In the OurOpinion Weekly piece “Are men fitting in at Mills?” the authors call on Mills men and the administration to be more sensitive to women. However, this article fails to treat the men on campus as “capable, intelligent and distinctly valuable.”
When we consider gender and sex relations on campus, we must separate our own perceptions of men from the ways they are actually treating us.
We must ask whether we would be so offended by a female staff member flirting with a student. Whether men who are “cocky, self-important and stifling” are sexist or only abrasive. Whether we feel a power imbalance in our classes because the male students are being oppressive or because we are being submissive. Whether men in co-ed spaces are being messier than students in any other hall. Whether we should expect full respect for wearing our “sluttiest” clothes (a questionable term in itself) when we would look twice at a male student walking into Founders wearing short-shorts and a tight t-shirt. Whether male students are being rude to talk about women’s bodies, when we have all heard female students talking about sex and men’s bodies. Mills women love to explore and celebrate our own sexualities, but the article seems to ask that Mills men be asexual.
As for the proposed fixes to these perceived problems: It would be illegal to ask male job applicants special questions on the assumption that they will be less sensitive to gender issues than female applicants (and we have all met sexist women). It is my understanding that there already is sensitivity training in place for new hires.
It is also my understanding that the women-only fitness center hours are intended to help those who may have body issues, not because men have been antagonistic there.
Yes, there are men who act inappropriately at Mills, but we must not create oppressive double standards as we strive for personal growth. Nor should we assume male students/workers will be sexist because they are men. Perhaps the authors illustrate that last problem best when they express “surprise” at the politeness of “some” construction workers on campus. When we begin to view men as guilty until proven innocent, are we still working in the interests of social justice?