Pace POWER and Urban Male Initiative Host Lunchtime Discussion on Feminism


Members of Pace P.O.W.E.R. the Urban Male Initiative, and Pride at Pace at a student-led discussion on feminism on Wednesday afternoon

Stefano Ausenda, Contributing Editor

On Wednesday afternoon, amidst all of the stress and commotion of a college environment, Pace students were treated to a free catered lunch, and the opportunity to openly share their opinions about feminism in a judgement-free atmosphere.

The event was co-sponsored by the newly-formed Pace P.O.W.E.R. (Partnership of Women for Empowerment and Respect), and the Urban Male Initiative with help from some members of Pride at Pace. It had 15 participants and was moderated by Women’s and Gender Studies Professor and Associate Director of Pace’s Office of Multicultural and Diversity Affairs, Rachel Simon.

Simon began the event by speaking about how advertising companies use the perceived rules of femininity and masculinity to tailor certain products to specific genders. According to her, beer is typically marketed as a “man’s product” while cleaning products are typically marketed as “women’s products.”

Simon then divided the room into two sections. One half was asked to write down and discuss how feminism benefits men, and the other half was asked to write down and discuss some of the biggest misconceptions about feminism.

Some of the ways that students identified how feminism can benefit men included answers like seeing other perspectives, understanding what feminism means, and men realizing that they can do whatever women can.

Students were also asked to identify some of the harmful misconceptions of feminism; such as how it’s perceived that feminists hate men, and the perception that inter-sectional feminism (feminism that applies to members of marginalized groups, such as an ethnic minority or member of the LGBTQ community), does not and cannot exist.

One of the things that was discussed the most within the groups was how a lot of men are taught as kids to never show any emotion, and to instead take out all of their aggression on the playing field. Another popular discussion point was how men’s first instinct is usually to get physically defensive when confronted with adversity, whereas women’s first instinct is usually to get verbally defensive.

After discussing these topics, students then wrote down how they think that feminism can be promoted and enacted more in the future. Some of the ways they identified were educating people about feminism through healthy conversations, and teaching boys at a young age to have more respect for women and girls.

Simon felt that everyone got to voice their thoughts on feminism and was glad no one felt ignored or silenced in any way.

“I really enjoyed the combination of Pace P.O.W.E.R. and Urban Male Initiative. I thought it sparked some really interesting dialogue,” she said. “I think that students left with a better understanding of the value of feminism for everyone.”

Simon was also pleased to hear how much students are already doing within their communities to promote feminism and equality.

“It was great to hear students talking about lessons of feminism that they learned from their families and communities while growing up and what they are doing now to promote equality across gender, class, race, ability, age, and their other identity categories,” she said.

Pace sophomore and Urban Male Initiative member, Greg Rivera, enjoyed how many members of marginalized groups came together to discuss feminism.

“ [This event] was a great communicating experience,” said Rivera. “…We all need to work together to have success in movements like Black Lives Matter, the Women’s March and LGBTQ rights-movement.”

Even though Rivera was happy with the opportunity to discuss and disprove misconceptions about feminism, he encourages the attendees to take what they learned and refute those misconceptions with people who may have opposing viewpoints.

“I’m a straight Latino male, and thanks to this event, I can go out and discuss feminism with other males, and discuss sexual orientation with both males and females,” said Rivera.