Kimmel discusses concept of masculinity in collegiate environments during visit to Elon

Sponsored by Women's, Gender, and Sexualities Studies, Health Promotion, and the Gender & LGBTQIA Center, national expert on masculinities, Michael Kimmel addressed a crowd on masculinity across collegiate environments.

Michael Kimmel, author of the acclaimed book, “Mars and Venus, or Planet Earth: Women and Men in a New Millennium” and the SUNY Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University, visited Elon on Jan. 18 to deliver a talk about gender equality as part of the Lauren Dunne Astley Memorial Lecture series. A leading expert in masculinity studies, Kimmel focused his lecture on galvanizing men to understand and support gender equality. A gift from the Lauren Dunne Astley Memorial Fund supports this lecture series, which focuses on discussing gender issues, gendered violence and building healthy relationships among partners.

In an afternoon discussion hosted by Women’s, Gender, and Sexualities Studies (WGSS), students, faculty, and staff had the opportunity to ask Kimmel questions about his work and philosophy. Students representing Elon Athletics, Greek Life and other campus organizations asked hard-hitting questions about intimacy, vulnerability and gendered violence. Among the visitors were Malcolm L. Astley, father of the late Lauren Dunne Astley, four faculty members representing multiple academic departments and several Student Life staff members.

The evening lecture co-sponsored by WGSS, Health Promotion and the Gender and LGBTQIA Center saw LaRose Digital Theater packed to capacity. Kimmel provided constructive methods for motivating men to uphold gender equality with a specific look at collegiate environments.

Pulling from extensive research, Kimmel pointed to the emotional strain young men face during their transition into college, many losing and disconnecting from their friends in high school. This loss of friendship, he says, often manifests itself in a resistance to vulnerability as men get older, an emotional quality that also seeps into physical relationships among partners. Kimmel emphasizes the importance of making gender equality an accessible discussion for men, looking at ideals of manhood and how reshaping those ideals makes equality a more available concept. 

The lecture ended with a series of questions from audience members spanning the identity spectrum.