What makes a man? This is the question that will be discussed at “Man Up! – The Culture of Violence and the Path Towards a New Masculinity.”
Lectures and activities aim to draw awareness to the correlation between masculinity and violence as part of Feminist Awareness Week, said John Anderson, event organizer and president of the Gender and Women’s Studies Students Association (GWSSA).
Anderson said he wants to bring a new approach to how men look at traditionally feminist issues like being a victim of violence.
He said too often the only questions following acts of violence perpetrated by men have to do with what the victim could have done to prevent being attacked. Anderson said he wants to turn the questions back to men instead.
“Why are these men raping these women? What’s going on in their heads that makes them do this?” said Anderson, 22.
He said society often teaches men that they must be violent to be masculine, which does not benefit anyone.
“Strict gender roles restricting men to be violent is bad for men and women,” Anderson said.
The discussion and activities will include guest speaker Dr. Michael Messner, sociology and gender studies professor at the University of Southern California, whose recent research focuses on male involvement in stopping gender violence.
One of the activities students can participate in is a photo project where pictures will be taken of men holding a whiteboard where they have written something they do that is not traditionally considered masculine, like crying, Anderson said.
Sociology graduate student Katie Lookholder said it is important for women to participate as well.
“I think it is vital for both men and women to examine the relationship between violence and masculinity,” said Lookholder, a GWSSA member. “Once it becomes clear that the notion of violence is unnecessarily performed within most masculinities, then a more civil and egalitarian society is achievable.”
The event will also feature a segment on bullying. The recent surge in suicides of gay teenagers due to bullying was also a contributing factor in planning the event, Anderson said, who added bullying is a form of rhetorical terrorism.
“We are talking about terrorizing individuals with words and actions,” Anderson said. “It adds more severity.”
A representative from The Trevor Project, a national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth, will be present to record students who want to make video messages telling young people who are considering suicide that life will get better as they get older.