Transforming Masculinity


Aemili Lipzinski, Pulse Editor

This past Wednesday, a group of students from Dany Jacob’s HU3401 Gender and Culture class presented a class project that focused on breaking down the barriers of masculinity. The class followed after last fall’s class on feminism, with this class’s focus on “Transforming Masculinities.”

The class approached different topics, such as body image, childhood, fatherhood, non-traditional masculinities such as Queer, Trans, Black, Latino or even Arab masculine identities. “Instead of looking at genders and different cultures, I wanted to zero in on one gender and theory (masculinities) and explore this misunderstood discipline,” Jacob said. This event was a campus-wide discussion, and an ongoing one, hoping to spark change in the way we look at men and masculinity on our campus. Dany Jacob said, “We should start with a bold statement and bring this to the attention of everyone.”

Because these posters are coming directly from the students and their experiences, the hope and goal is that their words will have a more powerful impact than if the posters were coming from the top down by way of administration or some other organization designed to bring attention to these issues.

These are the sort of things that can be seen and should be addressed on a day-to-day basis and that is clear in the wide variety of posters that the students created — no two groups picked the same topic.

One of the goals with this assignment was to bring the humanities out of the classroom and to make them more available to people in all different disciplines — showing a real-world example of how these sorts of lessons can make a difference in people’s lives.

Because masculinity is an idea that surfaces out of feminism, we see a lot of painful discourse where the line between dismantling the patriarchy and dismantling masculinity does not seem to be drawn.

“When we talk about feminism, it is easy for a male-dominated campus to believe it is not affected or concerned by leading discussions. The event promotes a platform where students, female and male alike, raise questions they think are important and need to be addressed.”

With the posters available as conversation starters, the event will promote discussion that will hopefully last beyond this presentation and directed discussion, prompting introspection into what individual students and community members have experienced and done so that we might change for the better.

“Masculinities is a branch of feminist theory. [We] are trying to bring both sides of this campus together and show that we all share the same concerns and want the same changes,” Jacob explained.

In addition, another goal of the event is to “allow every person on this campus to engage on matters of diversity, equality and inclusion. By [talking about men], we also have to talk about women and gender and non-binary and race. This conversation is one of the main pathways we can take in order to move forward when confronted with social issues.”

The discussion had people at each table maintaining a civil and safe environment for discussion about these issues that can be seen as touchy. “Moving forward” was the pushing question of choice that helped direct the students in their attempts to create these posters with Dany Jacob asking them, “How can we move forward from here?” so that we can make a better tomorrow.

This event was also sort of a preview for the types of events that could be seen during Diversity Week, a weeklong event which is still in the making.

It is a “celebration of minorities and cultural diversity that make up not only our campus but also our community,” explains Jacob. “[By] giving all the minorities a platform on which they can express themselves and share their concerns with us, we can move forward and create a better environment where we all feel safe to be who we are, live and learn from each other despite [our] differences.”

Diversity Week will, hopefully, be featured next year with events such as discussions, lectures and movies that highlight the diversity which can sometimes be lost.

“As a rural college and heavily engineering-focused school, we forget that there is a bustling world out there with cultural melting pots that are difficult to navigate. [Engaging] with diverse people and communities is a strength where untapped potential awaits to be sparked. It is the key to success and thriving in a global society.”

While the poster presentation may be over, we hope that we will be seeing all the hard work the students put into making them around campus in the coming months so that we can be reminded to better ourselves and our campus every day.

*Note: This article ran April 11