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A Male Perspective on Gender Equality at Lesley University

The beginning of the new millennium signified a large state of transition for Lesley University. According to the Lesley University website, “In 2000 Lesley officially became a university, and its undergraduate program was renamed Lesley College. In 2003, Princeton Review named the university as one of the ‘Best Northeastern Colleges,’ and in 2004 Backpacker magazine named Lesley’s Audubon Expedition Institute as one of the ‘Top 5 Outdoor Education’ programs.”

However, all of that pales in comparison to the decision in 2005 to make Lesley University a coeducational university. For the first time in the school’s 96 year history, males would settle in at Lesley in Cambridge, Massachusetts in pursuit of a higher education. This radical move signified a progressive attitude in an evolving institution of learning. From an outside perspective, it seems that Lesley’s modern growth and success stems from these early decisions, with the current regime of administration looking to build upon the achievements of its predecessors.

The still developing Athletics Department currently enjoys a period of prosperity and success, particularly with softball and soccer; and as of February 2015, AIB students no longer need to trek into Boston for classes, instead opting for a nice, brisk walk up Massachusetts Avenue to the new campus for AIB (which is now known as LUCAD). It seems that all is alive and well at Lesley University. Unfortunately for the most recent demographic to join Lesley University, this is not the case.

2015 represents an interesting time in society for gender equality. Ninety-four years after the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, society has witnessed an admirable breakthrough for women’s rights. Figures like Eleanor Roosevelt, Oprah, and Robin Roberts acted as trailblazers for their gender, showing the potential and ability of women. In 2008, Barack Obama made history by becoming the first African-American man to serve as President of the United States. History could potentially be made again, with former First Lady Hillary Clinton looking like a prime candidate for the Democratic Party in the 2016 Presidential election. Such progress gives feelings of optimism about the present and future, but perhaps a call for pause and reflection is in order.

Each advancement leaves its own trail of consequences. For many members of the male population here at Lesley University, a decade after the University’s most groundbreaking move, this institution represents an environment that struggles to help the male population affirm its male identity. For the last three semesters at Lesley, all courses that specialized in gender were only focused on female. Even gender neutral courses incorporated a heavy focus on women. According to an anonymous male student, “I had a course where I was one of two male students. I felt very distracted by all the focus on women. At many times it was unnecessary and forced, which took away from the quality of the subject matter. I’m a supporter of gender equality but many times the fine line between passion and overkill was unprofessionally crossed.” This attitude often finds its way into university policy. At the exclusively female housing dorm Sacramento House, the Community Advisor (CA) informed the residents during a hall meeting that, “There are some people in this hall who feel uncomfortable with guys walking aimlessly around the house.” The CA then went on to establish a policy which mandates that unless male visitors are using the bathroom, they must be escorted by a female resident at all times. From one perspective, this makes sense; Sacramento House recently experienced a break-in with a male intruder. However this “gender profiling” is very questionable, and for some males offensive; it is basically the same type of profiling as the age-old act of a store employee constantly harassing an African-American patron. More so than any other biological difference between human beings, gender is the initial part of human identity that every human possesses, regardless of creed, or race, or any other societal difference.

Despite all of the problems, there are many positives from this situation. The fact that Lesley University cultivates an atmosphere that allows women to affirm their feminine selfhood is amazing. A place like this is important so that our society gets one step closer to not only gender equality, but equality for all; success for one group sets an example for others to follow. However, it is crucial that feminists in the search for the rights of a historically oppressed group do not become the oppressors themselves. Sophomore Casey Terzian sums up this whole idea perfectly stating, “I think feminism had great values at its start, but many Lesley individuals who identify as feminists take it to the extreme, to the point where it almost invalidates the entire campaign. Gender equality is one thing, but a lot of the ‘feminists’ here turn the term into man-hating females who deserve to be superior, and that’s not exactly the definition of equality, is it?” So, let us work together, with the hope that we can live peacefully amongst each other and embrace our differences as both females and males.


31 Responses »

  1. After reading this article, I fond my self at some what of a loss in regards to how to respond. On one hand, I want very much to believe that the writer of this article is a smart, well intention, complex person, who, by writing this, is making an attempt to enter into a discussion about gender. I believe strongly that engaging in such conversation is how we as individuals can grow and learn together and I in no way want to discourage the writer from seeking out conversation partners to openly discus sociological issues with.

    At the same time I can not in good conscience let it go unsaid that, as a member of the first male graduating class from the undergraduate program at Lesley, and proud alum, this article makes me feel both sad and ashamed. My sadness comes largely from the content of the article and from the fact that the writer has clearly not been exposed to ideas beyond his own perspective with respect to where the content of his education has come from up until this point.

    The presumptuous, dare I say infantile, pop culture level understanding of both the history and current evolution of feminist theory and perspectives expressed by both the author and quoted student serve to underscore how benighted both individuals are in this area. I am deeply saddened and disappointed that both have clearly lacked the opportunity to engage in meaningful discourse around these important issues or have chosen not take advantage of such opportunities in a meaningful way.

    My shame, comes from the realization that we, the first class of men privileged to have attended Lesley, had apparently done so little to blaze a path toward the establishment of an informed, open minded, and enlightened male community within the university. I hope desperately that the author is in fact, an outlier in regards to this and that his article does not reflect the perspective of the majority of men at Lesley.

    I also hope that my comments here will not arouse anger, or embarrassment in the author but rather encourage him to question himself and to seek out the perspectives of others who might, through conversation, enrich his understanding. If the author would like a place to start, I encourage him to contact me for a warmhearted and rigorous discussion about what it means to be a male undergraduate student at Lesley University, with one of the first.

    -Ben Arcangeli (Lesley Class of 2009)

  2. The comparison between male students being “profiled” in an all-girls hall/house and African Americans being profiled in a store is absurd. It makes sense that a guy wandering by himself in an all-girls dorm would raise a little suspicion, because there’s no way they live there and if they are there with a female friend/girlfriend than it would make more sense if she were with him rather than letting him wander for an extended amount of time. The point is, it raises the question of “what are they doing there?”. When African Americans are profiled in a store, there is absolutley no valid reason to be suspicious, as stores allow customers of all races to make purchases. Suspicion of African Americans in a store is based 100% on racial stereotypes, while suspicion of a male in an all girls dorm is based on confusion as to why they are there.

    • This was exactly what I thought when I read that part of the article: it’s about the validity of suspicion. Not only is it obvious that a male wandering about a girls’ dormitory doesn’t live there, but there is also an enormous history of male aggression that provides more than enough reasoning to justify suspicion, ESPECIALLY when, as mentioned by the author, there was a recent event that reflects this type of behavior. Maybe if such a large majority of men weren’t huge creepers who threaten women’s safety, this precaution wouldn’t be necessary. But until that changes, I don’t think requiring a chaperon is that much to ask. It’s far from unreasonable. I mean, guests should be accompanied regardless.

      • By the same reasoning, it would be fine to profile a black person because African-Americans commit a higher percentage of crimes.

        • This is assuming that there are no kinks in the judiciary system. Often, the system in place targets people of color and white perpetrators are overlooked or sentenced much less severely than many perpetrators of color. The numbers on crime are incredibly skewed because of our society’s tendency to target men of color.

          • This is exactly what I was about to say, but you wrote it far more eloquently than I would have. I was going to say, “you mean African-Americans are tried, sentenced, and incarcerated for crimes – not that they actually commit more crimes than Caucasians are.”

      • The comparison between racial profiling and dorm policies is absurd for obvious reasons, the college has a right to take intense measures such as this to secure their students safety. Having said that, you’re comment about the “majority of males” being “huge creepers” is baseless and insulting. Bashing males in favor of females or vice-versa is not a way to get a point across, especially when striving for equality.

  3. While I respect the author’s right to his feelings and opinions, I am deeply troubled by this article, specifically by its presumptions that there is such a thing as “gender profiling” against men, and that, if it existed would be at all comparable to insidious racial profiling; that feminists shouldn’t be so extreme in our efforts to claim our basic human rights; and that the rule against men roaming the all-female dorm is unjust somehow–as a man, you might not realize that fear of assault (be it verbal, physical, or sexual) is omnipresent for many, if not all, women, and that we too deserve places where we feel safe (however that is defined for the women involved).

    I’d like to offer an alternative to the last sentence: “So, let us work together to inform and educate in an effort to eradicate violence and discrimination against all people everywhere, including women,” and let us hope that this article will begin yet another much-needed discussion about these issues–of which “men’s rights” is not one.

  4. I was also troubled by this article; specifically, the quote that states, “However this “gender profiling” is very questionable, and for some males offensive; it is basically the same type of profiling as the age-old act of a store employee constantly harassing an African-American patron”. How can you possibly liken being asked to escort male guests in an entirely female house to the decades of oppression African-American’s have faced? Many women request all-female housing for personal reasons that you could not know, such as religious beliefs, personal beliefs, or, perhaps, a past involving trauma regarding men. It is entirely understandable that women will be uncomfortable by males wandering an all-female hall. Whether this is “gender-profiling” as you have called it or not, this is an entirely different issue than the racial profiling that African-American’s face on a daily basis. African Americans face countless micro and macroagressions in their lives, and I am almost positive that your small-scale definition of “gender profiling” as you have experienced is not synonymous to the racial profiling that is faced in so many aspects of life. In a phrase that is common throughout Lesley, and rightfully so, I kindly ask you to “check your privilege” and become more informed and educated before likening your experience in a female dorm to a wide-scale social issue such as racial profiling.

    (Also, you should probably check University policy in general- all guests need to be escorted, regardless of gender and residence hall.)

  5. Fun fact: you did not have to attend a majority-female college and maybe should have chosen an institution that better supports your white male privilege

    • I encourage you to listen to this speech, . While I understand the frustration that this type of article may ensue to take it to a level where you feel like you need to be demeaning is unacceptable. The relation to african americans is unwarranted and misguided however I do not believe that it was done with ill intention. These types of comments are what make people afraid to write an article like this in an open forum. Your cruelty is insulting and is validating his idea that when the white males at this school speak they get torn down. Think before you speak. His ‘white male privilege’ is not something that needs to be thrown in his face because it is something that is out of his control. You are hyper-focusing on University guest policies and ignoring what the article is actually about. I encourage you to listen to the speech and re read the article. The fact that you felt it was appropriate to comment in such a rude manor is sickening and your inability to take the time to see what is actually being said is sad.

    • He is actually a biracial man. Please try not to be ignorant.

  6. I just thought it would be fair to point out, while often this rule does go unfollowed in some residence halls, ALL guests, whether in a co-ed or all-girls dormitory, are required to be escorted by their host. This is a matter of safety and liability. When a female friend visits me in my all-girls dorm, I am required to stay with her at all times. The same goes for if my visitor is a man. I don’t mean to bring any offense to the author, but I do want to say that the author’s lack of knowledge about this simple rule is concerning, and has also left a gaping hole in this argument.

  7. Just to make individuals aware, the guest policy for all students is to escort your guests throughout the residents halls, whether they are male, female, black or white. This can be at anytime, from them going to that bathroom, to leaving the hall. We work together as a community to make individuals feel safe where they live and build a better community.

    Also residents hall can be all female for one, because of prefecnce for women who feel uncomfortable living with men for, sometimes, religious preference. If you want to have all male housing on campus, make it happen.

  8. good lord, read some bell hooks.

  9. I believe that this is a great article and the content in it is, mostly, good and fair. However I do believe that it was just poorly executed. If the writer would be open to rewriting and expanding on the ideals than that may be more effective in helping to allow for an open forum. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and to badger someone for theirs is childish. I encourage everyone to keep an open mind and be open to learn about opposing views.

  10. So I guess at Lesley University…..not everyone is entitled to their own opinion? The author makes some strong points. He remains quite neutral and even makes sure to bring up his appreciation for the opportunities women have here at Lesley. While individuals are getting caught up on the technicalities of some of the poor articulation, they are not seeing the big picture. His whole point is that because this school is so strong in its fight for gender equality, it actually results in the lesser treatment of men. A man is catching hell for expressing his opinion on how he feels he’s treated as a male at Lesley. It’s not fair that women are letting their bitterness towards male superiority affect how they go about the fight for equality.

    We are veering away from equality here. We are drifting more towards the fight towards female superiority. Instead, we should unite as human beings and all put forth an effort to not discriminate between genders. It should not be men versus women, there should be no fight. Why don’t we all take a moment to re-read the essay and see what the author is truly trying to say here, instead of only seeing a man who is disagreeing with feminism.

    I am a woman myself, and I wouldn’t say that I am against feminism. I truly believe in equality for all genders. However, I do not agree with the putting down of men for women to fight their way to the top. I think it’s unfair that the men are put down for disagreeing with a controversial topic. Think about what the ultimate goal is here! EQUALITY for all genders. Instead of shooting him down, kindly confront where you disagree and allow for a calm, educated debate to ensue. We can all donate our opinions and see all perspectives, without a red haze of anger because a man is shedding light on a flaw in the system.

  11. Just as one isn’t socialized into an understanding of physics or chemistry, one isn’t just socialized into an understanding of feminism. Feminist theory is a global, established area of sociology that folks make life-long careers in.
    This analysis ignores decades of research and thought, and is as biased as the CEO of Olive Garden ignoring all we know about meteorology to propose that rain is really just god straining pasta.

  12. One of the quotes from the article that I found to be the most relatable in my experience at Lesley:
    “For many members of the male population here at Lesley University, a decade after the University’s most groundbreaking move, this institution represents an environment that struggles to help the male population affirm its male identity.”

    I wish that this particular quote and point could have been elaborated on to a greater extent in the article. I know that at Lesley, I have had a hard time affirming and strengthening my male identity to a healthy extent and agreed with Chris that more could and should be done to support this endeavor; to be clear I wholeheartedly support feminism in its entirety. I do not think that masculine affirmation and feminine affirmation need to be mutually exclusive— if our aim is truly for gender equality, then it should not be too much to ask for a culture that supports the affirmation of any and all types of gender, regardless of the amount of privilege the gender inherently has or the amount of privilege a gender lacks.

    I think some of Chris’s examples of feminine affirmation (i.e. guest escort policy, women-focused classes) may have attempted to highlight the perceived lack of masculine affirmation at Lesley University, which unfortunately shifted attention from a need for masculine affirmation to weakening the feminist movement. Personally, I do not think feminism is over the top or is the reason that I have a hard time being a man at Lesley. I do, however, think that there should be a Lesley Men’s Center on campus.

  13. I’m a man at Lesley and it’s not just women who are getting mad at this guy. I’m embarrassed for my gender at Lesley right now, but I’m more embarrassed I actually used to think like this guy. This is a seriously ignorantly written piece of work. In fact, it’s too sloppy and uninformed to be called work. I hope this writer reads the constructive criticism he’s received here and then reads some actual feminist text to see that feminism also cares about mens issues and so do the women at Lesley who call themselves feminists.

    • These comments are here for mature, intellectual debate. You take away from that by insulting the author. Why not try and give him some criticism rather than shooting him down for simply differing in opinion with you? Of course, it’s fine for people to disagree, but that doesn’t make it okay to put the other one down. If you’re passionate about what you believe in, then by all means, stand up for it. But don’t stand on top of someone else to do so. Let’s keep it civil here, guys.

  14. To compare “gender profiling” to the racial profiling thousands of black Americans face is simply ignorant, not to mention completely invalidating.

    This post reads as a lovely advertisement for male privilege.

    Thanks for reminding me why we still need feminism.

  15. Chris! I love ya brotha…it takes some serious guts to write an article regarding your opinion on gender equality at Lesley, especially because I am sure you were aware of the inevitable backlash that was to follow. Aside from this piece completely, I am quite fond of the dialogues that we have shared together because of their thought provoking and dense nature that contrast from the typical, mundane mumbo jumbo conversations, “How are you?” “Not too shabby”; “How about this weather?” “Ya it is wild”.

    That being said I was quite puzzled at this article because it seems quite out of characteristic of you. While I am not particularly surprised that you have this perspective, I am shocked by the lack of execution and in depth thought processing in some of the words and examples that you chose to back up your ideas. I think this leads to an inaccurate perception of the thoughtful and thorough YOU that I have been glad to get to know.

    You make a powerful statement that if expounded and focused on could have made this piece slightly less controversial and in my perspective less naïve. Any sort of hate focused on one group will not achieve an equal society. This point is evident in your article. Man hating will not rebalance a culture that has given all or almost all the power to males. It runs the chance of perpetuating the same philosophy of egocentrism, “our intelligence is better than your intelligence”, etc. Instead, awareness and education of our cultures in balances of power is vital to create an equality that is potentially more sustainable. This is what feminism is about! I am a feminist!

    It is far fetched to assume that men at Lesley can even possibly be profiled against because of the systems we have all been indoctrinated with in this country. The history is far too deep to ever be negated/reversed by classes that lean towards focusing on women in a predominantly female school, or by getting a weird look in an ALL girl dorm, especially after said unfortunate break-in. (Side note: I may be looking at the material slightly more abstractly, but after three years at Lesley, I have yet to be distracted by all the focus on women). I think you are especially tiptoeing on the edge of a cliff, if not already falling off, by comparing a male “gender profiling” to the constant struggles of an African-American or any person who does not have white skin. It is a far-fetched concept that white males can ever understand and/or experience the trials and tribulations of being oppressed in our society.

    I agree with you that we need to work together to achieve a more peaceful environment. In order to work cohesively together, we do need to accept each other’s differences because they are vast and ever expanding! This may be the catalyst to a full and whole way of life. I think this was the heart and soul of your OPED, just a little muddied with imprecision and premature thoughts, extrinsic to your normal intelligent behavior, in my opinion. Your article has been such a valuable spark of conversation that leads to a greater awareness, which I think is even more important than nailing a perfect and strong supported article.

    • This reply was really eloquently written and I just wanted to thank you for phrasing your perspective in a way that could easily be accepted by someone with a different perspective. I think thoughtful replies like yours are a way to generate meaningful and inclusive conversation and education on a topic of evident importance.

  16. The arrogance of half of this article is appalling. As a first year female student at Lesley, I just want to touch up on a few topics that I’ve learned since my first two semesters here. As stated in this article, Lesley has only been a co-ed school for 10 years. In retrospect, that is not much time given to fully assimilate more of a male populace into this institution. Men are being made out as victims in this article and thats far from the truth. Instead of trying to manipulate the minds of the readers into thinking that male students at Lesley have the short end of the stick, you should try to promote Lesley to MORE young men so we can “level-out the playing field.” And by the way, under no circumstance is it appropriate to compare the male students at this school, who are primarily caucasian men, to a nationally oppressed ethnicity.

  17. While I am deeply troubled by this article, I am willing to see this as an opinion formed from a young man who has yet to come to terms with his deeply internalized sexism. The process of unlearning this is not something that is done overnight, and being able to fully recognize privilege is a continuous process. I am willing to see that, even though I am biting my tongue and trying not to damn the writer for their backward understanding of oppression.

    Let’s break down some points:
    1. “According to an anonymous male student, ‘I had a course where I was one of two male students. I felt very distracted by all the focus on women. At many times it was unnecessary and forced, which took away from the quality of the subject matter. I’m a supporter of gender equality but many times the fine line between passion and overkill was unprofessionally crossed.'”

    What this anonymous male student shows us through this statement, is that two males registered for the course, and were the only males present in a class focused on gender equality, which highlights the oppression of women and the transgender community. He also shows us his internalized sexism by highlighting his discomfort of confronting his own male privilege, and instead of accepting his privilege and working towards gender equality, he then gaslights and shames the class by deeming their passion as “overkill” and “unprofessional”.

    2. “This attitude often finds its way into university policy. At the exclusively female housing dorm Sacramento House, the Community Advisor (CA) informed the residents during a hall meeting that, “There are some people in this hall who feel uncomfortable with guys walking aimlessly around the house.” The CA then went on to establish a policy which mandates that unless male visitors are using the bathroom, they must be escorted by a female resident at all times. From one perspective, this makes sense; Sacramento House recently experienced a break-in with a male intruder. However this “gender profiling” is very questionable, and for some males offensive; it is basically the same type of profiling as the age-old act of a store employee constantly harassing an African-American patron. More so than any other biological difference between human beings, gender is the initial part of human identity that every human possesses, regardless of creed, or race, or any other societal difference.”

    I know it must be so terribly boring to ACTUALLY read those student handbooks given at the beginning of every academic year, but if you should happen to care to read, you’ll find that it states that any visitor to a dorm they do not live in (ANY visitor, regardless of being a Lesley student; male or female, or non-Lesley student) should be escorted through the halls. While many students do not follow this, it is a written rule. Reaffirming that after recent events of a break-in is necessary for CA’s, and hardly an act “gender profiling”. The CA’s are literally reinforcing rules already set in place. Furthermore, to compare this to an act of racism is not only a stretch and a weak analogy, but an appalling and clear indication of the writer’s privilege. To try and apply your discomfort of being reminded you need to be escorted in residence halls to the level of oppression faced by people of color on an everyday basis is a sad, sad display of unrecognized privilege and erasure of the history of experience of racism.

    I will not curse this young man for his ignorance, but rather try to illustrate the points of his internalized privilege in hopes he may reread his statement, learn from his ignorance, and grow as a progressive individual.

    • In an attempt to defend my quote, I will explain the specific situation I was in. Maybe you will have a different perspective afterwards. I was taking an economics class and we were discussing growth models, which I do not believe has anything to do with gender. Instead of learning growth models and other topics we have not had a chance to discuss, we instead had a 30 minute discussion about feminism. It was not relevant to the subject matter at all, and in turn my education suffered because of it. I completely support all liberal rights, especially feminism, and like to discuss the topic in detail in appropriate situations. I do not believe, however, that it was relevant to economics(especially macroeconomics). That is all, I do not know why there are so many people that are hatefully attacking me on here. It is not very nice.

      Please respond if you’d like.

  18. I think that it goes without saying that this article is incredibly ignorant, narrow-minded, and poorly written. While I believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, there is a fine line between an opinion and just plain ignorance. I won’t address the blatantly obvious ignorant remarks (i.e. Sac House and the guest policy, comparison to the plight of African Americans etc.) as they have already been highlighted several times in previous comments. What I do want to point out though, is the author’s remarks regarding gender-based courses here at Lesley. Here at our great university, we have a program of study involving women and gender studies. These classes focus heavily on women because they are supposed to be about women. To any male that feels offended by this, why not sign up for a history class? We have been learning about the accomplishments and feats of men for our entire lives. As a female at Lesley, it was nice to come to an institution of higher learning where we as women finally had something to call our own (aka classes about our own gender).

    With all that said, I don’t believe the author is a bad person. He probably grew up in a place where gender equality was discussed very little or not at all. While I am troubled and upset by his article, I think it can be a learning experience for ALL members of the community here at Lesley. Bashing him is most certainly not the proper course of action to take; instead, a polite and respectful conversation would be the best route.

    I am a female at Lesley, and I am a real feminist. To all the self-proclaimed “feminists” out there who preach their hatred of men, please stop associating yourselves with the feminist movement. You are hurting the work of women and men who are fighting for real gender equality. To say you hate all men is incredibly disrespectful and hypocritical; by definition you aren’t even a feminist. It makes you just as terrible of a person as a sexist male. Feminism is the belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes, not one sex over the other. Your gender, sexuality, race, religion etc. shouldn’t determine your value as a human being, it’s just common sense. While it is important to acknowledge that males are often more privileged than females, it is also important to acknowledge that there are millions of men out there who believe in gender equality. Not all men are evil, women-hating people.

    Over the past several days, I have heard several great conversations around campus regarding the article. I think this article is just the spark we need to start having more open (and respectful) dialogue on campus about the feminist movement and gender equality.

  19. Good points, and a worthy conversation to have. I applaud your effort to create a meaningful discussion. Unfortunately in a place like the Peoples Republic of Cambridge, you’ll never really accomplish that unless it fits the narrative.
    This article is a perfect example of the hypocrisy, and sums up Lesley quite nicely. Claims of some who preach openness and acceptance regarding opposing viewpoints, are simultaneously calling you a “moron” “ignorant” “sexist” and “arrogant” for attempting to create a conversation. Bravo for being courageous enough to freely express your thoughts and observations.

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