As part of Take Back the Night, four men came together to talk last Wednesday about societal pressure on men and what it means to be masculine.
Sophomore Matej Gligorevic, Senior Nathanael Ressler, CJP student Andrew Daniels, and Community Member Earl Martin were all part of the council of men who spoke during the talk. Alumnus Jordan Luther facilitated the conversation.
Starting off the talk, the question “What is masculinity?” was posed. Gligorevic started by saying, “Everyone’s background is diverse.” He stated that his ideas of masculinity came from his mother and father, both of whom are from Bosnia.
Martin said that he did not spend a lot of time thinking about masculinity. “I think it’s more about human respect for human life and nature,” Martin explained.
Daniels brought up that his ‘younger self’ relied heavily on ideals of ‘hyper masculinity’, noting that traditional gender roles, “Are just social constructions.” Ressler talked about how his idea of masculinity came from his father, noting that his father looks like a typical man but has “little feminine” qualities.
Luther asked for the council to share a time that their masculinity was doubted. Gligorevic recalled his early childhood when the kids in his neighborhood would play tackle football. “I could never get angry enough to hit anybody,” Gligorevic explained. The other kids would call him names, but Gligorevic stood his ground.
Martin said when he was in school, older boys would throw stones at an elderly, mentally ill Amish man. Martin felt uneasy about the situation, but felt as if he could not do anything to stop it. Daniels talked about how he is an emotional person and would cry a lot in elementary school. As he entered middle school, he learned that it was not okay for boys to cry.
Ressler explained his experience with ‘locker room culture’. To Ressler, it was the language and what was being discussed that was alarming. It was all about “laying claim” in regards to sex. The questions asked were always about how many girls you could get and about what you did with those girls. Guys would be different in the classroom than in the locker room but, “there was always the presence of the ‘locker room culture’.”
But where does the strong sense of masculinity come from? The council of men came up with various reasons. Martin thought that mankind’s idea of “war and conquest has affected us more deeply than we think.”
Daniels responded with the idea that violence is not only a Western idea. Aggression is a trait that has held true through society, Daniels added, giving the example of football being a gladiator sport.
Luther asked if masculinity encourages sexual violence and discourages male victims from coming forward. Ressler points out, “One in every six males is a victim.” In addition, Martin noted that “one in every four girls” are sexual assaulted. Daniels said he “can’t say that masculinity causes sex assault, but I think it might.” However, he noted that he feels the pressure of male offences weighing down on him.
Gligorevic stated that consent is crucial. “Sex is important, it needs to be talked about. Talked about seriously.” According to Gligorevic, talking about consent is “one way men can actively decrease sexual violence.” Daniels agreed that making it okay to talk about consent is a way to change society.
Martin says when he sees an attractive woman on the street, he always, “refuses to make someone a sexual object. I ask myself, how can I truly respect that person that I am seeing.” Daniels finished the talk saying that sexual assault is not a only a women’s issue, it is a society issue.
Written by Kara Painter, Staff Writer