Tag Archives: University

College Campus

I am an aspiring journalist, a brazen feminist, and a proud speaker. I am 5’2, a freshman in college, so my intensity is packed into a fun-sized package. Since my outward appearance is “cute” or innocent looking, I am hardly ever taken seriously. In my first weeks at Willamette University, I was “mansplained” repeatedly. This, I had always assumed, was an urban myth. Sure, it happened some places but never in the liberal bubble of the pacific northwest. As the only freshman on the newspaper staff, I was shocked when a fellow classmate “took the time” to explain to me how to draft a professional email. This boy over the span of fifteen minutes “taught” me how to schedule an interview and repeatedly offered to “look over my article if I needed help.” I have worked for five different papers, conducted hundreds of interviews and worked in newspaper offices for the past three years. I’ve dealt with countless old newspaper men not taking me seriously, and overcame the challenge. Yet, despite all this, an unqualified bio-chem major “taught me” how to draft an email.


I myself have been on the receiving end of everyday sexism. In fact, I have (at the time unknowingly) acquiesced in perpetuating some of these falsehoods. I have not objected as often as I should have to the off-the-cuff comments or the seemingly insignificant actions of others that undercut my abilities and knowledge as a person who just so happens to be female. My silence was not reflective of my objections, it was based in part on not knowing how to respond and not wanting make waves. However, I now strive to become a tsunami. To the school counselor who came to my 8th grade class to schedule us for high school classes: You recommended that the young ladies in the class repeat algebra because “Catholic school math classes aren’t at the level of public school math classes.” However, you recommended that the young men in the class could proceed to the next level. I was able to overcome this setback that was obviously based on an inherent belief of gender-based abilities; however, not every young lady has the support and encouragement that I had and may believe that your implied representations are indeed true. To the account representative at the bank: My sophomore year in college, I deposited a check into my account that took an extra day to clear, for whatever reason. However, I needed to buy textbooks and assumed the check had cleared after two days. When I came to see if I could get the overdraft fee waived since the money should have been available to me, you decided to lecture me on the importance of having a budget and that I couldn’t just buy “sweaters and purses” whenever I wanted. While I do enjoy purchasing a nice sweater and purse on occasion, my priority was my education and purchasing the materials I needed to support my Finance degree. By implying that I didn’t understand how to budget or that I was frivolously spending my money because of my gender, you discounted the issue at hand and jumped to the conclusion that my request was based on my inability to control my own finances. To the physician I interviewed as part of a work project: You very deliberately directed your answers to my questions to my male colleague, who was assisting me in the engagement. You continued to pose all your follow-up questions to him, even though he deferred them all to me. By assuming my male colleague was more experienced and knowledgeable even though we made it clear you had it wrong, you undermined my education and expertise because of my gender. (Oh, and PS – those “girls” in your office are actually young women you have hired to support you – the “girls” might take care of whatever task you need, but they have families and lives of their own outside of the office – this is their job, not their hobby.) These are just a handful of the experiences I have had over the years. There have been many, many more. Yes, I am a woman. But I am also a college graduate, a professional, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend. My life has been influenced by my experiences, education, successes, and struggles, all of which are unique to me. It is my hope that future generations of young women can write their own stories based on their thoughts and passions, without the influence of the stereotypes of what a woman ought to be and do.


The male conductor of a university student orchestra wanted the male members of the orchestra to escort the female members of the orchestra up the aisle of a church onto the stage at a concert. All the women in the orchestra reacted to this is in different ways- anger, a sense of feeling put out, some were perplexed, confused…- they said things like “we’re not that pathetic”. All the women I spoke with identified with the sexist quality of this action. All members of the orchestra refused to do it.


I once new a guy who dropped out of a journalism college course that he worked fairly hard to get into and waste a year of his life because he didn’t want to do the feminism theory that the course required. I mean, we ALL have parts of our education/work that we do not like to do, but we do it anyway. It’s called being an adult. I used to live with him and I heard first hand about how he didn’t want to do it because he felt it was “a total waste of time” to learn about something as “useless” as “bitch” theory. His ingrained misogyny led him to throw away a qualification and a whole year of his life without a second thought. No one else seemed to think there was anything TOO wrong with this… Yeah… I’m not friends with him anymore, as you might imagine…


Going out in a club, trying to fight across a crowded dancefloor and a guy grabbing my boob. At 21 saying to the guy I was seeing that I was on my period and therefore didn’t want to have sex and him saying ‘I don’t care’ and pulling my legs apart. Going out for dinner with two of my colleagues and listening to them talking about ‘taking girls to pieces’.

Emma jean

I went to an engineering open day with my school, and there was a male speaker. He was talking about how more women should consider going into engineering, which is good, but he said, “you’ll be surprised to hear that women do very good at engineering, as good as men.” I don’t think people should be surprised to hear that.


At university, we were allocated supervisors to mentor us through our dissertation. Half way through mine, sitting looking down a microscope at results with my tutor, he ran his hand along and up my leg. I stopped him but it meant I did not put myself in a situation where I would be alone with him again. This meant I couldn’t discuss the work and was in a vulnerable position because he was marking it.


Colleague (male) sent by email a news article about the lack of women in economics. He only sent it to the women economists in the department. I wrote back to say (kindly) that we are already familiar with the problem and it is the responsibility of all economists to address the gender imbalance in the discipline. I recommended that he send it to the entire department. All of this was very politely phrased. He wrote back and said I was right – then asked me to send out the article to the department. I wrote back, ‘no, thank you.’


Studying to become electrician, antiquated teacher says to me ‘You’re going to have to be twice as good as the men to get a job’. Also after answering a question incorrectly he told me ‘You must have the wrong hair colour’ (My hair is red/brown) I was also the only female in the classroom. There was one decent male in the class who complained to another teacher about the sexism I received. He is a hens tooth of the male species, so rare.


At my college in cambridge we all live on site as a close community. I went to a college party-a ‘bop’ as we call them-and a man in the year below me was dancing way too close to me and breathing on my neck. When I turned round and told him to back off he scoffed and two minutes later reached his hands up the back of my top and round the front and grabbed my breasts quite hard. I literally screamed and ran away but none of his friends reacted. I was shocked and frightened because bops are held on campus and therefore in my home. For the next week I felt scared to be at home and completely unsafe-I was terrified of bumping into him and when I reported it I was so scared to use his name because of the backlash I’d get-everyone here knows everyone. I couldn’t go to the college bar to get a coffee or eat in the cafeteria and I found it hard to sleep. I can’t believe in somewhere like a university full of strong young minds I felt so silenced, but I did. When I eventually took it higher and reported it in support of the need for compulsory consent workshops, senior staff said the consent workshops might be ‘worrying’ for people from conservative backgrounds or people who have never had sex before. I couldn’t believe that they didn’t seem to see that such attitudes cause people to completely disrespect and feel automatic ownership of women’s bodies, like that boy did at the bop to me. It made me feel blamed, ashamed and like spoilt goods.