Wesleyan University's Newspaper Asks Male Students to Speak Less in Class

Men need to step back? Why can't women step up?

Tara Joy, a freshman at Wesleyan University, wrote an op-ed in the student newspaper about being disillusioned when she first arrived at college:

I vividly remember how excited I was to start classes at Wesleyan this past fall. After a long, lazy summer, all of the traumatizing memories of senior year had begun to fade and I was ready to start expanding my mind alongside other bright, intellectually curious young students. I was going to challenge myself! I was going to do all the assigned reading! I was going to attend 8:50 classes five days a week without sleeping through a single one! And for the most part, my expectations were fulfilled. My professors were brilliant and my classes were—mostly—fascinating.

Gradually though, I began to notice something about my male classmates: they talked constantly. This was particularly obvious in my First Year Seminar, a small, discussion-based course where it felt like the seven male students—despite making up less than half the class—managed to dominate every single discussion.

After asking around, she determined that guys just talk too much compared to females who are more cautious about sharing their thoughts. This, she says, is “constant, subtle discrimination.” So, what's a guy to do, now that he realizes that merely sharing his thoughts is discrimination?

“Guys need to take a step back,” Joy helpfully explains.  ut not just in class -- everywhere in the whole world: online, while chatting with friends, while doing business, and in journalism. Here's the problem with her line of reasoning: why do men need to "step back?" Why can't women simply "step up?" Why rely on the good nature of men, on their willingness to stop talking instead of simply asserting oneself?

This isn't a war zone. This is Wesleyan University -- in the comfort of an air-conditioned classroom, a female doesn't have to call her Congressman to get permission to answer a question. It's been a long time since I've been in college, but I think it's as simple as raising her hand. I hardly think this even merits a newspaper article, or really even a second thought.

Female Wesleyan students, take a step forward.

Photo Credit: Katie Kegtmeyer at Flickr

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