• Noah Mussay

Generations Yap... About Being A Female In The 21st Century

Women are eight times more likely than men to be sexually assaulted, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Also, college women are 20% more likely than men to be sexually assaulted on campus. Without a debt, sexism is alive and well in our society. So, what can we do to curb this challenge?

We begin this issue by speaking with two USF freshmen, Madelyn Barrett (Elementary Education) and Victoria Bravo (History).

What’s it like being a woman in the 21st century? What’s the biggest problem you face?

Madelyn Barrett: In general, I think women are more apart of the working-class, now. So, I don’t think much has changed. […] Have you ever been told, like you’re working with a group, but like on a project, and someone says like, ‘Oh, that’s a man’s job; let the guy’s do that,” like okay, what if I wanna do it? I can do it too! I get that there are some physical differences but sometimes it’s frustrating.

Victoria Bravo: It’s still relatively unfair with wages and everything but it’s improving.

Have you personally faced sexism and how have you dealt with it?

Madelyn Barrett: Well, I’m going to be a teacher, hopefully, which is seen as a woman’s profession. It’s one of our biggest majors here as well as Nursing and they’re both seen as woman’s majors and woman’s professions. […] There are many more males nurses recently; teaching is getting there but it’s not nearly equal yet.

Victoria Bravo: I think it’s like inevitable to face sexism because it’s so prevalent in like, everything we do, I think. […] In just like how we think as a society, I guess. It’s just like laid out where you can’t avoid it.

What worries you the most about your future as a woman in the workplace?

Victoria Bravo: I don’t think I’m worried about facing [sexism], because I think I’ll be able to deal with it pretty well.

Madelyn Barrett: I think sexism is something that is inevitable. Sometimes there are differences, and there are certain things that maybe just because of stereotypes, are set that way.

Does the gender-divide anger or annoy you in any way? What would you like people to know about the challenges the gender-divide brings along, in an attempt to help close that gap?

Victoria Bravo: I mean, it definitely annoys me but it’s also like, just like, so set into that environment that it’s like, you go in there knowing that you’re going to have to deal with it. I feel like if every woman would realize that and just like, work for themselves, to better that [workplace environment], then eventually, it would be less of a problem.

Madelyn Barrett: […] I think it’s always going to be there because there are always gonna be people that are just fine with it. So, just work to make a name for ourselves, and be hardworking, and be strong and be independent.

Now let’s talk with CMMA Instructor, Dr. Terre Layng-Rosner. Dr. Layng-Rosner grew up during the Feminist Movement, a time when the likes of Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, marched for women’s equal rights in the workplace and higher education.

Billie Jean King showed the world that women could be just as tough competitors as male athletes. So, where does Dr. Layng-Rosner think we are in the struggle for equality and closing the gender gap?

What was it like being a woman in the 20th century and what is it like now?

Dr. Terre Layng-Rosner: Interestingly, it seems things have not changed all that much, in terms of the way women are treated in our culture. Yet, on the other hand, everything has changed—mainly because of improved technologies, for better or worse. If I had problems with someone or something in the 1980s, I complained to my friends and family on the phone or most frequently, in person. Today, I contact them via Facebook, text or email and ironically, these digital methods are considered “older” as compared to Snapchat or Instagram.

Did women like Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan or Billie Jean King mean anything to you?

Dr. Terre Layng-Rosner: Each of these women made a HUGE difference in how females of earlier generations viewed their world. For me, Billie Jean King was the most significant. I directly benefited from Title IX because I was in the first generation of females to be offered athletic opportunities previously limited to males. I was ecstatic to have the honor of playing on an organized, sanctioned softball league in school. What a gift!

Have you personally faced sexism and how have you dealt with it?

Dr. Terre Layng-Rosner: I have experienced sexism in both my personal and professional life as have pretty much all of the women I know. Most often, I dealt with sexism by ignoring the perpetrator. However, when it was a person of authority in my life, I typically just endured it. In the past 15 years, mainly because I am now in a position of authority, I tend to say something like, “that is inappropriate” or “wouldn’t you like to rephrase that."

Does the fact that there is such a gender divide anger you in any way? What would you like people to know about the challenges the gender-divide brings along, in an attempt to close that gap?

Dr. Terre Layng-Rosner: Probably because I have been so fortunate in my life, I am not angry just puzzled—Why are men afraid of women being treated equally? I am a feminist but in the context that this means I believe in equal treatment of women personally and professionally. That means I appreciate but don’t need my husband to open the door for me, or the abandonment of good manners. It means, I don’t want to get preferred NOR biased treatment. I just want to have the same chances sans injustice, ugly rhetoric and/or hubris. Sadly, sexual harassment tends to be insidious and often goes unrecognized.

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