The Title IX Office held their Men and Masculinity Panel over Zoom Tuesday. Moderated by Title IX’s Violence Prevention Education and Outreach Coordinator, Zyaijah Nadler, with the help of LGBTQ+ Resource Committee intern Ciarah Richmond, the panel served to raise awareness about the role of masculinity within society. Although important to recognize that masculinity isn’t limited to men only. The meeting focused on mens’ roles when it comes to masculinity, sexual violence and ways to change the world by socializing boys and men differntly.
The idea for the Men & Masculinity Panel was decided as part of Title IV’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaign, “The Time is Now: To Talk. To Act. To End Sexual Violence.”
“We wanted to shine a light on how masculinity plays a role in mens’ lives in both positive and negative ways,” Nadler said. “To showcase that vulnerability for men is healthy. As well as shift the societal perspective of men being the problem to men being a part of the solution.”
The panel consisted of six panelists. Each panelist was intentionally picked on the basis of race, class, gender identity, and other characteristics that allowed diversity. However, not everyone reached out to was able to attend which made the panel less diverse than expected. Students on the panel were Charles Spence, President of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and Tyquan Fuller, President of Jedi Productions. Faculty and staff panelists were Sean Rice, the Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs, Political Science and Law and Justice professor John McMahon, who’s research is rooted in feminist and critical race theory, Deputy Title IX Coordinator of Ithaca College Omar Stoute and Allsun Ozyesil, who’s worked with the National Mental Health Alliance (NAMI-CV). While COVID has negatively impacted most events on campus, Title IX’s events have had the opposite effect.
Within the past few months, Title IX has had more attendees at their events than pre-COVID-19. Through event promoting on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, the #Plattslife calendar on the SUNY Plattsburgh website, the Title IX Webpage, posters on campus and word-of-mouth, Men & Masculinity Panel had a turnout of 21 attendees, not including the panelists.
After everyone introduced themselves, the meeting officially began with the trailer for “The Mask You Live In,” a documentary surrounding boys and young men trying to find themselves while under the influence of society’s ideal definition of masculinity. The trailer shed light on how boys from a young age hear the term “act like a man” and are seen as weak for having emotions and/or expressing them unless the emotion is violence. It is mentioned in the trailer how some boys grow to see respect as equal to violence and how built up emotions lead to violence against themselves or others.
With that, the first question asked by Zyaijah Nadler was, “what do you recall as being your first experience or understanding of manhood?” The next question asked by Ciarah Richmond was, “what does masculinity mean to you?” These two questions really kicked off the meeting because it first allowed the panelists to share their personal experiences in terms of manhood, good or bad, compared to how they actually see manhood and masculinity for themselves.
It was addressed that masculinity does consist of having emotions, being vulnerable and not just limiting the term to one definition, which are things the socially constructed definition of masculinity tends to leave out.
The panel continued to move further by discussing misconceptions on being a man and being masculine and asking deeper questions about the societal viewpoint on these two things. Throughout the meeting, all the panelists gave input through their own personal experiences and through relating to what one another had to say. It was also addressed that intersectionality plays a role in not only how you grew up to experience the idea of being a man, but also how you’re perceived as one to society.
“Being a man is always shaped by my whiteness or shaped by being bisexual or shaped by my priveledged class structure,” said McMahon “I’m not subject to being murdered for having an air freshener hanging in my car and that shapes who I am as a man and shapes what my experiences as being a man is.”
As the meeting came to an end, attendees could ask any questions they had for the panelists or give their own input. Title IX posted a recording of the panel on their YouTube channel.