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"Hunk, Hustler, Hard-Ass" seminar an eye-opening look at masculinity

Jacob Martin

Issue date: 11/12/10 Section: Focus
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What does it mean to talk about a rape culture? What do men and women do to avoid being violated? These are just two of the many questions answered during the presentation "Hunk, Hustler, and Hard-Ass: Masculinity in the Media," sponsored by the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women November 4.

The presentation was given by Dr. Matt Ezzell, an assistant professor of sociology at James Mason University, and former full-time staff member in the rape crisis movement. He received his B.A. in Women's Studies and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

With only a few empty seats in the 1914 Lounge of the Thwing Student Center, the audience was very engaged, asking questions throughout. However, it was Ezzell's question "So what?" that sparked the attendees and fueled the rest of the night.

"Ads are everywhere," Ezzell said. "They objectify women in many ways as victims of violence, property of males, and as sexual things." The ads of today, according to Ezzell, have harmful consequences on women and men alike, showing that masculinity consists of power and control.

Ezzell argued that if you watch any America's Next Top Model, it is clear that women are getting the wrong message from today's culture; there was an entire episode devoted to "dead" pictures. Also, a recent GQ magazine story titled "Glee Gone Wild" portrayed characters in lingerie and suggestive poses, sending a message to young fans that that sort of behavior is okay. Additionally, Ezzell targeted ads with colored men, explaining that the motif is that they are depicted as either very muscular jocks or dangerous criminals.

The discussion moved onto pornography, which as Ezzell said "is more of an industry with much money, not artistic expression." He discussed its harm to boys and men, saying, "The cost to men is forfeiture of our humanity. It makes me angry that my sexuality is being taken from me and fed back to me by corporate agencies."
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