Letter to the editor: SAGE responds to gender articles

 Dear Editor,

We are writing to express our thoughts regarding the April 14 centerspread in the Waltonian on “Understanding the Way THEY Think.”

As executive board members of Students Advocating Gender Equality, we found the first article titled, “The Science of Gender” both informative and refreshing. Quotes from Dr. Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen were the highlights of the piece, and we are grateful that a more egalitarian and academic view was represented.

However, the pieces surrounding this forward-thinking article are a little concerning to those attempting to challenge traditional gender norms.

SAGE read the student quotes gathered by the Waltonian, somewhat contradicting the views presented in “The Science of Gender,” and realized they were representative of the need for more education on gender equality at Eastern.

While we understand the Waltonian has no control over the opinions expressed by the student body, the two articles at the bottom of the center spread, written by Waltonian staff, reinforced stereotypes already seen in both society and on Eastern’s campus.

Before a reader has time to reflect on the social construction of gender, the idea is drowned out by a predictable turn towards discouraging quips about the “universally-acknowledged truths” about males and females.

SAGE recognizes that the Waltonian may have been seeking balance by publishing an article on gender equality immediately followed by two other articles ignoring its value and reverting to sexist generalizations.

While this may have been innocent in intention, those stories are highly frustrating for SAGE and others that work to overcome stereotypes.

It is not necessarily balanced when you reiterate socially constructed assumptions about what we “need to know” about the opposite sex.
SAGE would like to encourage the Waltonian to consider what balance means, if this was their goal in the placement of contradictory articles.

If one voice perpetually speaks through a bullhorn, maybe balance would imply giving an alternate voice a microphone of its own with enough space to be heard.

Also, perhaps it would have been relevant to contact members of Eastern’s gender equality organization when publishing a piece on the issue.

SAGE would like to thank the authors of “The Science of Gender,” and we hope that Waltonian readers did not interpret the article as framed by other reflections surrounding the piece.

Jen Kane, Katy Slininger, and Elise Yarnell

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