Ramapo held its first “Real Men, Real Talk” discussion session on Wednesday in the Women’s Center. The event gave Ramapo students the chance to discuss the necessity of healthy masculinity in today’s society.
“We wanted to create a safe zone for guys to hang out and come talk without any negative, masculine stigmas,” said James Perlas, the men’s outreach coordinator at the Women’s Center and creator of the “Real Men, Real Talk” event.
The idea came to fruition after Perlas and Tom Nicholes, graduate assistant for the Women’s Center, noticed that the Women’s Center’s Coffee Talks were bringing in a predominantly female demographic.
“I’m hoping to build a base of healthy masculinity that can be carried on to other generations,” Perlas said.
At “Real Men, Real Talk,” Perlas hoped to address how healthy masculinity is defined through discussions and exercises.
The first of these exercises sparked a discussion on masculinity portrayed by the media. Passing around advertisements, Perlas asked the group for their opinions. Jonathan Fuentes, a sophomore, viewed one of these advertisements quizzically.
“Can you even tell what that advertisement is for?” Perlas said.
The group seemed to agree that many of the advertisements exhibited that it was wrong for men to be feminine, or look feminine, but that their products could help fix those “feminine” parts and, as a result, make them manlier.
“A positive part of some real men are those guys who go out and do their own thing-they don’t really care what other people think,” David Barbosa, a freshman, said.
Perlas’s second exercise created a distinction between what society thinks about a real man, and what a real man is like in reality.
The group determined that society portrays real men as successful, muscular and tough-completely lacking emotion. They also agreed that society claims that real men have an innate knowledge of cars and sports, are sexually active and often sexually aggressive, that they don’t cry and that they love to eat meat.
“Personally, I don’t fit into any of those stereotypes,” said freshman Paolo Trinidad.
Next, the group created a list of what traits they thought a positive male would actually possess. The list included not falling into typical masculine stereotypes, being able to express their emotions, being emotionally available, not jumping to physical confrontation and being able to leave their comfort zone.
“The problem is that even if a guy doesn’t fit these [society’s] stereotypes, they try to make it seem like they do,” Perlas said.
The group went on to casually discuss men’s stereotypes in action movies, Disney movies and television and even the stereotypes created by facial hair.
“Take any action movie ever-all the main characters have facial hair,” Perlas said.
Closing up the discussion, Perlas explained that this was just the first of the “Real Men, Real Talk” discussion sessions, and that he hoped to follow up with three or four more sessions soon. Further information can be found at the Women’s Center.