It’s called neutralizing: The way to making gender equality happen


By Shaina Selvaraju ’17

We talk about significant figures in history, and then we talk about significant women in history. In reality though, the first list should actually be called significant men in history because women cannot be found on it. For some reason, just for being a woman, our type of significance is considered to be a bit different from men, and we have to be put into a different category. I suppose many might think that it’s kind of cool that women are being represented and that their importance is finally being respected. This is at least how I initially felt when I looked at the gender divided back wall of my sophomore history class, but that way of thinking, at least for me, has changed. Though the people on that wall have accomplished many great things, there is still the gender difference even though there is no reason for the distinction to exist.  It’s not like women are an entirely different species from men, so why are we put it into two different categories?

Even though March, the month of women’s awareness, has come to a close, the fight for the equality of women will continue to remain strong. The movement has long been in need of recognition and is finally receiving the attention it deserves. That being said, I have personally struggled to support the movement’s intentions. For this, I have been called an “anti-feminist” and someone who “does not respect our gender enough.” Here is the thing though, I understand the cause and I completely agree with it. I believe it is something worth fighting for, but what we are fighting for isn’t women, it’s gender equality.

As of this year, a class on Women in History was introduced to Staples. The purpose of this new class is to talk about the importance of women throughout history, women who have persisted throughout time, which are topics that are only talked about briefly in our regular history classes. It’s a good idea, but why does it have to be taught separately from a regular history class? It’s an elective, meaning that only the people who want to learn about it will learn about it. In addition to that, the class only has one section and it enrolls less than 20 students, only one being male. I’m sure the class was created to be informative and justify that women are also important, but if the only people who are taking the class are mostly females who care deeply about the topic, is it really doing a whole lot? Shouldn’t the message aim to go beyond just those who are already interested in the subject matter?

Though the fight for gender equality includes giving women equal rights, it’s almost as if by inserting the word “women” in front of everything, we are labelling ourselves as another category. It’s as if we are trying to differentiate ourselves when in reality what we are trying to do is achieve equality. Even recently on International Women’s Day, there was a movement where women didn’t go to work in order to show men in the workplace how much more difficult it is without women there doing their jobs. However, it’s not like the world would fall apart without us; if we aren’t working, then someone who is just as capable would take the job, be it male, female, or any other gender.

I am a feminist who fully agrees with equal rights for all genders, but I think that we need to remember that it’s not about getting others to understand what the world would be like without women, it’s about getting other genders to understand that women are equally capable as they are.