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The Scarlet & Black

Real Men educate

By Liza Morse

Three years after its inception, Real Men continues its work “redefining masculinity, one conversation at a time.” Real Men, like their slogan suggests, is a group that works to redefine masculinity by addressing the prevalence of sexual assault on campus and promoting active bystanderism. The group was founded by Dan Hirsch, East Campus RLC, though it is now entirely student run with Hirsch assisting in a mentorship role.

Hirsch began Real Men as a space to facilitate conversation among Grinnell men about their role in preventing sexual violence on campus.

“It has pulled a community of people into the advocacy conversation that would not otherwise be involved,” Hirsch said.

Hirsch modeled the group after similar programs at larger universities. During his graduate years at the University of Southern California, Hirsch was active as part of the group Men Care, which inspired him to create a similar group at Grinnell. Hirsch also looked to University of Arizona’s bystander intervention program—Step Up—which has become a model for similar groups at universities countrywide.

“Sometimes people think our name is a negative thing,” said Robert Seer ’12, Real Men Vice President for Athletics. “We’re not trying to be exclusive. … We realize that men have a special privilege in that it is easier for men to prevent sexual assault, and that’s because there are more men that commit sexual [assault] than women, so we want to empower men who aren’t committing sexual assault. … We want to empower men to step in.”

The group has held numerous events over the past three years, including Walk A Mile in Her Shoes in the spring of 2010, as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. For the event, men walk a mile in high heels to raise awareness about rape, sexual assault, and gender violence.

“I found out you couldn’t walk in grass in the rain,” said Ryan Creps ’12, of the rainy but otherwise successful day in heels.

Creps, President of Real Men, has been a part of the group since it began, along with Seer and Vice President for Campus Community Paul Tavarez ’12. Looking to the future, Creps hopes to increase involvement for this year’s walk, which is scheduled for April 28.

Real Men will also be involved in Eating Disorder Awareness Week, held from Feb. 26 to March 3. According to Creps, the group plans to host popular events from last year again, including a table in the dining hall where students can write positive notes to friends on campus. Prior to the Walk A Mile in Her Shoes event, which will take place during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the group hopes to invite speakers to campus and host the Clothesline Project, a display that gives women affected by violence a vehicle for self-expression. The goal of such events, says Hirsch, is to “[raise] awareness within, particularly, the male community on this campus in our role in preventing sexual violence.”

In addition to specific campus-wide events, the group continues to host workshops on topics ranging from being an active bystander, to helping people understand what sexual assault and sexual harassment are, to providing resources to active bystanders and those directly affected by sexual violence.

“[The purpose of these workshops] is promoting a positive image of masculinity on campus,” Creps said.
Real Men holds the workshops for groups on campus such as athletic teams and Posse groups. According to Creps, however, workshops are most often directed towards first years, with a focus on first year male athletes.
“We don’t want the guys on the athletic teams to be someone that you say ‘Oh you better watch out for that guy,’” Seer said. “We don’t want to put them down. We just want to give them a greater understanding of what it’s like here. We try to help them out.”

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