The Gender Equity Center (GEC) asked 100 men about the importance of vaginas in an effort to raise awareness on domestic abuse and sexual violence.
“Why are vaginas important to you?”
Between giggles, 100 men answered this question in the Gender Equity Center’s (GEC) VMEN video, which was made by journalism senior Ashley Katzeff and premiered at the PEN15 club on Feb. 27. The goal of the video was to start discussions and raise awareness about V-Day, an organization that aims to end violence against women and girls, GEC graduate assistant Kat Beglin said.
The in-your-face, to-the-point question was a way to involve Cal Poly men in the conversation about women’s issues, she said.
“People hear ‘trigger issues’ or ‘women’s issues,’ and assume it’s just about women,” she said. “But just because it might not affect you personally doesn’t mean you can’t talk about them.”
A common misconception is that feminism is only a women’s cause, which might deter men from becoming more involved, Beglin said. The GEC aims to educate people about many women’s issues, including what modern-day feminism encompasses.
Ethnic studies junior Logan Cooper said the word “feminism” has a negative, man-hating connotation. He said different groups have been rejected by the mainstream feminist movement — some feel the movement has ignored women of color, LGBT-identified individuals or issues concerning masculinity.
But people now think feminism should include everyone, he said. Though he didn’t identify as a feminist when coming to Cal Poly, Cooper said he has come a long way in educating himself.
If they want to educate themselves, men should start by being conscious of their actions, asking why others are offended at certain things and understanding how actions affect other people, Cooper said.
Men have gotten involved by volunteering with the GEC and Safer, Vagina Monologues and other opportunities to help, Beglin said. She said she has seen men bring their voices to the discussion about sexual violence and take a stand, and has been caught off guard by how comfortable some men are identifying themselves or others as feminists.
Cooper said he has seen between five and 10 men work in the GEC, and there are approximately three in Triota, the feminist activist community on campus.
“I’ve definitely seen a handful of very dedicated people and very dedicated men — straight men, gay men, men of color,” he said. “It seems like it’s a very diverse group of men that get involved.”
Men often want to talk about healthy masculinity, and they can learn a lot from GEC events, including the PEN15 club, he said. Once per quarter, PEN15 puts on a night of comedy skits about masculinity and societal pressures about men. Earlier this quarter, Cooper led a Gender Buffet event that discussed the men’s rights movement.
Though there are things to work on — Cooper cited the unofficially themed “Colonial Bros and Nava-hos” party and sexist remarks within the STEM community — there’s been progress, Cooper said.
“There’s probably a lot of groundwork that can be done to get people in the movement, but I still think there are a lot of very inspirational people who are trying to spearhead the men’s side of it,” he said.
Editor’s note: We added the name of the video’s maker.