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Meredith Holt, Published September 26 2013

Summit in Fargo to explore 'healthy masculinity'

FARGO – What does it mean to be masculine?

On Tuesday afternoon, community members – both male and female – will gather at The Hilton Garden Inn here to discuss “healthy masculinity” and work to broaden its definition.

“Healthy masculinity certainly involves behaviors, but it goes deeper than that – it involves beliefs and attitudes,” said Greg Diehl, director of the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center of Fargo-Moorhead.

The Healthy Masculinity Summit, a collaboration between CAWS North Dakota (the North Dakota Council on Abused Women’s Services) and the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center, came about after a call for local men to participate in a public relations campaign.

CAWS was so impressed with the turnout, the organization asked RACC officials if they would host an event this fall, said Kathy Smith, licensed social worker and program coordinator.

“We had so many men step forward who wanted to be a part of it,” she said.

Emiliano Diaz de Leon, a men’s engagement specialist with the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, will lead the charge during the afternoon sessions addressing the prevention of domestic and sexual violence.

The gist of his message is that in order to combat the problem, men and women have to work together to address social norms that enable it.

“How do we not create perpetrators and victims?” Smith asked. “I believe that’s through changing our environment.”

And change starts with sharing ideas.

Smith hopes inviting “well-intentioned men” (and women) to share their thoughts and concerns will give them the courage to speak up about what they think is OK and what’s not, and that those discussions carry over to the dinner table and workplace.

“If you spend a lot of time thinking about this, you do grow in certain ways,” and that spreads throughout the community, she said.

The summit is free and open to the public, but online registration is requested.

If you go

What: Healthy Masculinity Summit

When: 1 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday; there will also be a Regional Men’s Breakfast from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Where: The Hilton Garden Inn, 4351 17th Ave. S., Fargo

Info: Register for the summit for free online at http://healthymasculinitysummit.eventbrite.com, the breakfast at http://fargomensbreakfast.eventbrite.com.

For questions, contact CAWS North Dakota at (701) 255-6240, ext. 110, or sgerhardt@ndcaws.org or the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center at (701) 293-7273 or kathy@raccfm.com.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590