Man Collective Oxford (MC-O), an organisation seeking to bring men together to celebrate masculinity was set up by an Oxford undergraduate, prompting accusations of gender stereotyping.
Alex Linsley, 2nd year Economics and Management student at Merton, set up the group as “a response to the current state of masculinity.” He sent round an e-mail invitation to JCRs reading, “Have you got balls? Literally. If you have, how does that make you feel? How do you feel about being a man? Right Now.
“Whether you want to achieve with women or work and if you are looking to judge success by sports cars or spirituality I would love you to explore the site, get in touch and grow from and contribute to Man Collective-Oxford.”
Linsley plans to use the group as a forum for men to get together in order to help to lead “significant lives”. He argues that this is difficult unless men come together as a group. “I want to unite men who have these great aspirations so that we can learn from, challenge and support each other into growing toward the men we want to be.”
He added, “I am excited to be creating this opportunity for men to develop together and for MC-O to make a positive contribution, through its work and the growth of its members, to the wider community.”
However, Linsey’s proposals have been accused of gender stereotyping. Kat Wall, OUSU’s VP for women, commented, “It is important to discuss the meaning of masculinity, to explore ideas about gender identity and whether it is prohibitive in our society. To re-assert existing gender stereotypes of macho-male however, is unhelpful. This only limits individuals who feel they must comply with a society expectation of their gender, rather than allowing them to explore for themselves other alternatives.”
Others are concerned that such a group might undermine the work of feminist organisations. Carla Thomas, a 2nd year in St. Anne’s commented, “Given that men already dominate political and economic life in this country, I can’t really see any great need for them to have any more ‘opportunities to meet and work together towards achieving their goals and living the lives of their highest selves’. I don’t think British society needs much more celebration of masculinity. This group is totally ridiculous and reactionary.”
Linsley denies any accusations of sexism. “I’m an advocate of equality for women and believe they should be offered opportunities to grow to their full potential as individuals. However, men should also have the opportunity to grow to their individual potential.”
He argues that there are limited opportunities for men to meet and help each other develop, and the MC-O seeks to solve this.
“Some people will argue that it’s still an exclusively male environment and hence sexist. However, I have heard no-one claim Oxford Women in Politics/Business are sexist. I don’t believe they are sexist groups. However, I do believe that in certain circumstances the energy, perspective and support of a single-gender environment can be beneficial to both men and women seeking to develop.”