Cocktales: Stories By Men Seeking To Change Toxic Male Culture

As the nation dedicates the month of April to Sexual Assault Awareness, institutions across the country have come together to bring attention to the “toxic male culture” around issues of gender. On Sunday, April 7, 2019, Xavier University and Tulane University presented the “CockTales” play at the Allways Theater for their seasonal showing where the audience listened to a selection of monologues read by an all male cast.

The “CockTales” performance was created by Whitney Mackman to hear from the voices so noticeably absent from the discussion: the men. This play calls for male responsibility and involvement in preventing sexual violence. The purpose of this play is to help change a culture of tolerating abuse in society.

“CockTales calls men to action to change the conversation, speak out to stop sexual violence, and promote a masculinity in which it’s positive to stand up for the rights, dignity, and humanity of women and girls,” said Whitney Mackman, who created the play and who speaks out on his experiences as a sexual assault survivor.

Mackman starts the play off by handing out surveys asking audience members various questions about their experiences with sexual violence. The male cast then reads their various monologues.

“[These] lectures by other men with the goal of discussing, dismantling the toxic “man box” that dehumanizes women and allows for sexual violence,” Mackman said. She believes that once men join the discussion then there will be change. This is one of the main reasons why she started the play.

Other members of the cast consisted of Tulane students and volunteers who believe that by participating in the conversation even in the slightest will help shift the conversation about male toxic masculinity and sexual violence.

“Not because I think it’s the perfect thing or it’s going to solve all of the pain that goes down but I do it because it’s a first step, it’s a way to open up and ask new questions for myself and to talk to other men who are also curious about this and that I have a support system,” said Seth Armentrout, a cast member who was one out of the ten male casts that read their selected monologues. Armentrout told the story of a couple going through rape and reconciliation.

According to a Tulane University 2018 campus climate survey, reported cases of undergraduate sexual assault noted that 36.6 percent of perpetrators were acquaintances, 21.5 percent were current/ former romantic partners, and 16.4 percent were friends.

“Male toxic behavior is everywhere, it’s a lot more common than people think,” Armentrout said. “It’s crazy how when women leave the room and it’s just men, some of the things that get said or the way that the male behavior changes,” he said.

Those who joined the event were all on the same page about what the goal should be moving forward on bringing awareness to the culture around sexual assault. Being observant, and advocated for not only women but men as well, is the key to change, audience members said.

“Although it seems like we’re always having discussions about sexual assault and violence, we never really have the important discussions on how to change or acknowledge the problems from both ends of the spectrum. This is why it’s important to come out and participate in events like these,” said Dionne St. Etienne, an audience member.

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