Friday, November 4, 2011

Lute men analyze masculine role

By Marguerite Clemens, Guest Writer

For the first time at Pacific Lutheran University, student men engaged in the discussion event “Bro Code: The Value of Being a Man at PLU.”

Gabe Farias (RHA), Lucas Kulhanek (Harmony),
and Ray Later (SIL)
participate in the Men’s Panel portion of
the Brocode Retreat on Saturday afternoon in the

Cave. Panelists were asked to define what it meant
to be a man, and what they believed masculinity to be.
Saturday’s eight-hour retreat was designed to teach young men to open up and to not feel so blocked by the barriers of stereotypical masculinity. Several organizations were involved in this retreat such as Campus Ministry, Men’s Life, Men Against Violence and Residential Life.

Director of Residential Life Jeff Olsen Krengel described Bro Code as “bro culture and how men relate to one another,” and said the event was “a chance for us to come together and talk about what it means to be a man on this campus.”

About 15 male students attended the retreat and engaged in these discussions.

“We want to come together and talk about what value we bring to the community, what issues do we deal with on this campus and how do we talk about them,” Krengel said.

The men had a full day planned for them. Some of the exercises included Men’s Standups, the “Man Box,” the “Top 10 Things Men do to F up Their Health,” “Bro Culture,” the Men’s Panel and the Identity Gallery.

“Lots of the stuff inside the ‘man box’ can’t actually occupy the same space,” Men Against Violence Program Director Jonathan Grove said. “You can’t be completely unemotional and still have meaningful relationships.”

Krengel added, “For me, working in Res Life, the men that I interact with, rather it be in student leadership or in the residence halls, or in conduct as well, there aren’t a lot of resources and conversations where men can talk about what it means to be a man.”

Both Krengel and Grove agreed that this retreat was such a necessary tool for the men of PLU to understand what it means to be a man here.

“There is no place where you arrive and have it all figured out,” Grove said.

With this “Bro Code” set into place, many men make bad decisions when they are not able to talk and deal with their emotions.

“We see it in terms of men engaging in destructive behavior around alcohol, in terms of their abilities to handle intimate partner relationships , dating relationships, even in roommates, being able to deal with and address issues of conflict, issues of identity development,” Krengel said. “They resort to peer groups, [asking] ‘what are my friends doing?’”

Grove said men can be emotional and still be men.

“There is human suffering all around us and how do we not do something about that?” Grove said. “One of the costs to gain that male privilege is that you’re not supposed to be emotional, you’re not really supposed to be human.

“Men don’t benefit from the costs, they benefit from the power but that’s a high price to pay, and then everybody else pays an even higher price for that privilege. It doesn’t work out for anybody.”

“I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression,” written by Terrence Real about covert depression, explains, “Since their feelings of helplessness are considered unmanly, they tend to hide them, which makes the descent into the blackness even steeper.”

“[Covert depression] lots of men suffer from because they don’t emotionally engage,” he said.

Grove explained that men not engaging in their emotions is a major problem in our world today and has some very serious outcomes.

Both Krengel and Grove said they were motivated to be involved in programs like Bro Code because they are both fathers to young sons.

“It [becoming a dad] prompted me to start thinking about what kind of dad I wanted to be,” Krengel said.

Krengel said he hopes “they [the men] can walk away with feeling that they have value as a man, and have purpose as a man then that would be great. It would be awesome.”

Grove also said his future plans for Bro Code are “that these [conversations] will continue to happen and that they will have larger and larger tenants and that they will be more ongoing meetings.”

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