British Columbia

Consent and masculinity on agenda at men's meetings launched at B.C. university

A new group at Thompson Rivers University aims to tackle difficult topics like consent and masculinity in a men-only environment.

Men have a harder time talking about consent, organizers say

Two men at Thompson Rivers University are offering a space for men to talk about topics like masculinity, consent, and sex in an attempt to contribute to the social movement to end sexual violence. (Shutterstock)

A Thompson Rivers University duo is hoping to gather students to talk about consent and sexualized violence — but they're only looking for men to participate.

Robert Long and Andrei Ouspenski were inspired by their own difficulties discussing matters of consent with friends, acquaintances and colleagues. 

Long had tried to have these often uncomfortable conversations with friends, but had trouble bringing it up.

"I felt like I wasn't seeing opportunities for men to come together and have conversations about masculinity, conversations about sex, conversations about consent, that I think are important to have in general," Long said.

Ouspenski, a lecturer in the social work department at the university, said throughout his academic career, he has been hard-pressed to find a safe space to bring up these issues.

"I had to navigate these concepts and ideas by myself," he told CBC's Doug Herbert. "Being able to actually talk about it with like-minded individuals has provided me with so much growth."

The goal is to offer a space free from judgment for men to talk about topics like masculinity, consent, and sex in an attempt to contribute to the social movement to end sexual violence.

Part of the reason for making this a male-only group is because Ouspenski said men often have difficulty talking about such sensitive issues.

"I think that, in general, the vast majority of us have moved on from the old concepts of toxic masculinity, like men can't cry and can't be stay-at-home dads," Long said.

"Now what we're taking on is the more subtle, more difficult to articulate forms of toxic masculinity which still do exist and are a little more tricky to uncover."

He said the fact that men are unable to have these conversations with their peers is one consequence of "toxic masculinity."

Long and Ouspenski came up with the idea for the group and will lead discussions as necessary, but Ouspenski hopes members of the group take the lead in discussions and that the format of the group if flexible.

The first of four meetings will be held Thursday. 

With files from Daybreak Kamloops


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