On Wednesday, the day after the election, about a dozen Princeton men met over lunch to discuss the results. We spoke of our anger and our sadness. We grieved: a man who personifies rape culture, who brags about committing sexual assault, will become our president. A man who props up his own fragile ego by objectifying and dominating those he deems beneath him. A man who rejects diversity and change as a threat to his power and privilege, responding with violent rhetoric and exclusionary action.
American voters have asked for sweeping changes in Washington, yet our work as an organization will remain the same. We will be steadfast in our devotion to respect and inclusion within the Princeton community and beyond: we believe that diversity enriches our lives in countless ways; we believe that all persons are worthy of respect; we pledge to look for ways to stand in solidarity with the vulnerable and the excluded; we pledge to listen to the hard truths spoken by those different from us, and to use our privilege to amplify their voices.
The model of masculinity President-Elect Trump projects is organized around threats and acts of violence, shame, and exclusion. Our first thoughts are with those who do not enjoy our privilege as Princeton men, those who have already been victimized by people encouraged by the President-Elect’s example. We denounce these acts and we stand with those who are hurting and fearful.
We also acknowledge that this toxic masculinity is pervasive and a part of us. Men in our culture are taught never to appear vulnerable, or wrong, or even simply caught off guard. The resulting image of what it means to be “a real man” is extraordinarily narrow, painful, limiting, and sad. Without the capacity to be vulnerable, we can’t enter into real relationships of intimacy and care. Without admitting we’re wrong, there’s no way to learn, to become better for the people who love us and for the communities that need us to be a part of solutions to our pressing problems. Without an openness to being caught off guard, our desire for power and control will slowly choke out any possibility of surprise or joy in our lives.
On Wednesday, the men of the MAVRIC Project recommitted to the work of expanding our personal and collective image of masculinity. We see strength in openness and connection; we see courage in vulnerability and solidarity amidst difference; we see integrity in the willingness to transform in the pursuit of richer, fuller lives for ourselves, for those we love, for those we disagree with, and even for those we do not know. We hope you will join us in living out these values during our troubled times.