Feminism | Posted by Gwen on 02/15/2010

Double Standards

not quite

not quite

Man Hater. Lesbian. Outspoken. Beautiful. Overtly Sexual.

In my young life, I have been called many of these things. At first glance, it’s not easy to see how man hater fits with beautiful, or overtly sexual fits with man hater, if lesbian isn’t attached. Am I a man hater? No. I have plenty of guy acquaintances, you could even —gasp— call them good friends. Am I a lesbian? Well, I don’t care for labels. I have never fallen in love, and love has no gender limits. Am I outspoken? Well people have definitely hit the nail on the head with this one. I’m not afraid to call out injustices, I’m not a afraid to be called out on my opinions. I’m not going to ever limit myself to being that “ girl with the pretty face and lackluster body, who should just shut her face.”

For example just recently, I was sitting in my Biology class. The book credits Watson and Crick for establishing the first model of a DNA double helix. However in the book there is a tiny mention of Rosalind Franklin. She wasn’t allowed to enter the labs and do research at King’s College because she was a woman. She conducted most of her DNA research from her basement. However , she had a male assistant who would conduct her research, and get materials she needed from the lab. One day her assistant was “accidentally” ( as my bio teacher put it ) at the same hotel as Watson and Crick, and invited them into his room to “chat.” And somehow they “accidentally” saw her DNA model diagrams!! They strategically published this after her death!!

I know, all this happened in the fiftys. That was not what pissed me off, per say. It was the fact that when I asked why the book had extensive information and credited it all to Watson and Crick, my teacher responded with “look, class, it’s only a girl that’s making an issue of this.” And another girl told me, “ Just shut up it was an accident that they saw the diagrams.” It angered me that another women agreed with these sexist attitudes and thought nothing of it. Women who make great contributions in science, or other fields, should deserve credit where credit is due. They shouldn’t be manipulated to the point that no one even knows they had anything to do with anything until years later, if ever.

But the fact is, whenever I speak up about something against women, I always get these comments along the line of “shut up who cares.” These are usually from male teachers, sometimes even females. What pains me is the fact that the students who makes these kind of comments, are just to afraid of being seen as man haters. That isn’t what feminism is. However whenever a male teacher makes comments against women, it’s found as hilarious humor.

Another incident I remember clearly, was that of a history teacher of mine. I go to a Catholic school ( which only makes the environment more prejudiced against anything). Apparently, prior to teaching, my teacher went to a seminary college. He told us this story about about a nun teacher. She was talking about a cat she had as a child. She lost this cat, and when her father brought it back, “She stroked the pussy ’till it was all clean.” Of course she meant the cat, but our history teacher has this theme of telling us crude sex jokes instead of teaching. That’s why he’s immensely popular. However, we have an extremely nice female religion teacher. She’s kind to all students regardless, of their sex, but is overweight, and constantly the butt of jokes. My history teacher is overweight, crude, sometimes mean towards female students, and is respected.

I hate double standards.

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  • Beth @ at 12:50 pm, February 15th, 2010

    I always, always say something in class when the book says something about W&C and not Franklin. And I always, always get a dirty look from the prof, like, “I can’t believe you wasted class time to mention this.”

    My very favorite was a biochem professor who not only credited W&C with “discovering” the structure of DNA, but actually attributed the X-ray crystallography work to them too. Those guys had neither the equipment nor the training to do X-ray crystallography. The prof disliked me all quarter after that. At least the feeling was mutual.

  • Sasha @ at 1:36 pm, February 15th, 2010

    I just want to congratulate you on speaking your mind, and pointing out discrepancies like that in your classes. Though your teacher is clearly not interested in critical discussion or accurate teaching, your fellow classmates will remember that moment you spoke up, and in the future will remember the fact that a woman was responsible for the DNA model. I wish I had been so engaged in my high school classes, my interest in school really wasn’t sparked until my senior year, when it was too late to make the kind of impact you’re making right now. Keep bringing up those awesome feminist points, you never know what inquiring minds you are subtly reaching!!

  • Sasha @ at 1:37 pm, February 15th, 2010

    wait…I’m guess I just assumed you were talking about high school since you used teacher instead of professor, sorry if I’m mistaken…

  • Gwen @ at 1:43 pm, February 15th, 2010

    I was talking about high school.Thank you so my much for everyone’s feedback. I wrote this is in a fit of anger one day. I read this blog every day , and I’m elated there are like minded people in this world.

  • sarahj @ at 4:58 pm, February 15th, 2010

    I get a lot of shit because I am a teenage feminist. It’s a huge double standard that when I try and assert myself, I am called a “bitch”. Girls still are afraid to stand up for themselves and other girls because of the name game guys play with strong women. It’s sickening.

  • Moria @ at 5:36 pm, February 15th, 2010

    I go to a Catholic high school too, and it can be so horribly sexist and homophobic there, particularly in religion class. Fortunately, when I took biology, I had an absolutely wonderful feminist for a teacher. We spent quite some time going over how Watson and Crick stole Franklin’s work and published it as their own.

    Sadly, my religion teacher is much less enlightened… He’s a seminary dropout who likes to talk about how “feminism” is a horrible term for gender equality because “it’s so biased,” and he frequently goes on rants about the evils of gay marriage (conveniently ignoring that fact that *cough* not all of his students are heterosexual *cough*).

    So that’s miserable, but at least my fantastic biology teacher taught us the truth about Rosalind Franklin’s accomplishments that were so underappreciated.

    The saddest part of that story, too, is that she died from cancer, which was almost certainly caused by her exposure to radiation during her research. She died for her work, and she never even got proper credit for it.

  • Owl @ at 6:35 pm, February 15th, 2010

    We’re currently studying DNA in Bio, and my teacher showed us a two-hour video on Franklin.

    Don’t ever stop pointing out sexism (or racism or homophobia or anything else that bugs you). It takes a brave person to crash a party, no matter how wrong the party may be.

  • Toongrrl @ at 12:47 pm, February 16th, 2010

    Please tell me you only attend Catholic High School for the education, if you attended catechism I feel even more sorry for you. Only ONE of the two evils is bearable enough. So glad to already be confirmed.
    So sad for Rosalind Franklin, I hope our works will never get stolen from us.

  • Moria @ at 8:06 pm, February 17th, 2010

    I’m only there for the education. If it weren’t for that, I don’t think I could take it!

  • Izzy @ at 11:09 am, February 24th, 2010

    EXACTLY! I was reading The Double Helix by either Watson or Crick, I can’t remember, and I was gawking at all the sexist things he wrote about her. That got me pissed and I pointed it out in the middle of my bio class, to which my fellow students groaned and told me to shut up.

    My likeminded feminist biology teacher was not amused with their response and let me speak and then gave information about her.

    Two days ago we went to the Cold Spring Harbor DNA labs in NY (which Watson used to be the head of, until he had to step down for racist and sexist comments) and the second I mentioned her, the instructor waved me off and told me Watson had told him about her.

    It pisses me off how even now, she’s still not recognized for the amazing work she did and how I’m automatically ‘a crazy b*tch’ because I care about it.

  • James @ at 9:45 am, July 24th, 2010

    I feel for you, Gwen. I really do. I know what it is like to have to fight against the double standards. Just getting people to recognize the problems and the existance of different sets of rules based entirely on gender can be painful.

    I’ve tried to highlight female on male domestic violence and the blatant man hating caused by the violence against women act. Its a chauvanist uphill struggle and so many people don’t realise the number of victims, men and children, that there are out there. Even when the US DHHS publishes the facts, its like a brick wall.

    The respect issue is another one. Women demanding respect, then basic decency not applying to men. Im called a woman hater because I point out things such as female sports reporters going in to mens locker rooms, but female athletes get privacy. Im told I just hate women and don’t want them around. This happens when I question the pay gap, or child abuse figures or other things such as fixing the education system when girls are failing, but blaming boys when boys are failing. I could go on.

    Feel your pain, Gwen. I really do.

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