In case you haven’t noticed, minorities – or groups of repressed individuals – seem to hold a large amount of sway these days. In fact, it seems that almost every gender, race, or religious sect is a minority group that deserves special privilege for the repression they experience.
For some reason, women are still perceived to belong to this massive group of repressed individuals. An example of this repression was recently pointed out at the famed English universities of Oxford and Cambridge. According to The Telegraph:
“Cambridge University examiners are told to avoid using words like ‘flair’, ‘brilliance’ and ‘genius’ when assessing students’ work because they are associated with men, an academic has revealed.
‘Some of those words, in particular genius, have a very long intellectual history where it has long been associated with qualities culturally assumed to be male’, [lecturer Lucy Delap] said.”
In other words, women are offended to be paid a compliment that has male qualities. This is a bit confusing, particularly since the whole effort for female equality seems to revolve around a quest to have everything the males do. In that sense, does it not seem that a praiseworthy attribute with male connotations (aka genius) achieves the very thing feminists want – to be just like the males?
The Telegraph continues with another example of gender problems at the famed universities:
“Ms Delap, who specialises in gender history, said that one of the reasons why men get more first class degrees at Oxford and Cambridge than women is because female students struggle with the ‘male dominated environment’.
Examples include reading lists which are dominated by male academics and portraits hanging on college walls which are either of men or by men, she said.”
I’m not sure about you, but such a statement seems like another slap in the face of women. Is Ms. Delap truly implying that women can only understand things which are written by women and for women? That they can only function in a female-dominated environment?
One wonders if it is this very quest for female equality that is driving these degrading moves at Oxford and Cambridge. As Alexis de Tocqueville noted in 1840:
“There are people in Europe who, confounding together the different characteristics of the sexes, would make of man and woman beings not only equal but alike. They would give to both the same functions, impose on both the same duties, and grant to both the same rights; they would mix them in all things—their occupations, their pleasures, their business. It may readily be conceived, that by thus attempting to make one sex equal to the other, both are degraded….”
If we want to ensure that neither sex is degraded, perhaps it’s time we embraced the differences between men and women and started being less particular about whether a compliment is gender specific.
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.