Now as my bio will reveal, I identify as feminist. The path to get here has been one of personal struggle as a female and the sexism I have experienced in many realms of my life. I am stating this because as a feminist, I found the discussion to be painful and offensive, none-the-less. In fact, to Tom, I was considered a militant Feminist.
Contrary to many of my courses and research interests, Mortenson referred to our society as all about women. Truly, there has been a shift in higher education over the past decades and women are entering at increasing numbers, yet women are silenced because of the power and privilege of males in higher education administration. I sat (with other higher education students and feminists) for an hour with silenced anger.
During his discussion he presented data on male employment, which has drop over the past few decades, male’s are more at-risk of suicides, and women are matriculating at four-year institutions more often than females. While this is valid data, the presentation of it was not.
Instead of delivering this information in non-threatening ways he chose to use statements like: “this is a real problem for college girls because they will not be able to find a college-educated guys to take care of them” (notice the use of girl and guys as well), “Men need to feel competent by providing income for their families, the rate of single-mothers is increasing with no college educated men to provide for them”…and so on. I was ready for him to use the term “loose women”.
When I reflect on some of the some of the terminology and topics he chose to use, I wonder: Is it his fault or is he a product of limited education and knowledge? Mind you, this was on April 12, Equal Pay Day. A day when gender equity is challenged and the value of women is observed and awareness is crucial.
I think males and females all need gender awareness, specifically a course in which traditional stereotypes are deconstructed and challenged. Tom may have never had a gender class and even if he did, he did not hear it. The luncheon scares me because just when I think we have come so far, it all comes to a screeching halt when I interact with people like him. The future of higher education encompasses a large population of diverse students.
Some need a wake-up call and I hope to be the person calling… its 6am, what will you do to create awareness of gender inequities today!?!?!