Tony Porter, social justice advocate and co-founder of A Call to Men, spoke to a full room last night about what it means to have a healthy manhood and stepping outside of something he calls the “man box.”
The lecture took place at Heritage Hall in the HUB-Robeson Center at 6 p.m. and is part of Porter’s four day visit to Penn State, during which he will be working with the Center for Women Students (CWS) and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
Jennifer Penceck, the programming coordinator for the Center for Women Students, said the event was also broadcasted live on the WPSU website.
“We thought that Tony had a great message to give and could offer a different perspective than other people,” Peneck said.
Penceck said because everyone has different experiences with what healthy masculinity is, Porter could offer a lot to those in attendance— primarily fraternity members and male athletes.
Porter began the lecture by explaining that the men in the room learned what they believe about masculinity and manhood from men like him.
“By me, I mean me as a representative old enough to be your dad,” Porter said. “We taught you some wonderful things about being a man, but there are some aspects about manhood that are worthy of us rethinking.”
He first established the students in the room to be “good men,” and then established a ratio between good men and those who perpetrate violence against women.
Porter said there is a small amount of those men compared to the good men in the room but not a small amount in general.
“The question on the table is, how do this many men do this to women in the presence of all of us good men?” Porter said.
Brian Leap was in attendance with the men’s track team and said the subject of manhood and violence against women is an important subject to think about and take action on.
“I think it’s important for at least everyone to have that knowledge,” Leap (senior—industrial engineering) said. “It may go over some people’s heads, but it’s important if it just reaches one person or stuck in one person’s head and causes them to act differently.”
The majority of the lecture focused on establishing the emotional differences between men and women most men were probably taught to embrace as young boys.
Porter posed a hypothetical scenario to the men in attendance: What would they do if 25 years down the road they had daughters of their own at Penn State?
When asked how they would want their daughters’ fellow male classmates to treat her, most answered simply with “respect.”
“The responses I get from men when I ask that question usually speak to the areas that we as men know we could be doing better,” Porter said. “It puts us in conflict, because how many of us, right now, as we live and as we act and as we behave, would want our daughters to date us?”
Porter described the “man box” as a box holding what men know to be common traits of other men, and established the traits outside of the man box were usually associated with weakness or women.
When it comes to women, Porter said men are taught to believe the only area of interest men can have in women is sexual.
“If you take the average 18 year-old good girl, and the average 18 year-old good boy, and you take sexual conquest off the table, far too often his interest in her plummets,” Porter said. “And I taught him that.”
He then referenced the difference between good men and those who are violent against women, saying this lesson instilled in young men creates a problem by allowing those men to be who they are in the presence of good men.
Porter concluded by saying the men in the room are in the position to change the conversation about manhood and masculinity as it relates to violence against women.
“My generation hasn’t poured enough in you, but you can pour enough into the next generation,” Porter said.
After Porter concluded, Amanda Goldberg took the stage to talk about her experience with sexual assault.
Penceck introduced Goldberg (junior—rehabilitation and human resources) as a member of "Peers Helping Reaffirm, Educate, and Empower," a peer education group through the CWS.
“We always need to get people to join in the fight against violence against women, and we struggle with that,” Goldberg said. “But all of you being here tells me people do want to be involved on this campus and that’s a great thing.”
Goldberg said she is beginning an internship with the CWS to educate students on how to be an effective bystander in dangerous situations.
She then told the story of how two male students were in a room with her when she was raped as a freshman.
“And only one man became a rapist that night.” Goldberg said.
She said it is important for those who attended to take something away from the lecture and her story because they have a role in violence against women and to get involved because this is their issue as well.
“I didn’t expect anyone to be here, but it was awesome to see that they were here and they were engaged,” Goldberg said. “I was excited about it.”
Correction: A previous version of the above article incorrectly noted Jennifer Penceck’s department, which is the Center for Women Students. It also incorrectly stated where the talk was broadcasted, which was online at WPSU. The article also misspelled PHREE’s name. The Daily Collegian apologizes for these errors.