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A Response from “Public Enemy Number One”

These past few weeks at Lesley University have been an interesting experience. The reason why I wrote the article “A Male Perspective on Gender Equality at Lesley University” is because I feel that here at this institution, it’s very difficult for me to develop my identity as a male. As I wrote in the article that 2015 is an important time for gender equality, which means not only for women but men as well. Yes, throughout history men have had advantages in many areas of life. However, maleness and its relationship with masculinity also comes with its own set of problems that need to be discussed and studied. There is no such opportunity here for me to grow. How can I succeed in life or even be a man that helps for the advancement of women if I cannot receive the opportunity to learn more about what it means to be a man? I cannot attend a Men’s Center. I’d rather not learn from mass media which portrays men as overly macho and afraid to show emotion. My family and I pay a lot of money to attend this school. I believe that has earned me the right to desire an exceptional education and to request improvement when I think the university needs it.

In my Social Problems course that I took in the fall semester, we watched Miss Representation and discussed the struggle of women in society. I thought the course was well taught and informative. However, the vast majority of the curriculum concerning gender involved women, with almost nothing about men. My desire to have curriculum specializing in maleness as well as critique of the constant, inappropriate amount of class time that is devoted to discourse about women was met with the rebuttal I should “sign up for a history class” because only men are discussed. While a standard history course can be male-centric, it does not offer the same sort of experience that women specific courses offer. These history courses are more concerned with the battle tactics of the Siege of Constantinople or who was at fault for World War I, rather than sparking a conversation on how media affects masculinity or the roots of masculinity itself.

A male alumnus from Lesley said he was ashamed about the content of my article and hopes that I am an outlier in respect to my opinion. For that I will say this: you haven’t been a student here in almost six years. Things have changed, this is probably not the same Lesley that you attended. You do not hear the twenty minute discussions about feminism during an Economics class, you do not see the Facebook posts from members of this community that create negative feelings about men, that in turn get projected onto us. My article was posted on Facebook and a student commented, “It sucks to be a white male doesn’t it? Dear men at Lesley University, now you know what it’s like to be a woman in the rest of the world.” I question the understanding of this student who was bashing my article. I am not a white male; my mother and her family came from the Philippines which makes me biracial, and I live in San Francisco in the Castro District, one of the most famous gay neighborhoods in the world. I empathize with minorities as well as groups that have been disadvantaged by “white male privilege” because I am both a minority and member of a group historically disadvantaged, that lives in a neighborhood populated by another.

Why would I not want equality for all when I know what one experiences through inequality? This person assuming that I am simply an ignorant white male (a form of stereotyping in and of itself) is just one of many students that I have seen here at Lesley. This concept that I am a “privileged white male” is the biggest problem I have with my critics. None of you know my life, or what I have experienced. You weren’t there when I have been racially discriminated against. Assuming that I am white is ignorant. I am also interpreting the label of a privileged male as a connotation that I have no understanding of reality, the struggles that countless people go through, and that I have been handed everything in my life.

On an individual level, I have worked hard for many things. Before me, generations of my family have persevered through hardship in order to achieve happiness. Stating that my family’s success stems from members being born into a certain demographic demeans both the men and women in my family. Another student on Facebook posted a status about my article that featured these comments which are an attempt to mock me: first, “Help! I’m being crushed by the weight of all this privilege!”, followed by, “I don’t have enough hands for all of this privilege! Lady folk won’t help me hold it up! Oppression!” To think that all that I have achieved is due to me being a “privileged white male” is not true because while there are aspects of privilege in my life, I am still a motivated young man looking to make a name for myself on this planet. I understand that “white male privilege” is a very real thing that affects lots of people on this planet, but that point had nothing to do with my article and is a personal attack to my character.

As for the comments regarding “gender profiling”, consider this: I am a male student athlete here. From hearing countless class discussions and other forms of communication about gender, many male student athletes here and I are portrayed in a negative light. It is not fair that I received a look of fear and disgust from a female student at Sacramento House simply because I smiled and said “hello,” on my way to the bathroom, while I am wearing all Lesley Athletic Apparel. I am clearly a member of this supposed “tight-knit” community. In no way was I comparing my struggle as a male here to the struggle of African-Americans.  I am merely comparing that act of profiling to the profiling that I feel that I have received because of the constant propaganda I see. For those who say that a large gaping hole in my argument is my lack of knowledge of university policy:I am aware of the rules and in my experience, the University’s rules about escorting guests are enforced with much more vigor than any other dorm on campus. I find that hypocritical.

All these points aside, I would like to articulate the purpose of my first article: in its search for gender equality, I believe that Lesley University has created an environment that disproportionately caters to women.  By placing so much emphasis on women, there is no agenda for men. So even though men have been societally advantaged for decades, this policy flips the historical roles between men and women on their backs, placing men at a distinct disadvantage. Though I do not consider myself an expert on feminism, I support it and understand the pure definition of the word according to Merriam-Webster as “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” In my opinion, that is not being carried out here at Lesley. All I hope for is the opportunity to learn more about being a man while giving women the chance that they deserve. I hope that through these articles and the discourse that follows, we can find ourselves closer to gender equality first at Lesley, and then on a much grander scale.

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Categorised in: Current Issues, Editorials and Opinions

13 Responses »

  1. Well said, man. Well said.

  2. The creator of Miss Representation recently came out with a new documentary examining male socialization in the US.

    Lesley is actually holding screenings of the film throughout the next couple months.

    Here is the trailer
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hc45-ptHMxo

    See you at the screenings

  3. I sympathize with the idea that developing a male identity is challenging and is a road rife with struggle. I acknowledge that male identity suffers as a result of the hyper-masucline socialization we all face (something most feminists, including those who made Miss Representation, would agree with). I also acknowledge that some of the criticism towards Mr. Anderson (particularly the assumptions on his race and background) has been poorly done and distracts from larger issues. What Mr Anderson brings up is a subject of conversation I often bring up with the male youth that I work with. I truly think that at the crux of his frustration is a serious issue that should be addressed.

    However.

    Mr Anderson’s initial article had many faults that fell far outside the realm of reasonable frustration. Whatever his defense for his rationale, either he is a poor journalist who didn’t think to confirm his sources or he knowingly lied about what he reported on Sacramento House. That is inexcusable and in the process he has defamed and libeled against an outstanding member of this community.

    Furthermore, Mr Anderson’s comparison of his treatment as a male with the profiling of minorities is insensitive, regardless of Mr Anderson’s personal background. The halls of a Lesley residence can hardly compared in terms of danger and discrimination with the public spaces that our black citizens and other minorities must face. To make this comparison, regardless of the intention with which it is made, is inexcusable.

    I could continue to address each point of contention that I have with Mr Anderson’s article or this response, but I don’t see that as productive. If there is one thing that Mr Anderson is right about, it is that the response to his article has lacked compassion towards him. It is not anyone’s responsibility to help or talk with him about this, certainly not the many wonderful women of our community, but I do choose to make it my responsibility.

    Mr Anderson, if you are reading these comments, I want to express that I understand where you’re coming from with regards to issues of male identity. I have had them and I have had the fortune of others helping me with them. If you would like to discuss this privately, I can discuss this with you and suggest resources outside the Lesley community that have helped me. I hope that you will take me up on this offer and, if not, I do wish you the best of luck in coming to a production resolution on these issues.

    Respectfully,

    Alexis Moisand
    Undergraduate Student
    Lesley University

    I can best be contacted at amoisand@yahoo.com or amoisand@lesley.edu

    • Alexis,

      Do you honestly think that you created any potential for Chris to go to you for advice? Would you take yourself up on that offer after what you wrote? I sure as hell would not after a post that wreaks of condescension. It is fair that you ended with “respectfully”, but it holds no value when you squeek belittling remarks throughout. I do admit that I may be viewing your response in relation to a post that you had made on FB regarding the first article in which you showed absolutely no compassion, understanding, or even a desire to help. You may want to revisit your tactic of slapping someone in the face and then offering a hand.

      Respectfully,
      Nope

      • Hi Nope,

        I do not regret anything I wrote in this comment. What you might consider “condescending”, I consider truthful. I could go on to defend my points and how I made them, but as I mentioned in my comment, that’s not the conversation I’m interested in having anymore. If you want to discuss that in private, by all means, you know how to reach me.

        What I would like to note – and I do thank you for bringing it up – is my previous comments on this issue. I should have clarified when I said “that the response to his article has lacked compassion towards him.” I fully include myself in that statement. I lacked compassion in my previous response. I did not productively add to the conversation. It was inappropriate and I apologize for that.

        When you mention that perhaps your viewing of my initial response to Mr Anderson’s initial article colored your opinion of my latest comment, I do ask that you take that into further consideration. It was only in reading Mr Anderson’s response that it struck me just how wrong I was and this comment came from an entirely different place.

        I hope that you can understand that and again I thank you for bringing attention to that subject.

        Respectfully,
        Alexis

        P.S. I would also mention that while I understand the desire to privacy, I think it is helpful to the dialogue if we don’t remain anonymous in this conversation. Of course, it’s up to you, but just a thought.

  4. In response to your comment at the male Lesley alum, I can tell you that I am a current student who has been at Lesley the past four years and that your perceptions of a female-dominated space are problematic at best, and misogynistic at worst. As men, negative perceptions of us at Lesley may be uncomfortable, but they do not disempower us or take away our inextricable male privilege. As men at Lesley, we have to make a stronger effort to understand and fight patriarchal mechanisms that affect female-identified and non-male students if we are to be a safe and supportive community. We have to do better than this.

  5. Please take time to actually look at the residence life policy for escorting guests instead of saying there’s a problem behind the policy in one specific house that you entered. Take some time to read the handbook, just because you don’t follow the rules, doesn’t mean they aren’t there for a reason. You are digging yourself a hole you will soon be unable to get out of. Take this opportunity to do some research on the amazing University you go to and feel privileged to be here, just like everyone else. You are making yourself public enemy #1 with your ignorance to policy.

  6. I feel extremely uncomfortable about the fact that I was quoted without my permission. I also apologize for making assumptions about your race, and I’m sure that you have faced your fair share of discrimination based on it, but having the appearance of a white person and having a traditionally European name means that people are going to treat you like a white person (read: with trust and respect). And just a little detail, I’ve heard the Castro is a lovely place, but it doesn’t mean that you understand the first thing about being gay.

  7. “I am aware of the rules and in my experience, the University’s rules about escorting guests are enforced with much more vigor than any other dorm on campus. I find that hypocritical.”

    Female students specifically chose to live in that all female dorm. You being in there can make some of them feel uncomfortable. Lesley has had sexual assaults on campus. (Unfortunately, it is a truth). Logistically a female sexually assaulting a male is, at best uncommon. However the reversal is very possible. Those girls and their families pay a lot of money to live in an all female dorm. I assume the main reason is safety. If living with only girls makes them feel comfortable/safe/at peace. They deserve it. You dont know what they have experienced. So when you are in their space unaccompanied, yes, they will feel uneasy and a bit stand offish. Given the sexual assault history of the campus, it is not hypocritical.

  8. Yes, the hypermasculine stereotype of men in the media is a legitimate issue. Yes, it should be included in discussions of feminism, because the destruction of the patriarchy should mean the destruction of the emotionless, stunted male archetype. However, men having self-image issues based on media portrayals is NOWHERE NEAR on par with issues of female portrayal in media. Negative portrayals of women cause objectification, and by extension, sexual assault, domestic abuse, rape, and murder. You can not compare the two issues, or try to make them equally important in the classroom.
    And frankly, being insulted that girls who live in an all-girls dorm don’t want you wandering around their home unaccompanied is akin to being insulted that a dog-bite victim won’t stop to pet your Rottweiler. You may know that it’s a nice dog, but that doesn’t mean it won’t bite. Don’t invalidate very real fear of sexual assault to make yourself feel comforted. It’s deeply wrong.

  9. Ok – I’m an old CA and student leader.. Let me just put my two cents in. There is a middle road here, and I think everyone has a valid opinion. But I am disappointed! The thing that is really lacking is respect for each other! Come on y’all! Knock it off. Everyone needs to put their egos aside and quit the condescending and defensive bs.You will get your point across better (not to mention people will really respect the shit out of you) if you’re transparent, compassionate, and kind. I personally think that this article has a lot of validity, and I think it would be a great idea for Lesley to have a class focusing on male identity and and the very complicated issues that we don’t give men permission to talk about. I am obviously a feminist, but before being a feminist, I am a humanist. You can agree with this writer’s point and still be a feminist. Why do you all see them as opposites? Last time i checked, most people who go to Lesley do so because they care about each other. This whole debate just feel so hollow, and not very Lesley at all!

    I love you. Get it together.

  10. I am a woman. I am a student of Lesley University. I am a native to Massachusetts, which is one of America’s most liberal and open-minded states. Though I have lived here my whole life, never have I experienced the kind of equality that Lesley offers me. Lesley University evens the playing field, as it were. Outside of the Lesley community, there is no doubting that the world we live in is male-dominated, though we, as a people, are working towards a more equal space. Inside of the Lesley community, I have never felt more comfortable in my own skin.

    Lesley University was explained to me as being a place where I could be myself. I originally thought this meant I could make friends, no problem, or that I could choose any major I wanted. While these did prove true, what I realize now that I did not then was that I could be every part of myself. At Lesley, my gender, my status, my race, my nationality, my sexuality, all of it matters, but none of it impedes me. I can be my whole self without fear.

    Lesley University has a larger female population than most universities, which makes sense, considering that it was, until recently, an all-female university. Now, however, Lesley welcomes all genders. I have all genders living in my house. There are men who live right above my room who I have never had a complaint about. One of them is an athlete here at Lesley, and I have never once heard him experience any scorn he has encountered because of that. In fact, his community cheers him on and supports him, as the community does for students in all of their endeavors.

    Lesley University is equal, and this is, understandably, new to some people. Nobody here has experienced total equality in their lifetime. A transition from a primarily male-dominated world to a heavily female community can be jarring. However, Lesley is, as I said previously, equal. There are groups and places for all genders to meet. All walks of life can follow a path to Lesley University and find a place to join in and simply be. The males are not oppressed; the females are not oppressed; no gender is oppressed. Some may simply be struggling with the transition.

    Lesley University has opportunities for all. Getting involved with clubs, exploring the diverse course offerings, attending the varied school-sponsored events, and getting to know fellow Lesley community members are just a few ways to find yourself experiencing some of the wonderful possibilities Lesley has to offer. As a female, I see Lesley as a safe place where I can not only be my whole self, but where I can also experience the whole selves of those around me, regardless of gender.

  11. “None of you know my life, or what I have experienced.” – This precisely why those in the Lesley community need to have a larger conversation about what exactly the university environment on campus is- for all members of the community. Actually TALK to each other without the Facebook “activism” and simple jabs at one another. Even if you totally disagree with both articles the author has written, Mr. Anderson made some waves and got people to speak passionately and think.

    As a recent Alumnus, I was disheartened to see the Mr. Anderson’s original article. However, this article more clearly articulates the authors OPINION and where he comes from. Remember- this is an opinion piece, not even close to hard news. Even though I was disheartened to read Mr. Anderson’s original article, I was more insulted by many of the comments which were not representative of the Lesley I love. I hope that this has sparked a larger discussion of what the new university environment is at Lesley. Historically, these “controversies” fizzle out, but I hope the conversation rolls on.

    Like the previously mentioned Alumnus, yes, the Lesley experience that I had was VERY different than what you might experience now. At that time, we had to make the case for many changes on campus as a student-body. The results of which, students enjoy as commonplace today. The huge digital screen TV in the student center took something like 6 years to put in place… and that’s just a stupid TV. Change is a slow process.

    Lesley University has really been shaken up over the last ten years… and yes co-education was very big. However, one of the secondary changes was the establishment of this community forum: The Lesley Public Post. As a member of the former student governing body, I was happy to not only approve the LPP’s creation, but also the original funding for this website. Lesley did not have a proper student news source prior to LPP and it all started with a conversation between students and faculty. Conversation leads to action and action leads to change.

    Keep the conversations coming, but do not mistake comment for conversation. As we used to say, Wake up the World… but how about we wake up each other?


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