Behind the Masc

Behind the Masc
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DEFINING MASCULINITY: Carlos Andres Gomez, a New York-based spoken-word artist, delivers worlds of wisdom regarding a man’s responsibilities in today’s world.

By Lloyd Quansah Photos by Leslie Marciniak

Carlos Andres Gomez, an actor, playwright and poet, visited the Ashtonbee campus for the White Ribbon Campaign.

He was asked to perform a few poetry readings, discuss masculinity and discuss how to improve personal relationships.

Gomez used poetry to emphasize his point. He started the presentation with a verse about the way young men interact with each other. He used others to talk about young women’s body issues and interracial relationships.

Focusing on a wide array of issues can help people understand that violence against women is a multi-layered issue, he said.

“If you talk about violence against women or all these ideas of how men are supposed to be, or masculine conceptions, I always try to emphasize that you can’t talk about one thing without talking about another thing,” he said. “They are all interconnected.”

He believes that getting to the root of a man’s anger can prevent future violence.

“Violence against women isn’t just stopping somebody punching their partner in the face. It’s the kind of words that you use, the way you interact, it’s the way you view that person, it’s the way you conceive of yourself, it’s the role that you feel like you have to play,” he said.

“There’s a lot more involved. It’s not quite as simple as stopping a guy from beating up a woman in a parking lot,” he added.

“It’s a wide range of issues that you have to all talk about so you can be proactive…I think it’s about trying to address all these different multiple layers of how violence happens. It’s trying to stop it before it happens.”

Miguel Anthony, a visitor for the presentation, thought the discussion was informative and important.

“That was a necessary topic that he addressed, and he addressed it in a very compelling way that got the message across,” Anthony said. “I thought it was well received.”

He thought that the presentation helped him with his personal feelings.

“It challenged me because I struggle with the same stuff. I’m a father of two and I want to be the best father and the right man. It’s challenging,” he said.

Robert Pidgeon, chair of the White Ribbon Campaign, decided that Gomez was the right man to speak about these issues.

Pidgeon knew his charisma and acting skills would captivate the audience.

“Because he’s young, exciting and will be able to engage with students, I hope he starts energetic dialogue around the issues of violence against women and harassment,” he said. “We want people talking about it and we want people being part of the solution, so we’re hoping for a lot of participation and a lot of dialogue generated out of the event.”

Centennial College and the Respect Committee started the campaign in response to the Montreal Massacre in 1989. The massacre occurred when a young man shot and killed 14 women at École Polytechnique.

Pidgeon and the rest of the campaign members are also part of the Respect Committee at Ashtonbee. They want the campus to know that the committee’s effort is the basis of the campaign.

“The Respect Committee is putting a very significant focus on the issue of harassment, and has a number of aspects to it. The White Ribbon Campaign is part of that overall effort, and that’s the reason why it’s been given some additional focus this year,” Pidgeon said.

Pidgeon is happy with the effort the school has put into the White Ribbon Campaign.

“For the last number of years, Centennial has been actively participating in the campaign:
setting up booths at each campaign, raising awareness, and so we’re doing that again this year,” he said.

Toronto Women’s Shelters

East End: Red Door Family Shelter
21 Carlaw Ave.

West-Central: YWCA Toronto

North York: North York Women’s Shelter
416-635-9630 (24 hours)

Scarborough: Scarborough Women’s Centre
2100 Ellesmere Rd.

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