By Nicole Schmidt
Over the past few months, women have been a focal point in mainstream media. It’s a similar story almost every time: take any competent female character, slot her into a subject and voilà! Brace yourself. It’s a conclusion bound to shock you. Surely, no one saw this coming.
Women can accomplish things, too.
No kidding. Thanks, journalism.
Sexism isn’t new. It manifests itself in almost every profession: in music, in sports, in law, in science, in engineering, and, most notably right now, in politics.
With the deplorable outcome of the U.S. election, we’ve all been slapped in the face with a cruel, all too familiar reminder that bigotry and misogyny can win.
You can tell the world that there’s a problem. You can scream it as loud as you want. But in spite of this, we’re still discussing gender in the same regurgitated way. The gap exists. We know that.
Opinions surrounding Hillary’s loss are scattered. A few days after the ballots were tallied, the Huffington Post ran the headline, “Dear ‘Brogressives’ — Please Let Women Mourn Hillary Clinton.” Meanwhile, the Toronto Sun wrote that people need to “stop blaming Hillary’s loss on sexism.”
Spin the argument any way you want. As Michelle Obama so eloquently put it, yes, Clinton “happens to be a woman,” but that’s not why we should care. “She has more experience and exposure to the presidency than any candidate in our lifetime. Yes, more than Barack, more than Bill.”
Let’s stop acting like it’s some sort of groundbreaking discovery when a woman does something remarkable. I don’t want to hear your harrowing tales about those who “overcame the hardships of being a female” to find success. I don’t want you to remind me about the statistics because I already know how unsettling they are—I’m one of those numbers, after all.
Life rafts, fire escapes, medical syringes and the first algorithm intended for a computer were all invented by women decades, even centuries, ago. Shouldn’t we have learned to disassociate accomplishment with gender by now? We’ve seen that yes, women can be doctors, or engineers, or politicians. That’s because skill defines a person. Intelligence defines a person. Moral obligation defines a person. Genitalia does not.
As you’ll read about in our features section this week, enrolment numbers for women in science, technology, engineering and math programs are lower than they should be. This story isn’t meant to turn women into antagonists, nor is it supposed to make them out to be heroes. Instead, it goes one step further to look at why the problem still exists.
Women have always been at odds when it comes to opportunities, but let’s not for one second assume that makes us victims, because it doesn’t. If you identify as a female you may be at a disadvantage, but you, as a human, are not a hinderance to anyone or anything. You are capable, and you are more than competent.