By Isabela Supovitz-Aznar
I have a very clear memory from when I was in middle school at Friends Select. I was walking down the basement hallway to the Math room for gym class with my girl-friend, when suddenly the boys ran down the hallway, violently pushing me and my friend into the walls and kicking our ankles.
I immediately went to my principal and told him what had happened. But the response I got from him was less than satisfactory. He told us that he would talk to the boys who were misbehaving, but that “boys will be boys” and that they probably just had crushes on us.
These interactions — that often happen between kids at a younger age — made me begin to wonder about feminism, how I see it, how it is, and how it should be.
Dealing with oppression of females in the way that my middle school principal did is an unfortunate example of why women later on in their lives sometimes tolerate inappropriate behavior from men — this ranges from mistreatment and cat-calls to more serious infractions like physical abuse and rape.
This acceptance often starts even before middle school. When a boy on the playground hits a girl, the girl is often told it’s because he likes her. This suggests to the girls that a man will show he likes her by treating her poorly.
What I believe should really happen, is that inappropriate behavior from either gender should not be tolerated, and they should get punished because hitting is wrong and does not become acceptable based on the gender.
It was a few years after this incident that I learned what the word “feminism” meant, and how it could apply to these situations. There are actually three different waves of feminism, which present different perspectives on the theory.
For me, feminism means equality, as far as it can go between two different genders. An example of where I believe this should apply are in jobs that require women and men to work the same job, both genders should be paid the same amount. An example of where feminism shouldn’t apply is when women who want to have the same rights as men create double standards such as expecting a man to pay for them on every date.
Feminism can also be applied to make schools more fair. girls will get in trouble for wearing shorts or skirts because they are “distracting” to the teenage boys, and so instead of punishing the boys for not being able to focus on their work, and for oversexualizing skin that is not sexual, the girls are punished for wearing clothes that exposes their legs, even if the weather is searing hot.
Feminism asks that women not be blamed for how men might objectify them. But it also suggests that gender roles should not be as strict in the first place. When a child is born, they should not be wrapped in a blanket that’s color is chosen based on it’s gender. If a man wants to wear traditional “female clothing” or wear makeup with is considered to be more of a feminine thing, it should be accepted. Women and men should both be able to express themselves as they please, while acknowledging that the anatomy of our bodies are different, which gives us each different advantages.
I believe that the solution to this cycle begins as early as birth. If boys and girls were introduced to the same toys and colors and tv shows, and raised the same way, these issues of unfair treatment would not occur later on in school. Putting an end to inequality begins in early schools and with the way children are raised.
Fortunately, when I came to SLA I noticed that there was a strong sense of equality between males and females in the school. I think this is because when prospective students are being interviewed, Lehmann tries to find a very diverse group of students to come to the school. Everyone at SLA is quirky in their own way, and none of the students necessarily fall under the social norm, but it’s great because we all learn how to be accepting in such a diverse community.