Associate professor Don Conway-Long is more than just his mini-library, also known as his office. Conway-Long is an advocate for ending violence and sharing his knowledge of masculinity studies, and the hundreds of books on sex and gender that line his office reflect that. In 1978, Conway-Long helped create RAVEN, an organization that promotes nonviolence education, where he is an active consultant and trainer. At Webster University he promotes the same message — as an anthropology professor aiming to diminish gender stereotypes.
Q: What got you interested
A: I took my first anthropology courses in the late ‘80s and I really liked them. There was a part of me that realized, “Gee I should have been an anthropologist a long time ago.”
Q: Why are you so passionate about masculine studies?
A: I don’t buy the “boys will be boys” or “it’s always been that way” kind of statements about masculinity, or that men will always be violent. I think that is utter and complete nonsense. We’ve got choices to make — big ones — and we’ve got a lot of work to do to end the behaviors that hurt us all.
Q: What made you want to teach?
A: I never wanted to do anything else. There’s something about what happens in a classroom when you can see sparks lit, the ideas generating behind the eyes. When you can help shape people’s understanding of what’s happening to them — that stuff gives me such an incredible thrill.
Q: Did you have any influential teachers?
A: When I was in Taiwan for 10th and 11th grade, I had a biology teacher by the name of Raella Booton Brown, who was there because her husband was in Vietnam. In 1968, Martin Luther King was shot, and she stopped teaching biology for two weeks and taught us from her perspective what it was like to live in America as an African American woman. To talk about, from her perspective, what race meant in the United States was extremely powerful for me, and that moment has stuck with me forever.
Q: What is your five-word memoir?
A: Care deeply about ending violence.
Story by Sierra Hancock
Photo by Lily Voss