The Counseling and Mental Health Center at the University of Texas at Austin recently launched a new program to help male students “take control over their gender identity and develop a healthy sense of masculinity.”
Treating masculinity as if it were a mental health crisis, “MasculinUT” is organized by the school’s counseling staff and most recently organized a poster series encouraging students to develop a “healthy model of masculinity.”
The program is predicated on a critique of so-called “restrictive masculinity.” Men, the program argues, suffer when they are told to “act like a man” or when they are encouraged to fulfill traditional gender roles, such as being “successful” or “the breadwinner.”
Though you might enjoy “taking care of people” or being “active,” MasculinUTwarns that many of these attributes are actually dangerous, claiming that “traditional ideas of masculinity place men into rigid (or restrictive) boxes [which]… prevent them from developing their emotional maturity.”
“If you are a male student at UT reading this right now, we hope that learning about this helps you not to feel guilty about having participated in these definitions of masculinity, and instead feel empowered to break the cycle!” the program offers.
The program is currently without leadership, but not for long. The school is in the process of hiring a “healthy masculinities coordinator” to run the program, and a school official tells PJ Media that some hopeful hirees are interviewing for the position later this week.
While many schools now have similar programs, this appears to be the first run directly out of a Counseling and Mental Health Center. Though the school seems to justify this by claiming that masculinity can cause men to lash out at other people and themselves, the school did not respond to a request for comment to clarify.
There is no evidence that masculinity itself contributes to violence. Universities that run similar programs, such as UNC-Chapel Hill and Northwestern, have admittedthat their programming isn’t supported by any evidence.