Her Campus Queen’s x Queen’s for the Boys

As the month of November is suddenly thrust upon us, we are once again reminded of campaigns surrounding male wellbeing in our communities, on campus, and in the media. Since 2003, Movember campaigns have swept the globe, aiming to raise awareness and funding towards male issues, most notably prostate and testicular cancer. Over the last decade, there has been increased awareness around conversations about male mental health, with several public figures, major brands, as well as advocacy groups encouraging further conversations on the matter. On that note, meet Queen’s for the Boys, a club at Queen’s which has continued to advance the conversation on male mental wellbeing by promoting education on issues surrounding male mental health and offering itself as a resource on campus.

Queen’s for the Boys (QFTB) was originally founded in 2011 by Movember Canada through a grant called the “Caring Campus Project.” This grant gave funding to Canadian universities to found campus initiatives that advocate for male mental health, as well as promote education on responsible substance use. Over the course of QFTB’s past eight years on campus, it has since become a self-sufficient club, and although they are no longer partnered with Movember Canada, they are still in touch with the organization through QFTB’s own Movember campaign. QFTB has further expanded its focus from merely just men’s mental health and responsible alcohol use to promoting conversations on campus directed towards consent and sexual health, responsible substance use, and all-encompassing male mental health by flipping the script on the stigmas imposed by toxic masculinity.

QFTB’s director Callum Stephenson discusses how toxic masculinity plays a major role in several of the issues impacting men’s mental health negatively. “The stigmas of male gender identity with typical expected traits of men,” Stephenson says, “[is] that they essentially have to be the tough guy who doesn’t have any feelings, which isn’t true.”

QFTB’s effort to flip the script on toxic masculinity and instead promote a healthier concept of masculinity on campus is largely rooted in combating the connotation of the phrase “for the boys” that is often found in party culture, both on and off Queen’s campus. Stephenson says one of QFTB’s primary goals is to promote responsible substance use for both alcohol consumption, as well as more recently becoming involved with discussing responsible cannabis and marijuana use. “QFTB isn’t necessarily pro- or anti-substance use, but instead we aim to promote education on campus on how to use these substances responsibly, to use these substances for the right reasons and in a safe manner,” he says.  

Stephenson further notes that the premise of the name of QFTB was to “turn the phrase on its head and go against the typical ‘for the boys’ fraternity mentality and go instead in the direction that every guy at Queen’s is there for each other, and being able to have our entire campus there for one another, and that we can come together and support other boys.”

Although QFTB has female members and is by no means an exclusive resource to only men, Stephenson does emphasize the importance of having a club promoting primarily male mental health. “A lot of guys feel uncomfortable reaching out to people in general, and when they know that there’s an organization on campus geared towards them specifically, it makes it a lot easier for men to reach out and share their story, which ends up being a really positive experience for them.”

QFTB has been involved with promoting a number of campaigns on campus promoting further awareness, education, and resources for male mental health. “Right now we are wrapping up a campaign called the ‘Fuck Yes’ campaign, which is a campaign that essentially is promoting enthusiastic consent during sexual relations and trying to get rid of the stigma and taboo of explicitly asking for consent during sexual relations.” Stephenson says. “We’ve called it ‘Fuck Yes’ to put a fun spin on the campaign name and also normalize affirmative consent.”

The QFTB Movember campaign has also expanded from merely promoting awareness surrounding prostate and testicular cancer to promoting awareness on male mental illness and suicide. This year, Stephenson is hoping to open a Queen’s-wide Movember campaign, where anyone growing a mustache for the month of November can join the QFTB team on Movember Canada’s website and ultimately try to garner a mass donation by the end of the month.

Stephenson also says one of the best ways to benefit from the club is to simply reach out. “The main thing we offer is a resource to people on campus,” he says, “whether they want to reach out over social media or come out to one of our meetings or events and have a discussion. I think by joining our discussions and events is a safe space where everyone is able to voice their opinions and not be afraid in voicing their opinions and talk about how they are feeling just offers a positive environment where everyone feels their voices can be heard.”

To keep up with QFTB’s initiatives, or to simply learn more about the club, check out their Instagram and Facebook pages.

 

Photo: Roscoe Dillman