Feminist Club and Men Advocating Change Work Together

Two student groups — Men Advocating Change and the University of Vermont’s Femi-nist Majority Leadership Al-liance (FMLA) usually work separately to change what they view as negative precon-ceptions about masculinity and femininity in society — but last Wednesday was different. The two groups met in the Living and Learning Center here at UVM to discuss role model’s influence on masculin-ity and femininity. These two groups’ objec-tive was to bring their group’s work together for a concerted effort to change existing prob-lems facing men and women. “We work on the same is-sues, coming from different perspectives,” UVM sopho-more and leader in Men Ad-vocating Change, Phil Ortego said. “We are mostly having a dialogue between many dif-ferent people, hoping to foster a community by discussing what feminism is to us,” UVM sophomore, Amadeus Kaelber said. The group discussed the positive and negative qualities of their role models and how those role models influenced their personal ideas of what it means to be a man or a woman. “Exploring gender is artwork,” one student said. Many of the students told the group that their role mod-els were family members. “She taught me a lot about the strength of women,” President of the Feminist Alliance, El-len Hansen said of her grand-mother and role model.However Ortego had a differ-ent role model, “He was very sensitive and taught me a lot about masculinity,” Ortego said, about his middle school soccer coach. Both groups are active on the UVM campus. Men Advo-cating Change, “recognizes that while masculinity is of-ten represented as violent, aggressive and dominating in our culture, be it through the media, sports or larger insti-tutions like politics, that men live very different lives than what we’ve been told,” accord-ing to their Web site. Men Advocating Change has taken part in the White Ribbon Campaign, focusing on men working to end men’s violence against women, and has also taken part in the Take Back the Night March. The FMLA is a national group; with a chapter here at UVM that has done work throughout Vermont and the country with women’s issues. Nationally, the group is cam-paigning to get women out to vote, get women elected to student government positions and to promote global wom-en’s rights. They have taken part in past with the March for Women’s Lives, focusing on abortion rights and family planning. Faculty member Helga Schreckenberger, the direc-tor of the women’s and gender studies program, advises the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance Chapter at UVM. The FMLA at UVM is also member of the Reproductive Rights Coalition (RPC) along with Planned Parenthood, the National Organization of Women and the International Socialist Organization. The RPC, according to their Web site, “are working hard to raise awareness about reproductive rights at UVM.”