Home News ‘Man Question’ Challenges Perceptions of Masculinity

‘Man Question’ Challenges Perceptions of Masculinity

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Written by Bradley Bommarito

On Wednesday, April 4, Wil Fischer and Michael Wilson from a New York City based organization presented in the Wortmann Ballroom to an audience open to students, faculty members, and the public.  The interactive event included skits, videos, and several hands-on activities involving the audience.

“We incorporate audience interaction and we provide an educational background on the history of masculinity,” said Fischer.

According to their website, Man Question is a theater-based organization addressing masculinity, building community, and creating possibilities for new gender expressions.

“We blame toxic masculinity without blaming men.  The interactive techniques come from the field of applied theater,” said Wilson.

The inspiration for Man Question came after Fischer and Wilson presented a thesis project for their graduate program in spring 2011.

“We finished the project and recognized the strong need for that kind of work.  We presented the project at a maximum-security facility for men, that was the first workshop,” said Fischer.

What started as a thesis project in the City University of New York’s graduate theater program soon became the Man Question.

“We became better at asking more pointed questions about the impact of mainstream masculinity.  We do work with college students, incarcerated men, and other audiences,” said Wilson.

Workshops are customized based on the intended audience, and current events surrounding gender are also discussed.

“We recently conducted a workshop in NYC connecting the Man Question to the #MeToo movement,” said Fischer.

The duo takes a participative, light-hearted approach to complex topics such as gender norms and gender identity.

“We are very silly.  We do goofy games to break the ice.  The conversation is more about finding solutions than blaming others,” said Wilson.

“Men are the victims of toxic masculinity and we are looking at its root causes,” said Fischer.

The two presenters visited with several classes this week, and they will be attending tonight’s RC Drag Ball.

Dr. Gregory Rosenthal, assistant professor of history, has worked with the founders of Man Question in the past.  They collaborated with Mrs. Sandra McGhee and Mr. Wes Brusseau from RC Student Health and Counseling Services to host a workshop on campus.

“I’ve participated in a Man Question event in NYC, and I performed at the New Masculinities Festival for the first time last year,” said Rosenthal.

“Our goal is to encourage men to begin having conversations and pushing the limits of what it means to be a man.  When I look at this campus, I just want to see a place where students feel like they can be themselves, where they do not have to put on a face,” said Rosenthal.

Students that didn’t get a chance to participate in Wednesday’s Man Question workshop can still explore gender themes by attending tonight’s RC Drag Ball, being held from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Wortmann Ballroom.

“I am hoping that the drag ball provides a free space to play with gender.  It is a great opportunity for LGBT students on campus to take on a leadership role,” said Rosenthal.

Those who present an RC ID will gain free admission, and members of the public can get in for $5.  All proceeds are being donated to a local LGBT+ youth program.

“Gender is a performance and drag is a fabulous way to play with this performance,” said Fischer.