These past few weeks at Lesley University have been an interesting experience. The reason why I wrote the article “A Male Perspective on Gender Equality at Lesley University” is because I feel that here at this institution, it’s very difficult for me to develop my identity as a male. As I wrote in the article that 2015 is an important time for gender equality, which means not only for women but men as well. Yes, throughout history men have had advantages in many areas of life. However, maleness and its relationship with masculinity also comes with its own set of problems that need to be discussed and studied. There is no such opportunity here for me to grow. How can I succeed in life or even be a man that helps for the advancement of women if I cannot receive the opportunity to learn more about what it means to be a man? I cannot attend a Men’s Center. I’d rather not learn from mass media which portrays men as overly macho and afraid to show emotion. My family and I pay a lot of money to attend this school. I believe that has earned me the right to desire an exceptional education and to request improvement when I think the university needs it.
In my Social Problems course that I took in the fall semester, we watched Miss Representation and discussed the struggle of women in society. I thought the course was well taught and informative. However, the vast majority of the curriculum concerning gender involved women, with almost nothing about men. My desire to have curriculum specializing in maleness as well as critique of the constant, inappropriate amount of class time that is devoted to discourse about women was met with the rebuttal I should “sign up for a history class” because only men are discussed. While a standard history course can be male-centric, it does not offer the same sort of experience that women specific courses offer. These history courses are more concerned with the battle tactics of the Siege of Constantinople or who was at fault for World War I, rather than sparking a conversation on how media affects masculinity or the roots of masculinity itself.
A male alumnus from Lesley said he was ashamed about the content of my article and hopes that I am an outlier in respect to my opinion. For that I will say this: you haven’t been a student here in almost six years. Things have changed, this is probably not the same Lesley that you attended. You do not hear the twenty minute discussions about feminism during an Economics class, you do not see the Facebook posts from members of this community that create negative feelings about men, that in turn get projected onto us. My article was posted on Facebook and a student commented, “It sucks to be a white male doesn’t it? Dear men at Lesley University, now you know what it’s like to be a woman in the rest of the world.” I question the understanding of this student who was bashing my article. I am not a white male; my mother and her family came from the Philippines which makes me biracial, and I live in San Francisco in the Castro District, one of the most famous gay neighborhoods in the world. I empathize with minorities as well as groups that have been disadvantaged by “white male privilege” because I am both a minority and member of a group historically disadvantaged, that lives in a neighborhood populated by another.
Why would I not want equality for all when I know what one experiences through inequality? This person assuming that I am simply an ignorant white male (a form of stereotyping in and of itself) is just one of many students that I have seen here at Lesley. This concept that I am a “privileged white male” is the biggest problem I have with my critics. None of you know my life, or what I have experienced. You weren’t there when I have been racially discriminated against. Assuming that I am white is ignorant. I am also interpreting the label of a privileged male as a connotation that I have no understanding of reality, the struggles that countless people go through, and that I have been handed everything in my life.
On an individual level, I have worked hard for many things. Before me, generations of my family have persevered through hardship in order to achieve happiness. Stating that my family’s success stems from members being born into a certain demographic demeans both the men and women in my family. Another student on Facebook posted a status about my article that featured these comments which are an attempt to mock me: first, “Help! I’m being crushed by the weight of all this privilege!”, followed by, “I don’t have enough hands for all of this privilege! Lady folk won’t help me hold it up! Oppression!” To think that all that I have achieved is due to me being a “privileged white male” is not true because while there are aspects of privilege in my life, I am still a motivated young man looking to make a name for myself on this planet. I understand that “white male privilege” is a very real thing that affects lots of people on this planet, but that point had nothing to do with my article and is a personal attack to my character.
As for the comments regarding “gender profiling”, consider this: I am a male student athlete here. From hearing countless class discussions and other forms of communication about gender, many male student athletes here and I are portrayed in a negative light. It is not fair that I received a look of fear and disgust from a female student at Sacramento House simply because I smiled and said “hello,” on my way to the bathroom, while I am wearing all Lesley Athletic Apparel. I am clearly a member of this supposed “tight-knit” community. In no way was I comparing my struggle as a male here to the struggle of African-Americans. I am merely comparing that act of profiling to the profiling that I feel that I have received because of the constant propaganda I see. For those who say that a large gaping hole in my argument is my lack of knowledge of university policy:I am aware of the rules and in my experience, the University’s rules about escorting guests are enforced with much more vigor than any other dorm on campus. I find that hypocritical.
All these points aside, I would like to articulate the purpose of my first article: in its search for gender equality, I believe that Lesley University has created an environment that disproportionately caters to women. By placing so much emphasis on women, there is no agenda for men. So even though men have been societally advantaged for decades, this policy flips the historical roles between men and women on their backs, placing men at a distinct disadvantage. Though I do not consider myself an expert on feminism, I support it and understand the pure definition of the word according to Merriam-Webster as “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” In my opinion, that is not being carried out here at Lesley. All I hope for is the opportunity to learn more about being a man while giving women the chance that they deserve. I hope that through these articles and the discourse that follows, we can find ourselves closer to gender equality first at Lesley, and then on a much grander scale.