The Dark Side of Dartside

Sexism in our Schools

The Dark Side of Dartside

“Look, sexism isn’t even an issue anymore. Feminism is so stupid.”

Does this sound like someone you know? Does this sound like you? Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but it’s also everyone’s duty to make sure that their opinion is informed. Let’s look at this statement, and provide some real statistics and facts about the increasingly controversial concept of feminism.

First and foremost, as a general rule, never say that sexism isn’t an issue anymore. All over the world, women aren’t allowed to vote, to get an education, to decide how many kids they want, or who they marry. Women’s rights continue to be an enormous issue globally. That’s not opinion; that’s fact.

What people tend to mean when they say this is that sexism isn’t an issue in the U.S. anymore. It’s illegal to openly discriminate based on gender in America, but it continues to be a touchy subject for many citizens. A prime example could be the infamous wage gap.

You’ve heard about this issue, about women getting paid less than men on average, often for the same jobs. Women working full time earn 85% of what men do. Let’s look at the facts. For the most part, this gap is due to what’s called “Motherhood Penalty”, where when a man leaves a woman with children she takes time for maternal leave, or needs more time to care for her kids. This affects her pay. The Economist also points out another cause of the wage gap.

“The top four jobs done by American women- teacher, nurse, secretary, and health aide- are all at least 80% female… The pay gap would shrink if men moved into female dominated jobs and vice versa. But in America, such workplace gender integration stalled about a decade ago after steadily increasing for more than two decades. About one half of college degrees in business awarded since 2000 have gone to women, but the share of senior executives who are female has remained stuck at one in five.”

At Davis High School, the heads of our administration (principal and assistants) are all male. All of our secretaries listed on the website are female. In the Alumni room in the library, all of the featured former students but one are male. Davis has been ranked with an overall A, but we received a C in diversity. Many girls have complained about teachers making sexist comments (whether this is to get a rise out of students or due to genuine beliefs is often unclear) and life can be hard for transgender girls in our school.

We’re not living in the dark ages. Women’s rights are stronger than they have ever been. But when you think about the strongest women that you know and love, the smartest and bravest, does it seem likely that the stunning absence of girls in high-ranking jobs is due to a lack of hard work or care on their part? Or does it seem far more likely that it’s because we have yet to shake loose the remaining chains of a patriarchal society?

The issue is not that women dominate these jobs. The issue isn’t that men are successful. If anyone wants to stay at home and raise children, or live a quiet life with low-income, then it’s their right to do so, and everyone should respect and encourage them.  The issue is when women feel pressured to stay out of leadership roles. The issue is when a girl decides not to share her opinion because a man is speaking. The issue is when a guy won’t date a girl who’s taller than him. The issue is when people starve themselves to look more appealing. The issue is when a boy is ashamed to cry over something that deeply hurts him.

The issue is, at its core, deeply ingrained in society from centuries of misogynistic practices, and the issue has not been solved, yet. Progress has been made, but we need to recognize that progress needs to continue to be made if equality will ever be achieved.

So what can we do? There are several simple actions everyone can take to help make a safer, better world for 51% of our population. First: Don’t hate on feminism.

By definition, feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes”. Despite this, feminists are often frowned upon in society. One girl in our school system commented:

“It’s not that I don’t want equality. I just… don’t want to call myself feminist because there are so many radical feminists who think girls are better than men and stuff like that.”

If you don’t want to call yourself feminist, don’t. However, calling all feminists radical monsters is just as stereotypical as calling all Trump supporters uneducated bigots. “Feminism” is the support of equal rights in technicality, and feminists seek only for everyone to be treated fairly. Anyone who promotes one gender being superior to another is not a feminist. In order for equality to be achieved, the people who fight for it need to be seen in a positive light, not shoved aside as silly.

Another way to make a difference is doing what you want. Be a nurse, be a CEO, be a teacher, whatever you want to do, do it. Do not stop because you’ve never heard of a male this or female that. Do not stop because you have heard of it. Base your success and your dreams on your happiness, and don’t stop because someone wants you to fit the mold.

And if you’re a girl, then support your sisters. Far too often, girls are taught to judge themselves on their body type or relationships. Far too often, that judgement begins to turn its scrutiny on the people around us. If you catch yourself gossiping, harassing, or bullying, stop it. It’s harder than it sounds, but a necessary part of helping all of us.

The world that we live in is crazy and terrifying, and that starts in our schools. However, the world is also making inspiring progress– and that starts here, too. One half of the human population was shoved aside and pushed down for years, and the remnants of a patriarchal legacy remains lurking in our schools. It’s up to us to get rid of it, once and for all.

Image credit: Succinct Research