The group known as Men Against Sexual Violence has changed its name to ReMasc, and we’d like to tell you a story about why and how.
At the beginning of the year, MASV found itself in a bit of a predicament. While we had made a name for ourselves and built a strong presence on campus, we couldn’t help but shake the feeling that we had built our presence a bit too strongly. A lot of people saw us as the go-to group for promoting awareness about sexual assault. However, we thought it was unsuitable that as a group exclusively comprised of men, we were discussing and handling an incredibly sensitive issue that largely concerns women.
We by no means agree with or affirm the notion that all men are assailants, or the idea that men cannot be victims of assault. However, it is undeniable that women are most affected by sexual violence and its residual impacts. It’s unethical for us to lead the discussion because as men we are not part of the majority of sexual assault victims. We think that men should take active roles in tackling sexual assault, but they should be secondary roles.
We decided that an effective means to explore our role in this work as men was to go on a reflective overnight retreat to Short Ridge. On the surface, the retreat was about changing our name, our image, and our approach in addressing unhealthy masculinity, but it quickly developed into ongoing, deeply personal, and thoughtful dialogue.
In this vulnerable retreat space, we began a conversation about love in all its forms. This discussion served as a pivot to reconcile our role (personally and collectively) on campus with our desire to do the work we felt the need to do ethically.
We recognize that as men who have grown up in a culture built around patriarchal and sexist oppression we have to unlearn our own thoughts and actions that contribute to this culture before we can learn (and advocate) to be better and more loving human beings. It’s not really about our role, or even our name, that makes what we do important; it’s about taking down the many violent and restrictive norms imposed on men through self-examination and reflection.
Furthermore, with the rise of the Feminist Collective, another non-gendered group combatting sexual assault, we want to embrace our role as a member of a budding cohort.
Our new name is ReMasc because we plan on recognizing and removing the mask of violent and restrictive expressions of masculinity that contribute to the culture of sexual assault and oppression. As a group, we have grown past seeing sexual assault as something that we should, or even could, tackle independently of larger issues. We understand that we can best fight it through reconfiguring our thoughts and actions as men and as a group.
We invite everyone to a forum in upstairs Commons on Wednesday, April 8th at 7:30 P.M., where we will be discussing these changes in full. Comments, questions and reactions of all kinds are welcomed.