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Dr. Michael Kimmel spoke to students via Skype on Thursday, April 13th, 2017. This was part of a dual simulcast with Concord University on the subject of men’s role in gender equality and their role in ending sexual assault. Dr. Kimmel is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University, as well as an author and world-renowned speaker. Kimmel wanted to make sure that men know that gender equality is not something that is just good for women, but also good for men, as they are “stakeholders” in gender equality. He also wanted to negate the belief that men and women are adversaries, rather they are allies, Kimmel said. He believes that “men and women are more similar than they are different.”
Dr. Kimmel spoke of four different ways that women’s lives have changed in the past four decades. The first is that women have made gender visible by explaining how their experiences and perspectives on life are different because they are a woman. The second is that women have entered the workforce in unprecedented numbers, and have not left. Linked to a growing presence within the workforce, is the third, the balance between work and family. A woman now does not have to choose between one or the other, but just like men seek for a balance between both. “The final way women’s lives have changed is around sex. A woman’s sexuality is changing,” Kimmel said, “women are entitled to pleasure.” Our society went from an all-male world to now an integrated society, Kimmel described that this has a definite effect on the way men live their lives but the “ideology of masculinity has not changed. Kimmel broke down this ideology down into four segments: First, “no sissy stuff,” second, an emphasis on wealth and power, third, the idea that men should be sturdy and reliable in a crisis and finally the focus on aggression and the take charge attitude.
Dr. Kimmel connects the things that have changed for women with the things that haven’t changed for men to show the difficulties that men face. The first is that gender remains invisible to men, meaning that men do not realize that gender matters to them. This leaves men having to fight themselves so that they will not seem to be either weak or feminine. The next is Kimmel’s idea of “angry white men.” He describes this to be the male sense of entitlement when it comes to employment and other parts of life. Dr. Kimmel has authored a book with the same name. Third is how both women and men have the same goals for their career and family. He described a survey of both young men and young women, where both gender’s goal for the future were being successful and also a good parent. The final topic, which Dr. Kimmel elaborated the most on, was sexuality. He broke this down into two particular topics; safe sex and sexual assault. Kimmel argued that when men hear safe sex, they hear “stop having sex like men.” This has to be changed to make “safe sex, sexy.” He focused on safety again when talking about sexual assault. He focused on how men must make women feel safe, to foster a relationship that each gender wants. This can be fully carried out only by including men in this process of eliminating sexual assault because men’s choices can end sexual assault. Dr. Michael Kimmel ended his talk by describing how men can only achieve their goals by fully supporting gender equality.