Femininity and masculinity discussed at March 'Soup and Substance' event
Four panelists spoke about femininity and masculinity for Women's History Month as part of Soup and Substance March 1 at UC Terrace Rooms.
The event was presented by the Office of Diversity Education, the Office of LGBTQ Services and the Black Lives Matter Chapter at Central Michigan University.
Vice president of Black Lives Matter and senior Sacelia Gonzalez led the panel questions on the roles femininity and masculinity play in society, along with the perceptions that surround them and how they impact people.
The word "masculine," "feminine" or even "feminist" can be correlated with strong stereotypes.
"I do want to speak out about the word 'feminism'. A lot of people have trouble with it, and I understand why people have trouble with it because there's so much negativity around the word still," said Lexis Reid, a senior member of Sexual Aggression Peer Advocates.
One of the ways people have dealt with changing the perception of a feminist is by creating their own word for feminism, Reid said. The new word they come up with doesn't change the meaning and overall goal of being a feminist.
For masculinity, there are multiple myths which can dictate what makes a man a man, with oppression of emotions as being one of the biggest misconceptions, said senior advisor of Sophisticated Women of Color Tangelo Smith.
"As a man you cannot go through life without experiencing hurt, pain, or loss, and not feel sad and want to cry," she said.
These constructs that people develop can influence every day aspects of life, work, school and relationships. Junior member of Students Advocating Gender Equality Julian Rivers experienced this firsthand in one of his own relationships with his last girlfriend.
"I wasn't her stereotypical image of what manliness would be," Rivers said.
Together, people of all genders can improve society, and it all starts with conversations, said president of Black Lives Matter and junior Jazmyn Williams.
"I feel that we [women] have taken it into our own hands to make sure we are seen and heard," Williams said.