Men Against Sexism Discuss Gender-Balance in Relationships

The annual National Organization of Men Against Sexism (NOMAS) conference held at Florida State University sought to help redefine traditional definitions of masculinity.

Held in FSU’s Student Services Building, the three-day event was chartered to raise awareness and help breakdown the social biases of what gender roles should be in society. The 36th annual event drew in hundreds of attendees from around the country to discuss the personal stigmas and social pressures that many men face when trying to figure out what masculinity means for them.

The entire conference focused around the theme, “Breaking Out of the Box: Re-Defining Masculinity.”

During the conference, participants attended various workshops, ranging from “Power and Positioning in Straight and LGBTQ Relationships” to “A Lack of Consent: Redefining Sexual Assault to Young Men.” Guests of the event listened to keynote speakers such as Judge Thomas Hornsby, psychotherapist Moshe Rozdzi and Teen Program Supervisor Chris Ptak of Chicago and many more.

All discussions were geared toward breaking down the stereotype that many men feel they have to live up to.

“The goal of the conference is to eradicate societies views regarding gender roles, and that when and only when these views have been eliminated then we shall have true equality towards all people,” said Nick Savelli, director of Men Advocating Responsible Conduct (MARC).

Surprisingly enough, it has been proven that men are equally subjected to violence in a relationship as are women. Although it may be verbal and psychological abuse – abuse is still abuse.

Speaker Chris Ptak discussed the sexual assault and domestic abuse epidemic in society to audience of about 120. He felt it was important to create a new approach when dealing with sexual assault.

Ptak also spoke about the lack of substanative dialogue when telling people about statistics and facts related to sexual and domestic abuse.

“My goal is to present a practical approach to sexual and domestic abuse, that efficiently teaches our young men about rape,” Ptak said.

His new approach is to give the crowd a personal story, which he feels will have a stronger impact on the young men.

Approximately 75 percent of sexual assault victims are between the ages of 19-25. The majority of perpetrators are indeed male, with many of the sexual assault programs geared toward a woman’s perspective, according to Ptak. Due to this approach, men statistically feel resistance and alienation.

The entire conference preached acceptance for all people. “This conference has broadened my eyes immensely,” said Tyler Greggs, a third-year engineering student from Tallahassee.

“I feel as though that it’s okay to be different and not be held down by the social ‘requirements’ that are expected of men, to act and behave a certain way, just to be socially accepted. The key is to be yourself, no matter what anybody else thinks about you.”