Shadowed by sexism: How gender inequality manifests in school community

Students and faculty share their thoughts on the current climate of sexism at ASL. An online survey conducted by The 黄色电影 March 7-22 with 149 student responses showed 73.8% of students have experienced or witnessed gender-based stereotyping at the school.
Students and faculty share their thoughts on the current climate of sexism at ASL. An online survey conducted by The 黄色电影 March 7-22 with 149 student responses showed 73.8% of students have experienced or witnessed gender-based stereotyping at the school.
Sophia Bateman

Editor鈥檚 note: *Indicates source would only agree to be interviewed with the condition of anonymity.

鈥淎t the beginning of the year in Research Colloquium, I walked into class and one of the boys was like, 鈥榃hat are you doing here?鈥欌 Kira* said. 鈥淚 was like, 鈥榃ow, I can鈥檛 be taking this class? Like, I get it. Maybe you鈥檙e smarter than me, but like, I really can鈥檛 sit down and take the same class that you can?鈥欌

Kira鈥檚 experience dealing with sexist behavior at the school is not uncommon.听

According to an online survey conducted by The 黄色电影 March 7-22 with 149 student responses, 61.1% of students believe sexism is a problem at ASL. However, many more have experienced or witnessed instances of sexism occur around the school, and countless of those stories remain unshared.

As defined by Oxford Languages, sexism is defined as 鈥減rejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.鈥

Gus Bhatia (鈥25) said sexism is 鈥渢ypically brought upon against women鈥 and includes 鈥渢he idea that one gender or one sex may be superior to the other.鈥 Bhatia also said sexist culture can link back to 鈥渨hat [people] believe traditional gender roles should look like.鈥

by sophia_bateman

Origins of the problem

Olivia Holmberg (鈥25) said the issue stems from the school鈥檚 limited ability to control the information students consume while on campus.听

鈥淪ociety as a whole has problems, so even if ASL does a really good job, kids are still going to be hearing all these other narratives from other places and taking that back to the school,鈥 Homberg said. 鈥淚t鈥檚 a really hard issue to combat.鈥

Likewise, Assistant Principal Natalie Maisey said because 鈥渟chool is a microcosm of the world,鈥 sexist culture is inescapable at ASL.听

Ziad Ben-Gacem (鈥25) said the wider world is a key factor in the ubiquity of sexism at ASL.

鈥淚t seems, both in ASL and in the world in general, there isn鈥檛 really a desire to think about equality and equity and where people are coming from and more a desire to play the victim,鈥 Ben-Gacem said. 鈥淚t鈥檚 a prevalent problem at ASL because it鈥檚 a prevalent problem in the world.鈥澨

In addition, Maisey said sexist culture is progressively intertwined with the growing presence of social media, ultimately heavily impacting students.

鈥淲hat鈥檚 really difficult is that we do have social media influencing, I think, boys, particularly,鈥 Maisey said. 鈥淭here鈥檚 the lack of male role models that are really showing boys what manhood can look like.鈥澨

Moreover, Ben-Gacem said the presence of sexism on a global scale is exacerbated by social media due to the 鈥渋ncessant cycle of whataboutism鈥a response to wrongdoings by bringing up offenses committed by the other partyand competition over 鈥渨hich group is more marginalized.鈥澨

鈥淭hat鈥檚 how you get people like Andrew Tate,鈥 Ben-Gacem said. 鈥淚t鈥檚 how you get people and movements that claim to advocate for gender equality that, in truth, just want to oppress the other group, and I think most of that is as a result of social media.鈥澨

Furthermore, Kira said the amplifying effect of social media in sexist culture impedes the school鈥檚 ability to limit the propagation of such ideologies.

鈥淧eople are getting fed information that is not exactly positive, and I think having access to so much in the world, you’re obviously prone to getting more extremist or sexist ideals,鈥 Kira said.听

It seems, both in ASL and in the world in general, there isn鈥檛 really a desire to think about equality and equity and where people are coming from and more a desire to play the victim.

— Ziad Ben-Gacem ('25)

English Teacher Alissa Mears said she wishes 鈥渢here was a little bit more leadership and space for boys to talk about issues of masculinity鈥 at the school.听

Over the course of my time at ASL, there have been so many women鈥檚 and girl鈥檚 groups, which is great, right, where it gives space to talk about issues, concerns, trauma, all of that,鈥 Mears said. 鈥淏ut, there鈥檚 not been made a space for boys to talk about that, and I think that would really benefit our community.鈥澨

Bhatia said for many students, a sexist mentality can materialize as 鈥渁 product of growing up鈥 and male students wanting 鈥渢o feel like men.鈥澨

As an administrative leader, Designated Safeguarding Lead Richard Harrold said he views other individuals in positions of leadership as complicit in the problem.

鈥淚f you look at the highest forms of administration in the U.K. and other countries, we haven鈥檛 seen a lot of accountability and integrity,鈥 Harrold said. 鈥淭hat does trickle down, you know, people see that and they say, 鈥榃ell, he鈥檚 successful, he got away with it, I鈥檓 going to behave like that.鈥 That needs addressing. You need people in positions of power, in positions of authority, who are demonstrating integrity.鈥

Sexist culture at ASL

Kira said while sexism at ASL is 鈥渟urface level better鈥 compared to other schools she has attended, many incidents occur under the radar.听

鈥淚t appears to be a much better-handled topic than it is,鈥 Kira said. 鈥淭here鈥檚 a lot that goes on and happens that ASL doesn鈥檛 know about or doesn鈥檛 recognize or fully appreciate.鈥澨

Although the school may be unaware of the frequency of these incidents, Felix Destin (鈥24) said the existence of a sexist culture is undeniable.

鈥淭here鈥檚 sort of no choice but to believe it because I鈥檝e heard off my sister, off of my friends鈥 sisters, girls in class like a million times and through word of mouth that groups of boys will be systematically dismissive,鈥 Destin said.

Though Destin said his awareness of sexism is magnified by having a sister, Kira said she struggles to break down the barrier between her experiences and those of her brother.

鈥淸My brother] very much understands how prevalent sexism is and how much I am a feminist and all of that, but I think there鈥檚 a certain point where, when all the doors are closed and all the guys are together, the whole 鈥榖oys will be boys鈥 thing does come into effect,鈥 Kira said. 鈥淣o matter how much I tell him, I can鈥檛 exactly control that. That鈥檚 just social commentary.鈥澨

Moreover, according to The 黄色电影’s survey, 73.8% of students have experienced or witnessed stereotyping based on gender at ASL. Additionally, 63.8% of students and 58.4% of students have experienced or witnessed discriminatory language and students being bystanders to sexism, respectively.听

However, Harrold said this pervasive, misogynistic ideology at the school is not a new phenomenon. In May 2022, , an online forum in which students can document incidents of sexism and sexual harassment at schools across the U.K., publicized the names of the reported schools.听

鈥淵ou鈥檙e going to ask me if ASL was one of them,鈥 Harrold said. 鈥淚t was.鈥澨

Nowadays, Sara Kim (鈥24) said the sexist culture at the school is characterized by perpetrators 鈥渢rying to be hushed.鈥

鈥淢ost of the time, the sexism at ASL happens in whispers, and, a lot of the time, whispers are quite loud,鈥 Kim said. 鈥淭here are some people at ASL that sort of walk that boundary of slightly problematic, but not enough to feel like they can be called out.鈥澨

Similarly, Holmberg said there is 鈥渄efinitely a prevalence of sexism鈥 throughout the school, particularly in the form of 鈥渏okes and small comments and remarks.鈥澨

鈥淚t鈥檚 more of a general culture where it鈥檚 just acceptable to make jokes and remarks at the expense of women,鈥 Holmberg said.听

From a teacher鈥檚 perspective, Mears said although she does not always bear witness to instances of sexism, there has been a recent increase in students mentioning such occurrences.

鈥淚鈥檝e heard about it more secondhand from people who have been concerned about things that have happened outside of the classroom and definitely have heard more, I would say, over the last year and a half, than prior to that,鈥 Mears said.听

Most of the time, the sexism at ASL happens in whispers, and, a lot of the time, whispers are quite loud.

— Sara Kim ('24)

Likewise, Maisey said students鈥 sexist comments reach the faculty鈥檚 ears, and the frequency of derogatory remarks made is hard to digest.听

鈥淭he interesting trend is that, and it鈥檚 really difficult actually to hear this as a trend, but how often students at ASL are experiencing misogynistic microaggressions and those just being what feels like a typical part of the day,鈥 Maisey said.听

Yet, Kim said students face challenges in sharing sexist experiences due to society being 鈥渞ooted in a misogynistic mindset.鈥澨

鈥淵ou tell your experiences about sexism and then people are like, 鈥榃ell, that鈥檚 not really sexism,鈥 because the comments that are made or the experiences that, at least, I鈥檝e felt have been sort of pushing the threshold of sexism,鈥 Kim said. 鈥淚f someone says a comment to me that I鈥檓 like, 鈥極h, that鈥檚 not okay,鈥 then it feels like 鈥楤ut, oh, I can鈥檛 call that out鈥 because it鈥檚 not that blatantly sexist.鈥

When facing offhand sexist comments, Kira said she too struggles to speak up given the lack of positive consequences.

鈥淭here鈥檚 only so many times girls can keep calling out guys, and they won鈥檛 listen, but I think as soon as a guy calls out another guy, there鈥檚 like, I don鈥檛 know, there鈥檚 some sort of recognition there,鈥 Kira said. 鈥淚t鈥檚 sad that that鈥檚 the way it is, but I鈥檝e witnessed guys calling out other guys and it actually causes some change in behavior versus when I call it out, it鈥檚 just like, 鈥極h, of course she鈥檚 complaining about it.鈥欌

Destin said when victims of derogatory comments confront the perpetrator, it can escalate to unsafe conditions, complicating the prevention of such comments.

鈥淭here鈥檚 subtle biases you can only work to give confidence to the person to go and push the boundaries of, but then the moments where it鈥檚 uncomfortable, that鈥檚 where there鈥檚 the risk of like, being emotionally or physically problematic,鈥 Destin said.听

Additionally, Kira said what can be described as casual remarks often hold a significantly heavier emotional burden for the victim.


鈥淥ffhand comments are definitely internalized by people,鈥 Kira said. 鈥淚鈥檝e internalized comments before and I think that鈥檚 something that is definitely restrictive because it鈥檚 something that you carry with you, which could affect your life.鈥澨

As students, Ben-Gacem said sexist culture is exacerbated by tendencies to lean towards extremism.

鈥淭here鈥檚 this stereotype that, you know, a f—boy will be misogynistic and not really care about women鈥檚 opinions, like, 鈥楽hut up, go to the kitchen,鈥 and then there鈥檚 also the idea of the, like, classic lesbian girl is an absolute man hater, you know, like, 鈥楢ll men are pigs,鈥欌 Ben-Gacem said. 鈥淭hose are two extremes, you know, and because they鈥檙e extremes, they鈥檙e kind of ideals, and because of that, us being impressionable children, we tend to lean towards the extremes, so I think that is definitely something that is holding us back from having conversations, just the general tendency to fall into a stereotype.鈥

Experiences & incidents at ASL

The result of the sexist culture at the school manifests itself in many different ways. Bhatia said he bears witness to curt comments made without proper understanding.

鈥淵ou kind of hear a lot of uncomfortable, aggressive and strange language being used to refer to women or refer to girls in a way which, you know, for me listening, you wouldn鈥檛 like to hear that,鈥 Bhatia said. 鈥淚f people really understood kind of the ramifications, but also the meaning of what they said, that wouldn鈥檛 be as prevalent.鈥

In addition, Bhatia said a large group chat for male students has become a medium for the spread of sexist ideology.听

鈥淭here have been instances in which pictures of girls from our grade have been pasted into [the group chat] and comments have been made, kind of fat-shaming, just really kind of commenting on a lot of girls鈥 physical appearances,鈥 Bhatia said. 鈥淗onestly, I can鈥檛 even say I鈥檓 friends with the people who do that, but to be a peer of these guys is kind of embarrassing.鈥澨

Kira said even in-person sexist comments are frequent.

鈥淎t Bottom O, there鈥檚 a group of boys who spend time rating girls,鈥 Kira said. 鈥淭hat鈥檚 been a thing for a long time, so it鈥檚 not, I guess, limited to ASL.鈥澨

Furthermore, according to The 黄色电影’s survey, 63.1% of students said they have experienced sexism and 77.9% said they have witnessed instances of sexism at the school.听

Within the classroom, Kim said problematic behavior is minimal as the school effectively听 鈥渆nsur[es] that there鈥檚 no systemic or built-in sexism in the curriculum.鈥

However, Naz Kaya (鈥25) said while the innate nature of the curriculum promotes equality, it does not prevent sexism from taking place.听

鈥淭he system is set up in a way that definitely considers men and women as equals,鈥 Kaya said. 鈥淏ut I think that sometimes personal beliefs or personal actions can come across differently depending on the individual.鈥

Nevertheless, Holmberg said the shortcomings of the equality embedded in the school鈥檚 curriculum are evident during discussions in English classes.听

鈥淚f you鈥檙e reading a book, sometimes I feel like kids will bring up sexism and the reaction to it will be very varied across the Harkness table,鈥 Holmberg said. 鈥淪ome students will be very active in wanting to talk about it, other students will think it鈥檚 not really worth talking about.鈥

Kim said she has also experienced a sexist demeanor when seated at the Harkness table.听

鈥淚t doesn鈥檛 feel like sexism is a part of the class itself, but you might notice it more like, 鈥極h, the men are really dominating the conversation and the girls or the women don鈥檛 have as much of a voice at the table,鈥欌 Kim said. 鈥淥r, a girl will make a really good point, and then a quiet boy who doesn鈥檛 speak a lot will make a sort of lackluster point and the teacher is like, 鈥楤rilliant.鈥 It feels like there鈥檚 almost a different level of respect or expectation when you鈥檙e a girl at the Harkness table versus a boy.鈥澨

As a teacher, Mears said she frequently observes such incidents.听

鈥淭here鈥檚 small things oftentimes that are said, like assumptions about what girls would like or do,鈥 Mears said. 鈥淭here was a comment made recently about women being interested in washing machines that I had a conversation with some boys about.鈥

Furthermore, Maisey said it is not just students who suffer the brunt of sexist biases.

鈥淚 taught AP U.S. History, and another teacher also taught that class who was a man, who no longer works here,鈥 Maisey said. 鈥淚 would have students who would come into the office and ask him questions rather than me, and I remember thinking sometimes, like, 鈥極kay, is there an assumption that I don鈥檛 know? Or that they鈥檙e gonna get a better answer from a male teacher?鈥 And just that was very painful.鈥澨

Standing outside of a photography class, Maddie Kotsen (鈥27) said she experienced a misogynistic comment made about her interest in photography.

鈥淚 was talking about taking pictures and stuff and how I liked to do it even before I took the class and someone was like听 鈥極h, it鈥檚 just for your Instagram or whatever,鈥欌 Kotsen said.

There was this guy who got a girl鈥檚 number, and then he walked over to the other group of guys and was like, 鈥楢dd one to the tally. That鈥檚 another one.’

— Kira*

During a school trip, Kira said she once again witnessed derogatory comments made in a casual manner.

鈥淭here was this guy who got a girl鈥檚 number, and then he walked over to the other group of guys and was like, 鈥楢dd one to the tally. That鈥檚 another one,鈥 and I was just like, 鈥楾hat鈥檚 really disgusting,鈥欌 Kira said. 鈥淭here鈥檚 a lot of instances like that where it鈥檚 a little offhand.鈥澨

As a student who regularly participates in the theatrical and musical opportunities offered by the school, Ben-Gacem said he feels the impact of these sexist comments frequently.

鈥淚鈥檓 in the musical,鈥 Ben-Gacem said. 鈥淚 do acting. I do band. I鈥檓 generally a very artsy kid. I think there is a lot of pressure around that, the idea that if you鈥檙e a guy doing arts, you鈥檙e either gay or soft or something of the sort.鈥澨

Furthermore, Ben-Gacem said coping with the resulting perceptions others have of him can be challenging.

鈥淭he fact that I sing in front of a lot of people, the fact that I act, the fact that I present myself as very emotionally vulnerable, I think, gives this idea to other guys around me, and even in many cases to girls, that I guess I鈥檓 not capable of being normal or, basically, that I鈥檓 a freak,鈥 Ben-Gacem said. 鈥淵ou see it in how people interact with you, you see it in how they look at you. It鈥檚 uncomfortable. It鈥檚 unfortunate, but it is how it is I suppose.鈥澨

Ben-Gacem said male students鈥 aversion to theater as a result of sexist culture breeds insecurity. As one of the few male students auditioning for musical roles, Ben-Gacem said he is able to play principal roles frequently, and, as a result, he struggles with feeling worthy and deserving of the parts he is assigned.

鈥淭here鈥檚 a much higher chance that you鈥檙e going to get a lead role because you鈥檙e, well, there are so many male roles and there are only so many males,鈥 Ben-Gacem said. 鈥淚n being selected for a main role, there鈥檚 this nagging thought in your head, you know, like, was I chosen because I actually am capable of doing what is set out for me, or is it just because I鈥檓 a man? Is it just because of who I am?鈥澨

Math Teacher Jenny Wexler said she has noticed a lack of progress in the attitudes of other community members toward her position.听

鈥淚 always get both students and parents of students telling me how important it is that I鈥檓 a woman doing math to my female math students, and that has been a comment I鈥檝e gotten across my entire career,鈥 Wexler said. 鈥淭wenty-seven, twenty-eight years ago when I started, that was a comment that I often got, and I鈥檓 still getting it today, so it doesn鈥檛 feel different to me at all, which I think is sad because I would like to say it feels better now 鈥 it seems like over 25 years, it should get better, and I鈥檓 not convinced that it feels like it鈥檚 better.鈥

Gender balance in the classroom

Mears, who teaches Gender in Literature, said there has only been one boy enrolled in the class in the past two years, despite her wishes of there being 鈥渕ore than just girls in the classroom.鈥澨

鈥淭he class has been a really nice space for girls to talk about issues in a way that they haven鈥檛 felt as free to talk about, but I think the class, the learning in the class, would be so significant for boys and has been in the past,鈥 Mears said.

Having taken the elective, Kim said the experience of an all-female environment was refreshing.

鈥淵ou could talk about any female issue and not feel like you have to, like, so carefully choose your words so you don鈥檛 offend the man in the room,鈥 Kim said. 鈥淭here wasn鈥檛 a man in the room to offend.鈥

Although she enjoyed the comfort provided by an all-female class, Kim said male education of gender dynamics is essential.

鈥淭here鈥檚 a need for men, white men, who don鈥檛 have to understand what women or women of color go through, they need spaces to be educated about that because they don鈥檛 have to go through that to know about it,鈥 Kim said. 鈥淚t鈥檚 exhausting to feel like you have to be that doorway of education for them when you have had to go through the experiences that allow you to understand without having to be educated about it.鈥澨

Similarly, Holmberg said she feels the effects of sexism most prominently in her advanced computer science and math classes.听

鈥淚t鈥檚 very subtle, but there鈥檚 very few women in those classes at all, so there鈥檚 just that sort of boundary there,鈥 Holmberg said.听

It鈥檚 exhausting to feel like you have to be that doorway of education for them when you have had to go through the experiences that allow you to understand without having to be educated about it.

— Sara Kim ('24)

Kaya said she feels more suppressed in her classes with a greater number of boys.

鈥淯sually people are very considerate and they watch what they say, but sometimes I do feel like I鈥檓 more silenced than I would feel in more equally balanced gender classes,鈥 Kaya said.听

Though Wexler said she is aware there are choices beyond just male and female, classes that are balanced between gender identities offer room for more diverse ideas.

鈥淲hen it鈥檚 mostly balanced, I find that there are just more perspectives in the room that are being voiced,鈥 Wexler said. 鈥淚t鈥檚 not up to like one person to be that person.鈥澨

Wexler, who teaches Precalculus with Calculus and AP Calculus AB, said she noticed an immediate gender imbalance in one of her classes, in which there is one girl out of 11 students.听

鈥淭hat felt weird to me from the beginning,鈥 Wexler said. 鈥淲hen I first got my class list, I actually looked at my other calculus class, as well as Mr. Sousa鈥檚 calculus class, and there are just fewer girls in that class, so it wasn鈥檛 like a random fluke of the schedule, and I don鈥檛 know what sort of sexism things might have fed into that aspect.鈥澨

However, Wexler said she sees instances of sexism occur less in the unequally balanced class in comparison to her balanced class.听

鈥淚n that particular class, actually, they are a really nicely put-together family,鈥 Wexler said. 鈥淚 don鈥檛 actually notice that difference in the way that I thought I would, and the class where I do notice the difference actually does have a more even split, so I think it鈥檚 a really complex thing in terms of the impact.鈥


Despite the fact that 63.1% of students know how to report instances of sexism to the school, only 47.7% of students feel comfortable coming forward.听

Kim said reporting can be a powerful step in creating a culture in which these instances no longer occur.听

鈥淭he goal or the hope is that if people then stop making those comments because they鈥檙e afraid of the punishment, then hopefully it will just become a habit and an understanding that it shouldn鈥檛 happen,鈥 Kim said.听

However, Holmberg said she is skeptical about the ability of reporting to alter mindsets.

鈥淚 don鈥檛 really think it would be able to change the culture,鈥 Holmberg said. 鈥淭he only thing it might change is that now people aren鈥檛 going to be sexist around me because they don鈥檛 want to get reported, but it鈥檚 not going to change for anyone else really.鈥澨

Furthermore, 41.6% of students think the school handles occurrences of sexism in a productive and effective manner.听

Kim said she would gladly come forward, though partially as she feels there is an 鈥渙bligation鈥 that she does so.听

鈥淎s someone who is so publicly a feminist and advocate for conversations around gender equality, as hard as it is a lot of the time to report instances, I feel like it鈥檚 almost like I can鈥檛 be promoting using your voice and standing up for yourself and all that without doing so myself,鈥 Kim said.听

Moreover, Bhatia said he feels 鈥渁bsolutely comfortable鈥 reporting instances of sexism, especially given its significant role in improving the school community.听

鈥淚t鈥檚 important that if something is consistent, those who are acting like that have to be held accountable,鈥 Bhatia said. 鈥淚t鈥檚 for the better of the community, it鈥檚 for the better of the school, and I think once you realize that, it鈥檚 unfortunate. Nobody wants to be a snitch, right, but it鈥檚 kind of something that you feel like you have to do for the betterment of your community.鈥澨

Director of Student Life Royce Wallace said although reporting instances of sexism is a 鈥渃hallenge globally,鈥 he hopes students will feel increasingly empowered to speak out.

鈥淚鈥檇 like to see people feeling more confident about reporting things, especially being new in this role and especially being someone who鈥檚 also safeguarding,鈥 Wallace said.

Despite Wallace鈥檚 desire for more students to come forward, Kotsen said previous failures on the school鈥檚 behalf to address incidents of sexism have left her disheartened.

鈥淭here was something that happened that I was a part of, and I reported it and [the school] made someone apologize to me, but it wasn鈥檛 a very sincere thing,鈥 Kotsen said.听

Holmberg said the school鈥檚 struggle to treat issues with discretion undermines students鈥 confidence in ASL鈥檚 ability to handle reports.听听

鈥淚 have friends who reported instances of sexism where they haven鈥檛 been, sort of, treated with the confidentiality that they wanted,鈥 Holmberg said.听

In regards to confidentiality, Wallace said because high school can become a 鈥済ame of telephone,鈥 it is hard to always maintain privacy.

Similarly, Kira said typical school culture makes it impossible to guarantee true anonymity.听

鈥淚 agree that the school maintains confidentiality, but I think as far as being a high schooler goes, is anything really confidential?鈥 Kira said.听

As Holmberg progressed through the High School, she said she has experienced a growing tendency to be judged for reporting incidents of sexism. Holmberg said this sense of shame discourages other students from coming forward.

鈥淚f you asked me this question like freshman year, I鈥檇 probably be more comfortable reporting it, but I think as you get older, there鈥檚 more stigma around it,鈥 Holmberg said.听

Wallace said another issue potentially discouraging students from coming forward is 鈥渨hether or not they think it鈥檚 worth saying something.鈥澨

鈥淒epending on how you navigate the world, or how someone feels like they navigate the world, it could be just like, 鈥榃ell, this is what happens all the time, so I just have to deal with it,鈥欌 Wallace said.

Similarly, Kaya said the frequency and degree of the issues prevent her from speaking up.听听

鈥淚f they were severe, I think I would be very comfortable telling a teacher or an adult or someone from faculty,鈥 Kaya said. 鈥淚 do see hints of sexism around school, but they鈥檙e not too serious, so I decide not to do anything about it.鈥

Echoing Kaya, Kira said the regularity of sexist instances leads her to view it as commonplace.听听

鈥淓veryday offhand comments, I just take note of in my brain and continue with my day, which is really sad, but like, I don鈥檛 think that you can report every single incident if it鈥檚 happening so often,鈥 Kira said.

Addressing sexism at ASL

Although Kira said the school provides opportunities to discuss issues such as sexism, the general reaction to these events reveals students鈥 unwillingness to listen to other鈥檚 experiences.

鈥淏ased only on how the reception of Aequitas week is and I guess other school events, like assemblies, people are generally not excited about such school-wide events 鈥 just because it鈥檚 another thing that ASL has a meeting about, it鈥檚 another thing that we all have an assembly about and interrupts our Conference B,鈥 Kira said. 鈥淥n some level, we have to meet halfway. You have to be willing to hear, and I just don鈥檛 think people are willing to at this current moment.鈥澨

Some boys can be turned off because they think, 鈥極h, we’re just hearing about how women are so hard done by, but we’re not allowed to say, 鈥楢ctually, we’re hard done by too.’ That is a real problem, and it is about saying, 鈥業t all harms you too.’

— Safeguarding consultant Beth Davies

Consultant Beth Davies, who works at Ella Savell-Boss 鈥 a safeguarding consultancy company supporting youth organizations and schools 鈥 came to speak to the school community about sexism within education April 11. Davies said while she believes the majority of people are 鈥渞eally receptive鈥 to discussions about sexism, recognizing the presence of both misogyny and misandry 鈥渋nequality on both sides鈥 propels the conversation even further.听

鈥淪ome boys can be turned off because they think, 鈥極h, we’re just hearing about how women are so hard done by, but we’re not allowed to say, 鈥楢ctually, we’re hard done by too,鈥欌 Davies said. 鈥淭hat is a real problem, and it is about saying, 鈥業t all harms you too,鈥 you know. You being taught that you have to look a certain way and sound a certain way and be strong, whatever strong means, and all of these things, you being squeezed into a box isn’t okay for you either.鈥澨

Kaya said events held by the school to address sexism are not 鈥渢aken seriously at all, especially by boys.鈥澨

While Bhatia finds that these events are impactful for his personal growth, he recognizes not everyone may feel the same.

鈥淚鈥檓 happy that I get to be challenged within my own masculinity and I agree with a lot that comes out of these conversations, and I think that they鈥檙e very valuable lessons for me, personally, to learn,鈥 Bhatia said. 鈥淏ut, at the same time, I do think that it takes a certain sense of security and acceptance to be able to see that for a lot of guys, and I do think that鈥檚 just something that maybe at 16 or 17 years old, you either have or you don鈥檛.鈥

Moreover, Kim said there are obstacles regarding student participation when it comes to opportunities to discuss sexism.

鈥淭here鈥檚 a lot of different spaces,鈥 Kim said. 鈥淲hat鈥檚 funny about those safe spaces is that they鈥檙e occupied by the same sort of people, and those are the people who are interested in feminism, who are interested or passionate about gender dynamics and gender equity.鈥

However, while Kim said she acknowledges the deficiencies in such spaces, she said school-organized opportunities to discuss issues of sexism are essential in dismantling the problem.

鈥淭hose workshops, at least, begin to promote a culture of talking about these problems in school, and having students lead those conversations is really helpful and productive,鈥 Kim said.听

Similarly, Davies said 鈥渁sking questions and having discussions鈥 about gender inequality fosters engagement among students who wouldn鈥檛 normally take interest in the topic.

Furthermore, Wexler said she sees the majority of these conversations surrounding sexism fall on Advisory time, which doesn鈥檛 make for productive discussion as students are still forming relationships.听

鈥淚 currently have a Grade 9 advisory, and we鈥檙e all still just getting to know each other, so I鈥檓 not sure our conversations go as deep as when I think back to the Grade 12 advisory that I had, where we built up over time an ability to have those conversations,鈥 Wexler said.听

Yet, Kim said despite the school鈥檚 attempts, sexist culture remains extremely difficult to combat.听

鈥淏ecause this is on more of a social level, it鈥檚 really hard to change people鈥檚 mindsets into being like, 鈥楲et鈥檚 not be sexist, because that鈥檚 just the wrong thing to do,鈥 rather than like, 鈥極h, let鈥檚 not be sexist because there鈥檒l be consequences,鈥欌 Kim said.听

Correspondingly, Bhatia said modifying beliefs and opinions cannot be forced.

To change the fundamental outlook of a person is a very difficult thing, and I think to change the culture of a group of people is even harder. You can only take a horse to the water, you can鈥檛 really make them drink it.

— Gus Bhatia ('25)

鈥淭o change the fundamental outlook of a person is a very difficult thing, and I think to change the culture of a group of people is even harder,鈥 Bhatia said. 鈥淵ou can only take a horse to the water, you can鈥檛 really make them drink it.鈥澨

Harrold said the challenge with shifting these mindsets lies in the difficulty of gauging the level of care students have for moral values.

鈥淗ow do you measure that?鈥 Harrold said. 鈥淵ou don鈥檛 get a GPA of 4.0 for integrity. I think you have to measure it in other ways, qualitative ways, ways that perhaps don鈥檛 lend themselves to numerical indices.鈥澨

In essence, Bhatia said the impacts of school-organized events addressing sexism depend on the individual.听

鈥淔or some people, it鈥檚 a bit harder to maybe, you know, want to embrace that, want to accept that, want to even see that as truth,鈥 Bhatia said. 鈥淚t does depend on who you are, but I think the efforts alone do go a long way, and I think for a lot of students, they do have an impact.鈥

Next steps

In regards to efforts to end the problem, Holmberg said because sexism tends to be a 鈥済enerational thing,鈥 it is hard to combat among teenagers.听

鈥淚 don鈥檛 think we can come in now and tell kids to stop being sexist,鈥 Holmberg said. 鈥淚t has to happen in the Lower School.鈥

While the root of sexism culture at the school is nuanced, Mears said there are ways to shift the issue towards resolution.

鈥淚t鈥檚 a lot of awareness,鈥 Mears said. 鈥淚t鈥檚 a lot of acknowledgment of patterns. I think the acknowledgment of inequities, even in really small everyday situations, is the first step to being able to name it and being able to change it.鈥

Wexler said awareness can hold great power in improving sexist ideologies at the school.

鈥淲e all have to be mindful,鈥 Wexler said. 鈥淎s a community, the only way it gets better is if everyone鈥檚 kind of paying attention and looking at it.鈥澨

For Harrold, the path to improvement is clear.

鈥淭he biggest and most important tool is the student body we already have,鈥 Harrold said. 鈥淲e need to be constantly engaged in conversation about them. We need to translate those conversations into practical action to keep our eyes and ears open 鈥 We now need to put some teeth behind it and say, 鈥榊ou know what? There are consequences for misogynistic actions.鈥欌

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

All The 黄色电影 Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *