Mag Mulls ‘Cult of Masculinity’

Students mulled over the idea of what it means to be masculine in a conversation about men—but dominated by women—at the Women’s Center last night.

The hour-long meeting, which drew 18 students, was dedicated to reviewing the latest “masculine mystique” issue of Diversity and Distinction, a quarterly undergraduate-run magazine focusing on social and civil rights.

Talk centered on the importance of studying gender roles in society.

“They always focus on teenage girls, but I also think stuff happens to boys, too,” said Jessica F. Harmon ’07, the magazine’s business manager. “They’re going through some stuff that’s never looked at because of this idea that boys are strong. Even from the time that they’re boys, they’re little men.”

The introduction to the magazine, which features the back view of a shirtless man flexing in a bra, cited Betty Friedan’s 1963 book, “The Feminine Mystique,” as the catalyst for encouraging dialogue on femininity. But attendees largely agreed that masculinity is a topic frequently overlooked as a result of a classic view of manhood.

“There are these artificial ideas being imposed on women, but we don’t [stop to] think that natural masculinity is in conflict with the cult of masculinity, which is something we wanted to explore,” said Frankie Chen ’07, one of the magazine’s editors in chief.

The idea of labels and gender identity—from male-female classification on driver’s licenses to the disparate ways boys and girls are raised—generated the most discussion.

“I would like to think that we’re moving to a place where people can be who they are, and they can ascribe the labels to themselves as they want and not have that be a judgment,” said Lisa J. Miracchi ’09.

John A. La Rue ’07, a magazine staff member, observed to the crowd that the majority of those present were women.

“When we talk about gender, ethnicity, homosexuality, and other issues,” said M. Elysia Baker ’07, the magazine’s other editor in chief, “the person in power isn’t forced to think about [it].”