Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

UMass woman’s basketball ends FIU Holiday Classic with 65-47 loss to Drexel -

December 29, 2016

UMass men’s basketball finishes non-conference schedule strong with win over Georgia State -

December 28, 2016

Brett Boeing joins UMass hockey for second half of season -

December 28, 2016

Let’s stop defining sexism as a man’s issue

It’s 2016 and gender relations are the best they’ve been in American history. The wage gap between men and women is one of the smallest ever on record, we’re on the cusp of the first female presidency and more attention is being paid to issues that affect women. But despite progress, women make 80 cents on the dollar compared to men and sexual assault is a plague on college campuses. There is a long way to go until equality is realized and gigantic issues are addressed. The world can’t change in a day, but anyone can make small changes that make the world a better place, changes that alter language and representation regarding women. Let’s stop using language and practices that perpetuate male dominance.

Let’s stop calling women Miss.

Throughout English history, “Mrs.” and “Miss” were used as abbreviated terms for the word “mistress” just as “Mr.” an abbreviated term for the word “master” (a title problematic in its own right, but one I won’t delve into here). However, neither term originally designated marital status. Mrs. was often used as a term of reverence for a respected woman, maybe a woman of high social standing or an esteemed business career, not to denote that she was married. Most women were just called by their names and only the rich were given a prefix. In the 1700s, younger women began going by Miss almost as a fashion statement, a new fad used to avoid the more proper Mrs. It wasn’t until around 1900 that Mrs. became the designation for married women. These labels, so ubiquitous today, don’t have that long of a history.

Also beginning in the 1900s was the tradition of a married couple simply becoming the man: Mr. and Mrs. John Doe. The woman is consumed by the man she married and ceases to exist independently. This designation is falling out of practice quickly, but if you go to a wedding or thumb through a couple’s mail, you’re likely to find that Mr. and Mrs. Man is still fairly common.

Speaking of weddings, there is another bizarre practice that is one of the most romanticized aspects of the marital process: the giving away of the bride. Essentially, this addresses how a woman’s father owns her and then passes ownership of her to her husband immediately before marriage. Is there a stranger American tradition that no one talks about? Men aren’t owned by their mothers or wives. There is no grand display of a mother giving her boy away.

The fathers owning daughters phenomena is seen in other facets of society as well, starting in 1998 when purity balls came into vogue within the conservative Christian community. These balls are part of a larger movement involving girls around age 12 pledging their virginity to their fathers. Sometimes these dances involve a girl giving her father a key, which he then presents to her husband on her wedding day. The key exchange is literally a girl giving her father a metaphorical key to her vagina, which then her husband gains ownership of. The girl loses control of her own body before puberty.

The implication of these practices regarding fathers, husbands, women and girls is twofold. First, women, even those who hail from more liberal upbringings, are ultimately owned, and thus controlled, by men. Second, because of this ownership, women are taught to limit their behavior so the product (women) is not damaged when handed off to the second owner. Men have no such pressures and limitations on their bodies or lives.

So, if men have no change of prefix once they tie the knot, why should women? And since we have a prefix that already portrays marital ambiguity, why not just use that instead? Why are women owned and not men? Obviously it would be counterproductive to any feminist movement to coerce women to change their prefix, or their wedding day, if they don’t want to. Some women romanticize these deeply ingrained traditions and want to practice them, and they have every right to do so.

But these practices, along with the idea that women should change their names upon marriage, which is extremely uncommon, even outlawed, in places like Quebec, Italy, Korea, The Netherlands and Greece, are damaging to the women’s rights movement as a whole.

Women—do whatever you want: change your name, don’t, go by Mrs., Ms. or Miss, and pledge whatever to whomever. But men—start having conversations with your fiancées, girlfriends, and spouses about what they want; don’t assume anything. Just like any form of sexism, practices like these aren’t a woman’s job to change. Sexism is a man’s issue.

Evan Gaudette is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at egaudette@umass.edu.

Comments
3 Responses to “Let’s stop defining sexism as a man’s issue”
  1. Mike Constitution says:

    This is naked left-wing power politics.

    There is not a sexual assault epidemic on campus, it is a myth that has been debunked.

    Women are not paid less than men, women make different life choices than men.

    Because, women and men are different.

    Yes, it is true.

    Stop it you lying, power-mad, intolerant, violence-prone, ignorant, totalitarian monsters.

  2. Velma says:

    Really awesome article and take on traditonal marriage expectations.

  3. David Hunt 1990 says:

    I read this and a quote from Thomas Sowell comes to mine – paraphrased:

    Liberalism consists of taking what has evolved and developed over countless centuries of experimentation, and then replacing it with what “sounds good”.

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