Real Men striving for safer Grinnell

Dear Grinnell Campus Community,

My name is Dan Hirsch and I am the RLC for East Campus. Last fall, I formed (and now advise) the student group Real Men. First and foremost, we would like to thank the CRSSJ, the Athletics Department, Student Affairs, the Feminist Action Coalition, A Just Grinnell, DVA/SAC and everyone else who has supported the development of this important group. We have been very pleased with the enthusiasm we have experienced from the student body and the success we have had, neither of which would have been possible without that support.  Thank you again.

I would like to take this opportunity to explain the mission and purpose of Real Men and how we work towards that mission. Real Men is a student group committed to promoting a positive image of masculinity and working to make Grinnell a safer place for everyone. We follow the same model as similar programs on other college campuses and focus on participatory/active bystanders and informed intervention. The concept behind this model is based on research which suggests that on college campuses, approximately 90% of sexually violent crimes are committed by the same 5% of men. Given that an overwhelming majority of perpetrators of sexual violence are men, combined with research that says these perpetrators are a small percentage of the male population, we can and should empower the majority of men to be proactive and prevent these incidents from happening.

This research guided the creation of Real Men. Because of the culture of self-governance at Grinnell, there is great potential for Real Men to utilize bystander intervention to address much more than just sexual violence (discriminatory acts/speech for example).  The success of the group to meet that potential depended largely on recruiting respected student leaders from several areas of campus in order to have a positive impact on, and social access to, as many different communities at Grinnell as possible.

The student leadership of Real Men reflects the diversity of Grinnell’s student body as our members represent a spectrum of identities including not only race/ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, home country and geographic region of the U.S., but also social circles, academic majors and extracurricular activities. We do not intend to place value on the gender binary, nor are we defining ‘masculinity’ with hetero-normative terms. However, because men share a gender identity with those often responsible for acts of violence and discrimination, the men who commit to the ideals and values of Real Men (which transcend concepts of gender expression) place themselves in a unique position to address and prevent these acts.

While the leadership of Real Men consists of male-identified individuals, our events are open to every member of the Grinnell community. Real Men can do our part to educate and empower other men to be agents of change, but it will take ongoing, campus-wide dialogue to achieve the safer Grinnell to which we aspire. We will be advertising our workshops, guest speakers and other events via our list serve (email [realmen] to be added) and on our Facebook page. We encourage all to attend.

I, along with all the members of Real Men, am passionate about the work we do and am committed to working towards our mission of a safer Grinnell.  We hope you will join us in this cause and please do not hesitate to contact us with comments, questions, concerns, or ideas for programming/events.  I am also available to talk with anyone about Real Men and can be reached by phone (641-269-9871) by email [hirschd] or in my office (Rose 3130).

Thank you for reading and have a great semester.  Stay warm!