Maskulinity Conference still working to attract men

Though the second annual Maskulinity conference dealt with the constraining social norms surrounding gender identity and masculinity, organizers were disappointed with the attendees’ lack of diversity.

The conference was run this year by Queen’s Worth, a student organization that also runs Women’s Worth Week and is focused on eliminating social inequality. Since this was its first year under Worth, there was more funding allocated to the conference.

Prior to the conference, organizers surveyed the Queen’s community for topics of interest to cover, which ended up including “Masculinity and Mental Health” and “Sex, Sexuality and Relationships”. There was also a focus on sexual assault prevention.

At its peak, there were 80 attendees present at the conference.

Rory Grant, one of the organizers, told The Journal via email that the demographic for conferences like this tend to be women and gender studies students.

“Ideally, we’d find a creative way to attract more men,” said Grant, ArtSci ’15.

“Ask any feminist/gender related group on campus how to attract a diverse group of men to their events and they’ll all say the same thing. ‘We’re trying!’ Still, Maskulinity has had more success than most, so I shouldn’t be complaining.” He added that further diversification is needed, both in the sense of faculty and gender, for the impact of the conference to be greater felt around campus.

Although there was diversity in speakers — male athletes were quick to join the conversation about masculine identities, Grant said — there wasn’t a large presence of varsity athletes.

Overall, response to the conference was positive, Grant said.

“Our biggest accomplishment was that we had more than 50 people in a room together come to realize that the pressures that cause men to ‘man up,’ and experience mental health problems in solitude, are the same pressures that cause men to use women as markers of status in their social group, which are the same pressures that cause trans, gay, and different folks to experience violence and self-hatred on a daily basis and that we can affect them.”

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