By Eli Davis
Best-selling author and self-described male feminist Michael Kimmel discussed his book “Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men,” feminism and his motivations in an interview with The Seminole Scribe.
Kimmel spoke with the school newspaper prior to his college speaker series presentation to an estimated audience of 300 on Feb. 6 in the Concert Hall at the Sanford/Lake Mary Campus. He is the founder of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook University in New York.
Much of Kimmel’s work and activism revolves around feminism which he defines as “very simple.” Kimmel explained that he bases the definition on a moral position taken from an empirical observation.
“Here’s the empirical observation; women and men aren’t equal,” he said in an interview with The Seminole Scribe. “Here’s the moral position; they should be.”
He added that being against feminism is “un-American” since America is all about liberty, democracy, and equality.
Gender studies was not a subject that he sought, the author said.
“Let me put it this way; I did not go looking for this,” he said. “It found me …. I did not get into this work because I found it intellectually interesting, like a new puzzle. I got into this because I was politically committed to working for gender equality.”
Kimmel said he was a graduate student and an activist, studying a traditional sociology degree when the feminist movement began.
After giving a speech during a take-back-the-night march, a student approached him and asked if he’d ever teach a class on masculinity. He said it had never really been done before.
Kimmel found that books on masculinity were hard to come by, so he decided to write his own called “Manhood In America,” which outlines the history of masculinity in America and the role that men and women play in it.
Now Kimmel travels around the world speaking on the subject. He had just been in Germany two days prior to his speech at Seminole State.
“I have a lot of privilege,” Kimmel replied when asked what motivated him to take his speeches around the world. “Do I pretend I don’t? Do I keep quiet because I need to seed the space to others who are less privileged than I am or do I try to use my platform to amplify the voices of others? … I think it’s my responsibility.”
Kimmel then moved to the Concert Hall, where many in the audience held tightly to their copies of “Guyland.” Kimmel ended the speech with a question and answer session. After the speech, many gathered in the old Student Center in Building C. A large portion of the audience picked up their very own copy of “Guyland” to have it signed by Dr. Kimmel.
The speech was live streamed by the college at https://www.seminolestate.edu/live-video, and it will be available at a later date, according to Maureen Preuss of Seminole State’s Academic Services.