Prior to their launch event – a talk by Acacia Matthews and a discussion on ‘a new male culture’ – I sat down with the students behind ‘Mantality UoB’.
Mantality UoB is a new student group at the University of Birmingham that aims to create a space on campus where issues related to masculinity can be discussed in an open, non-toxic environment. Tom Hutchinson, Social Media Lead, explained that the name ‘Mantality UoB’ comes from their partnership with an organization called Mantality, which ‘focuses on breaking the stigma among men, especially around mental health.’
Eesa Kas, community president, chose to create Mantality UoB after ‘recognizing the need for a space on campus where people can discuss masculinity.’ He said this society was a ‘perfect way’ to start changing the culture of harassment.
For Kamran Jussab, Mantality UoB’s treasurer, it was his commitment to university sports that led him to join the community. ‘After watching Eesa’s post on Fab, it resonated with me because I’ve been involved in uni-sports since I started, and even though it’s good because it makes that team feel, I’ve recognized how that environment can get toxic pretty quickly and make others feel excluded, he told Redbrick.
There are very few spaces where men can socialize that do not end up ‘being pretty toxic much of the time’, explained Secretary Lewis James, which can be really negative for both the men in these spaces and the women in their lives. He confirms that Mantality UoB is about discussing issues not only for men, but for men, women and non-binary people.
Their goal? First, they want to ‘create a better culture on campus, not just for men, but for people of all gender identities. Another great goal of society is to create a space where people can talk about their feelings. Mantality UiB also wants to facilitate discussions about behavior in general ‘at uni and in society as a whole.’ It’s something that is talked about a lot on social media, but I think people do not talk so much about it with their own behavior and actions, “Lewis said. The community hopes to start discussions on these topics’ not on an accusatory way, but where people can reflect on their own behavior. ‘
Despite this inclusion of women and non-binary people, when asked if society and their committees would consider themselves feminist, Kas dubbed the question ‘a controversial issue’. He explained that he ‘does not worry too much about the label feminism’, although he ‘certainly’ supports ‘feminism and women who are feminists.’ Hutchinson stated that society’s goal is’ to discuss masculinity, not to educate people about it. We just want people to open up and discuss and get to know themselves, “he said.
James outlined discussions he has had with people about feminism and considered ‘whether men can really call themselves feminists just because of your position in society and things you can not change no matter what you believe in’. However, he made it clear that ‘none of us would disagree with feminism.’
What can future members expect from Mantality UoB? While they plan to host ‘maybe one or two events’ before the end of this year, next year is when they hope to see the greatest growth. Mantality UoB’s first event will take place on Thursday 28 April from 17.30 in Amos Room. This event will be the key to creating the foundation ‘for how society wants to turn.’
‘A Vision for a New Male Culture’ is open to anyone interested in participating in society and people of all gender identities are welcome. The current committee members will present themselves and the community, and future guild president Acacia Matthews will discuss her vision for a new male culture. Then the students will break up into smaller groups where they can share their thoughts and ideas.
“We want to create a truly inviting safe space where people can feel like they’re in a friendly environment and they can talk about anything they want without being judged,” Kas said of the event later this month.
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