When Dan Vena came to do his Masters in Gender Studies at Queen’s last year, he was shocked by what he described as a hyper-masculine campus culture.
Vena approached one of his fellow classmates, Colin Hastings, also MA ’14, and together they created the idea for a new campus group, Men Who Like Feminism.
The group is currently in the process of applying for official club status. It hopes to create a conversation about masculinity and gender constructs for any member of the Queen’s community who identify as masculine or wants to get involved.
Their first official meeting will be held tonight at 6 p.m. in Macintosh-Corry Hall B205.
Vena said the idea for the project started when he noticed an organization was putting up posters on campus that presented the term “reverse sexism,” something Vena doesn’t think exists. In another example, Vena said he was acting as a teaching assistant for a course on trans identities at Queen’s when he heard about students in another section who presented a project that was trans-phobic and offensive to members of the class.
“They made an argument [I believe was] to the effect to that ‘transgendered men and women are never going to be real men and women,’” he said. “I recognized instantaneously that this campus is not super trans-friendly.”
He said the new group aims to be an open space for dialogue and critical thinking about these issues and bring the dialogue closer to students’ lives to make it more accessible.
“Queen’s has a very explicit history of men not investigating their own set of privileges and wanting to just backlash at whatever female campaign is out or what they assume to be just a female campaign,” Vena said.
He noted that in 1989 a “No Means No Campaign” was met with opposition from male students who hung signs with phrases like “no means yes,” “no means harder” and “no means more beer” outside their residence windows.
“The group is to be inclusive of any masculine identified person ... to come in and talk about masculinity with the acknowledgment that this conversation can’t happen without feminism,” Vena said.
Vena said the group will look to work in tangent with feminists groups that already exist on campus.
“We fully support [feminists groups] and our presence is in no way to co-opt their voice,” Vena said. “We’re not trying to stomp in front of them.”