Students in field

Learning about healthy gender identity with Filmmaker Byron Hurt

September 28, 2018

This week Finlandia Fridays was visited by documentary filmmaker Byron Hurt. Hurt’s film Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes was shown last week to kick off the Month of Action, a month-long campaign put on by Finlandia to raise awareness against sexual violence and encourage healthy gender identity. Hurt was also on campus to give a talk “Locker Room Talk or Toxic Masculinity?”, which took place earlier this week.

Despite being tired from travel before the talk, Hurt said that the reception was great and the energy he received from the students helped him to do his best. Afterwards, Hurt wrote a meaningful post that he posted on his Facebook, summing up his night quite poignantly. To connect to Hurt over social media, check the links below.

Byron Hurt Facebook Post

Addressing healthy gender roles and the respect of all humans is not an easy job. It’s also a job that Hurt said was never “on his radar.” Graduating with a degree in broadcasting and journalism, Hurt mentioned that he was struggling to break into that industry. Working at the Center of the Study of Sport and Society, Hurt was asked to help out with a new program that would have young men stand and talk about gender violence. After going to a conference, Hurt committed to the job for a year and he hasn’t looked back since.

Hurt stated what really helped him with his job was the fact that he knew, with first-hand experience, that sexual violence is real. When Hurt was getting started, he was nervous about how he was going to be received because at that point men weren’t speaking to men about sexual assault violence. Women were, but it was falling on deaf ears, so being able to talk with confidence about something that he knew needed to change was important to him.

When asked what he wants people to take away from his talks, Hurt mentioned “Everyone has a stake in addressing gender violence, whether you are male or female. Every person has a stake in ending it [sexual violence] because we all have people we value and love who we are connected to.” Hurt continued to go on to mention that women tend to understand the discussions about sexual violence easier than men, since they are usually the targets. Men have a harder time understanding the discussion, so being able to get them to understand in a way that helps illuminate the fact that males tend to perpetuate the culture of sexual violence.

While Hurt is on campus, he is shooting some film for a new documentary he is working on that is focused on hazing. Working on it for the past four years, Hurt stated that the film has been difficult to make since hazing is quite taboo and secretive. Despite the hardships with the documentary, Hurt hopes to raise more awareness about hazing, and to hopefully break through that barrier of secrecy so people feel safe to talk about their experiences. Hurt talked about how Finlandia was unique since there is no Greek life, and the campus has a large student-athlete population, which he believes is also important to address when talking about hazing.

Byron Hurt’s Social Media



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