On Monday night, 5Cs Thrive hosted an event called “Masculinity + Mental Health.” According to the event’s description, the workshop focused on the mental health problems caused by masculinity.

“Masculinity can be extremely toxic to our mental health, both to the people who are pressured to perform it and the people who are inevitably influenced by it,” state the event’s organizers. “We would like to encourage discussion on how to openly talk about our emotions and our wellbeing, and how to engage in masculine identities in a healthy way. Relevant to this discussion is how masculinity can harm our relationships with people and one’s ability to cope when relationships are difficult or end. We want to create a safe and open space where we can talk about masculinity and its various intersections with our identities and experiences.”

5Cs Thrive describes itself as “A safe space for students at the 5c’s to talk about mental health,” and the “Masculinity + Mental Health” event took place at the Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity (The Hive). The Hive’s stated mission is “to accelerate the creative development of students across the 5Cs. We do that through Exploration – by creating a safe space to experiment and play, Collaboration – by bringing people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives together to be in the ‘intellectual muck’ together, and through Experiential Learning – thinking by doing.”

The event received some positive feedback on Facebook. One woman, Lizbeth Ramirez, posted, “THANK YOU from the fullness of my heart for having this available for my fellow brothers.”

Miles Robinson (PO ’18), who attended the event, told the Independent  that there was “a common consensus that masculinity is harmful both to those who express it and those affected by it” among attendees. “It was all talk through personal experiences,” stated Robinson. Robinson added that all of the organizers of Thrive—as well most of the attendees of Thrive’s weekly functions—are female, and the group hosted this event in the hopes of getting more men to come.

It seems Thrive’s efforts were not entirely successful, as some students avoided the event out of concern that it would alienate men. “If masculinity is described as something negative—a mental illness—then this is sexism against men,” stated Will Gu (PO ’20) in an email to the Independent. “Safe spaces… are supposed to make everyone feel comfortable. Criticizing masculinity makes males who adhere to traditional gender norms uncomfortable.”

Update: October 4, 2016

Sabine Scott, a leader of the “Masculinity + Mental Health” event, issued the following statement in an email to the Independent:

“Our ‘Masculinity and Mental Health’ event was created with the goal of providing a space to examine to effects of masculinity on mental health. In order to preserve the confidentiality of the space I’m not going to disclose what was discussed, but it was a productive conversation that helped people explore how masculinity impacted each person’s individual experience with mental health. Participants were able to find support in other people who have had similar experiences, and the meeting empowered both the men and women in the meeting to realize how the pressure to conform to stereotypical masculinity can have harmful effects on being able to share emotions and maintain healthy relationships.”

Correction: October 5, 2016

An earlier version of this story stated that 5Cs Thrive was part of the The Hive. A representative from Pomona College stated in an email to the Independent that 5Cs Thrive is not affiliated with The Hive, they just used the venue for their event.

Categories: Campus News
  • Carl E. Hanks

    Message to men:: Confess! Repent! Atone!

    • Maria

      Isn’t stupidity bad for mental health? I feel pretty ill after reading this crap.

  • Dr. Necessitor

    Silly feminists. The vast majority of men feel no pressure to be masculine. It is effortless because it is an important part of our make-up. It’s what we are. How about turning your lens on the toxic behaviors of women for once. Men don’t need your “help”.

    • Colin Brown

      The other half of the argument, though, is that the assumed way men are has contributed to inequality. The assumption of men being the dominant gender contributes to women’s wages and to overwhelming sexual assault statistics (there has been much research done on this by the way). So while most men may not feel pressure to be masculine (or society’s perception of masculine), this has harmed women greatly.

      But you are also forgetting about the men who do feel pressure. Do they not matter?

      • Dr. Necessitor

        It’s feminists that assume men are the dominant gender. Ask any married man, we’re not dominant. And if we were, why should men change our behavior? Why don’t women change to become more masculine?

        And the men who feel pressure to be masculine do matter. They shouldn’t feel that pressure. The fact that they occupy a non-masculine niche of manhood does not change anything. Both my brothers are gay. We have a great time doing non-masculine activities together. But they agree with the following: Why should the vast majority of men (>95%) be required to tamp-down our masculinity because a tiny number of men are non-masculine?

        Despite the best efforts of feminist studies professors, the fact is that men and women are different, if for no other reason than our different testosterone levels.

      • Dr. Necessitor

        Also, I appreciate your respectful comment and request for dialogue. On several occasions I’ve had my beliefs challenged by people who proved to be wiser than me, and though often it took some time (months or even years), eventually I embraced an opinion that I used to reject. Patient dialogue is the only means to change people’s hearts.

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  • Male

    The bare minimum of due journalistic diligence to report on this event would’ve been to actually attend it. I was there, Steven. You were not. That’s all I have to say.

    • Dr. Necessitor

      Then your handle should be “Beta-male”. 😉

    • AlsoMale

      Don’t fret big guy – there should be some tampon dispensers in your local public bathroom.

      • Pomona Grad

        Y’all, your comments are what this event is addressing. You have an assumption of what men should be like, and when someone doesn’t meet this standard, you call them “beta-male” and imply that they are not a man. Think about the effect this has on someone who doesn’t feel comfortable in their skin – they already hold some sort of shame, and you are exacerbating it (note: not talking about the original commenter, but anyone who experiences this. I certainly have, and have been driven close to suicide.)

  • Dudarino

    If this is the kind of silliness being “taught” by schools, you should probably start building a case for getting a tuition refund–or at least a refund of your Student Activity Fee.

    It’s not setting you up for reality, the outside world, or much outside of coddled nipple-sucking.

  • Huh

    I’m sorry, bit if mere discussion of masculinity as toxic makes you “uncomfortable” then you are not “adher[ing] to traditional gender norms.” A “traditional” man laughs off, mocks, or rises up in protest; he doesn’t cower and complain of discomfort. Man up.

    • So if you object to anti-male sexism you are a pussy?

      • Dr. Necessitor


      • Dr. Necessitor

        Sorry. I meant that I agree with you.

  • Parson Jay

    Embracing gender fluidity and the Divine Feminine is a blessing for stress-wracked, hyperviolent male rapebeasts.

    • XYchrome

      After reading the article and comments like Parson Jay’s, I can’t help but wonder how many of these women and the men who agree with them were abused in the past (perhaps in childhood) either sexually, physically, or verbally by their father, step-father, uncle, ex-husband, male cousin, male teacher, male etc. Their vitriol and rage against men is often a cover up or mask they wear to hide the wounds and scars they bear from tragic male experiences of the past. There is no way any person who grew up with a kind and gentle father, who protected and cared for them, would have these feelings towards males.
      Our culture is ruining true masculinity. Strong and honorable men are becoming extinct thanks to the porn-rampant, divorce-accepting, hip-hop listening, entertainment-loving, self-absorbing, sex-revolutionizing, family-breaking culture we live in.

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  • Bob Johanson

    If I hadn’t seen the banner at the beginning, I would have guessed this article was from The Onion. Beyond absurd.

  • Robert Jenks

    What a bunch of douchebags. Grow up, pussies….

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  • The Neantherhal

    they’re afraid that I have muscles. I work out.

    I don’t do it for anyone other than myself – if my ‘appearance’ offends you, how are you any different from those who were offended by black people being in traditionally white areas?

    You folks at these colleges are the truly deplorably intolerant racists and sexists. . . .can’t you simply live your lives and ignore that which offends you? I’ve done it for 57 years – if I don’t like something – I ignore it. And move on with my life – I don’t need to have a seminars to talk about everything I don’t like – I don’t a moment of my life issuing press releases about brussels sprouts – I just push them to the side of my plate and don’t eat them – I don’t picket the restaurant.

    • Pomona Grad

      But what if there isn’t space to ignore it? What if the signals are coming from everywhere? This is how it is for women and minorities – there’s no pushing them to the side of your plate and not eating them because when you try they’re immediately forced back upon you.

      And as for having seminars and addressing issues they don’t like – isn’t this what education is supposed to do? If someone is educated about something they see as wrong, wouldn’t they actually be doing a disservice to not dialogue about it and seek change?

      • Can black people dialogue with the Klan? When people just flat out hate you, there is not much to say.

      • The Neanderthal

        There is always space to ignore it. The 6″ between your ears where we all live.

        • Colin Brown

          Will try and respond to both of you sufficiently.

          John – not sure what you are getting at. Yes, it is probably difficult for black people to dialogue with the klan. Yes, because of the hate that exists, there probably isn’t much to say. But the trauma that exists, the fear that exists, also makes it very difficult for one to even try. Speaking not on my own experiences, but those of friends.

          Neanderthal – based on your picture, I am guessing you are not a woman nor a person of color. Please forgive me, but I find it hard to take you more seriously on this than my friends that actually experience discrimination and trauma on this. I pray that you can have ears to hear and listen.

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  • Woody

    The tone-deafness of the organizers of this event is remarkable. Whatever the legitimate underlying discussion points, the title is instantly offensive. They are expressly taking a definiting individual characteristic and associating it with mental health. Imagine instead, Blackness+Mental Health or Queerness+Mental health. People would rightfully freak out. But since it’s tied to a traditional male characteristic, silence. Then, when people raise legitimate concerns, the organizers and attendees belittle them. That’s pretty much a great example of bigotry.

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  • American womyn, stay away from me

    It’s only sexism when someone else does it, isn’t it ladies? I’ve met an awful lot of women who celebrate late-term partial birth abortion, are heartened by high male suicide rates (in part because of the misandry our culture promotes through groups such as this one), celebrate fewer young men on college campuses, and delight in reports of women killing their spouses or children. I’ve seen women use their sexuality to get jobs, and then cry and whine that they feel objectified. I’ve seen women cheat on their spouses and fiancees and then cry sexual assault as a means of escaping responsibility for their own wantonness. Anyone who is hard-working, diligent, ambitious and MALE is an immediate threat to American women because it’s competition, and American women don’t want competition – not unless the scales are heavily weighted in their favor. That’s why so many loathe non-American women (non-American women give men at home options). That’s why they loathe transparent hiring practices whereby your gender doesn’t come into the equation during the hiring process (American women absolutely ADORE affirmative action, as they are – by far – the greatest beneficiaries of it). And that’s why they loathe any image of male virility, assertiveness or strength: strong men are not so easy to manipulate, are not so “pliant”, and might stand up for themselves every once in a while.

    Megyn Kelly at Foxnews is a good example of the American female: under those geological layers of makeup, mascara, eye liner and other guck, resides a really ugly, disingenuous person unafraid to hide behind her sexuality when it serves her interests. One minute, stronger and smarter than any man (even though she couldn’t hack it as a corporate attorney); the next, when things get tough, a poor, wittle girl who needs special dispensation and protection (think of her uncorroborated allegation that Roger Ailes hugged her “inappropriately” more than a decade ago).

    We really should be carrying out seminars about toxic femininity and why American women are so capricious, child-like, deeply misogynistic, racist and resolved that they deserve special privileges not granted to anyone else. And why are so many of them vulgar and ignorant? That’s what we should really be talking about.

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  • Greg Bennett

    Current and future contribution to Pomona College Fund:

    $$ 0.00

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