“There is no single definition of healthy masculinity,” said Duane de Four, media critic, educator, and activist.
In his talk, de Four discussed healthy masculinity and allyship. He especially stressed the applicability and relevance of allyship to University social life, particularly on the Street, where Princeton's 11 eating clubs are located.
De Four said that the question of healthy masculinity is not the kind of question that has firm boundaries, borders, and rules. He said there are three guiding principles.
According to de Four, the first principle is the idea that there is no one correct version of healthy masculinity. He explained it may be more correct to speak of multiple healthy masculinities.
De Four's second principle involves “being in tune in humanity and not running away from it.” Expanding on this principle, he noted that some of the biggest lies about manhood revolve around self-reliance. He referred to this idea as “the myth of rugged individualism.”
De Four said that rugged individualism is deeply embedded in American politics, media, and culture. He pointed to neoliberalism, the idea of seeing everything in terms of value in markets, as “a philosophy utterly lacking in empathy” that is derived from rugged individualism.
He offered the Marlboro Man, President Hoover, and The Walking Dead as past and current examples of this concept in American culture and media.
De Four rounded out the explanation of his principles by explaining that the third guiding principle of healthy masculinity is of cultivating a man’s relationship with himself.
“In reality, many of us are in dysfunctional relationships with ourselves,” he said.
He added that men should recognize they all need help and should seek out help when needed.
De Four said that being allies – people who support an often marginalized group's cause – is not an identity but a lifestyle.
"No one should be going around calling themselves an ally," he said.
De Four added that being an ally also means making mistakes. Addressing the University community, de Four said that although it may be difficult for students to willingly put themselves in a position where they will make mistakes, students should nonetheless try to be allies.
De Four offered a few practical tips for allyship at Princeton, specifically on the Street. As examples of helpful considerations, he suggested choosing party themes carefully and assessing and discussing a club’s culture with members.
The talk, titled “The New Manly: Allied Masculinity on the Street,” was hosted by the Men's Allied Voices for a Respectful & Inclusive Community (MAVRIC) Project. It was held at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 18 in McCosh 10.