Gender relations club aims to promote discussion
Nicole Caratas | Thursday, February 25, 2016
Junior Caylin McCallick saw a lack of conversation between different genders at Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame and decided to found the Justice Education Gender Relations Group (JEGRG) in order to spark and facilitate that conversation.
“I realized that I had no outlets of engaging in academic conversation with different genders,” McCallick said. “I just want to talk to people. I want to engage in higher-level discussion about the issues we face — and I want to do it in an environment that’s void of solo cups and Tinder.”
According to McCallick, the group, which she is doing as an independent academic study project, will meet once per week for four weeks. She said it will have a loose structure in hopes of creating open conversations about subjects varying from how different genders interact to sex positivity to DomerFest.
“This group is my way of finding people with similar feelings who want to have a serious, safe dialogue about gender,” McCallick said. “What am I blind to? What do you know that I should know too?”
McCallick said the main focus of the group is creating a space in which dialogue of this type can occur.
“I realized that I didn’t really know how to communicate with opposite genders because on this campus mostly I just speak with females,” McCallick said. “I realized that was a common problem because I saw people … in different social situations. We’re all educated people, and yet when we meet each other, it becomes this dumb game. … I wanted to figure out why that is and delve deeper in the discrepancies between genders.”
McCallick said she wants to create a continuous conversation in which women can speak with men on a professional level in addition to romantic or social contex in order to find the deeper meaning behind certain ideas about other genders.
“I feel like I judge very quickly, especially men,” McCallick said. “I don’t know where that comes from in my soul. I just want to talk to someone face-to-face and figure out why I am having this defensive against you and figure out what we can do about it, so that we both can rise because there’s this strange social stigma and I don’t know where it comes from.”
According to McCallick, the group will give members the opportunity to engage with and learn the perspectives of people different from them. The group’s dynamic will strengthen communication skills, a tool that will be beneficial later in life, she said.
“I think it’s important because [Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s are] both institutions of higher learning,” McCallick said. “We can benefit from representing our schools in the business world by knowing how to speak with someone appropriately and knowing what the other side of the issue is.”
McCallick estimates the group will have 10 female-identifying members and 10-male identifying members, but it is open to people who identify as any gender.
“I want it to be balanced among genders,” McCallick said. “I’m not just saying male and female — I want all genders. I want the balance because I don’t want any one to take control more than the other. … We can get really defensive, and the biggest thing is it has to be a safe environment to say things. You don’t want to get people on the defensive.”
The group will begin meeting after spring break. For more information on how to join, email McCallick at [email protected]