News and Events
Black Men in America, Homophobia, Pornography Explored in Three-Part Event
While women's issues are often under the microscope in higher education, men's issues tend to get less attention. That is why Jamie Murkey, the Gender Studies Intern for Men's Issues at the Office of Intercultural Affairs (ICA), organized three fall semester events to explore areas of our culture pertaining to men: Christianity and African American men, homophobia, and pornography and sex addiction.
On November 12, students gathered to discuss "Black Men in America: A Christian Perspective." The evening featured a panel of four African American men from the Pepperdine community: David Holmes, the Blanche E. Seaver Professor in humanities, Raymond Carr, professor of religion, Marcus Brown, assistant athletic director, and 2008 Seaver College graduate Quincy Wimbish. Murkey facilitated the discussion, which explored how black men are portrayed in pop culture and the media, and how closely that correlates with the experiences of panel members.
"There are many images in the media that are negative, but rarely do we see positive images of black men," explains Murkey. "It was a coincidence that President-Elect Barack Obama won his title a little over a week prior to the program. I couldn't have picked better timing to hold the program!"
Murkey went on to organize and conduct a two-part session titled, "Gender Issues: Sexual Crossroads." The first session was held on November 24 to explore homophobia, homosexuality, and masculinity. Initially designed for male participation only, Murkey decided to open up the two-part event to women also. "It was surprising to see women's views on homophobia," added Murkey.
Ken Durham, preaching minister at the Malibu campus Church of Christ, spoke to those in attendance." It was a very encouraging evening, with a large turnout and enthusiastic participation on the part of students," Durham says. "I spoke specifically about homophobia, and that as a Christian university, we do not support or tolerate disrespectful, dismissive, or hurtful speech or humor toward any group. I made that point to substantiate it with scripture. I think it's important that we do more of this sort of thing."
Part two of the "Gender Issues: Sexual Crossroads" program was held on December 1, about the controversial, secretive, and socially embarrassing topics of pornography and sex addiction. Fliers were given to attendees containing surprising and disturbing facts, such as "90 percent of all children between 10 and 16 have seen some type of pornography."
Don Lawrence, director of Intercultural Affairs, spoke at the event. "Our office embraces the opportunity to talk about things that aren't usually talked about," he says. "Not to change the culture or the people, but to increase awareness and take away the taboo. I think there was some discomfort, but that was mainly because we are not used to talking about 'secret' things, such as pornography use."
Robert Scholz, a counselor in the Seaver College counseling center, and campus minister Thomas Fitzpatrick also contributed to the dialogue, which often made students laugh. "But when it was mentioned to the audience to think about their kids viewing pornography and how it would make them feel, the mood changed," says Murkey.
"I felt that the students were taken out of their comfort zones, which is exactly what I was aiming for," Murkey reflects on the series. "Each of the three topics was blatant and rarely discussed here at Pepperdine. In a lecture setting, we had the opportunity to discuss race, sexuality, and pornography, all in a matter of a month."