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Masculinity, violence connection to take center stage

WORTHINGTON -- Using spoken-word poetry and storytelling as building blocks for critical thinking and dialogue, an award-winning Minneapolis-based poet and rapper will take the floor in Worthington next week for a deeper conversation about the re...

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Two-time National Poetry Slam champion Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre will lead an interactive presentation and dialogue, “Beyond Blue: On Masculinity, Identity and Violence Prevention,” at 7:30 p.m. Monday in Minnesota West’s Fine Arts Theater. (Submitted photo)

WORTHINGTON - Using spoken-word poetry and storytelling as building blocks for critical thinking and dialogue, an award-winning Minneapolis-based poet and rapper will take the floor in Worthington next week for a deeper conversation about the relationship between violence and masculinity.

Hosted by the Southwest Crisis Center, Minnesota West Community and Technical College and Nobles County Integration Collaborative’s Culture Corner, two-time National Poetry Slam champion Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre will lead an interactive presentation and dialogue, “Beyond Blue: On Masculinity, Identity and Violence Prevention” at 7:30 p.m. Monday in Minnesota West’s Fine Arts Theater. The event is hosted in conjunction with the Science Museum of Minnesota’s small-scale RACE exhibit in the college’s Library and Academic Resource Center. The special RACE exhibit viewing will begin at 6:30 p.m. with free pizza provided.

According to Southwest Crisis Center Youth Outreach Coordinator Seth Quam, Tran Myhre’s expression and approach to addressing masculinity and the societal pressures implemented upon men aligns with what the crisis center believes to be integral in preventing relationship violence.

“We know that 98 percent of sexual violence is perpetrated by men,” Quam said. “So (the crisis center’s) perspective is, if we really want to get serious about violence prevention or relationship violence prevention, we need to be talking about masculinity, and we need to engage men as our allies.”

With a background in critical and social justice education, Tran Myhre said Monday’s event is an opportunity for individuals to have an open conversation and space to think more critically of the messages reiterated throughout a young boy’s journey to and through adulthood.

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“So much of what we teach boys - even when we’re teaching them with the best of intentions in order to be successful in life - is wrapped up in outdated, harmful notions of dominance and power,” said Tran Myhre, referencing the ideals that propagate what it means to be a ‘real man,’ like emotion suppression, always being in control and never asking for help from others.

Quam compares what Tran Myhre says about societal pressures to a “man box.” He’s hopeful Tran Myhre’s discussion can be a step toward eliminating that box and cultivating a type of masculinity that’s authentic, rather than a dominant-centric narrative that pushes men to conform to gender norms and expectations.

“We’re trying to step away from that and allow men to have a more authentic form of masculinity that is less about domination and control and violence and more about equal, healthy relationships with other people,” he said.

Despite the subject matter, Quam said the event is open to all. He specifically encourages women attendees to bring a man in their life they care about.

“It’s not about blaming or shaming and talking about what’s wrong with men,” Quam clarified. “It’s about allowing men to free themselves from that man box, from those societal expectations - that insecurity we’re supposed to feel because we need to constantly be proving our manhood.”

Tran Myhre will also lead interactive small group workshops throughout the day with Minnesota West students, Quam said.

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