Feminism | Posted by Bre K on 12/14/2010

Eliminating Gender Expectations Starting with the Dorms

“So how is your Women Gender Studies Class? Have you stopped shaving your legs yet?” smiles and bickers a “fellow” male hall-mate of mine as he takes a seat on the couches in our dorm lounge. Oh boy, time to deal with sexist jerks that actually make me want to pretend I am a man-hating feminist stereotype. Since one guy in my dorm found out I was in Women Gender Studies 101, I’m now suddenly responsible for representing all the feminist women out there. But wait, there’s more. Signing up for this class also automatically comes free with the constant taunting and degrading comments from him and a flurry of conformists in the dorms.

“So do you hate men?” Snickers one of the three guys. Somehow every time one of the guys starts one of these conversations with me, the other two flock to the couch area like magnets as if a planned attack.

“No, I don’t hate men. Why am I automatically a feminist stereotype because I took this class?” I question. Funny how it works because now I really am starting to hate them or at least the three in front of me.

“Because you just are. Guys are better. They’re better at every sport. It’s proven in our sports records. Our hormones make us run faster and with more agility because we’re so much stronger. You can’t argue against that. Name one woman who has beat a man at any race or meet,” responds the six foot four athletic male.

Somehow, because men are supposedly built for sport, they are considered better and more able in society. It doesn’t make them a better person though. Plenty of women are capable of excelling in sports in comparison to some men.Everyone has a different body type, type of strength, and sport preference (if any). There are so many different types of people out there, which is why I don’t understand all of the categories men, women (and other sexes) are automatically split up into.

However, no one can entirely blame men alone for these generalizations and stereotypes. Our society tosses a salad of sexism for both men and women. Throw in a little careless attitude, clothing that’s tough and made to last, hardcore abs and a whole lot of power and you make a man. For women, you need an extremely small waist, cute clothing, the willingness to do all men’s work and get zero credit for it, an amazing ability at cooking, and a little bit of weak dependence. This salad has been tossed the wrong way from the very beginning of time.

“Yeah, men are just better,” guffaws and smiles another tall male. Whatever this boy’s tall look-alike friend has to say, he goes along with it. Does he have a brain of his own? Or is he just another conformist?

Much to my dismay, I see a lot of people conforming to what surrounds them just to avoid conflict. As Allan G. Johnson puts it so beautifully in “Patriarchy, the System” we all tend to follow a path of “least resistance” in order to be accepted. So if we cancel out all the conformists in society, how many people are there that really truly hate feminists? Are all the anti-feminists out there just writhing because they want all the power and are angry women are defending themselves? Or do they actually believe feminists think women should be the superior sex?

While this Women Gender class has opened my half-shut eyes to how we truly are a patriarchal society, I also see how women aren’t the only ones affected by it.

“I love listening to Taylor Swift and I’m as straight as a log. My roommate is too and he watched the entire Twilight saga so far,” confesses one of my guy friends in the hall.

“Ha ha ha, that’s so gay. Are you gay?” Remarks the original instigator of the anti-feminist attack pack. He immediately looks towards me with a humorous glance to see if I’ll react to his satisfaction. I barely blink.

“Nope. I like women and I also like Taylor Swift’s music, because those two have nothing to do with each other,” beams my friend.

He doesn’t follow the path of least resistance. He paves his own path. And you should too.

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  • A @ at 2:53 pm, December 14th, 2010

    Your friend sounds awesome and those guys sound like the many a-holes filling my high school hallways. There are some guys who aren’t sexist, but they are the minority. There are, regretfully, no feminist guys, to my knowledge, at my school. I only know of 3 feminist girls, including me, out of about 200 females. Sorry for the rant…

  • Zoe @ at 4:23 pm, December 14th, 2010

    I fortunately was able to take a Woman Studies class without people getting in my face.

    If someone asked me if I was a man-hater because I was a feminist, I’d tell them no, I just hate douchebags and give them a good stare.

    I found out after getting out of college that one of my good guy friends was a feminist, which made me very happy.

  • Sophie @ at 4:54 pm, December 14th, 2010

    I would have mentioned Billie Jean King when asked if I could name a woman who beat a man at a meet.

  • Natalia @ at 5:58 pm, December 14th, 2010

    I completely understand what you`re saying. When I took women studies last year, everyone kept feeling sorry for my boyfriend. Fuck them.

  • Suzette @ at 5:59 pm, December 14th, 2010

    Those guys should get a well-deserved punch in the face.
    Just because they have more muscle mass doesn’t mean that they’re hot stuff. There’s nothing that irks me more than neanderthals who use science to suit their own ignorant agenda.
    It’s the equivalent of saying that women are better just because we can handle cold and pain better as well as live longer. Yet, we’re not better, just different. (To add, women and men are much more biologically similar than different, so throwing around biased insults like that are pointless.)

    If you meet those guys again, just tell them to buzz off because they aren’t worth an intelligent person’s time. We should never listen to those nay-sayers.

  • Marisol @ at 8:00 pm, December 14th, 2010

    Just out of curiosity, how did you respond? I’ve been in many similar situations and for me, it’s hard to explain the whole sexist patriarchy men-aren’t-any-better-than-women thing.

  • A.Y. Siu @ at 11:38 am, December 15th, 2010

    Name one woman who has beat a man at any race or meet

    How about Lindsey Van? Or Billie Jean King?

    Oh, wait… Lindsey Van isn’t allowed to jump because the Olympic committee has decided women aren’t allowed to do the ski jump.

    And why is performance in sports the measure of which gender is better, anyway? Why does one gender need to be “better” than the other one?

  • jl @ at 6:15 pm, December 16th, 2010

    i took a women’s studies class at my high school last year and now i see the world with a feminist lens. it has become such a huge part of my view and each day i see the dark structure of patriarchy still in place. it drives me insane. but knowing that there are other young people out there who also feel that sexism and misogyny need to end NOW makes me soo happy! Now i know at least that there is hope for future feminist movements! people need to realize that EVERYONE, women and men alike will benefit and humanize through feminist efforts. let’s move forward :)

  • SarahC @ at 7:57 pm, December 17th, 2010

    I’m sorry your dorm is full of misogynists. I live in arts-themed housing, so my dorm is like a feminist paradise. I took Intro to Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies this semester, and there was no stigma about it. There’s a significant portion of the dorm that’s queer, and we have gender-neutral bathrooms.

    The guy down the hall wants to take intro FGSS next semester, and I’ve actually sat around and discussed feminist issues with him and other people. The dorm voted to spend money to broaden the RA-hosted condom supply to include female condoms, dental dams, and lube to make the supplies less heterosexist.

    In this regard, I find your experience a bit foreign. Better luck in housing next year. May you find a more feminist-friendly residence hall.

  • Christina @ at 10:05 pm, January 5th, 2011

    @Sarah C

    What college do you go to? Just curious. And also, I kind of find it a bit “rubbin it in her and everyone else’s face who isn’t in a feminist friendly school” rude. Thats great you have that but that doesnt make your school better.

  • Renee @ at 1:51 am, May 31st, 2011

    ugh I hate the word conformist I feel like it only has negative connotation depending on who is using it from a stand of this young lady if evryone conformed to the femenist ideas the world would be hunkey dorey but because those guys (who seemed to just be a holes who wanted a reaction) thought different from the way they where “mindless conformist” who don’t think for themselve like what the crap is that! And I find the idea of patriarchy to be bullshit as if one gender could rule but hey that’s just my opinion

  • Bre K @ at 8:23 pm, December 6th, 2011

    @Ay siu-exactly! We shouldn’t be comparing genders and which is better why do we need a better gender? We are all perfectly capable of supporting ourselves if the government allowed it that is >_>..

    @Renee- I’m sorry but I don’t understand…IS there a good connotation associated with ‘conformist’? My point was they did not think differently from each other and from society’s expectations and therefore were conformists. And I believe patriarchy is our reality and has been since the point of Earth’s existence.

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