Conference addresses gender roles

By Meaghan Sands

Students, faculty and guests came together Friday in the Bronco Student Center at the third annual Men’s Violence Prevention Conference to discuss the issue of dismantling society’s gender roles.

About 250 individuals, club representatives and department staff attended the conference which was put on by the Violence Prevention and Women’s Resource Center and the Men Against Violence club.

Attendees went to various workshops that covered a wide range of topics such as alcoholism, misogyny, partner violence in the LGBT community and violence on college campuses.

Jazmin Rew-Pinchem, Cedritos residence life coordinator, came to the event so she would be better able to serve the residents and have more resources and knowledge to deal with issues students may be going through. She also came for personal growth.

“I’m really big on gender roles and what that means and trying to blur the lines between them,” said Rew-Pinchem. “I try to live more in a gray area myself.”

Attendees also listened to two sessions led by this year’s keynote speaker, Jackson Katz, a male activist highly recognized for his work in gender violence prevention education.

Katz urged the audience to get involved and pose questions, comments and concerns. He started the morning off discussing the Boston bombing and allowing attendees to speak their mind about it.

Javier Gomez, a fifth-year sociology and gender, ethnicity and multicultural student and member of Men Against Violence, was one of many who asked questions and expressed their feelings about the issues at hand.

“I feel, as a male, I have a responsibility to educate myself about some of the privileges I have within this male dominated society,” said Gomez. “We need to get past the social constructions and be equal in every sense of the word. Not just when it’s convenient for males.”

Veronica Carmona, peer educator for the VPWRC, has found that many students find it hard to get involved in the movement and the activities provided by the center and Men Against Violence.

“The fact is that they will earn their college degrees and when they leave here they will be leaders,” said Carmona. “It is important for leaders to understand domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking because those are issues that not only come up in the community setting, but in a work setting as well.”

David Gutierrez, a fifth-year kinesiology student and co-president of Men Against Violence, hopes this event will get more men involved in these issues and break men apart from the traditional masculine role. The club wants to show men that feeling empathy for these issues does not mean that you are any less masculine.

He hopes to eventually expand Men Against Violence to other campuses.

“Nobody’s really put much thought into the traditional roles of masculinity and I feel like this is changing,” said Gutierrez. “It’s becoming a bigger thing and I feel like we’re the change; we’re the start of something new.”

Patrick Wall, a fourth-year psychology student and co-president of Men Against Violence, believes the way people view the club will change over the next four years. Wall is graduating in the spring and will be passing on the responsibilities to Gutierrez.

He hopes the members of the club will no longer be labeled or viewed by others as “those guys.”

Wall has come up against marginalization and labels such as “feminist” during his time in the club and feels that some people view the group the same way.

“It’s not just Men Against Violence that is treated this way, it’s the cultural centers in general,” said Wall.

Despite this, he feels that in some ways awareness has grown on campus since the first year they put this event on and that these issues need to be addressed on campus more than they already are.

“It’s present and it isn’t,” said Wall. “It finds its way weirdly into certain circles and other places it just hasn’t penetrated at all. It’s a weird dichotomy.”

He hopes that from this event people learn to listen better, be open to these new ideas and leave with a drive to do more and learn more.

“In 100 years or so it’s going to be in textbooks: the masculinity movement,” said Wall. “Or at least, hopefully, because it has become something really big and really mainstream.”


Danny Huynh/The Poly Post


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