Category Archives: Masculinity

Layers of Consent

destiny green

Destiny Green

SIUE Sociology and Women’s Studies Alum Destiny Green is Prevention Educator and Girls Group Facilitator at Safe Connections in St. Louis, MO. The title of this piece comes from one of her colleagues who mentioned that students often will say “I didn’t know that consent has that many layers.”  Here, Green boils down the core elements that go into healthy sexual relationships and consent negotiations.

I LOVE my job. Because it’s necessary.

I talk to pre-teens and teens about healthy sexual encounters, consent, and coercion and I’ve gotten good at laying out the basics that are important for healthy fun sex that is a good time for everybody.

Consent is an 100% enthusiastic “Hell yes” as it pertains to inviting someone else to your space/body. NOT a “uhh idk” “if you want to” “maybe”…it has to be BEYOND THE SHADOW OF A DOUBT that I want whatever you are offering. Period.

A person that is sleep, intoxicated, or underage canNOT give consent—even if they say/have said “yes.”


consent unconscious

An image from Charles Darwin University’s online consent training, with a “no” symbol added by SIUE WMST

Consent is fluid. It can be reneged. It can be revoked. You have to KEEP asking for it.
Just because someone consented to something last Saturday, does NOT mean its cool this Tuesday.

STILL gotta ask for consent if you’re in a relationship. STILL gotta ask for consent if you’re married—Simply because YOUR BODY DOES NOT STOP BEING YOUR BODY when your relationship status changes.

If a person is not allowed to say “no,” it is NOT a consensual interaction. Which brings me to coercion…

Coercion is a very important concept to understand. It is a type of “yes” that comes from manipulation, pressuring someone, guilt tripping someone, etc.—which are all things that usually comes after someone says “no, I’m good/I don’t want to/I changed my mind.”

Unfortunately, THIS is how most sex is had.

This is also how people (particularly women) get in situations that they didn’t want to be in, i.e. “I just gave him my number/fake number/your number, because he wouldn’t quit asking me EVEN after I said that ‘I’m not interested’.” Because coercion is the “game” your uncles and older cousins taught y’all. Coercion is doing/saying whatever it is that you have to do and say to get them to say “yes.”

Marinate on these concepts.

If you’ve been a survivor of any of these scenarios, know that it is NOT YOUR FAULT.

If you’ve done any of these things, ACCEPT IT, OWN IT, and DO BETTER from this day forth.

And it doesn’t matter if you agree or not. These are things that you MUST be aware of so that sexual encounters can be happy and healthy, and so that no one feels taken advantage of!

Either do this, or catch a case.

I know that it sounds like a lot. But it only seems like a hassle because no one sat us (millennials and older) down and educated us on this. We are not informed.

And it shows.

And I’m sad.



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Drinking From The Same Well: White Supremacy, Misogyny, and the Fight for Justice in Solidarity

Director of Women’s Studies Alison Reiheld, an Associate Professor of Philosophy at SIUE, is on sabbatical leave this semester. Recent events, however, have driven her to think. And write. And keep acting.

CONTENT WARNING: gun violence, racist violence, anti-Semitic violence, gender-based violence. Where possible, images will honor the victims and will only show the faces of the perpetrators if they are obscured.

CONTENT REWARD: this is difficult, hard to read material. At the end, you will find some pictures of cute animals for relief.

“Understand that modern white supremacy, like many historical white supremacies, is anti-black, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-woman, and more. Elliot Rodger, Dylann Roof, and the shooter in Pittsburgh drank from the same ideological well — a well we have to drain.” 

–Nicole Hemmer, tweetstorm on antisemitism and Charlottesville, Oct 27, 2018

Hemmer - white supremacy misogyny same well

Nine years ago on the 20th anniversary of the event, I learned about the massacre at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal. In 1989, twenty-five year old Mark Lepine, armed with a rifle and a hunting knife, walked into a classroom at the university, separated the men from the women, claimed he was “fighting feminism” because it ruined his life, called all the women in the room feminists, and proceeded to shoot all nine women in the room, killing six before moving through the rest of the university where he killed more women and many men. In total, he killed 14 women, injured 10 other women and 4 men, and then turned the gun on himself. He chose Ecole Polytechnique because he had been denied admission and blamed feminists and women for taking a spot that he believed belonged to him by right. While searching his body, police found a suicide note and a list in his pocket of 19 prominent Canadian women including a journalist and a government minister. The note said that Lepine believed there was no place for women in engineering, that women were trying to take over men’s jobs, and that feminists were responsible for higher insurance costs. The Montreal Massacre remains the deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history and led to Canada’s current gun control laws. I had never heard of it.

Montreal Massacre victims

The 14 women engineering students murdered by Marc Lepine in Montreal, Canada at Ecole Polytechnique

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Men, Power, and Everyday Feminism

An SIUE alum now in grad school elsewhere reflects on the assumption that men are entitled to women’s attention whether they are reading, mourning, taking a train ride, talking with friends, or just not interested. Because of the charged nature of the comments, and the possibility of local retaliation in the current environment, the author wishes to remain anonymous.

TW: Discussion of rape culture, violence against women, Kavanaugh hearings, Bill Cosby sentencing, etc

Hi, everyone! Brevity is not my strong suit, but I will try to be brief. That said, I have multiple stories that I would like to share with you. I am currently pursuing my second a Master’s degree and, like other places and campuses across the country, my place has been buzzing about the recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh and the allegations of sexual assault brought against him by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University and, as of this writing, at least three other women. Among other news traveling through the campus grapevine are the trial and subsequent conviction of Bill Cosby for drugging and then sexually assaulting many women.

It was in this context that, just two days ago, I was standing in line at a local cafe when I overheard a young, early-20-something undergraduate discussing the Kavanaugh debacle in a very disturbing way. He was conversing with a fellow undergraduate, a young woman who looked to be about the same age. He claimed to not understand “what the big deal was” and that “stuff like that” (the activities that Kavanaugh participated in as a high school student in the 80s) happens “all the time.” There were also claims that Brett Kavanaugh and co. were “young kids.” A week prior to this encounter, I’d overheard another, very similar account–this time in regards to fraternities on our campus which endorsed sexual assault not unlike the famous Yale fraternity that chanted “No means yes, yes means anal,” a chant that was later echoed by fraternities across the country including at Texas Tech.  The overarching sentiment it seemed to me was “What’s the big deal? This is so commonplace that it isn’t noteworthy. Get over it. Let them be kids.”

Around the same time that I’d heard the comments about Theta Tau, I witnessed another incident on campus. I’d been walking from my house to the CVS that’s a couple blocks from my campus. As I was walking down the promenade of campus, I passed two girls about my size (quite short). They were clearly friends, and one of them was talking to another friend on her phone. As they walked past me, two guys about their age—they were all white and looked to be late teens, early 20s—approached them.

A man in a grey suit and hat, smiling, leans over the back of a bench inside a train car. He is leering or smiling at a young blong woman dressed all in black as though in mourning clothes. She is not smiling, and is looking directly at the viewer.

“The Irritating Gentleman”, by Berthold Woltze, painted in the late 1870’s. Dudes demanding women’s attention? Not new. The young woman, dressed all in black, could be in mourning. She is certainly simply traveling along on her own agenda. She is looking somberly directly at the viewer.

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Favorite Feminist Heroes, Part 3: Rachel Held Evans

Part 3 of our Women’s History Month series on Favorite Feminist Heroes comes to us from Instructor Darci Schmidgall of Sociology, also a SIUE graduate.

Darci Schmidgall

Darci Schmidgall doing her favorite activity, crossfit.

I am a self-identified Jesus freak sociologist, and Rachel Held Evans is one of my favorite feminists because she is taking on the white evangelical patriarchy. Her writings debunk the popular use of colorblindness by contemporary Christian leaders, acknowledging the institutionalization of racism both inside and outside of western Christianity, and calling for a concerted effort by those who identify as Christians to engage in racial justice activism.

Rachel Held Evans.jpg

Rachel Held Evans

She has been very vocal in the Trump era that the need to stay true to Christ’s teachings supersedes the desire of the Religious Right to seize political power by following a particular candidate whose words she points out are not only overtly racist and sexist, but clearly anti-Christian. Rachel has also been willing to openly deconstruct the engrained sexism behind the predominant Christian ideology of gender complementarianism, and constructive of gender egalitarianism as an accurate rendering of Christ’s prescriptions for gender relationships. This is her homepage:

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Walk a mile in our shoes ….by learning about our actual experiences

Recently (yesterday), SIUE participated in the national event known as “Walk A Mile in Her Shoes.” As is typical of such programs across the nation, and as described in a press release from SIUE earlier today, “Men crammed their feet into red high heels and walked on the campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville on Tuesday,  Feb.13 to support women and to bring attention to gender-based violence.” While a post-event session offered by SIUE’s Prevention and Education Advocacy Center (PEACe) offered much more depth and a chance to really learn about being active bystanders and preventing violence, the event is often reduced in the public perception to being about the red shoes walk, itself. Our own Prof. Saba Fatima (SIUE Philosophy Department) reflects on this  public perception of these kinds of events–not necessarily the SIUE event itself–in a blog entry authored before the event took place. Note that this public perception is reflected in the way that the University’s press release covered the event even though the event itself contained a much richer opportunity to explore issues of gender, sexual harassment, and other aspects of sexism.

Walk a mile in her shoes 02-13-18 high heals

Men in pants stand on one foot and stick out the other, linking arms in a semicircle in front of the Cougar statue outside of SIUE’s Morris University Center. They are wearing bright red high heels. This is the public perception of what the event is about. This is also the image taken from the SIUE press release about the event. The picture was taken February 13, 2018. Shown in the center is Jeffrey Waple, vice chancellor for student affairs at SIUE, who led the march.

Across US campuses, men get involved in “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event an effort to raise awareness for violence against women. So on Feb. 13th SIUE men walked in high heels to literally experience what it feels like to walk in a woman’s shoes. The idea is an event that is a “playful opportunity for men to raise awareness in their community about the serious causes, effects and remediations to men’s sexualized violence against women.”

The whole point of ‘Walk a Mile Her Shoes’ is to get a glimpse of what women experience. The walk is generally followed by providing productive information that focuses on raising awareness about sexual violence. I think everyone that organizes & participates in it has their heart in the right place, but perhaps we need to rethink specifically the ‘high heels’ activity that accompanies this intent. I cannot help but think that there is something off about men walking in high heels to experience women’s experiences. Here are a few thoughts on it:

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PEACe in: SIUE has a new Sexual Assault and Intimate Partner Violence Initiative

On the heels of our previous blog entry on sexual assault for April, which is sexual assault awareness month, we have good news from a new SIUE staff member whose job is entirely focused on this and related issues.  Meet Samantha Dickens. She has kindly provided her contact information at the bottom in case you want to get ahold of her.

Greetings, SIUe students, faculty, and staff!vawa bipartisan

SIUe competed for and was awarded the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grant in October 2016, allowing us to create the Prevention Education and Advocacy Center (PEACe) and hire a program coordinator: myself, Samantha Dickens. The VAWA grant is facilitated through the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW), and the act has existed for over twenty years. During this time, OVW has refined the grant process based on research and critical analysis of that research, creating a three year grant with multiple structured trainings for the grant team and access to a point of contact with OVW and technical assistants who are experts in their fields of strategic planning, prevention education, cultural competency, and several other topics.

VAWA support

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A young woman with shoulder length curly black hair, brown skin, dark eyes, and pink lipstick holds a white markerboard. She is smiling just slightly. On the board is written “I support VAWA because it funds and provides CRITICAL and LIFE-SAVING services.”

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The Plight of the Double-Standard in the Sexualization of Political Figures and Media Representation

This blog entry by Christy Ferguson, Instructor in English and Women’s Studies at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, brings us PART 2 in our Women’s History Month blog series on Gender, Sexualization, and the Media.

When typing the name of Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau into a search engine, what would you expect to find? Topics about his policies? A speech, maybe? Certainly, one does not expect to find this:

“Everyone is Extremely Thirsty for Young Justin Trudeau” –Marie Claire via Yahoo News

“Young Justin Trudeau Pictures Have Been Discovered and the Internet is Freaking Out” –Yahoo Style

 “Will Justin Trudeau Ever Pose Nude? Young, Shirtless Photos of Liberal Canadian PM Prompt Hopes and Hoaxes” –International Business Times

“The internet is losing its collective mind over Justin Trudeau’s Butt.” –Marie Claire

In political media, we have become accustomed to witnessing the continued sexualization of women who dare to climb the governmental ladder. With constant focus on their clothing choices, bodies, families, and marriages, women in politics have faced a myriad of sexism in the media as they fought their way to positions of power.

Until recently, the media’s sexualization of male politicians had rarely reached such a state of embarrassment. However, over the past few weeks, photos of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have been circling the internet with an extreme focus on his good looks. With much of the focus specifically on his backside, people all over the world are ogling the PM instead of focusing on his politics.

Trudeau butt

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: On the left, we see an innocuous photo of Justin Trudeau in dark slacks, a white shirt, and a button down tie. It is taken from the right side of his body. He is in profile, with his right leg forward slightly, perhaps resting on the crossbar of a chair leg. The righthand photo is zoomed in on his muscular backside. In a class sign of objectifying images, Trudeau is now headless and the focus is a single body part. (Photo Credit: Yahoo Image Search via

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Signing Away my Assumed Ability as a Man that I Could Rape a Women if I Wanted to

In the second of two posts on sexual assault, a Women’s Studies student who wishes to remain anonymous writes about his experience accessing one of the most shocking forms of male privilege: the assumed ability to take sex from women without consent.  Or as he puts it, to rape. You can find some background on masculinity studies in another of our blog entries, here.  I leave the floor to him.

–Alison Reiheld, Director of SIUE’s Women’s Studies program

Something shocking happened to me a couple of months back and I would like to share it, because I think it needs to be heard. I am transitioning from female to male right now and identify as a trans* man. I have been on testosterone for 6 months, I am a feminist, I love women, and I love equity for all.

Lately, I have seen slivers of privilege like “Joining the Boys Club”. Great for me, right? I can be a little overweight now and it is fine, I can be more negotiable with my salary offers for jobs that I am currently interviewing for, I am getting more of those jobs, men talk to me differently, and in all of this I pass as a man; which is a dream come true to me. For once, my identity and expression are synced with me both mentally and physically. I am a part of the boy’s club, but I come from the girl’s club so I don’t think that being a man is following gender norms. I feel like I have been gifted with a unique and enlightening perspective that I want to share.

Seems great, but I left out some details that keeps me up at night. Everything I have ever stood for with equity of gender has been scrambled for me. I feel like part of the problem and I sense that others now see me as part of the problem. I still have friends, family, and loved ones like my fiancé struggling to make it and telling me that I am going to eventually forget what it was like to be a woman or relate to daily struggles of oppression that I don’t face as much as my trans* women friends.

Do you want to know what the most painful thing is for me? I have spent two years of my college career diving into deep issues surrounding sexual assault, violence, and rape on college campuses. I have tons of training in prevention and conducted research for the University to advocate for a grant for programming. I have written many papers and encompassed my whole internship to the police department at SIUe to look further into these issues. I have taken countless classes on gender, sexuality, race, class, social inequality, social justice, women’s studies courses and serial rape. All of these things are engrained in my roots and now women fear that I might rape them.

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Should Universities be Seeking Awareness or Effectiveness with Sexual Assault Prevention Programs?

A student who wishes to remain anonymous has taken multiple Women’s Studies courses including an independent study this semester, the capstone project for which involves not just one but two blog entries for us. He has worked with WMST faculty member Dr. Trish Oberweis on Sexual Assault Prevention research for the university and has done two independent study courses focusing on in depth research of issues surrounding sexual assault.  He will be graduating this weekend with a major in Criminal Justice and Sociology. Congratulations! Without further ado, I yield the floor for the first of his two blog entries.

–Alison Reiheld, Director of SIUE Women’s Studies

It is assumed and expected that prevention programs should be reducing sexual assault, but the critical question that not many talk about is: Should the main objective be increasing awareness in the hopes that women will be encourage to report instead of focusing on reducing sexual assault or should the goal be to achieve both prevention and awareness? Is it possible to completely abolish sexual assault on college campuses? The massive amount of underreporting doesn’t support this. Universities like Southern Illinois University Carbondale received a bad rapport for providing effective programming when their statistics of reports go up after an academic year of improved programming. Is it possible that you can achieve both effectiveness and awareness, and is there a cap on how far steps can be taken for legislators, faculty, staff, and students to fix the proposed problem?

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Feminist Songs…: Day 13, I said I was a boy; I’m glad he didn’t check

Our post today comes to us from Kate Norlock, a feminist and philosophy professor at Trent University in Canada, where she holds the Kenneth Mark Drain Endowed Chair in Ethics. Kate is the author of Forgiveness from a Feminist Perspective She responded to my call for feminist songs by nominating singer-songwriter Dar Williams‘ “When I Was A Boy.”  I yield the floor to Kate to say a bit more about the song itself.

–Alison Reiheld, Director of the Women’s Studies Program at SIUE

Dar Williams is a pop-folk singer who was especially popular with LGBT audiences in the 1990s. (Since another song of hers is “You’re Aging Well,” I want to emphasize that she has produced many albums and is still working today!)

dar williams

Her song “When I Was a Boy” was an influential hit from her debut album, The Honesty Room (1993: Razor & Tie). Today it’s considered her signature song.

No quick sketch can do justice to the reasons so many of us are moved by this song, but I can safely state the main reason it makes many listeners and readers cry. The verses build to a first-person account of the harms to women and men of a sexist and masculinist culture.

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