INTERVIEW WITH MARC PETERS:
Steve Barton: Could you just give a brief background about yourself and how it relates to MasculinityU?
Marc Peters: Currently, I am a graduate student at the Clinton School for Public Service. I have worked nationwide with Active Minds, Inc., to organize students to decrease the stigma surrounding mental health issues, and I now serve as a regular blogger for Glenn Close’s mental health advocacy group: BringChange2Mind. I am passionate about the causes in which I choose to invest myself, whether it is the deeply personal issue of mental health or the tragedy of gender violence. I center myself on serving as my brother and sister’s keeper. As long as one person is suffering, we all suffer. It is the belief that we all must do everything in our power to create not only a better life for ourselves, but a better world for all humankind that drives my service.
SB: The most obvious question is: why did you feel the need to create MasculinityU? What is its purpose?
When I was a student at Syracuse University, I got engaged in varied advocacy work. However, I found my time working on issues of masculinity and engaging men in ending sexual and domestic violence to be most meaningful. I spent four years in AMI (A Men’s Issue). It shaped who I am, how I view myself and how I view the world around me. Sacchi Patel and I sought to create MasculinityU because a lot of students have not been introduced to these issues the way we have.
I look at the phenomenal advocates out there doing this work and see that there isn’t really a deep bench. One of the voids that I believe we can fill is by developing a roster of the future leaders in this work. Don McPherson is an idol of mine, but he’s only one man. He can’t reach everyone. The same goes for Jackson Katz- incredible person, but again, one person. We cannot sit back and watch them work and assume they can get it done on their own.
MasculinityU will be a coalition of individuals working together to bring change to our communities, colleges, states and country. The plan is to offer a national speakers bureau, curriculum development, advocacy and programmatic consulting, and guided facilitation. We will work with people of any age and background and tailor our message for each desired audience. Our initiative and our work will spark a dialogue on campuses and in communities. We will not only empower people to act, but will provide concrete action steps for them to get involved.
SB: Given that it is in the title of your blog, what does “masculinity” mean to you? Has your idea of “masculinity” evolved over time?
I think that really the point of MasculinityU isn’t to define masculinity; it’s to free men up to define it for themselves. For me it means, and has meant for a very long time, treating everyone with respect, being unafraid to show my love and appreciation of my family and friends, and never abusing the privilege that society affords me. I’ve been fortunate that I came to terms with my own definition really early on. So many men are afraid to hug each other. They are afraid to tell each other that they love them, even in the brotherly sense. I think that it is sad that we still live in a world where people are so afraid of judgment that they cannot feel comfortable embracing who they are and rather feel the need to fit into the box that society has laid out for them.
SB: Are you planning on ever featuring guest writers?
Absolutely! This was never meant to be Sacchi and me promoting our views. We want to foster a broader dialogue and anyone interested in guest blogging can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.