified students make decisions that do not perpetuate gender violence. Similarly, developing empathy for other men and masculine-identified students who may experience the negative aspects of restrictive masculinity is an aspect of healthy masculinity.
- Allowing men and masculine-identified individuals to be expressive and emotional: Part of growing up and maturing is learning to manage your own emotions. Keeping them locked up is not managing your emotions. Similarly, running away from others when they are being emotional or asking them not to be emotional is also unhealthy. To be a lovable and loving person, it is important to acknowledge and work through your emotions, rather than ignoring them or shifting them onto someone else. It is also important to be able to connect with and support others when they are feeling emotional or vulnerable. Showing and responding to emotions does not make one less of a man, it makes one more of a supportive, well-adjusted person.
Make Gender Equity and Violence Prevention A Priority
- Making gender equity a central part of your life: Speaking up and taking responsibility for gender equity is one way to work towards equality. Learn about gender and how it affects people on a daily basis. Learn about male privilege in order to understand the invisible and inherent power and privilege you experience on a day-to-day basis.
- Encouraging men to take responsibility in ending gender violence: Gender violence is not just a women's issue, it is also a central issue for men. Reflecting on the ways men and masculine-identified individuals are complicit in perpetuating gender violence in everyday life is important; gender violence also impacts and hurts men and masculine-identified individuals. Changing negative expressions and behaviors of masculinity into actions of healthy masculinity supports equality and can begin to reduce gender violence.
- Developing intervention strategies when confronted with (or witnessing) violent or aggressive behavior: Violence is allowed to continue through silence or by allowing violent behavior to happen without intervention. However, it can be dangerous to intervene in a violent situation (whether it's an act of homophobia, sexual violence at a party, or a fight between two individuals). The BeVocal bystander intervention program at UT recognizes the power of breaking the cycles of violence through strategic intervention. Think about the last time you witnessed (or maybe even participated in) the denigration of women, homophobia, and aggressive "joking" between groups of friends. Then think about how you could have disrupted that in subtle or not so subtle ways. There is a link below with strategies you can learn from about how to be a responsible bystander and student who can be empowered to make a difference. There is nothing shameful in encouraging a group of friends (men, women, and people of all genders) to take a different view on masculinity and stop violent behavior.
Develop healthy ways to foster relationships to others on campus
- Encouraging men and masculine-identified individuals to be caring leaders who stand up for others (not just themselves): To disrupt restrictive masculinity, you can be a caring man who stands up for others.
- Expecting men and masculine-identified individuals to be affectionate and caring sexual partners: As opposed to what young men learn about male sexuality being voracious or somehow seeing it as a competition where women are a prize, sexuality should be seen as something two or more people can explore with full consent, on equal ground.
- Building relationships in which men trust and respect women: Men already have relationships with women in their lives, including their mothers, sisters, friends, professors, supervisors, or any other women or female-identified individuals. It is important for men and masculine-identified students to check in with others around them to understand if their behaviors or words are perceived as disrespectful, and what can be some strategies of change.
- Allowing yourself (and masculine-identified students) to be vulnerable: The above can only be accomplished if you learn to trust others enough to take a risk and participate in groups you are not familiar with. Staying in a comfort zone does not always allow you to notice unhealthy ways of being, but taking a leap to surround yourself with new ideas and new ways of connecting to others will open up ways for you to develop a healthy masculinities that are also respectful of others and do not need to be in control all the time.
Seek out more information and educate yourself on issues of gender, violence, and healthy practices
- Explore our website and read our resources page. You can also contact us.
These recommendations are not easy to adopt, especially after years of being socialized in particular ways. However, students can use them as guidelines, as conversation starters, or as starting points from which to explore different topics such as gender, violence, emotional health, and more. Educational and informational tools such as the ones contained in this website are not the end-all, be-all of gender transformations and violence prevention. You can use these in a way that impacts your life positively, through the information you learn or through lessons you can apply (or teach to people you care about).
Feel free to email us if you have any questions or would like to talk to us about healthy masculinities and gender equity. VAV staff can be reached at email@example.com
Project Goals and Guiding Principles
Why does UT Austin need MasculinUT?
What do Healthy Masculinities Look Like?
What is Restrictive Masculinity?
Masculinity and the Intersections of Social, Cultural and Political Identities