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Did you know that the average ejaculation speed is 28 miles per hour? Or that the average male orgasm lasts six seconds?
Students who attended the Gender Equity Center’s (GEC) quarterly Pen15 Club event, themed “The Manalogues,” in Chumash Auditorium on Thursday night do. But conversation didn’t just revolve around sexual trivia — it was a serious discussion about the stereotypes surrounding masculinity.
Travis Raynaud, a graduate assistant at the GEC, emceed the event and helped lead the talk.
“At the Gender Equity Center, we don’t put on events about men and masculinity because we feel that it is an underrepresented population,” Raynaud said. “It’s more about that this is a population at Cal Poly and it is okay for us to get together and talk about it.”
The night kicked off with a classic gender education tool: the Man Box and Lady Box. Students in the audience were asked to name all the traits and stereotypes of the “perfect” man and woman. They were asked what people who don’t fit into those boxes are called, what happens to those people in society and what they do to cope.
Raynaud pointed out that the purpose of the exercise wasn’t to make students feel bad if they fit the traits in the boxes, but to realize many of the boxes’ traits contradicted themselves. It was impossible to fit into the box entirely. The exercise disproved the myth of the gender binary, which states there are two distinct genders whose lines never cross.
Audience participant and biological sciences senior Avity Norman, who acted in the event, enjoyed hearing everything people wanted to share and added thoughts to the larger conversation.
“There is this pervasive idea that male is neutral and gender is women,” Norman said. “Talking about masculinity helps combat that and bring up that male is a gender that comes with its own set of issues and quirks. Even if it also comes with a lot of privileges, it is still worth talking about.”
The next segment of the event added even more voices to the discussion. A video filmed on Cal Poly’s campus asked students what they thought the stereotypical guy at Cal Poly was like. While many of those interviewed thought Cal Poly was a relatively accepting place for everyone, some recognized the privilege of fitting into the white, male and heterosexual box.
After the film, Cal Poly students sitting in the audience got a chance to comment on their peers’ views. Ethnic studies junior Mario Espinoza appreciated the fact that many types of students were able to speak openly and honestly.
“I liked the diversity of the crowd,” Espinoza said. “It didn’t just focus on heteronormativity. We had gay men and lesbians enter the conversation. This conversation is important for awareness and celebration and inclusiveness of diversity, so that people are aware that there is more than one type of college student.”
Live comedy skits followed the film and discussion. The “Bro Code and Girl Code” skit focused on the differences between girls and guys in their bathroom habits, use of social media and gym time. Another skit concentrated on how males cannot show their true emotions in social situations, such as talking to their friends after a date. Espinoza acted in this skit, playing one of the friends who only talked about the girl’s appearance and whether or not the main character had sex with her.
“It was fun, and I feel like we were delivering a really strong message,” Espinoza said. “I feel like it sparked a lot of conversation within the student body, which is a good thing. A lot of participation from each side of the room.”
Psychology freshman Jonathan Schaffer, who also acted in the skit, believed that performances and other discussion-generating exercises are necessary for the campus’ overall health.
“A lot of people aren’t presented with ideas of toxic masculinity,” Schaffer said. “And when you see it presented on stage, they can realize what is happening and realize what needs to be changed.”