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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

SHACS embraces healthy masculinity


By Zoe Fruchter

Grinnell has recently welcomed a new group onto campus — one dedicated to the male identity.

“Masculinity is entirely personal — the important part is defining it in a way that is meaningful to each of us,” wrote Thomas Zigo, founder of the new “Defining Masculinity” identity group and a SHACS counselor, in an email to The S&B.

The purpose of the new group is to facilitate a discussion among male-identifying Grinnellians about healthy and toxic masculinity. Zigo was inspired to form the group through his work as a therapist in the University Counseling Center at Grand Valley State University, and further developed the idea with other college counselors who specialize in men’s issues counseling.

“[Masculinity is] liberated from the roles and expectations inflicted on male-identifying individuals to subscribe to traits that are seen as traditionally masculine,” Zigo said. He explained that masculinity can often be toxic, with men “stuck thinking/feeling/acting in ways that are traditionally accepted, not representative of who we are, and that are harmful to self and others.”

Recently, the harmful effects of toxic masculinity have been addressed nationally with the advent of the #MeToo movement, which gives voice to survivors of sexual harassment and abuse. Zigo recognized that while the formation of the group has no connection with the movement, it is still relevant.

“[It is] absolutely imperative that male-identity groups need to address the different factors that may perpetuate men’s physical and sexual violence,” Zigo wrote.

SHACS already provides individual counseling services for students dealing with issues surrounding gender, but Zigo hopes that a group setting will enable the opportunity for male-identifying students to share personal experiences and exchange ideas in a supportive environment.

“The group members will experience a sense of belonging and unity, while also learning from the experiences of others,” Zigo said.

The group will meet from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m on Fridays, starting Feb. 16 through April 20. The program is intended for “Grinnell College students who carry a male identity.”

“Research overwhelmingly supports the notion that male-identifying individuals are significantly less likely to seek any sort of counseling services. This group will impact the Grinnell community by working to reduce the stigma that male-identifying students may associate with counseling services,” Zigo said.

If you are interested in joining the “Defining Masculinity” group, stop by SHACS or email to set up a screening.

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