Robert Heasley, professor of sociology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and president for the American Men’s Studies Association, spoke on Monday at 101 Thomas about re-visioning the lives of boys and men and how male stereotypes influences them.
Heasley started his presentation by telling the audience that he would usually say to his parents that he thought a lot about men. He got a bad reaction when he said this to his parents so they would think he was gay. He said that he thought about men because there are many stereotypes that are not always true.
“When people say you know how boys are, I always find myself saying ‘no, I really don’t,’” Heasley said.
After that, he told two personal experiences about how people have stereotypes from men and women. The first story happened when he was a little boy and one day while listening the news on the radio he asked his father why there were only male voices on the radio.
“He said because they don’t have the voice for it,” said Heasley.
That phrase made Heasley realize that his sisters would not get a job on the radio because of their gender and that made him sad. The other story he told was about his mother and how she wasn’t allowed to play basketball when she was younger.
“They told her that if she played basketball her uterus would fall out. I have seen many women playing sports and I have never seen that happening,” he said. The audience laughed after he said that.
Because of those assumptions, myths and beliefs that go from generation to generation is that people still have gender stereotypes he said. Then, he explained how people acquire male stereotypes and where do they start.
“We are born male, but made into men. We are different biologically than women, but society determines how they become men,” he said.
One common problem parents have is when they dress their children, he said. People don’t have any problem dressing girls with pants and tennis shoes but they do have a problem dressing a boy in tights for ballet.
Other issue that parents have is that mothers take care of their children more than the father does.
“The boy doesn’t get accustomed with his father. Because of that, they don’t like when boys touch each other,” he said.
To prove what he was saying he showed on the PowerPoint presentation a picture of two men touching and one of them was touching the other’s buttocks. Then he asked the audience what would people think if they saw a picture like that. The audience said that most people would think that the two men in the picture were gay.
“Well they are not gay, they are heterosexual. I don’t see why that is considered gay if men touch each other when they are playing football,” he said.
He concluded by saying that people need to “re-image” the view of what men are expected to be because the ones that act differently live in the shadows so they don’t get beaten up.
For student Julie Kristin Palaganas (senior-biobehavioral health) said that the presentation was very informative and gave her a good view about masculinity and how men live to the stereotype.
Patricia Koch, professor of Biobehavioral Health, said that the speaker stimulated a new way of thinking for students.
“We are trained to think and feel different within genders and sometimes we don’t question why we do that. He showed us why we have to question that.”
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