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Toxic Masculinity: A Talk by Byron Hurt

Toxic Masculinity: A Talk by Byron Hurt

As April begins, the month holds more significance than the start to spring. April has been deemed as “sexual assault awareness” month, with different events on college campuses and officials taking an active stance against the perpetuation of sexual assault ignorance and speaking out on making sure trends of sexual assault decrease on college campuses.

Marquette is taking an active stance among other schools, with different events such as promoting general awareness, Denim Day on April 25th, where students and faculty are encouraged to wear denim with a purpose. Years ago the Italian courts acquitted a cab driver who was accused of sexual assault by a young woman, deeming that it had to have been sexual assault because “her jeans were so tight he must have had help in taking them off.” People are now encouraged to wear denim to protest this faulty logic and take a stance on how sexual assault is portrayed in the court systems.

Another way in which Marquette is trying to change the way sexual assault is talked about is the talks on campus, such as the one this past week by Byron Hurt. Mr. Hurt is an activist against anti-sexism and has been for about 22 years. A former college athlete and sports enthusiast, Hurt sought more substance from his life and journalism degree from Northeastern University. He found meaning within working in the field of anti-sexism work. In Hurt’s talk, he describes wanting to use his vantage point of being male to help those women who are oppressed to speak out, and to educate those who are behind the times in the fight for gender equality.

Mr. Hurt had the men in the audience list phrases that they’d been taught as children, phrases such as “don’t cry,” “don’t show your emotions,” and “be a man” came up numerous times from the men in the crowd. He then asked everyone in the audience to list words that boys who don’t fit the norm are called. Words such as “pussy” and “sissy” came up. Mr. Hurt then delved into his work in fighting against toxic masculinity and how this culture of machismo men has severely impacted gender relations and shaped inequality around us.

Mr. Hurt ended his talk with a warning to the audience. It’s important to understand that we need not be prominent leaders, or filmmakers, or lawmakers. We can implement this into our daily lives by educating our men in our lives to learn the opposite of toxic masculinity and allow them to learn a different method to growing up. We must learn to break down the normative toxic masculinity in our culture today, and teach on a daily level the better version of masculinity in order to make a brighter future. 

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