STORY BY EMILY VANSCHMUS
At the beginning of the semester, one of my professors had us brainstorm things that professors do that we like or don’t like. She left the room while we talked so that we could come up with an honest list of what we expected out of a professor at Drake.
After all, since we’re paying upwards of $40,000, shouldn’t professors be doing what they can to make sure our expectations are met?
We started with a list of things we like about good professors – clear expectations, fair grading and willingness to meet with students were items at the top of our list. When the timer buzzed, we moved on to things professors do that we don’t like.
A girl in my group mentioned she hates when teachers are sexist. Jokingly, I added that I don’t really mind sexism if it’s in my favor. Everyone giggled and we went back to compiling our list.
I didn’t think much of the comment until last week, when a friend was telling me about her teacher favoring men. I replied, saying all the right things: yes, it was horrible that the teacher would favor men, yes, this teacher should be fair to all students regardless of gender.
But why were my comments so drastically different? When the situation hypothetically favored women, I laughed it off with a joke and everyone laughed. But when the situation put me at a disadvantage, strictly because of my gender, that made me really mad.
I have no problem declaring myself a feminist, but I’m a little exasperated that I even have to make the distinction. Instead of having feminists and non-feminists, shouldn’t we be able to just agree that everyone likes equality and call it good? You would think this would be a great idea, but not everyone sees it that way.
I just told you that we should all want equality, but here I am sitting in class joking that as long as they’re favoring my side, a sexist professor is just fine by me.
What’s worse is that I thought nothing of this, and neither did any of my classmates (even the males). And that is exactly the problem. Even those of us who say we stand for gender equality could be doing a little bit more to make sure it actually happens.
If we really expect to accomplish equality anytime soon, we need to make a conscious effort to do so.
This doesn’t mean sharing “Ten Times Emma Watson Was the Most Badass Feminist on The Planet” to your Facebook wall. This doesn’t mean agreeing in your head and thinking “yeah, that makes sense,” while you read this article.
We need to realize where the problem lies. Yes, women make less money than men who do the exact same job. Yes, men are more likely to be hired than a woman applying for the same job who has the exact same qualifications. Yes, men are assumed to go to work while the woman stays home from work to take care of the kids.
And no, none of these are fair. But if we want to change the big things, we have to start with the small things.