Does DePaul University need a Mens Center?

March 11, 2014
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By: Rebecca Koraline Medina

DePaul University

In order to understand discrimination and/or neglect against men in today’s society, it is important to understand where it has come from. It is not impossible or unfair to suggest that discrimination against men is rooted in the advances and activism of women’s rights. In other words, the advances of women have come at the cost of men. Since the early 1850s, there has been a movement growing for women and women’s rights. These movements have grown into collections of movements, theories, and organizations such as feminism, National Organization for Women, National Council of Women’s Organizations, Planned Parent Hood, American Equal Rights Association, etc.      All of these organizations have grown over the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, all the while overwhelming, overpowering, overshadowing, overriding, and almost completely forgetting men’s rights. There are little to no resources available for men anywhere in the nation, including DePaul University. The service learning I have chosen to partake in includes researching what resources are available to men at DePaul University. I will determine what student men’s and women’s organizations, classes, and/or centers are available at DePaul University and any interest possibilities.

DePaul has a rich history, and as any college that began in the 19th century, was an all men’s school. It is grown tremendously since then, and is now recognized as one of the largest, most diverse schools in the nation. It is also known as having the most liberal student body. That being said, you would think that DePaul would have plenty of resources available for men on campus and/or off campus. DePaul has little to no resources available for men, but just like the rest of the nation it has fallen victim to what I call, Women Power. Women power has overshadowed men’s rights, and in consequence (maybe sometime indirectly) caused discrimination against men to spread.

Upon making my first quest for Men’s resources at DePaul, I went on campusconnect.depaul.edu and began a search for classes. Campus connect is the website where DePaul students can view their records, search, and enroll in classes. The website allows you to search for classes by subject and there are over 150+ course subjects you can search for. The subjects listed include “Women’s Studies” and “Women’s and Gender Studies”. There were no subject categories that included the term Male or Men in the subject title. Then I thought there might be some Men’s classes within the gender studies portion of the “Women’s and Gender Studies” subject. Within the subject “Women’s and Gender Studies” there were classes such as “Women’s Lives: Race/Class/Gender”, “Feminist Theories”, “Transgender Studies”, “Gender, Violence, and Resistance”, “Gender and Family”, “Female Identities”, “Women and Art”, and “Black Women’s Experiences”, but again nothing about Men. The “search for classes” box also allows you to type in a “course keyword”. I typed in both “Male” and “Men” with no results. I also did a general search for Men’s centers/ resources/ organizations on DePaul’s general website with no results. This might lead me to conclude that DePaul has little to no resources or courses available for or about men or men’s rights awareness.

Currently, there are more women than men attending college and according to National Center for or Education Statistics, “female enrollment is expected to increase by 16% from 2011 to 2021 while male enrollment is only projected to increase by around 7%”. Monica Vendituoli of USA Today writes, “Distress over fulfilling gender norms can lead to depression and anxiety for college men, according to data analyzed by the American Association of Suicidology. Men between the ages of 20 and 24 were four times more likely than women to commit suicide.” Also, according to government statistics mentioned in Vendituoli’s article, Men are much less likely to report cases of rape than women. Many people who carry feminist beliefs are said to blame men for rape or abuse in ways that are “men-hating” or “men-bashing”.

Our society assigns limiting gender roles to men that can be physically and mentally damaging and exhausting. The growing roles of women in our society have also shrunk the roles of men from “man of the house” to little or nothing. This has taken a psychological toll on men and there is no one there to help them “get through”. Men are accused of abuse, assault; they are divorced, harshly sentenced, and denied their rights as fathers. There are little to no counseling programs for raped men, fathers, divorcees, or victims of discrimination.

The National Coalition for Men (NCFM) is a nonprofit organization that seeks to raise awareness on men’s issues. Established in 1977, the NCFM is committed to raise awareness and relieve men and boys of negative gender stereotypes that lead to discrimination. They have a rich history of activism in the subject of men’s abuse. NCFM has a College Campus Chapter Initiative, in which they are trying to start men’s discussion groups at schools and universities. As Chris Thompson of the NCFM states in his article Double Secret Probation, Guilt by Association, and no Men’s Center, “It is no longer acceptable to ignore the needs of men. It is no longer acceptable to use men as scapegoats for all the ills of the world.”

DePaul indeed has little to no resources for or concerning men or men’s rights. It is not hard to recognize why this has happened at DePaul University and many other Universities and Colleges alike. In the midst of feminist movements, women’s rights, and the revolution of equality, we seemed to have forgotten that men have rights too. We have also not considered the effect that all of this will have on men. As the article The impact of gender mainstreaming on men: the case of Liberia states, “Many scholar-practitioners have studied gender mainstreaming as a policy tool to help achieve gender equality, but their work does not consider how the related gender equality change and its implementation impact men at a socio-psychological level in male-dominated societies.” There is a lot of negativity surrounding men and men’s rights. Because of this, we are lacking resources for men everywhere, but also tainting the reputation of men.

Aside from Fraternities and sports teams, which are not necessarily providing support for men and actually condone men’s gender roles that which produce more stress on men, there are two groups at DePaul that I have found in all of my research. These two groups are The Catholic Men’s Group (CMG) and Men of Color Initiative (MOC). The CMG is only for Catholic men. They provide support and discuss being men of “faith and integrity”, masculinity, and men’s liberation through religion. The MOC initiative is for first-generation and/or lo income, male students of color. They seek to provide educational support for these men by encouraging academic success and leadership, and promoting community service. The CMG seems to be more focused on Men’s rights, however it is partial to Catholic men. The MOC does not focus on men’s rights, it is strictly provides help for men of color to graduate college.

Holmgrena et al. state that the “’Man Question’ in feminism” displays men as both objects and subjects of critique. They continue to state that ‘feminist theory has always been partly about men and what to do about men’. Also, that the “Man Question” is ‘developing historically and differentially as men become more interested in gender equality’. Feminism may not necessarily be about “man-hating”, but it is about being equal to men and because of this men have either become feminist themselves, or developed their own theories on gender equality. This article explains the consequences of feminism on men. The book, Community Psychology: Linking Individuals and Communities discusses risks and protective factors that help us understand coping with stress.  The community of feminism has unintentionally cause stress on men. This has caused another community to grow for men’s rights.

Gender roles can be extremely harmful to both men and women, but women have become more empowered about speaking up against gender roles and discrimination. McDermott et al. states, ‘psychological distress from either not meeting the societal expectations of masculinity or from dysfunctional adherence to rigid role norms has been well documented in the literature and connected to numerous problems in men’s lives’. Women have been progressively getting more “freedom” but gender roles have a very strong hold on men. They cannot easily speak up, nor do they have communities or spaces in which they feel comfortable discussing such topics. Most would argue that feminism is about status and color than it is about gender, but the reason women cannot have ‘status’ is because of gender roles. However I think is it safe to say that feminism is about gender identity, sexuality, and status, race, and class altogether.

“The Department of Education issued its revised sexual assault mandates on April 4, 2011, instantly removing the presumption of innocence for male students accused of sexual assault, subjecting men around the country to unwarranted hearings”(NCFM). At the University of Montana, the Department of Education revised its sexual assault mandate. As a result, women came forth with more and more rape cases. Because of this, the innocence of men has been tarnished with prejudice and discrimination. Women used to be highly abused and discriminated against in the justice system and by police, but now the tables have turned.

The NCFM wants to start an organization at DePaul for men. Chris Thompson has opened NCFM chapters at many other campuses. However, at a liberal school like DePaul it is important to understand how to go about opening such a program at DePaul. As women’s rights have come at the cost of men, some men have responded defensively. If the NCFM wants to start organizations at schools and we all want to counteract the effects women’s rights have had on men’s rights, we must take an approach that is not against feminism, but rather for men. What I mean is, that if we approach the topic defensively, then we might be lost in a never-ending circle of finger pointing, but if we say “we cannot forget that men have rights too” and act as aids for men who are losing their rights or being lost, then we may begin to address this problem. In chapter 10 we discuss issues in implementing programs. The book states that one of these issues of implementation is adaptation. “What aspects of the program were adapted to fit the specific context of the setting?” If we are going to implement a program at DePaul then we must adapt the program to fit DePaul.

Most people that are not feminists hold a negative attitude towards feminism. Feminism is seen as hostile and strongly connected to negative stereotypes. Because of this many men have developed anti-feminist views and groups. It is important to understand that the NCFM should not been seen as anti-feminist and that there purpose is to help men who are being negatively affected by gender roles assigned to them by the entire world.

The book also states in Chapter 6, that feminism and men are relational communities. These communities are defined by their interpersonal relationships and not bound by geography (p 178). This psychological sense of community is defined by “the perception of similarity to others, an acknowledged interdependence with others”. The only reason feminism has gained so much social power is because of their strong relational, psychological sense of community. It has allowed them to come together to speak of the issues that have held them back for so long. Men now need to come together and form such a community that makes them feel like they can speak out against the issues that have been affecting them almost as much as it has been affecting women; gender roles. The book also states that there are 4 elements of a sense of community, these are membership, influence, integration and fulfillment of needs, and a shared emotional connection.

Community psychology is all about understanding communities and how to help communities when they need it, but sometimes they don’t want help. A lot of communities especially don’t want help from someone they see as an outsider, or sometimes they don’t even see a need for help. DePaul University is a very liberal school. The student body may not see a need for a men’s center that is trying to raise awareness of men’s rights if they don’t see any immediate issues that arise in their everyday lives. However, if we can propose this as another asset for the school, they may want to see it happen.

As our book states, ‘empowerment cannot be accomplished alone, it must be accomplished with others’. “Empowerment is a multilevel concept: individuals, organizations, communities, and societies can become more empowered. A person who becomes more skeptical of traditional authority, more willing to oppose injustice, and more involved in citizen participation is becoming empowered.” Men can come together to empower each other and create men’s centers and organizations across the nation with or without the help of feminists.

 References

Augustsson, C., Angelucci, M., Blumhorst, R., Crouch, H., DeLuca, S., Finley, G. (2013). About Us. Retrieved from http://ncfm.org/ncfm-home/Vendituoli, M. (2013,     October 2). Are Men’s Centers Essential for College Campuses? USA Today.     Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/01/mens       centers college-campus/2903261/

Thompson, C. (2013, October 3). Double Secret Probation, Guilty by Association,  and No            Men’s Center. Retrieved from http://montana.ncfm.org/2013/10/03/double-secret  probation/

Jennings, Y. (2013). The impact of gender mainstreaming on men: The case of       Liberia. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A, 73

NCFM. (2013, March 04). Rape hysteria crisis at the university of montana [Online

forum comment]. Retrieved from http://www.avoiceformen.com/montana-            state-university-and-men/ncfm-rape-hysteria-crisis-at-the-university-of     MontanaNCFM. (2013, March 04).

McDermott, R. C., & Schwartz, J. P. (2013). Toward a better understanding of emerging  adult men’s gender role journeys: Differences in age, education, race, relationship     status, and sexual orientation. Psychology Of Men & Masculinity, 14(2), 202-210.   doi:10.1037/a0028538

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