The Bahá'í Chair for World Peace hosted the first 2015 Spring Lecture in its Series on Solidarity Across Differences on Feb. 25 in the Adele H. Stamp Student Union Colony Ballroom. The Bahá'í Chair is the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences’ premier academic center for the exploration of timely issues related to transformations of culture towards peace.
To explore gender roles and masculinities, the Bahá'í Chair invited Professor Michael Kimmel, feminist and distinguished scholar, to the University of Maryland campus. Dr. Kimmel is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University in New York, a prolific author, and a well-known pundit on contemporary gender issues.
Dr. Kimmel’s lecture was titled “Mars, Venus, or Planet Earth? Women & Men on Campus in a New Millennium.” In an engaging and entertaining presentation, Dr. Michael Kimmel stripped away the myths that women and men are so different that they might as well come from different planets. In his lecture, Dr. Kimmel surveyed the landscape of current controversies about gender, and suggested that women and men are not so different after all. He showed that men and women are transforming university campuses and culture, and showed how gender equality is a good thing for men. He gave examples that were close to home.
"When men 'share' housework and childcare, children are happier, healthier, and do better at school. When men share housework and childcare, their wives are healthier and happier. When men share housework and child care, the men are happier and healthier. When men share housework and childcare, there is more sex in the relationship," Dr. Kimmel noted.
He also noted that race is a significant factor in the social experience of women, and that a woman's gender identity can in many ways be linked to her racial identity. Noting that this point isn't always clear to his students and audience members, Dr. Kimmel said, "Privilege is invisible to those who have it."
“In the socialization of young men and women in society, there are many opportunities to explore how new conceptions about their identities can help build solidarity across gender difference,” said Professor Hoda Mahmoudi, holder of the Bahá'í Chair for World Peace. “While society and popular culture perpetuate certain notions about gender characteristics, Dr. Kimmel’s lecture shed light on similarities between young men and women on campus, and how they can see themselves as supporters of gender equality, and the empowerment of women in particular.”
Described by some as a male feminist, Dr. Kimmel is among the world’s leading researchers and scholars on men, masculinity, and manhood. He has written more than 20 books on such themes, of which Manhood in America: A Cultural History (1996) was hailed as the definitive work in the field. His other books include best-seller Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men (2008), which investigates the lives of young people today, based on interviews with 400 young men, ages 16 to 26.
The Bahá'í Chair for World Peace is interested in exploring solutions to complex problems. Professor Kimmel’s lecture provided a space for students to access research and scholarship that informs new understanding about the role of both men and women toward creating a culture of gender equality on campus, and potentially in the workplace, in families and communities, and in society in general.
Learn more about upcoming Bahá'í Chair events and initiatives.