WEBER: Use this month to ‘Choose to Challenge’ gender bias

By Madison Weber ’23, Staff Writer and Social Media Editor

A photo taken from the 2018 Women's March in Seneca Falls.

Column by Madison Weber ’23, Staff Writer and Social Media Editor

March is Women’s History Month, and it’s more relevant now than ever to celebrate and respect the important women in your life. After all — you’re either a woman, came from a woman, or both. Many people wonder why it’s still necessary to have a month dedicated to women, after all, it’s 2021 — aren’t we “woke” enough now? It’s all equal, right? 

Unfortunately, no. According to the World Economic Forum, only six countries give women equal legal work rights as men, for every female film character there are 2.24 men characters. According to the UN Women, an estimated 60% of chronically hungry people are women and girls. And According to UNICEF, worldwide girls from ages  10 to 14 spend 50% more of their time on household chores than boys their age. 

From the time I was rejected from my school’s chapter of National Honor’s Society based solely on what was referred to as my character flaw of having “too much” confidence, or the time that I was captain of a boys varsity swim team and was told by an adult official that they needed “the real captain,” — even though I was the only captain — I, like most women around me, have had to face gender discriminations in so many different aspects of my life. 

I’m sure others  can remember in elementary and middle school when our teachers would say, “I need some strong boys to help me carry something.” While none of those events seem major, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the men that said those things to me don’t remember them. It can add up over time for young, impressionable females. This is part of the unspoken bias that affects women everyday. 

Because of this bias, it’s more important than ever to appreciate the women in our lives. While parades and walks may not be in this picture for this year, I urge everyone to educate themselves and introspect on what their own personal biases may be.

The official theme for Women’s History Month is Choose to Challenge, with the mantra that, “We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality.” The mantra is to challenge the status quo that any further change will happen naturally and slowly over time. However, any changes will only happen as a result of all of us taking the time to challenge these norms and call out gender bias when we see it. 

This doesn’t mean that you need to read a long book about equal rights or take a class on the history of suffrage — although that’s an option.

Rather, use this month to think about things you normally wouldn’t — like what are you implying about women when you call someone who you believe to be weak, a p*****, or why is an athlete not performing well playing “like a girl?” What is at the root of your thoughts or beliefs if your way to insult someone is to compare them to women? 

Self-reflection is not meant to make you judge yourself, but rather give you the clarity and tools to change. With COVID-19, many people are likely spending more time at home or alone. This creates the perfect opportunity to reflect and “Choose to Challenge.” So what are you choosing to challenge in your life?

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