Not once during my time at Deerfield did I witness a large-scale conversation around sexism where everyone involved saw the dialogue as an opportunity to enhance our school as an educational system. The conversation around sexism at Deerfield seems to always revert back to arguments over the validity of experiences or the pedantic semantics of legitimate, painfully lived moments on campus.
As a man, I can not even begin to accurately try to explain the ways in which sexism exists at Deerfield today. As a man, I cannot begin to understand what it is like to receive an email from the Head of School equating my dress with my “Self Worth.” As a man, I don’t know what it’s like to be told that there would be more female student body presidents if there were a larger number of qualified candidates. I have no experiences weighing down these keystrokes, so instead, I will try to speak to what is preventing us from moving forward: the forces that keep students feeling unheard.
I am proud of Deerfield, and because of this, l feel secure in my complaints about the institution. Often, while trying to have conversations about Deerfield’s deficiencies, there was a group of boys and girls who felt the need to defend the institution. Each of these conversations were brought up in the hopes of change, but instead were met with brains that were only willing to refute the statements to save face on behalf of the institution. DA is not a politician. It is not even a person. It should not embarrassed by its failures. Its only goal must be to improve.
The intense questioning of people who bravely share their experiences of sexism or discrimination needs to end. Instead of trying to find a flaw in their stories or assess the “validity” of their “arguments,” listen to these stories as no more than narratives. Subverting these words by “asking for evidence” or pointing out a small falsehoods in logic accomplishes very little. It does not improve the institution or address the concerns put forward. Instead, these stories should be seen as an opportunity to improve our institution. Change does not mean abolishing tradition – Deerfield must be pushed along to keep up with the world around it. No one would suggest using a US History syllabus from the 1950s to prepare students for the AP test in 2018. Why then should we limit ourselves to antiquated ideas and constructs as a basis for how we educate our students today?
Equating sexism with “social problems almost every teenager deals with in high school” is absurd. The school itself exists as an elitist construct: we believe that we should strive to be the best in every category that exists to judge us. We constantly talk about vying to be the best in sports and the best in academics. Why shouldn’t we strive to be the best school ranked on equity and parity between all students?