While gender roles with regard to women are often talked about in classes and discussions, one speaker said he hopes society can also begin to focus on how gender stereotypes affect men.
Robert Heasley , professor of sociology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania , will be talking at 5 p.m. Monday in 101 Thomas about “Re-visioning the Lives of Boys and Men.”
The talk will try to answer why people have such a limited vision of men, masculinity and men’s abilities in society. Some of those assumptions are that men don’t express their feelings, they are only interested in sports, don’t want to have children and only want sex when they are in a relationship, Heasley said.
“The stereotypes sort of mark masculinity and really limit how society experiences men and it limits how men see themselves,” he said.
For Heasley, the formation of women’s studies back in the 1970s made a big change to stereotypes of women, so people are now raising girls in a different way, but the same changes aren’t being made for raising boys.
“We are still raising boys to fit into a particular mold that really limits the ways that they can be and doesn’t recognize the variety of men and boys are. We don’t talk too much to little boys as much as we do with little girls. Also boys are more likely that in third or fourth grade they are told that they have to play a sport and have to man-up in a sort of way,” he said.
Heasley’s talk is part of the Sexuality and Gender Studies Minor Speakers’ series. Patricia Koch, professor of Biobehavioral Health , chose Heasley because he has a unique perspective, and there are many classes at Penn State that deal with gender and gender roles.
“He is a well-known leader looking at masculinities. While many universities have women’s studies courses, there are no speakers for male gender roles. Females’ gender roles tend to get more attention,” Koch said.
Julian Haas (graduate-college student affairs) plans to attend the talk and said that the presentation would be very important for anyone on campus.
“Dr. Heasley is saying a lot of things that need to be said. I think that the perspective that he is taking on looking at how we raise young men in our country is very valuable. Male stereotypes are built to keep a nonsense system of oppressing women and the LGBTA people. These stereotypes are not naturally developed but are being forced into and taught,” said Haas.
The talk is free and open to anyone interested in the topic.
“There are things that need to be named. Its not like I’m going to convince them and tell them that they have to do something,” Heasley said. “But it’s going to invite them into having a different kind of conversation about guys that they wouldn’t normally have.”