James Wilkerson, director of staff equity and diversity and Title IX deputy at IU Southeast, will discuss toxic masculinity for a livestreamed TedxBloomington event at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 17.
Wilkerson’s talk examines the “MasculiniTree,” a unique concept derived from a legal doctrine called the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree that states if a tree is poisonous, then that tree will only produce poisonous fruit.
While this doctrine is typically used to keep ill-gotten evidence out of court, it is also the perfect diagram when describing toxic masculinity and the fruit it bares such as domestic violence, racism and sexual assault.
The talk will explore the elements that allow the Toxic MasculiniTree to grow such as dominion and entitlement. It will also look at the elder statesmen who foster toxic masculine behaviors. Lastly, Wilkerson will discuss ways men can chop down the Toxic MasculiniTrees and replace them with healthy masculine behavior.
“I hope that this talk can start conversations about what qualifies as toxic and what qualifies as healthy masculinity,” said Wilkerson. “I think that Toxic MasculiniTrees can be cut down very easily, but first we have to get the conversation going.”
Wilkerson is a native of New Albany, Indiana. He holds his master’s degree in communication from Bellarmine University and his bachelor’s degree and Juris Doctorate from the University of Louisville. In 2016, he founded Greek Law; a program that allowed him to give lectures on sexual assault prevention and consent at various fraternity and sorority chapters. Since then, Greek Law has grown into a nonprofit organization that educates middle school, high school and college students alike.
Wilkerson has continued to share his message about sexual assault and toxic masculinity through various magazine columns and his very own book, “The Title IX Guy: Several Short Essays on Rape Culture, Masculinity (the good kind and the bad kind), and Other Things We Should Be Talking About,” which will be released in the summer of 2021. He was named one of Louisville Business First’s 20 “People You Should Know in Law” in 2020, and he is a two-time Spirit of Service award winner at the University of Louisville.
“I think masculinity has been politicized a lot to the point where it is difficult for us to even talk about it because when some people hear masculinity they automatically go on the defensive,” said Wilkerson. “Some people think that when we say toxic masculinity, we mean all masculinity is toxic, but that’s not the case. I think there are elements of healthy masculinity that every guy can agree on no matter what background they’re from.”
TEDxBloomington is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Wilkerson is one of eight speakers at his year’s TEDxBloomington flagship event, The Big Questions, which will be streamed live from the Buskirk Chumley Theater in Bloomington.
Registrants will receive a link to the event via email on the day of the show. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit tedxbloomington.com.