University of Wisconsin–Madison

AHA’s Take On: Feminism

Last time at AHA, the meeting topic was feminism, led by Secretary Darcy Davis and Technology Chair Elle Russell. This meeting topic made for an energetic and faceted discussion filled with many opinions and personal experiences. The meeting began with the definition of feminism, which is the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. This isn’t necessarily sameness.

Various women’s issues of today were brought up, including acid attacks, human trafficking, female circumcision, and sexual objectification. When the issue of representation in film was brought up, Elle and Darcy shared some statistics with the group

  • 3.6% of directors are female
  • 13.5% of writers are female
  • 21.6% of producers are female
  • 16% of protagonists are female

When asked to interpret these statistics, the group had many explanations. Some wondered if female writers, directors, and producers aren’t as many or as qualified as their male counterparts. Others said that it could be a manifestation of the “old boys’ club,” and others said that women might just not be interested in pursuing careers in these fields. In response to that, members brought up that the underlying cause for potential female disinterest or lack of success could be due to cultural currents that turn women away.

The gender binary and some of the stereotypes associated with it were brought up, and the group agreed that, like most stereotypes, gender stereotypes aren’t always accurate. Members said that stereotypes tend to persist because grouping people into categories makes quick judgments easier, which is advantageous in many cases. Some people wondered if some of the stereotypes may have been based in evolutionary biology, while others said that they are social constructs which have little or nothing to do with the natural world.

Toy manufacturers seem to aim toys at one gender or the other. Much of the group identified a positive feedback loop between gender stereotypes and gendered toys — toy manufacturers will design and sell toys that will sell to a public that buys different toys for little boys and girls, which contributes to children being raised according to gender stereotypes.

The conversation took a turn for the serious when the issue of rape was brought up. The presenters shared a series of statistics that reflect the state of rape today.

  • 9 out of 10 rapes on college campuses are perpetrated by repeat offenders, and the average college rapist will rape 6 times

Tech Chair Elle!
 Credit to Sarah Rose Smiley  
The group discussed the many potential reasons why rape is so prevalent and so unreported. A big issue that many members hit on is the fact that people aren’t educated on what constitutes rape and consent. Some pointed out cultural factors that make rape more common, including the sexual objectification of women and also many stereotypes about men. Some members wondered if men who rape are always aware that what they are doing constitutes rape. Many members voiced concern over the issue of victim blaming, expressing concern over questions that are asked of victims — “what was she wearing?”

Women tend to be more religious than men, but why? The anti-woman views in the holy texts of many major religions were brought up, but then it was revealed that women are 7% more likely to be affiliated with a religion and 14% more likely to say that religion is very important in their lives. The group wondered why this is so, and many possible reasons were shared. Many said that women, who can feel disempowered by society and by life events, may turn to religion as a way of being loved unconditionally and comforted. Some said that stereotypes applied to women are less conducive to thinking divergently and holding views that could be interpreted as rebellious.

1 thought on “AHA’s Take On: Feminism”

  1. The "1 in 71 men have been raped" stat from the CDC survey doesn’t tell the whole story. It defines "rape" as the attacker penetrating the victim, which excludes women who use their vagina to rape a man (rape by envelopment) which is counted as “made to penetrate”. The very same survey says “1 in 21 men (4.8%) reported that they were made to penetrate someone else,” which is far more than 1 in 71. Also, the study says that 79.2% of male victims of “made to penetrate” reported only female perpetrators, meaning they were raped by a woman.

    The above, lifetime stats do show a lower percentage of male victims (up to 1.4% rape by penetration + 4.8% made to penetrate = 6.2%) than female victims (18.3%) although it is far more than the 1 in 71 you stated. However, if you look at the report’s stats for the past 12 months, just as many number of men were “forced to penetrate” as women were raped, meaning that if you properly include “made to penetrate” in the definition of rape, men were raped as often as women.

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