Fordham Hosts Lecture on Idea of Masculinity in American Politics

By Victor Ordonez 

Jackson Katz gave a lecture hosted by the American Studies department on masculinity's role in the 2016 election. (Courtesy of Flickr)

Jackson Katz gave a lecture hosted by the American Studies department on masculinity’s role in the 2016 election. (Courtesy of Flickr)

Fordham’s American Studies department at Lincoln Center last Thursday hosted a multimedia presentation presented by Dr. Jackson Katz. Katz is an educator, author, filmmaker and cultural theorist known for his activism on issues of gender and violence. On Thursday, Katz hosted a lecture where he worked to define America’s current political climate through the idea of masculinity.

Room 3-02, located at the Fordham School of Law LC, holds about 40 to 50 people. However, the overflow of attendees required some to sit in the aisles. Dr. Amy Aronson, program director and professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies, organized the event.

Aronson spoke about why she reached out to Katz. “The way [Trump’s] campaign is displaying his masculinity and the deep appeal that it seems to have stands out to me as the dominant issue,” Aronson said. “Dr. Katz was the first person I thought of to speak on the topic.”
Katz has produced and directed award winning educational programs, directed the first worldwide gender violence prevention program in the history of the U.S. Marine Corps and co-founded the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program at Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society.

Katz also has a popular TED Talk titled, “Violence Against Women is a Men’s Issue,” which is similar to his lecture at Fordham. Katz began the lecture by outlining his main point.

“The presidency is about masculinity — white masculinity — and it has been for quite some time,” Katz said. An image of Donald J. Trump’s head was then projected onto the screen. “I am not objective, and I do not claim to be objective… you can challenge my premises or conclusions, but I have a perspective,” Katz said.

In his lecture, Katz went through history in order to analyze how masculinity has affected American politics. From comparing Trump to George Wallace, presidential candidate in the 1960s and early 1970s, to analyzing Trump’s nickname, “The Blue Collared Billionaire,” Katz explained the underlying themes and targets of the Trump Campaign.

“[The Trump campaign] is going to lose among women, they are going to lose badly among people of color, but they are going to win an overwhelming majority of white male voters,” said Katz. He then presented numbers, which he said to be “historically unprecedented.” The numbers given by Katz separated the male and female genders in their attitudes towards Trump by about 30 points.

Katz’s claims of masculinity having a strong presence in this election coincided with the data he provided. According to Katz, Trump pulls a lead in non-college educated white men by 59 points. “Trump only needs 70 percent of the white male vote to win the election,” Katz said.

The event was scheduled only three days after the first presidential debate. The entirety of the event, based on discourse from both Aronson and Katz, focused on Trump’s masculinity and how it factors into the upcoming Presidential election.

Aronson said that there were indeed some other possible dates to hold the lecture, but this one had been most optimal due to its proximity to the debate. Aronson and organizers thought the date would be “powerful for students,” as they would find it all the more important to hear what Dr. Katz had to say. According to one student attendee, Joseph Magnione, FCRH ’18, the event accomplished the desired effect.

“This lecture really enlightened me,” said Magnione. “I really didn’t picture him taking such a historical approach. It all just seemed really relevant, and I am beginning to see how masculinity plays such a big role in politics.”


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