[STAFF EDITORIAL] Do your part for gender equity


Clara McKoy and Eliana Mann

LET HER LEARN. The discussion and pursuit of romantic and sexual relationships at SPA is littered with casual misogyny.

Showing up for women’s rights is not just celebrating women’s achievements, but critically analyzing personal behavior for occurrences of ingrained biases. While extreme hatred of women is a fringe ideology, prejudice is often thinly veiled as cultural norms or opinion. A prejudicial form of misogyny appears in daily campus life, permeating conversations and routines in undetected ways. It is an individual’s responsibility, regardless of their gender identity, to challenge how patriarchy subconsciously affects their own snap judgments and statements. An important recognition is that patriarchy is a double burden to those that don’t fit within a gender binary, jeopardizing their safety and ability to “show up” at school.

A Snapchat is opened in Schilling, prompting a chorus of praise, contrasting yesterday’s resolution of “she’s mid.” The discussion and pursuit of romantic and sexual relationships is littered with casual misogyny. People of all genders and sexualities are objectified, however, comments about women are the most pervasive. What is said when women are out of earshot? Calling someone “mid” or placing them on a 1-10 scale deprives them of their full humanity, reducing them to their appearance. These comments are rarely made to the person’s face, but they are still heard. They echo through the hallways, creating a culture where women’s contributions are undervalued. Instead of showing up to learn and engage, girls are forced into a position where they think about how their bodies are evaluated by their peers and are deprived of their full humanity. Harmful remarks can occur in concert with respecting women’s contributions and intellect. Why does that respect drop when girls become crushes?

When it comes to learning, this disrespect extends to generations of women in the building. Objectifying teachers is grossly inappropriate, and in addition, female faculty carry the double burden of combatting double standards in their teaching style. Patriarchy teaches that women are to be kind and caregivers. These stereotypes persist in teaching, as students talk amongst themselves, creating a caricature of adults in the community separate from their actions and behavior. Female faculty get labels like “harsh grader” or “mean,” while excuses are created for male counterparts with similar educational approaches. In other words, it is not surprising when male teachers are curt or direct, and criticism rarely follows. Before making harsh judgments, think about the influence of gender bias in what is expected of a teacher.

For female students in the classroom, male student voices are sometimes overpowering, creating an unwelcoming environment for non-male ones. Some might argue this is an issue of personality, but because historically, male voices have been given priority in formal settings, other genders do not enter discussions with the same confidence and privilege. All-girls schools are lauded for their high-achieving students that emerge from a learning environment without men. A 2018 UCLA study reports that graduates from all-girls high schools show greater levels of academic skill and engagement, self-confidence, community engagement, and cultural competence. Continued objectification teaches young girls they are not worthy participants in an all-gender school. Create space and actively listen to non-male voices, especially in male-dominated classrooms and activities.

Double standards occur most evidently in athletics. Turnout is notably lower for women’s games, though this is often blamed on tradition. Sexism existed in the past, yes, but it also exists in the present without a deliberate effort to shake its legacy. Women are not only undervalued in attendance numbers but also as athletes. Comments that attempt to make a joke about women’s sports are sexist; do not make them.

Put in an effort to learn about the history of gender-based discrimination. Marginalized voices should be at the center of discussion about misogyny, but everyone should show up to learn and listen. Studying gender should not be an opt-in activity. the school offers classes, educational materials, and a discussion framework to learn about gender history–utilize these resources to look inward. Patriarchy is a force that suppresses everyone’s free expression, and dismantling it benefits everyone– not just women.

This also must happen outside the individual. Call out sexist comments and attitudes. Take them as an opportunity to teach rather than condemn. Learning comes with understanding, and that requires grace. Critical introspection and vocal challenges of misogyny do not demand applause. There is no need for a knight in shining armor. These valiant characters can veer towards chivalry and saviorism, further enforcing patriarchal values.

During Women’s History Month and beyond, look inward for ingrained bias. Examine when the community celebrates women– and when they don’t. Then ask why.