Is ‘toxic masculinity’ dangerous in the academy?

Thursday 14 November, 19:0020:30, Brunswick Inn, Derby, DE1 2RUUK satellites

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This debate is part of the series Killing controversy: the silencing of speech

At the beginning of 2019, Gillette launched a controversial advertising campaign aimed at challenging ‘toxic masculinity’ – a supposed set of norms that encourage men to be violent and aggressive. Similarly, the American Psychological Association (APA) recently published guidelines for dealing with men and boys, presenting masculinity as a medical problem.

The trend to see masculinity as harmful can be seen in schools, where boys are increasingly treated as problematic. Girls’ behaviour is the gold-standard in schools, whereas boys tend to be disorganised, restless and hard to manage. Rough-and-tumble play is banned in playgrounds. At universities, young men are treated as potential sexual predators in need of mandatory ‘consent classes’.

Are these positive developments in the age of #MeToo? How has the term ‘toxic masculinity’ entered into our public discourse? Why is there a hostility to ‘masculine’ values such as strong ambition, risk-taking and stoicism? Does the war on toxic masculinity reinforce old-fashioned ideas about what it takes to be a man?

Elizabeth Hobson, communications director of the political party Justice for Men and Boys (J4MB) will discuss these developments in relation to her campaigning experience and what she sees as a new diminished sense of what it means to be a man today. Dr Nicholas Joseph and the audience will interrogate her claims and generate a critical discussion around the clams and counter-claims of toxic masculinity.

Tickets are £3 on the door or booked in advance on Eventbrite