Students, faculty create Queer Up in response to Man Up ASU

Video by Vianka Villa | Multimedia Reporter

Students and faculty members have banded together recently to found Queer Up ASU as a direct response to Man Up ASU and create a dialogue between students about sexual violence not just in terms of ASU women, but gender non-binary people as well.

The group came from a project initiated by a Queer Visual Culture class that aims to examine how queer visual culture is represented.

Faculty associate Emmett Ramstad taught the class this semester and said students brainstormed for weeks about the topic on campus they would eventually address through multifaceted art actions. The topics ranged from gender-neutral options on campus to support and resources for LGBTQA students.

 

“With this project, what we were doing was looking at the example, for instance, of what was happening in the early '80s with AIDS activism and how people were ... creating posters, T-shirts and getting a message out in all these different ways,” he said.

 

Ramstad said each of the six students in the class engaged in the project in a different way, whether it was through screen-printing T-shirts that read “Queer Up” or putting together a 'zine to effectively convey some of the sentiments felt by students about Man Up ASU.

 

Some of the entries in the 'zine read: “We question the value of encouraging ‘men’ to embrace masculinity as a means of reducing violence against 'women’ and others" and "We want to live in a world where gender violence is taken seriously and addressed thoughtfully."

Man Up ASU, according to its Facebook page, is a club on campus that “exists to challenge ASU men to take responsibility by: rejecting passivity, leading courageously, and initiating respect for ASU women.”

Founded in 2012, the group has focused on preventing sexual assaults on campus and had “close to one hundred fraternity members take the Man Up Pledge of Respect for Women.”

 

Women and gender studies senior Shannon Jenkins said she felt Man Up ASU’s goal to create a dialogue about respecting women and sexual assault may be hindered by the group's exclusionary nature.

Man Up ASU partners with WOW Factor, an organization for women at ASU that promotes respect between men and women, and does include women in rallies but Jenkins said WOW Factor as a whole is less visible.

 

“(Man Up ASU) directly excludes women and yet claims to be working on sexual assault, which is an issue that affects mostly women,” she said. “I think part of this is also the assumption of binaries. What club do non-binary people join? One’s explicitly for men and one’s for women.”

Scuplture senior Mikey Estes said Queer Up was also created to address the root of the phrase “man up” and how it might be construed to people within the ASU community.

 

It’s a cause I think that’s great, creating respect for women is great, but I feel that that phrase 'man up' has something about it that is very hyper-masculine that I think is off-putting to both women and non-gender binary people,” he said. “In creating our group, we wanted to create something that wasn’t so off-putting, that was all inclusionary.”

Queer Up will host a walk and picnic Wednesday to encourage students to think about the way domestic violence, rape culture and masculinity are addressed on campus.

Estes said he felt Wednesday’s event could be seen as a protest but is thought of by Queer Up as more of a way to create solidarity and visibility. He said Queer Up does challenge some of the norms presented by Man Up but seeks to simply create a dialogue.

 

“There’s definitely a dialogue in there that challenges masculinity and traditional ways of thinking about gender. That’s what I want people to get out of this,” he said. “There’s Man Up and then there’s WOW Factor, but we’re existing in this liminal space in the middle, and I think by existing in this liminal space we can enable people to have voices who maybe otherwise wouldn’t have had one.”

A queer visual culture class created Queer Up ASU as a response to Man Up ASU. The group is hosting an event on campus Wednesday in hopes to challenge the idea of male privilege and start dialogue about respect for women and gender non-binary people. (Photo by Diana Lustig) A queer visual culture class created Queer Up ASU as a response to Man Up ASU. The group is hosting an event on campus Wednesday in hopes to challenge the idea of male privilege and start dialogue about respect for women and gender non-binary people. (Photo by Diana Lustig)

Political science senior Mercedes Newman said Wednesday’s event would include a walk around the MU with participants wearing multi-colored “Queer Up” T-shirts screenprinted by the class. Signs will be available for students without T-shirts and about fifty of the 'zines created by the class will be distributed. The walk will conclude with a picnic on Hayden Lawn.

 

“I think honestly if someone just decided to google ‘queer’ because they didn’t know what it meant and learned something then I think it’s useful,” she said. “At the beginning of the class we asked, ‘What is queer, what is art and what is queer art?’ To me, that is what the class is about. Trying to explore the relationship of queer and art and how they work together I think that is mostly what we’re doing.”

 

Intermedia senior Morgan Sweazy said they felt Man Up might better its cause by engaging in practices other than rallies and pledges.

 

They do have a lot of rallies for respect and pledges, and they do have fraternities sign documents against sexual assault, but on the other hand, it might still happen,” Sweazy said. “It’s really just a signature. We have to find things more than pledges that can promote respecting women.”

 

Queer Up had contacted Man Up’s president during the semester to address some of their concerns and did receive a response outlining the organization’s commitment to building a culture of respect between men and women. Queer Up’s initial email to Man Up is published in its 'zine.

 

On Tuesday morning, Queer Up’s Facebook page, which existed for a week, was reported as “hate speech” and has since been taken down. The group plans to appeal this and post statuses to personal Facebook pages for community outreach and awareness.

When reached, Man Up ASU declined to comment.

 

Reach the reporter at cncalde1@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @katie_calderon

 


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