Toxic Masculinity: Consent, Silences and Institutional Complicity


For too long, our society has nurtured a brand of masculinity that oppresses women, feeds upon itself and undermines the American ideal of equality. At the extreme, toxic masculinities—manifested in mass shootings mostly perpetrated by men (in Pittsburgh and Charleston and Orlandoo, for example), workplace harassment and exhibited by predatory professors—push far beyond the boundaries of “boys will be boys.”


Evidence of a culture that too often allows men to get away with terrible, damaging and, sometimes, criminal behavior abounds:

     • The recent national headlines—from Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings and Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction, to the mounting accusations of sexual harassment, assault and/or misconduct against high profile celebs—offer glaring displays.


     • According to a 2015 study, 18 percent of students said they had been raped while incapacitated by alcohol or drugs before college, and 41 percent of these said they were raped again while incapacitated during their freshman year.


     •. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research reports that although women receive more college and graduate degrees than men, in 2017 women full time workers made 80.5 cents for every dollar earned by men in nearly every occupation.


     • Critics say that the challenges to Title IX, issued by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in November 2018, will turn back the clock on how college campuses deal with sexual misconduct allegations.


Thanks to recent protest efforts like the Women's March, #MeToo, #TimesUp and #MuteRKelly, a turning point has emerged with women and supporters pushing back. The "Toxic Masculinity" Rap Sessions forum examines the ways our patriarchal culture informs sexual misconduct like rape, demeaning portrayals of women in pop culture, the gender pay gap, the under representation of women in leadership positions and more.


Led by a panel of journalists, activists and race and gender scholars, this 90-minute town hall discussion offers clarity and answers for students seeking a more informed theory and practice of masculinity. 



• What impact can the recent surge of women elected to public office have on dismantling toxic masculinity?


• Why are student and professional athletes so often at the center of sexual assault cases?


• What does the plethora of untested rape kits across the nation say about our country’s regard for women?


• When accusations emerge of sexual harassment and assault, what is the significance of believing women?


• Is there a pathway to forgiveness and redemption for men who transgress?


• How do women who attack the credibility of accusers and defend powerful men under fire for misconduct like Charlemagne Tha God or even President Donald Trump complicate the terrain?


• Can we build into existing institutional structures a healthier theory and practice of masculinity?