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Public university doesn’t deny role in ‘toxic masculinity’ dorm display

We did ‘femininity’ last month

PITTSBURGH – The University of Pittsburgh’s role in educating dorm residents about “toxic masculinity” remains fuzzy a week after photos of a bulletin-board display surfaced.

A resident assistant recently posted signs about “Male Protagonist Bingo,” “Stereotyped Gender Behavior” and “hegemonic masculinity” among others, as shown in photos published by Campus Reform last week.

The administration confirmed to The College Fix the display was set up by the presiding RA, and further suggested that Pitt is involved at some level in choosing what RAs post on bulletin boards across all residence halls.

Campus Reform correspondent Matthew Adimondo told The Fix the photos came from Tower B on Pitt’s campus, which is accessible only to residents of the hall and their signed-in guests.

The hall’s resident directors, Kori Phillips and Kayla Dunn, did not respond to several email and phone requests from The Fix for the past week.

Problematic: Male protagonists are ‘white’

The display at first appeared to be part of a crusade by the RA, as yet unidentified, to inform that person’s residents about concepts that are complex but common in trendy gender-studies courses.

One sign suggests that the outgrowth of toxic masculinity includes “violence,” “suppressed emotions” and the motto “be a man.”

An infographic displays a cycle that flows from “hegemonic masculinity” to “gendered socialisation,” “power inequality,” “social/health inequality,” “social reproduction of patriarchy,” “patriarchal society” and back again.

The “Male Protagonist Bingo” sign includes supposed characteristics of male protagonists, including “hardened veteran,” “white” and “supernatural powers.” Another, “Stereotyped Gender Behavior,” displays what it considers the spectrum of gender behavior.

Only one poster gave a source for its claims. “The Role of Gender in Mental Health” cites statistics from the pharmacy information website RxWiki, including that men are “4x more likely than girls to be diagnosed with autism.”

MORE: 10 students show up for UCLA’s talk on ‘toxic masculinity’

Steve Anderson, director of residence life, initially declined to comment about the signs because he didn’t recognize the residence hall in the photos. He told The Fix he had talked to resident directors and his residence-life peers in Pitt’s branch campuses, and none had seen the posters.

After The Fix confirmed the posters were in Tower B, Anderson pledged to follow up but has yet to comment.

A Pitt spokesperson later told The Fix these items are part of a larger display effort that includes general information aimed at invoking personal thought about masculinity, discrimination and stereotypes.

“Femininity was featured last month. Bulletin boards are created locally in the residence halls and are intended to inform students and create discussion about various topics of interest, as well as provide notices of University events, policies, procedures and rules,” he wrote in an email.

It’s not clear whether the masculinity-themed signs remain up, though the spokesperson suggested that each theme stays up a full month.

The spokesperson did not respond to follow-up questions about the discretion of RAs to post their own personal views on bulletin boards they oversee, why all but one sign fail to provide sources, whether they are intended to lecture students or promote discussion, and whether the signs might themselves promote gender stereotypes.

MORE: Students told ‘be a man’ represents toxic masculinity

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IMAGE: Noah Manalo

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About the Author
Noah Manalo is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in religious studies and Spanish, minoring in music, and pursuing certificates in both Portuguese and Latin American studies. He is a staff writer for The Pitt News, and he leads worship for a church. At Pitt, he is involved in numerous student organizations, including music ensembles and service organizations. His passions include education, music, religion, languages, journalism and politics. When not writing or playing music, he can be found rooting for Pittsburgh sports teams.

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