Students warned: Bulging biceps, big guns advance unhealthy masculinity
The size of G.I. Joe’s biceps and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s guns in the Terminator movies is proof that the dominant form of masculinity is out of control.
That message and similar ones were conveyed recently to students during Vanderbilt University’s “Healthy Masculinities Week,” organized by the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center. Attendance for students was optional.
The Vanderbilt week kicked off with a lecture by the first man to minor in women’s studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Jackson Katz. (His alma mater now offers a bachelor’s in women, gender and sexuality studies.)
The self-described “anti-sexist activist” and filmmaker said that sexual violence and domestic abuse are men’s issues and that men would “benefit tremendously from having this conversation.”
Katz founded a consulting firm that “provides gender violence prevention and leadership training to institutions in the public and private sectors” and has pioneered the use of bystander training in the U.S. military, according to his website.
At the event, Katz likened racism to sexism, and told students that “people interrupt other people when they make racist comments.” Therefore they should have the same mindset in response to sexist comments, Katz said.
But he backtracked during an audience question-and-answer session, admitting that sexist comments can be contextually appropriate in a humorous setting.