By CAMERON BOLTON
Positive MENtality held a large group discussion on Feb. 4 in the upper halls of Olmsted at Drake University. According to Lynne Cornelius, the violence prevention coordinator at Drake, the event grew from an idea had between Kevin Kelly, Andrew Blalock and Ben Mawdsley.
“Their main goal is to create space for students to be having authentic, genuine conversations and finding space to be just who they are,” Cornelius said. “Kind of getting away from the confines of social structures and the, you know, the pressures that life puts on us and say ‘this is the man I am, this is the man I want to be, not the man society is telling me to be.’”
Speakers at the event included Kelly, Blalock and Mawdsley, who each spoke about an incident concerning masculinity in their lives before inviting those in attendance to discuss what they heard amongst themselves. Also in attendance was Cornelius and Jerrid Kruse, an associate professor of education, who facilitated the event.
- Topics discussed ranged from discrimination to having an acquaintance be accused of sexual assault to being sexually assaulted yourself.
“I went to the positive mentality event in part because I knew one of the people, one of the co-founders of positive mentality, and he’s been sort of bugging me to go do it, but also because I knew a lot of people who were attending and also because it’s an important conversation for men to be having,” said Runal A. Patel, a politics and economics major. “Because masculinity is certainly something that is sort of ill-defined in our society. Very narrowly defined, so I was really interested in finding, seeking out other people who maybe felt uncomfortable with what we sort of suppose men should be in the society.”
While some might assume that Positive MENtality would only be for men, as the word men was literally in the group’s name, that was not necessarily the case. A number of female Drake students attended the Monday night event. Commenting on that, Cornelius said that she thought that was the case because women are invested in having this conversation.
“Because women have been fighting this fight for a really long time and so they were here to help lift up the guys,” Cornelius said. “You know, not to be judgmental or not to put down their voices, but to help the guys see things from other perspectives and help them along in their way in their journey towards understanding that while these are women’s issues, they’re very much men’s issues.”
Furthermore, a Drake female student told her story about the first time that she got cat-called on campus. She said she went up to her male friends to talk to them about it, but tried to do so in a manner that didn’t sound like an accusation. She stated that she felt like she should be able to talk about such a subject with them.
Patel also stated that he felt inspired by the event. According to him, it was quite cool to see very different groups of people from all parts of life and Drake come together and talk about something that’s both fundamentally important and also very undiscussed.
Positive MENtality meets every Thursday night at 8 p.m. in Lower Olmsted.
Photo of participants of Positive MENtality | Courtesy of Tina