As each member took a piece of blank paper, they drew two circles. One was a face and one was a mask. The face represented the qualities and characteristics they show to the world. The mask represented the qualities and characteristics hidden from anyone seeing. The papers were then crumpled up and thrown into a circle. Going around the group, each member randomly grabbed one and read what was on the face and the mask.
The point of this exercise was to show that everyone struggles with issues and that many people are also dealing with similar things. It also stresses the importance of having a clean outlook when going into situations with new people to give you the opportunity to really get to know them before forming your opinions.
“The goal of Men Outside the Box (MOB) is to promote acceptance and respect for all different forms of identity, while also changing the cultural narrative of men in society by breaking down gender stereotypes and redefining masculinity,” MOB President Tommy Hickey, a social work major, said.
MOB is a student organization built from the ground up last fall when a group of students started to discuss the idea of possibly having a men’s group. Since then they meet every Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Hunt/Van Antwerp lobby, and they are always welcoming new members of any major to join them for their discussion.
“We are not male exclusive,” Hickey said. “If you feel you have an interesting perspective, this is the place to be.”
Members of the MOB aim to provide a safe and judgement-free environment that offers a strong support network for all members. The group discusses topics such as masculinity and bullying and pro- vides students with an open place to talk and raise awareness about issues that are important to them, Hickey added.
The MOB will always continue to evolve from where it began to ensure members are getting the most from their participation within the group.
“I take away a strong sense of camaraderie with people who want to challenge each other and have a discussion, which has created deep friendships,” Hickey said. “It has been a great way to get involved and talk about these issues.”
MOB wants to expand beyond the NMU campus borders and into local middle school class- rooms. The objective is to discuss the dangers of all different forms of bullying and to help students develop meaningful connections with other young adults.
“It’s definitely interesting to both give my perspective and hear other people’s perspective on relatively similar issues,” said MOB member David Germain, mobile and web app development major. “I know I won’t be alone in any of the struggles that I may have.”
The future plan is to have a lot more visibility on campus by hosting organization-sponsored events. The group will be showing the documentary “The Mask You Live In” later in the academic year. This film demonstrates the struggle boys and young men have trying to stay true to themselves while also trying to fit into a narrow definition of masculinity and what it means to be a man.
“It’s a great way to collaborate with other people who want to promote similar messages,” Ger- main added. “I’m excited to get
to know the other members of the group, as well as members of the community.”
The main group goal is to continue creating a positive change and raising overall awareness for gender equality and shedding light on some needed areas of improvement in gender studies such as masculinity, Hickey said.
“Everywhere I go, I always hear about social justice movements, but they are always being led by women,” Hickey said. “So it’s interesting to see men’s groups starting to try and bring change to social issues.”