Patience: The Humanities Needs Female Leadership

By Alisa Patience

It may seem that with all the other problems in the world — terrorism, gun violence, climate change — that feminism shouldn’t be priority, but it absolutely should be.

Feminism is the fight for gender equality for all genders, sexualities and races. Sexism is still a problem right here on the University of Utah campus and in journalism.

In doing research for this article, I watched broadcasts with both male and female reporters. Not only was it difficult to hear and watch, it made me sick. Luckily, the Huffington Post took the liberty of compiling examples into a single video so you don’t have to watch the entire train wreck of each sexist broadcast.

Here are some of the most egregious remarks they found:

“Women are becoming the dominant bread winners, and it’s affecting our children.”

“You would be much happier at home with a husband and children.”

“Women were much happier when housewives were glorified.”

“If you wanna yap about it during the commercials, go watch it on the other TV with the ladies in the kitchen.”

“Is there something about the female brain that is a deterrent for getting on board with tech?”

“Look at what you’re wearing as opposed to sensible clothes.”

“Can you turn her mic off so I can speak?”

“Know your role and shut your mouth.”

These are all quotations that have been said toward women on cable news within the past couple of years. Fox News is among one of the worst offenders. It is also one of the most popularly watched news stations in the country, which means viewers see this happen and hear these things being said, and in turn they are taught it’s acceptable to speak to your female colleagues this way.

In addition, “reporter bombing” raised concerns about female reporters in 2015. Reporter bombing is when a reporter is on the streets and a random passersby will jump in front of the camera and attempt to say something funny or clever. When a female reporter is in the field, she is not only harassed, but she is often sexually harassed. She experiences this throughout her whole career.

Professors like to assign complicated readings and then talk about them; that’s how students learn to understand complicated ideas. A reading assigned in one of my classes was Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema,” an essay that discusses how film, especially early film, caters to the phallocentric psyche and focuses on male development.

The first thing I heard when I walked into my class was one of my classmates, a white male, saying, “I feel like she was just jerking herself off throughout this whole thing, using complicated language and trying to sound smart.” In this class we had already read complicated poems and essays equally hard to understand written by men. The student had never complained about them. I responded, “If a man had written this, you wouldn’t be saying that.” He responded, “Sounds like the typical feminist.” Yes, I am a feminist; I don’t see why that was his retort.

Criticizing the difficulty of the article is understandable, but it wasn’t any more difficult than what we had already read. The words my fellow student used weren’t ones of constructive criticism. They were vulgar and insulting, and I’ve never heard anyone speak about articles written by men that way.

Of my four semesters attending the U, only four out of my 24 classes have been taught by women. That’s a mere 16.7 percent. Maybe it’s only a coincidence, but it still raises concern.

Evidently, there are people in the College of Humanities who don’t seem to care about what women have to say and don’t take them seriously. That needs to change.

The change needs to start on campus. Gender doesn’t determine the worth of what someone has to say. If you see or hear someone trying shut down a woman or undermine them, speak up so they can finish speaking.

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@TheChrony