Men’s Centers and Men’s Studies

The full interview with USA Today College

By Daphne C. Watkins, PhD  

Q: Do you feel men’s centers are needed in United States colleges?

A: Yes, but I am afraid that only addresses part of the challenge. I think that more programs and centers that support the various identities of our college students in the United States are needed. Though gender-specific centers are a start to this process, we should not always think of our identities as binary (men vs. women) with regard to the types of support that college students need. For instance, instead of the need for a men’s center versus a women’s center, I would like to see college administrators think about what types of programs (e.g., those that support racial/ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, and class needs) will help students work through the challenges that pose as potential barriers to their personal and professional success. There are so many other identities to consider during emerging adulthood that it would behoove college administrators to think about how best to support the multiple factors that help to shape their students. If centers are the result of this thinking, then being clear about the goals of these centers is essential.

Q: Do you feel more men’s studies are needed in the United States?

A: Yes. The women’s movement was (and continues to be) a remarkable and needed contribution to gender studies, overall. However, there is also something to be said about the complexities of men that were left out of some of the early scholarship on women. Therefore, increasing what we know about men — through men’s studies — helps us acquire a deeper understanding about what is happening in the lives of men, women, families, and communities.

Q: Do you feel there needs to be more support for the men’s rights movement on college campuses in the United States?

A: I think, broadly speaking, there needs to be more support for college programs that provide education, support, and resources for students who are unpacking the complexities of their multiple identities — gender included.

Q: What issue do you think is the most troubling for American men on college campuses and why?

A: In my opinion, what is most troubling for American college men are the daily challenges they face as a result of their adherence or non-adherence to masculine gender norms.  For many men, their masculine identities are shaped by their interactions with other men, and society as a whole. Unfortunately, masculinity is often treated as a binary (either you are masculine or you are not) factor by college men. This can lead them to engage in stigmatizing behaviors, as oftentimes there are opposing beliefs within and between male groups and individuals on campus. I think if American men were more aware of the global acceptance of multiple masculinities, their college experiences would be improved.

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