According to the Office of Institutional Research Assessment, roughly 16% of the UMass Dartmouth College of Engineering students are female. This means, the College of Engineering is 84% male! This is not surprising considering the social and institutional barriers that drive younger women away from perusing majors in the sciences, but this is particularly interesting when discussing discrimination within the College of Engineering.
As a female engineering student, who has experienced multiple cases of discrimination while attending a different institution, I have not experienced discrimination from my professors or administrative staff at UMass Dartmouth. I have a profound respect for the College of Engineering on this campus and I have always felt that I was treated the same as my male peers. However, my male peers did not feel the same. Over this past year, many of my male peers have suggested that professors have favoritism for female engineering students. Many of them believe that Engineering professors are more lenient with grading and are more “easy going” with the females in the class. I asked several of the male students why they felt this way and the cumulative reason was “girls are just obviously treated better and professors like them more. They give them better grades because they feel bad for them. Prof. A is a creep and likes girls and Prof. B is a female so she likes girls.” This is when I realized that many male students in the College of Engineering have NO IDEA about the challenges that female engineering students face. Maybe, the entire campus community may not see the full story when it comes to our female engineering students.
I can honestly say, that of all the things I’ve learned while taking women’s and gender studies courses, the most important topic has been the social construction of gender. I believe that understanding this concept is key to helping liberate women because if everyone would realize that we only view gender the way we do because we were nurtured to do so, we would live in a world where people are more accepting of each other’s differences.
In the Judith Lorber’s “The Social Construction of Gender”, she explained that gender is a human production which is dependent upon everyone constantly “doing gender”. She says that gender is maintained as a process, and as part of a stratified and structured system; which has caused gender to be “so pervasive that in our society we assume it is bred into our genes”. Lorber’s excerpt concludes, stating that, gender inequality “is produced and maintained by identifiable social processes and built into the general social structure and individual identities”, and I absolutely agree with this statement because this is the same way that the idea of race, class has been produced in our society.
Since when did no mean yes? Since this is apparently still an issue today, let’s break it down in the most logical sense. Yes: a sign for going, green, a nod of the head from up to down, a smile even, and sometimes the casual thumbs-up. No: a sign for stopping, yielding if you need to hear it one more time, but that should never be the case, red, a nod from left to right or vice versa, a frown, and that thumbs-down has to mean something undesirable. Being categorized as a victim is the worst feeling, many of us have been there once, maybe twice. No one wants to be the one blamed and no one wants to get hurt.
Often time’s people try to blame the victim for the rape. They’ll say something ignorant like, “She was drunk, and she had it coming!” Yes, because she had a sign that said, “Please, scum of Ohio, rape me!” How is the one or many that forced themselves on a girl and took videos and laughed because the victim was unconscious, not being questioned? How is it that a girl passes out that makes her an easy target? Here’s some food for thought: what if that girl was dead the whole time, surely necrophilia is something to laugh about and show to all your guy friends.
My boyfriend is Puerto Rican, and when we first began our relationship things were done with mutual understanding, however, now that I spend a lot of time staying at his house, with him and his mom, I’ve realized that he expects that I will accommodate to this socialized role of woman: the “house wife”. We would constantly argue about why he feels that I should always cook for him, make his plate, wash his clothes, and ultimately tend to his every nurturing need.
So, my violation of a gendered role consisted of deciding not to cook, clean, or perform that “role” he ‘assumes’ of me. This ultimately forced me to separate myself from him physically, until I felt that he understood that if I did things for him, it was only because I care for him and expect the same in return, not because I felt that it was what I am supposed to do as a woman.
It is remarkable to realize the amount of advertisements one consumer can be exposed to in a single day. The sad thing about this is the majority of these ads have a subliminally harmful effect on consumers—especially women. Most people find it almost impossible to name an advertisement that positively influences women, but people must not realize that NIKE ads seem to always make sure to portray and influence women in a positive aspect.
Sex is predominantly the image that advertisers seem to portray. Women are usually half-clothed, and some of the ads don’t even make sense with the product it was trying to sell. However when it comes to the Nike Women campaign, I feel that these ads are very empowering for women. The most recent ads pick a part of the body that women typically hate, and the ad tells an empowering story about that body part. For example, the ad titled“Thunder Thighs”does not show any picture other than a picture of the body area being described. The ad reads,“I have Thunder Thighs and that’s a compliment because they are strong and toned and muscular, and though they are unwelcome in the petite section, they are cheered on in marathons. Fifty years from now I’ll bounce a grandchild on my thunder thighs and then I’ll go out for a run”(Nikewomen.com). This ad is very empowering for women because not only is this ad addressing the issue of larger thighs in the present, but in the future as well.
The Women I Aspire to be
The latest example is the one and only, Nicki Minaj, who joined the mainstream rap game less than 5 years ago, and has already become a whole new person (or if you let her tell it, she’s 5 other people). Maybe my frustration stems from the fact that I’m a singer and rapper my self, or maybe it’s just because I’m a true music lover. However, besides the fact that her butt is 60 pounds heaver than it should be because of her butt job, she acts as if she has no intelligence, and this the new role model for many young girls around the world.
A few days ago my facebook newsfeed was bombarded with angry military men (friends of mine) stating that there was no way they would go into combat with a woman. These concerns were expressed due to a recent pentagon decision to lift the ban on women in combat. My first thought was “military men, of course they would feel this way, they are surrounded by sexism!”, but as I thought about the subject matter more, and researched some of the actions that will be taken by the military I realized, there is a pros and cons list that one must consider.
How I see it: As long as one is able to perform the duties required for a given position, gender is irrelevant. As long as the military is not lowering its current standards and is instead requiring women to reach those standards, lifting the ban on women in combat is a great idea. Based on this proposal, the military will not be lowering its standards; it will be increasing opportunity for both women and the military system as a whole.
Pros: Women who are in better shape than men can be sent into combat. In modern day combat, more than just physical strength is required and valuable technical expertise and skills can be provided by both women and men. Women are more successful than men in different aspects of military operations. Women in combat can diversify the talent in combat units which can better resolve issues and end conflict. Mixed gender forces keep the military strong by increasing the opportunity gap for applicants. Military forces are less effective when they do not appoint the most capable person for a job, which may be a woman. The opportunity to appoint women to the most capable positions increases military effectiveness. Serving in combat is often a requirement for promotion to senior office position. Making this available to women allows them to reach the higher branches of the military which indirectly helps decrease sexism in the military.
2013 could be one of the most progressive years for LGBT rights in American history. With many states and the Supreme Court considering creating greater equality for Americans, this year will be one of the most decisive and historical in decades, regardless of what decisions are reached.
Confronted with change, sometimes desperate resistance is a natural reaction when one’s inherited values seem threatened. Homophobia, however, is not a natural or logical reply.
Prejudice is not natural, because it is not based on fact but on stereotypes, and stereotypes are not based on genuine understanding but a misunderstanding often produced by a lack of interaction or an abundance of seclusion. These beliefs are also spread by a national media with an affinity for the dramatic.
In response to the coming changes in many countries, not just the United States, Pope Joseph Ratzinger, the leading voice of the Catholic Church, lashed out frantically at the LGBT community and their allies in his Christmas address in December 2012.