Sexism at Groton

What are some of the worst names you can call a girl? Seriously, think about it. Write them down if you want. Now I want you to think about the worst things you can call a guy. I’m not going to give you explicit answers here because I doubt using such language would be commended by the CV staff, but do you notice how almost all of the insulting terms I asked you to think of refer to femininity? The worst thing you can call anyone is a girl.

There is a problem with sexism at Groton. There is a problem at this school, just like there’s a problem with sexism in the world. My goal is not to attack men. I don’t want to argue about politics and discrimination laws. My aim is to bring awareness to this problem so both sexes can work toward equality, both within the Circle and beyond it. I am not saying every man is an inherently sexist pig. I am not saying that every single male does every one of these things. There are those who recognize sexism and those who take steps against it, but since the primary goal of this article is to raise awareness, it mostly addresses those who don’t see the problem—whether they are male or female. So let’s say you, the reader, do not think that sexism exists at Groton. Maybe you know that sexism is an issue in other parts of world, but you just don’t see it at Groton. I’ll try and help you out.

One indicator of sexism at Groton is that “feminist” is a dirty word. If you start talking about feminism, there is a usually at least one person who will roll his or her eyes slightly and make a “this again?” face. Sometimes the term “feminazi” is even thrown out. Besides being plain offensive to both women and other people, the word is usually used to describe two different types of people: the first is someone who ardently combats sexism. I don’t see what’s wrong with that, and I don’t understand why that equates someone to a Nazi. The second is someone who dumps on men all the time—this person is not a feminist. This person is a misandrist, and the two are completely different. Feminism is about equality, not hating men for everything wrong they have ever done.

When a group for girls was started, the Groton Girls Alliance, some people treated it as a joke and criticized it. The fact that girls have stood up for themselves and have bonded over similar experiences is, apparently, laughable. The Groton Girls Alliance is about feminism and girls uniting, not hating on every male at Groton. Girls don’t like to outright call themselves feminists for fear that boys will think less of them. We live in a patriarchy, and we’ve been taught that the judgment of men is what matters because they are the important ones in society. Some boys at Groton feel attacked, maybe as if they are suddenly being valued less as a member of society as a result of girls unifying. In response to the creation of the Groton Girls Alliance, many males have asked why there is no group for them. Perhaps it’s because no guy has created one. By all means, make a guys’ group and discuss your experiences! Just don’t use it as an excuse to complain about how much girls suck. Contrary to popular belief, that’s not what happens at the Groton Girls Alliance meetings.

Now let’s talk about double standards. A prominent example that comes to mind is when a girl feels strongly about an issue, but she is brushed aside and dismissed as irrational or neurotic about this topic. If a boy argues his point passionately, he is usually commended for holding such a strong belief in something. Boys often dismiss girls as unreasonable and foolish for the same thing that they do.

On the topic of relationships, let’s talk about sex. There is an obvious double standard here, and it’s been said before by many others, many times. Boys are praised for seeking sex and girls are condemned for it. I don’t care if your comeback is that it’s “biological,” “natural,” and that men are the ones who are supposed to seek the maximum numbers of partners for offspring. We are not animals. If a girl admits that she wants to have sex, especially with someone who is not a significant other, or goes too far too early in a relationship, she’s called something that rhymes with ‘cut’. She’s “easy”, which is apparently a bad thing (but only for girls). News flash: her body belongs to her, and it’s not up to you to decide what she does with it.In addition to the double standard in relationships, girls are disturbingly objectified at Groton. Too often have I heard about boys compiling lists of girls at Groton, ranking them by their looks. The objectification is organized and calculated, similar to a fantasy football draft, and it disgusts me. It’s okay to recognize that someone is good-looking; what’s not okay is to act like their value as a human being depends on it. Men have historically viewed women and their bodies as belonging to males. There has been tremendous progress away from these archaic ideas, but part of the mentality still lingers in today’s society. Women’s bodies are constantly judged and are the determining factor in their worth. I have been sexually harassed, both at Groton and in the real world, and I am sick of people telling me that sexism doesn’t exist.

Or let’s say your rebuttal is that men face sexism too. I agree; men certainly face sexism but I don’t believe it is to the same degree as women. Sexism is so ingrained into our society that sometimes, we don’t even realize that some things that occur are sexist. Boys face a lot of pressure to be masculine and strong, oftentimes entailing unemotional. And then there’s the whole “#ftb” thing. It’s no crime to find solidarity in a group of friends or of people who are like you, but the group mentality becomes a problem when it turns into a mob mentality. Boys all have to be “for the boys” and if they are “ftg” or “for the girls” they are, again, called a certain female body part. I don’t mean to persecute boys or girls that say they are “for the boys,” and my point is not that everyone should be “for the girls;” I just think the whole concept is a little silly, and I don’t understand why we can’t be “for whomever is doing the right thing.”

Lastly, if you are a male, you will never understand certain aspects of sexism. You just can’t, by virtue of your gender. Men have had their own problems with prejudice and stereotypes, but they have not been oppressed, directly or indirectly, for years by the sexism that is inherent in a patriarchal society, just as it would be in a matriarchal society. Though I’ve, for the most part, stopped hearing the deliberately sexist jokes, it doesn’t mean that sexism doesn’t exist at Groton anymore.  It’s just manifested in different, more subtle ways. Sexism at Groton is the comments behind closed doors, the double standards, and the shameless objectification. There is an indefinable, prevailing attitude that many males have towards females and it needs to end.

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