Man Club a safe space

The ARHS Man Club may deter some people because of its title.

“If I just heard the name ‘Man Club’ I’d think – that sounds a little weird,” said ARHS senior and Man Club student leader Jody Shanabrook.  “But it’s not a Men’s Rights Club; that’s really the opposite of what it is.”

The club, open to all male-identifying students, aims to create a safe space for guys to talk freely and to share personal experiences.

Discussions are centered around important but perhaps not ‘socially acceptable’ subjects that high school-aged males wouldn’t ordinarily talk about in day-to-day life.

“We discuss a variety of topics, so all things relating to men, maleness, gender, sexuality, and what it means to be a man in society – like what are the stigmas and baggage that come with that statement,” said Shanabrook.

Club members believe that talking about these topics is important in a society which, in many ways, suppresses the acknowledgement of men’s emotions.

“People talk a lot about sexism and women’s rights and rape as ‘women’s issues’ which I have a huge problem with … because something like rape – that’s a men’s issue, it comes from men.  It’s [partly] pressures from society on men that make that a thing.  And men need to address that themselves in order to reverse that,” said Shanabrook.

Although they’ve done some food drives in the past, both Shanabrook and other student leader George Holt agree that the club works best when it serves simply to provide a place for open dialogue.

“I think Man Club is more successful when it remains a discussion group as opposed to an activism group, because what guys really need is a place to go and talk,” said Holt.

Their one goal for this year is an ARHS Culture of Consent Week; the club is collaborating with Women’s Rights Club and potentially the GSA to organize the event.

“We hope to have speakers after school talking about how we can build a culture of [sexual] consent at the high school and just overall in life,” said Shanabrook.  Planned for an advisory week, Holt adds that the week will most likely include student presenters in advisories leading discussions on consent.

Man Club was started in the 2013-2014 school year by former ARHS English teacher Benjamin Levy (currently working at ARMS) and alumni Saul Shanabrook and Gabe Fontes.

“I joined [Man Club] when it was first starting up, in my sophomore year.  I went and there were just tons of people that you wouldn’t expect talking about how they feel about things.  Which is really weird and really cool at the same time. From there it was just a really good thing to keep going to,” said Holt.

The club currently meets every other week on Thursdays, at 3 p.m. in Mr. Nugent’s room.

Though currently they have a community of regular members, Holt and Shanabrook are hopeful that more people will come because they’re always looking to hear new perspectives.

“Go to Man Club,” said Holt, throwing in yet another benefit that the club can offer the male-identifying students of ARHS. “There’s candy.”