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Taboo Talks hosted their first fall semester event Sept. 28. on Weber State Davis campus where students and faculty guests were able to have an open discussion regarding gender roles and non-binary gender identities.

Dr. Rob Reynolds, who is a part of the Sociology and Anthropology departments at Weber State, opened up the Taboo Talks discussion with his presentation on masculinity and the social construction of gender roles.

Reynolds started off his presentation by asking audience members what defines a man’s masculinity to them by showing Google images of what society perceives as masculine men.

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Many respondents in attendance said that words like “power” and “leader” were some characteristics that define a man’s masculinity.

After hearing the audience’s responses of how they define masculinity, Reynold’s said, “Why isn’t it masculine if there’s a guy holding a baby? Because earlier we described them with words like ‘power’ and ‘leader.’”

Reynold’s discusses how gender roles are constructed based on socialization through interacting with others and how gender roles are shaped by our clothing, speech and the way we act. He also mentions how we are constantly changing as we grow older.

Not only did Reynold’s present for the Taboo Talks event, but also LGBTQ+ Violence Leader Cody Brown gave a presentation.

Brown’s presentation, called “Out of the Binary,” discussed the problems with binary definitions by creating an activity for students and faculty members in attendance to participate in what Brown calls the “box activity.”

Students and faculty guests were instructed to draw two boxes on a white board, one representing a “man” and the other representing a “woman.” Brown then asked guests to list personality traits society perceives a man and woman should have.

Some of the traits guests listed in the man box were “assertive, non-emotional and strong” while the women’s box had traits like “weak, emotional and submissive.”

Once the two boxes were filled in, Brown asked the audience to raise their hands if they all fit the personality traits as a binary within their own box. Most of the guests didn’t raise their hands at all.

“Most people don’t fit in these strict binaries that society places,” Brown said.

Brown ended the Taboo Talk event by discussing the gender unicorn, which lists the identities a person can identify themselves as: gender fluid, tri-gender, transgender and more.

Diversity and Unity Vice President Salim Ben Khalifa, whose team organized the event, thought the Taboo Talks event turned out very well.

“The audience’s reactions were so open about this topic, so I’m really proud of my team and the diversity department on this campus,” Khalifa said.

Khalifa’s team is made up by Weber State students Brian Choi and Alex Giacomo, who are both co-chairs over the Taboo Talks events. One of the Taboo Talk events, covering social anxiety, will be organized by co-chair Brian Choi on Nov. 2.

“These Taboo Talks events are very important. If we can help at least one person, then we are happy,” Choi said.

The next Taboo Talk event organized by co-chair Alex Giacomo, called, “Echo Chambers,” will be held on Oct. 19., from noon–1 p.m., in the Wildcat theater.

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