Sep 28th, 2019, 12:40 PM

So You Think You're A Man?

By Melissa Gomez
AUP For Consent Event Photo Credit: Reagan Espino
Discussion on Masculinity at AUP

The Consent Club at AUP hosted a discussion based around masculinity, how the term is defined in our society, and how it affects our views on men. The event, titled 'You Think You're a Man: A Discussion on Diverse Masculinity ' was also done with Professors Robert Payne and Geoffrey Gilbert, both teaching a Firstbridge on Masculinity In Media and Popular Culture – 1984-2019. The event was interesting and opened up discussions on media, society, AUP, and personal stories. 

Image: Professors Robert Payne and Geoffrey Gilbert Photo Credit: Reagan Espino

Geoffrey Gilbert, one of the Firstbridge professors at AUP inputs that he thought the event was not only interesting but also very valuable. "Students were open, listened well, and were very flexible and imaginative," also adding like all the good events at AUP, the discussion benefited enormously from the diversity of the student body-I would point particularly, but not exclusively, to the warmth and strength and generosity of African-American voices in the conversation." Professor Gilbert had started the meeting with a question on a figure that defines masculinity based on your personal definition of masculinity, which sparked a very interesting discussion on male figures in peoples' lives and the definition of the word masculinity. "If we shift the weight of masculinity away from the center," Professor Gilbert explained, "so that we can play with aspects of it, maybe some images of masculinity can become a resource." 

During the discussion, fictional characters from YA books and TV shows were brought up, such as Stranger Things and the idea that one of the characters, Steve, was categorized in the fandom as a 'mom friend' or a 'dad friend,' regardless of being a male character in the show. Chief Hopper, another character in the show, was brought up as well. Chief Hopper a strong, brave police officer and Steve Harrington, a teenager who works at an ice cream parlor and takes care of the kids, two characters however that underwent serious character development from season one to three.

Photo: Student Discussion Credit: Reagan Espino

Although Professor Gilbert thought it was interesting to bring up images of masculinity in media, he also thought it would be interesting to look for images in another direction. "There are institutional and economic reasons why discourses will form in particular ways in those spaces. Why not look to contemporary artists or writers, or just look more carefully at our own experiences and our own feelings, as a source of ideas and imaginations, and then talk honestly and openly to one another about those?"

Max Stiermerling, who attended the event, announced at the end of the discussion that he would be starting a 'Men's Solidarity and Support Group,' which interested students attending. "In creating this group, I hope to create a respectful and diverse environment where male students can open up about and discuss their experiences with a variety of topics (such as mental health and emotional concerns) in a space where they can feel trust among their peers." He explains as the main motive on why he created this support group.

In regards to the masculinity discussion held by the Consent Club, he claims the discussion, "touched upon many different perspectives of how masculinity is conceptualized, performed, and portrayed which led to a lot of interesting testimonies and reflections." At the end of the discussion, he hopes that the masculinity discussion can redefine masculinity for the future. "I hope this event helps students get involved in the broader discussion of diverse masculinity." Max also hopes that his "club can play a role in helping to move away from constraining and debilitating concepts of masculinity, which at the end of the day, affects us all."

Photo: Student Discussion Credit: Reagan Espino

AUP's Consent Club had a successful evening with this event, keeping students engaged and open to different discussions on masculinity, gender, and race. Leo Tow, president of the AUP for Consent club agrees and thinks the event went well and was happy to see so many students attending and participating. "I am deeply grateful to Professors Geoffrey Gilbert and Robert Payne, both for caring about this subject and for collaborating with us."