On Tuesdays at 7:10 p.m., a group of Boston College students meet in Carney 306 as members of the discussion-based club Man Up. Founded two years ago, Man Up seeks to open up a critical discussion about stereotypes of masculinity.
“We foster a conversation about masculinity in Boston College and in society,” co-leader Ben Egan, MCAS ’17, said. “We want to redefine our definitions of masculinity.”
Man Up was the brainchild of Joey Palomba, MCAS ’15, who was affiliated with the Women’s Center at the time. Initially, it was meant to be a men’s discussion group, but after a year it became co-ed.
Current co-leader Kyle Logan, a graduate student in MCAS, shares an anecdote about one of their female members: “She had seen our poster and thought that we were a men’s rights group, and then when she got to our meeting, she realized that wasn’t it at all and that she actually wanted to participate.” The weekly discussions themselves are loose and unstructured, with a general topic such as “masculinity in sports” or “masculinity and family life” guiding the conversation.
Egan recognizes a feminist background to Man Up’s mission, and thinks of Man Up as similar to the more female-oriented discussion groups on campus.
“It’s similar in that it’s through a feminist lens,” Egan said. “I think that as much as we empower women to be strong and independent, to take equality as it is, we also need to empower men to be emotional and to be vulnerable. I think we’re tackling the same issue from opposite ends of the spectrum.”
As of now, Man Up is not an official BC organization, although they are working to gain recognition from the administration. As a result, they are frequent collaborators with approved clubs; for example, they worked with SANKOFA and Sexual Chocolate to put on an event called “Does Size Matter?” for this past Love Your Body Week.
“Once or twice a semester, we try for a grander BC approach,” Egan said.
When asked why Man Up is an important part of BC’s community, Logan said, “It gives me a different way to think about things.”
Egan refers to his own experience with the club: “It helped me notice problems on campus that I hadn’t noticed before,” he says. “A lot of people are searching for answers in college now that we’re away from our parents and on our own. The college level is a good level to have these discussions on because it’s still a formative time in our lives, but we’re also old enough to have experiences behind us that we can talk about.”