Women’s Center to kickstart Masculinity Project on Tuesday

Cameron Gorman

The Kent State Women’s Center is broadening their focus this fall with the Masculinity Project, which will focus on the stereotypes and expectations placed on males in society.

“It overlaps with the work we do, not just because what we’re doing is to try to broaden the definition (of masculinity) and allow for other expression, but because the way you shame men is to insult them by calling them gay, or a girl,” said Women’s Center assistant director Cassandra Pegg-Kirby. “What are we teaching them about what it is to be a woman if that’s an insult?”

She also recognized that some people may be confused by the Women’s Center screening a film about masculinity.

“I think we need to recognize that men as a whole have privilege, but it’s also only the men who subscribe to this very narrow stereotype of what men should be,” she said.

Pegg-Kirby said the project aims to look at the broader picture of the effects of stereotyping in an inclusive way.

“It’s all of our responsibilities to talk about these issues,” said Jenna Brinker, the graduate assistant for the Women’s Center.

“The Mask You Live In,” a film by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, focuses on the media’s portrayal of what it means to be a man and how it affects people of both genders. The film is how the Center developed the project’s idea.

“The film spends a lot of time talking about how, at a certain age, it becomes that the only emotion boys are allowed to have, and still maintain their dignity, is anger,” Pegg-Kirby said. “What kind of disservice are we doing to our young men when the culture is disconnecting them from their emotions and what kind of consequences are there for that?”

The film will be the beginning of what Pegg-Kirby hopes is an ongoing exchange .

“I wanted it to be the start of a conversation,” Pegg-Kirby said. “I didn’t want men to think, ‘Great, they’re going to tell me why masculinity is bad and I need to be sensitive.’ That’s not what it’s about. It’s about engaging in some discussion to help raise awareness. I think the benefit of that is a more inclusive environment for everyone.”

The film screening will take place at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 13 in the Kiva. The film will be followed by a panel discussion, and is being presented with the support of the Women’s Center, The LGBTQ Center, the Student Multicultural Center and The Office of Sexual and Relationship Violence Support Services.

“I feel that the goal of the masculinity project is to start some conversations on campus, and maybe expose a culture that people may not be aware exists within stereotypes and gender roles,” Brinker said. “I think it will give an opportunity for faculty and students to talk, and maybe even for Kent State to explore what kind of culture we’re trying to create.”

Cameron Gorman is a General Assignment reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]