“We never question why someone would shoot a basket overhand [because that is socially accepted as the ‘norm’] but when it is underhand it becomes an issue. It becomes an issue because judgement is now occurring. What D.U.D.E.S does is challenge this” –Reggie Robles
On September 21, Gregory 175 accommodated a well-turned-out group of individuals who sought out a discussion for controversial and taboo subtopics pertaining to relationships.
Dudes Understanding Diversity and Ending Stereotypes (D.U.D.E.S.) is a 1 credit course that touches on current events and how each topic relates to masculinity and the labels regarding them. Although each meeting time is designed for enrolled students, each class discussion is opened to the public.
D.U.D.E.S. incorporates widely interested topics along with current events with each D.U.D.E.S. talks and programs. They make it so that each student can tie the subject at hand with elements of masculinity and consciously understand the implications of each uniquely related topics. Some of their programs and discussions led in the past include talks on pornography, guns, and the relations between men and violence.
“Men and masculinity is more than what people see it is. It is a spectrum of many ideals that are not socialized,” Reggie Robles said. “People come from various backgrounds experience different messaging. This class explores all of that.”
Thursday’s talk began with senior and D.U.D.E.S intern Marcus Garcia encouraging the audience to voice their suggestions/themes that should be focused on during the conversation. Once the agenda had become somewhat extensive, everyone started speaking what was on their mind, how they interpreted things, and how it made them feel.
Beginning with the issue of consent, the group began connecting this topic as a pressing issue in relation to our President, the validity of rape research and the challenges that arises with understanding what “consent” really is.
“Consent is an ongoing discussion between two individuals,” explained Destiny Ng, a sophomore in the audience. “Consent isn’t permanent and no one person can hold another [person] accountable for something said before, or in the middle, or even after an act. If someone doesn’t feel comfortable, they are entitled to say no at anytime.”
The impact that gender roles has on relationships was briefly discussed, but mainly served as a transition to the main focus of the night. The group dove into the complexity and never ending spectrum of the different types of relationships. Definitions and examples were given to describe the various labels including, but not limited to being: single, an acquaintance, DTF (Down To F*ck), DTR (Defining The Relationship stage), hooking up, booty call, etc. From this broad subject, individuals in the room bounced off each other’s ideas with enthusiasm and whether it have been in concurrence or disagreement, the atmosphere in the room was light, positive, and inviting. “We definitely encourage students to express what they are thinking whether that is ideas, thoughts, comments, or questions. All of that is welcomed,” Reggie emphasized.
Following the successful D.U.D.E.S. talk, I was lucky enough to sit down and have a one-on-one chat with Garcia. We went deeper into the background of how he got involved with D.U.D.E.S and how these conversations helped him analyze his personal identity. He goes on to discuss that the primary goal of D.U.D.E.S is to make at least one person each discussion uncomfortable to the point that their emotions and equilibrium is off. The cofounder and interns want the individual to make it so that they’re hyperconscious of how they interact and really think about what they’re doing.
When asked how far was too far in terms of being uncomfortable, Garcia replied with “pushing the comfort zone is too much when you begin resenting yourself. The goal is not aiming to be perfect, which leads to self-hatred. The goal is to actually accept all parts of yourself, that includes the good, bad and ugly.”
D.U.D.E.S. was an incredible experience and really opened my eyes to the things left unspoken about the stereotypes that haunt men based on societal problems. Check out D.U.D.E.S every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. to experience a welcoming and diverse community!
“We want everyone to know that no one is here to purposely offend or make someone else feel uncomfortable in the sense that they want to disrespect,” Garcia said. “With that being said, we want you to speak from the heart. Say what you really think because until we address the realness, we will never change as people. We will never change these dynamics.”