Academic conference to explore 'effeminophobia' among men

An academic organization dedicated men’s studies will soon host a conference exploring ways of “queering masculinity.”

The American Men’s Studies Association (AMSA) has dedicated its upcoming conference to the “critical study of men and masculinities,” with an emphasis on “sexualized violence” and “rape culture” perpetuated by men.

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The conference, titled “Bodies, Sexualities, Masculinities,” will be held in March 2018, though the organization now soliciting speakers to talk on issues such as “queering masculinity,” the experiences of men in “BDSM and leather cultures,” and “effeminophobia” among men.

Accepted speaking proposals will look to discuss men through the lens of “sex-positive feminist theory,” “queer theory,” and “psychoanalytic theory,” according to a recent call for proposals.

“To be certain, this conference recognizes and welcomes papers on the ‘dangers’ of sex, but also recognizes the complexity of sexuality, bodies, and masculinities, and the ‘pleasures’ that sex and desire can offer in a range of scholarship,” it notes.

[RELATED: UNC: Masculinity contributes to ‘perpetration of violence’]

While none of the panelists have been chosen yet, the AMSA has selected as its keynote speaker University of California, Riverside Professor Jane Ward, a feminist who studies issues such as “the social construction of heterosexuality” and “queer parenting.”

Notably, the AMSA was founded in 1991 to promote the study of men “through the advancement of feminist-informed scholarship,” and is committed to “feminist-informed policies, politics, and practices.”

Currently, the organization is led by Cliff Leek, who also serves as the program director of the SUNY Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities, an organization which seeks to “[redefine] gender relations to foster greater social justice.”

Leek’s center has come under scrutiny recently from columnists who worry about the ramifications of the center’s focus on toxic masculinity and studying men through a deliberately feminist lens.

In an essay for the Martin Center, for instance, Bruce Bawer, a SUNY grad who now lives in Norway, noted the irony of organization’s feminist-led board of directors, including Jane Fonda, Naomi Wolf, Gloria Steinem, Eve Ensler, and Michael Kimmel.

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“To put such a [female-dominated] crew in charge of a center for men’s studies seemed like a joke—but is perfectly routine in today’s academy, where the few courses on male issues tend to be part of women’s studies and invariably view maleness exclusively through a feminist lens,” he wrote, adding that the “men’s studies center is an entirely feminist-orientated operation.”  

Addressing the lone outlier in the group, he added that “Michael Kimmel is a superstar, rubbing elbows with Jane Fonda and being cheered for talks in which he essentially apologizes for being male.”

Campus Reform reached out to both the AMSA and the SUNY Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities for comment, but did not receive any responses in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen