Masculinity Summit Breakout Sessions



The two-day Masculinity Summit, held by the Cassandra Voss Center on Wednesday, Nov. 2 and Thursday, Nov. 3 addressed a variety of topics during the breakout sessions that took place on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. in the Bemis International Center. Following a welcome session, the attendees split into six different groups for sessions that each focused on a different topic about masculinity.

“Masculinities for Jews and Non-Christian Others” was held by Dr. Harry Brod and Dr. Michael Kaufman, who discussed the ways in which being part of a minority culture or religion affects a person’s masculinity. Toward the end of the session, they took questions from the attendees.

According to Dr. Brod and Dr. Kaufman, even seemingly positive stereotypes, such as “Jews are smart and bookish,” have a negative effect on young Jews, male or female. When given these sort of expectations, these “positive” stereotypes cause members of a culture to not be viewed as individuals but rather as a single entity. While a minority might know the ways in which their minority status affects their masculinity, a person who falls into the social majority is less likely to be aware.

At the same time, Joey Taylor led a session called “LGBTQ Masculinity.” During the session, the group discussed the effect that being an LGBTQ+ man has on identity. Often, being LGBTQ+ is wrongly equated with a lack of masculinity. Taylor said that young LGBTQ+ males often feel compelled to present a false front around their role models and peers to avoid losing their sense of masculinity. This can have a damaging effect on young men who fall into LGBTQ+ orientations.

“Boys to Men: Male Mentorship Programs from Athletics to At-Risk” was another breakout session led by Rob Davis, a twelve-year veteran of the National Football League and director of player engagement, and Harry Sydney, a player in the NFL for ten seasons and coach for the Green Bay Packers’ running backs for six seasons.

“Men’s Support Groups: Mankind Project & Archetypes,” was led by Phil Oswald, a member of the Mankind Project. The Mankind Project is a national organization with local chapters across the country that share ethical principles and meet weekly to discuss different topics depending on the location and interests of each chapter. A common discussion topic among the chapters is the four masculine archetypes: King, Warrior, Magician and Lover, and the encounters everyone has with these damaging and stereotypical ideas.

“Men, Masculinity & Sport,” was a breakout session led by Dr. Jesse Steinfeldt, a professor who focuses on the psychology of sports and how it relates to masculinity. There is a significant difference between the push for masculinity that comes from younger and older coaches, according to Dr. Steinfeldt. For instance, an older coach might push for their players to “be a man,” while a younger coach might be less likely to do so. He said that sports are a common way for young boys to display their masculinity and where certain behaviors, such as hugging or crying, might be discouraged by the culture of sports in America.

Another session, “Native American Masculinity,” was led by Dr. Norbert Hill, who is a member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and serves as the education director for the tribe. In the very matriarchal society of Native American life, Native American men are careful not to dominate their society.

In line with the mission of the Cassandra Voss Center, session brought up valuable topics that allowed discussion for the campus and the community.

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