On Feb. 10, the Faculty Club hosted an event entitled “Sausage Fest,” in which a group of 30 male students and 12 male faculty and staff discussed masculinity while eating sausage.
Matthew Davies ’17 and Henry Bergman ’15 organized the event with support from justin adkins, assistant director of the Davis Center.
Prior attempts by adkins to create a similar event never materialized. Bergman came to adkins last spring to propose the event and began planning it.
“The thinking behind it being all-male was to create a space to talk outside of the traditional team locker room or a cappella groups that are gender exclusive,” Davies said.
During their event, Ferentz Lafargue, director of the Davis Center, and Greg Mitchell, assistant professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies, discussed masculinity. Following their talks, the participants ate sausage, potatoes, sauerkraut and spinach as well as black beans for vegetarians. While eating, they engaged in conservation about masculinity.
According to adkins, some of the questions considered by the group included: “How does race intersect with our views on masculinity? What is the difference between what seems to be an idealized working class masculinity and academic masculinity? How were most of us perceived growing up, how has that changed at Williams? What are the expectations of masculinity at Williams? What did our families teach us about what it means to be a man?” Men for Consent provided a list of discussion questions, in case guests had no discussion topics.
When asked about his reaction to the event, adkins was quite pleased.
“I consider this event a total success,” he said. “I was amazed at how engaged the guys were. If we don’t talk about this stuff, how will we challenge and/or choose to conform to it? Masculinity is not a bad thing in itself, however, the performance of masculinity has been used to hurt and oppress others. Masculinity in its worst form, misogyny, has excluded and harmed women and feminine people. We learn from our dads, uncles, grandfathers, TVs, magazines, movies and books how to be men. We internalize these messages and then never discuss them. We need to talk. Talking will show us that some things we might like, but that other aspects are hurting everyone.”
Davies had a similar view about the event.
“The event was a success. We were pleased about both the turnout and the reaction that came when people learned about the event,” said Davies.
In the future, adkins would like to continue hold similar events in which men can discuss men’s gender issues and masculinity. He hopes to continue working with Men for Consent, and more generally anyone who wants to participate. According to Davies, two future events are currently planned. One will be a Guys’ Night at The Log, while the other will be an outdoors Grill and Chill event.