Every Tuesday and Thursday, the students of Masculinities 395 meet in Bucksbaum 269 to discuss, deconstruct, analyze, and think about masculinity. Aside from being a GWSS class focused on men and masculinity, this class is unique in the incorporation of non-traditional projects. Professor Gill has proven to be a fan of creative, yet challenging projects that make us think of masculinity in different ways. Whether it was through critically looking at the ways Pinterest filters masculinity for their users or learning how magazines edit Black masculinity to keep perceptions and stereotypes intact, this class has navigated different platforms to be as holistic in our learning as possible. With that said, Masculinities 395 is currently completing the third project of the semester which has proven to be the most creatively challenging assignment thus far. The instructions to this project were to create a multi-step research on an aspect of masculinity with the end product being something that can be displayed, performed, or presented. Broad instructions, right? In order to understand better how things have been going with this project I asked three Masculinities students to answer the following questions, “What was your initial inspiration for your project?” and “How has it developed from there?”

Rian Edwards 16’:

My project titled "Coming Up Short" is about the connection between masculinity and the penis. At first I had no idea what I wanted to do for my project, but it came after a long discussion with my friends about how crazy it was that there are a hundred different names for the penis and only a select few for the vagina (almost all of which are used as insults). I started to wonder why this discrepancy existed, and realized that there was a strong connection between masculinity and the penis, and I wanted to study about it in more depth.

My project has expanded greatly from where I thought it was going to be. I broke my project into two parts: the erect penis and the flaccid penis. And within these two parts I discuss everything from phallic architecture to race. And it eventually transformed into two phallic statues covered in images that represent masculinity. It has come a long way from I first imagined it. I learned a lot and really enjoyed the project! 

Scott Olson 15’:

I’ve been doing a lot of work with leather communities, and exploring their history, spaces, and traditions, and one artist you see everywhere is Tom of Finland. He does these over-the-top hypermasculine erotic and pornographic drawings of men, many of which are wearing uniforms of various kinds. This got me thinking about state power (implicated explicitly by Tom’s many fantasy uniforms) as both a masculinist and erotic fantasy with obviously very real implications. Tom of Finland seemed like a good way to think about the erotics of state power, and making the phallus of the state visible, so to speak.

It struck me that this project could be a means of exposing that phallus. I took a photoshop class in high school, and decided that photoshopping these bodies onto various heads of state might be an interesting way of directly implicating state power in that masculinist erotic fantasy. So then I started looking for Tom’s drawings as well as pictures of world leaders, and you’d be surprised at how nicely they often fit together.

Julia Marquez 17’:

Masculinities isn't an art class, but I still wanted to create something valuable and meaningful to me for our final art project. The only way I knew to do that was to make my project matter personally to me, so I wanted to think about how concepts of masculinity have manifested themselves in my own life. As I said above, I had often already thought about masculinity in terms of my dad, so the art project seemed like a perfect place to explore these ideas -- both the convergence of fatherhood and masculinity generally and my dad's masculinity specifically (how it does or doesn't conform to standards of hegemonic masculinity and how I have seen it emerge in my relationship with him).

At this point, not much farther than I outlined above...lol. I'm creating a black-and-white pencil drawing of my dad and me, based on an old photograph of the two of us when I was a baby. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the whole process is turning out to be way less stressful than I thought it would be, and I'm really enjoying diving deep into this image and thinking about what kind of messages a viewer might take away from it, whether they be about masculinity, fatherhood, the relationship between the two, or something else entirely.

In order to exhibit the hard work the students of Masculinities have put into their work they will be presenting their work in the installation “(Re)masculated” on Monday, May 4, 2015 in Bucksbaum from 4:30 to 6:30. A lot of hard work has been put into this project so students, staff, and faculty are all invited to come and see the end results! Below is a description of the event.

“(Re)masculated features the work of students in GWSS 395: Masculinities. This course explores the meaning of masculinity, how maleness is gendered, and how masculinity is embodied and lived out in American culture. Students examine the multiplicity of masculinities using an intersectional approach to reveal the constructed nature of hegemonic masculinity and highlight other forms of masculinity. Each student in the class has created a piece of art that engages critically with some aspect of masculinity. Themes include discussions of oppression and privilege, racialized messages, erotic depictions of sexualized violence, and the body, among others. These issues have been approached with sensitivity. All students will be available to discuss their pieces.”