Women’s Center hosts “Men Talking About Women” discussion panel

Ryan Morris

The Women’s Center hosted a panel of men discussing women’s issues Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Price Lake Room of Plemmons Student Union.

The men involved in “Men Talking About Women” were chosen by the Women’s Center, who were asked 10 questions pertaining to a range of issues affecting women.

The panel was made up of five men, including senior sociology major Chavis Sims who represented Minority Mens Leadership Circle, SGA President Jake Cox and Cameron Lippard of the Department of Sociology.

The panel also included junior political science major Matt Splawn, representing the LGBT center and the Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA), and senior psychology major Jordan Powell, the former president of TransAction.

“It’s a very diverse group of guys,” said Elizabeth DeSanto, a graduate assistant who works in the Women’s Center and helped choose the panel members. 

DeSanto said enough men signed and requested to be on the panel that they actually had to cut down the number of panel members.

After the panel responded to questions written by volunteers from the Women’s Center, questions from the audience were allowed.  Gus Pena, director of Multicultural Student Development, moderated this portion of the event.

The men were asked questions on the subjects of double standards, campus safety, rape culture, rape jokes and how they feel about the word “vagina.”

“The point is to help educate the campus that women’s issues are men’s issues also,” said DeSanto.

The panel discussed specific things the university could do to educate both male and female students about the issues affecting women as well as ways to make the campus a safer place.

“You should be able to do what you want walking outside without feeling uncomfortable or having to defend yourself,” Powell said.

Panel members suggested implementing quicker and more effective Safe Ride operations, better lighting at night and increasing the number of police on campus after dark.

“We’re dealing with a culture of violence,” Lippard said.  “ It’s about not using a gun to express yourself, not raping a woman to get pleasure or assert your dominance.”

“It starts with us,” Cox said.  “It takes time and it’s not going to happen overnight.”

The panel also got personal with the audience at times, discussing the moments in their lives that enlightened them to the issue of gender inequality and how they plan to tackle the issue with their own children someday.

“I’m scared to death of having my first daughter,” Cox said.  “I don’t want her to deal with some of the stuff I’ve seen women go through.”

“Men Talking About Women” was the first event in the Women’s Center’s V-Day campaign, which will conclude with three showings of “The Vagina Monologues” Feb. 15.

Story: EMMA SPECKMAN, Senior A&E Reporter