Latest Honors In Action Project studies masculinity
By: KATIE LEICHT
Art & Life Editor
Come April, Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) officers are set to travel to Washington D.C. to attend NerdNation — a conference for other honor society members across the country.
PTK studied how perceptions of masculinity affect attitudes toward rape through the club’s latest Honors In Action project, ‘How Masculinity is Defined in America.’
The project attempts to explain rape in American culture through a person’s level of masculinity. Epps said that neither gender nor sex necessarily correlate with their level of masculinity.
“We wanted to understand the why behind the actions,” Epps said. “We started looking at masculinity and things like how society shaped them to become who they are and shaped the definition of masculinity.”
PTK conducted six workshops in November 2015 over a three-day period. There were 60 participants.
“We started each workshop asking everyone blindly — without any introduction to what we were doing — what their definition of masculinity was,” Epps said. “This way, we could see from before the workshop if their opinion had at all changed afterwards.”
Participants began by writing their definition of masculinity on a piece of paper in under 60 seconds. They also took a test to self-assess their gender — not their biological sex.
“You start the research process and you really get into it at the end of summer and then you work on it pretty intensively during fall semester and then we submited it Jan. 24 2016,” Epps said.
The surveys showed that even if a participant was biologically male, but possessed female characteristics, they were more likely to believe rape was a masculine issue.
“Our point of this was one of advocacy,” Epps said. “Everyone thinks there is either male or female and that’s not the case. We’re closed in to think that. It’s an ideology, it’s an opinion.”