Sexism in the Classroom: This Time Towards Men

By Danny Graugnard, Staff Writer Classes late at night can put anyone on edge. People are tired, less formal, and perhaps a bit spacey. It's why I enjoy my classes on Monday nights. Not the tired part, but the laid back feeling that makes a great learning environment in my book. Not everyone showed up this past Monday though, two female students were absent, leaving an even three men and three women in

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the class–an observation the professor pointed out. Of course, I knew exactly where this observation was going to lead.

No longer than 20 minutes were we deep in a class discussion, where truthfully the female students were leading. The professor then commented, "Notice that the men are so quiet tonight!" We laughed at this comment- of course, I've been laughing at those kind of subtle, unintentionally disparaging comments for four years.

I can't begin to explain how awkward it feels to, well, feel discriminated against for being a male in class. After all, it doesn't really make sense for prejudice against men to exist at school where the female-to-male ratio is skewed towards female, and feminism is always a hot topic in the minds of the student body, right? But regardless of the precursors and my own insecurities, it happens.

Last year on my way to another class, I just so happened to be running late. So did the other guy in the class. When we both arrived, the professor commented how it was "funny how the men in the classroom are both late to class." Innocent enough for sure, though after hearing that comment many times before at the time, I was beginning to really wonder whether or not being a man has anything to do with being late. I think I woke up late from a nap that evening. Don't know the other guy's story.

The semester before that, I happened to turn in my paper late, and wouldn't you know it? So did the other two men in the class. Which resulted in the inevitable observation by the professor that it was "peculiar how all the men in the class forgot their papers..." And before that was Women in Literature–one of the English department's feminist classes disguised as a literature class. Only two men were in that course, including myself, so the professor kept an eye on us for "interesting insight." I remember meeting up with a classmate at one of my house parties. We got into a heated debate because I didn't like Wide Sargasso Sea. Then she saw me kissing this dude and exclaimed, "OMG you're gay?!" We became besties. At the end of the course, the professor asked how to get other men to take this course. Sorry, I don't know what to tell you.

And I can't help but remember my close friend who noticed favoritism towards women in his psychology classes, or another friend who couldn't help feeling that the female history professor hated him. Not to mention the enumerable rumors of the one or two female professors in the art department who reportedly challenge male students more than female students.

Claiming that professors and students at Skidmore College are blatantly sexist towards men is a bold statement, even for me. That's why I'm not attempting to do that here. And I honestly don't believe any of them are. I mean, all these studies about women performing better than men in school are very impressionable. But the kind of language and implications mentioned in my anecdotes and the other times I've heard subtle, backhanded insults about my sex in connection to my productivity as a student in my four years of attendance is troubling.

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