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Dr. Kimmel, Sociologist, Skypes Concord

By Tyler D'Angelo
On April 27, 2017

Sociologist Dr. Michael Kimmel presents on gender roles.
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Renowned sociologist, Dr. Michael Kimmel, conducted a Skype lecture with Concord University and Radford University during Concord’s Undergraduate Research Day on April 13. Dr. Kimmel is an expert on men and masculinity as well as the SUNY Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University. He has authored many successful books, some of which include “Manhood in America,” “Angry White Men,” The Politics of Manhood,” “The Gendered Society,” and best-seller “Guyland: The Periolous World Where Boys Become Men.” He also founded the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook with funding from the MacArthur Foundation in 2013. Additionally, Dr. Kimmel has lectured at over 300 colleges, universities and high schools. He delivered the International Women’s Day annual lecture at the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of Europe, and has worked with the Ministers for Gender Equality of Norway, Denmark and Sweden where programs are being developed for boys and men.

    Dr. Kimmel opened up the Skype lecture by saying it was his first time lecturing to two audiences at once. Concerning Undergraduate Research Day, Dr. Kimmel said, “Students who conduct their own research are no longer passive consumers of ideas. You are stake holders of ideas which is important for intellectuals.”

    As the lecture progressed, Dr. Kimmel discussed the relationship between the male and female genders. The relationship, he says, doesn’t rely on jut women or just being nice to women. It’s about men too. He believes that men and women are not adversaries, but instead, allies. To further understand the issue of gender inequality, he said society first has to understand the way women have changed over the past 40 years. He says, “Women’s lives have completely changed in the past 40 years: they have made their gender visible; they are entering the workplace in unprecedented numbers and haven’t gone away; they are balancing family life and work life; and they have advanced in their way of perceiving sex.”

    He then asked the question, “What’s happening with men?” Men’s lives have also changed over time, but no one realizes it. He gave the examples of a nonexistent all-male military and all-male schools are becoming nationally extinct. He stated that there used to be four rules of masculinity and they are, “No sissy stuff; be a big wheel; be a sturdy oak; and give them hell.”

    He made a compelling analogy between the way women have changed over the last 40 years and the four rules of masculinity. First, he argued that, for men, gender remains visible. Men do not think gender matters to them. Concerning this issue, he said that he talked with a white woman and an African-American woman. The white woman said that all women go through the same things while the African-American woman said she wasn’t so sure. When asked what they see when they wake up, the white woman said she sees a woman. The African-American woman answered the question by saying she sees a black woman. This begs the argument that not only gender can be invisible, but race can as well. He concluded this example by saying, “Privilege is invisible to those who have it.”

    Men shouldn’t be sissies either. There is a fear among men that being a sissy or being gay scares them when thinking of losing masculinity. He says when people say, “That’s so gay,” it doesn’t mean homosexual. It means that it is dumb or stupid. He says that people don’t go around saying, “That’s so black,” or “That’s so Asian,” so why say that about being gay?

    Finally, when discussing sexuality, he says people don’t typically talk about HIV and sexual assault in the same breath. In a recent study of high school abstinence pledges, 40% believed oral sex isn’t a violation of abstinence and 10% believe anal sex doesn’t violate it. Amazingly, 10% of these pledges believe kissing involving tongue violates it. He then transitioned into the safe sex talk. He says that safe sex is an oxymoron concerning masculinity because some men think they lose it when having safe sex. They believe safe sex is more cuddly and warm instead of being spontaneous and sexy. According to Dr. Kimmel, if men changed their behavior and way of thinking, they could end sexual assault.

 Dr. Kimmel wrapped up the lecture by discussing the importance of research. He says, “Research is getting hooked and feeling involved in the conversation. It puts you in the question instead of making you the observer.” Having Dr. Kimmel Skype lecture for Concord University was very interesting and could open a door to many students wanting to get involved in the Women’s and Gender Studies (WGST) Program Concord offers. Hopefully, the two genders can coexist and realize that they both can end the discrimination.


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