GW must fight misogyny on campus – The GW Hatchet
A classmate mansplained me a paper during my first month in college. It was my own essay.
Yes. Sitting in my lecture on the diplomatic history of the United States, the stranger sitting next to me asked me how I thought my first assignment, which was due a few days before, had gone. I told him I trusted my essay, and he suggested I swap the papers and read them. After going through my paper for less than 90 seconds, he turned to me and said, “I think it’s brave of you to say that President McKinley has had a greater impact on society. Spanish-American War as John Hay. Slightly confused, I tried to answer and clarify that he had misinterpreted my point. “Actually,” he remarked, interrupting me in the middle of the sentence, “you support this because you mention…”
I was completely taken aback. My classmate was explaining my own essay to me as if he had written it – as if I wasn’t smart enough to understand the nuances in the argument I was making. He handed me my laptop back, looking almost proud of himself, as if he had helped me understand a concept I already knew. My cheeks were tinged red with embarrassment, and I was overcome with a sense of horror when I realized that although I was not used to this blatant display of misogyny, many other girls to GW were.
I spent my four years of high school at Notre Dame de Zion, a Catholic school for girls in Kansas City, Missouri. I spent the second half of my teenage years unafraid to speak in class, confident in my place in an academic setting, and uninterrupted by boys who instilled a sense of superiority over women. The girls-only environment in Sion, while benefiting me in countless other ways, did not prepare me for a coeducational higher education experience. Although I was caught off guard, I’m more upset that this is something a lot of my classmates are used to.
In my six weeks as a student, I have seen more women interrupted, argued, fired and ignored in an academic setting than in the previous 18 years of my life. When discussing it with my friends who graduated from mixed public high schools, I am faced with a yeah, it’s just like that. It’s disheartening, especially when you attend a university that prides itself on its diversity and inclusiveness. Although GW has a predominantly female population, the university’s academic culture ignores and perpetuates misogyny in the classroom, leaving male students with a sense of entitlement and female students like me feeling out of place.
Honestly, I expected better from such a liberal and progressive school. Coming from a predominantly conservative state – albeit relatively liberal – I was delighted to come to GW and be part of a college that presented itself as a dynamic and forward-thinking institution. In many ways, GW meets this expectation. Thanks to the Women’s Leadership Program, the strong Title IX office presence on campus, and the myriad of women’s organizations affiliated with the university, GW on paper appears to value and support women in all aspects of their time on campus. But from what I have learned and experienced during my short period of enrollment at GW, it seems largely performative. My roommate Chloe, who also attended a girls-only high school, comes home at least once a week frustrated by a male classmate who rejected or belittled her in a discussion or conference. And most of the time, I come home complaining about the same thing. Women studying at GW deserve to be supported in all aspects of life while studying here, not just through after-school programs and organizations.
This is not to say that the majority of the male community at GW is intentionally malicious or considers themselves better than women. But the academic community leaves the unconscious biases against women unchecked and unresolved. I haven’t had a single teacher berating a student who interrupted me. My teaching assistants fail to defend my classmates when they are discussed in discussions. Although unintentional, this is a systemic failure that GW must remedy. Whether through mandatory quarterly rather than annual training of staff and students, hiring more female faculty, or strengthening Title IX services, it is imperative that GW focus its resources on protection and support. women in academics.
Students have compulsory prejudice training at the start of each school year, as well as compulsory Title IX training. But these one-off programs don’t go far enough to ensure that women are truly protected throughout the school year. With the exception of Title IX, women do not have the opportunity to report gender discrimination in the classroom, and reporting an incident of discrimination to the Title IX office does not guarantee the perpetrator’s punishment. . This leaves no incentive for male members of the GW community to confront their biases and change, as they are not being punished for treating women the way they always have. The University must implement more oversight, more resources and more penalties for those who discriminate on the basis of sex in the university setting, otherwise nothing will change.
I experienced some of the most disheartening and humiliating displays of misogyny I have ever encountered in my life during my first six weeks at GW. It is heartbreaking, disheartening and most of all, revealing. Women deserve an equal place in the classroom, and GW has an obligation to ensure that this place is protected on campus.
Maggie McKinney, a first year major in political science, is an opinion writer.