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LETTER: Start asking women

I think it’s interesting that men are so eager to speak on behalf of women. I was offended by “Rob” when he responded to Meredith Berger’s “Equality is the best philosophy” last Thursday. I would challenge him to actually ask his female friends what they think on philosophical or political matters; invite them into the conversation. Better yet, ask them their opinions on their own area of expertise so he can learn something instead of just trying to sound smart by talking about politics and philosophy. His female friends may be very discerning as to how opinionated a man is and may know that he will not respect what they have to say anyway, because his mind is already decided on the issue. Many times I have kept my mouth shut, not because I “shy away” or because I am not knowledgeable, but because I know the man talking would not respect my opinion regardless. There are other men or groups of men who respect my opinion, and in those circumstances, I am willing to engage in political or philosophical conversations. It may not be that women shy away; it may be that they don’t feel welcome, or that they do not wish to argue pointlessly with someone who won’t listen.

And as for the few men who still hold to these archaic views that women have no “lack of role models,” that we don’t face discrimination and subtle sexism every day, that we see politics or philosophy as a “waste of time,” or that all of this is attributable to “innate gender differences that exist in nature,” I challenge them to examine themselves, their ignorance, their own stereotypes and their preconceived notions of women and gender roles. Some men say that women have role models, but please tell me one genuine female role model that is not beautiful or sexy. Name ten famous women who have become a common household name without using sexual appeal, beauty, musical or theatrical talent. You can’t. But any fifth grader can name twenty men that have become icons in history without sex appeal, beauty, musical talent, or theatrical talent. While this is so subtle that I did not realize it until this semester, this is the society that little girls are raised in, that I was raised in. This is evidence that we live in a patriarchal society. Women were not even allowed to be politically active until the 1900s, and even now women are not considered serious or qualified candidates by less competent men. I challenge “Rob” to live one day as a woman. Believe me, he will never say those ignorant words again.

Victoria Dickens, Curry School of Education