Guest Column: Women Should Not Be Judged Only by Their Attractiveness, Personality, Intelligence, Past Accomplishments, and Overall Moral Character
There’s a problem on this campus, and it’s not just the polar vortexes or the fact that Dunkin’ Donuts still doesn’t exist yet. It’s not a problem everyone has – only about half of the students at Northwestern have experienced it. I’ve had friends that have experienced it. I’ve seen people on Sheridan and in Norris that have experienced it. I’ve experienced it. And unless we address this issue now, unless we change the culture of this campus, people are going to keep experiencing it.
Guys, seriously: Stop judging a female student only by her good looks and personal skills and grades and student group involvement and overall common sense and list of accomplishments and whether she is actually a good person or not.
It’s a problem that’s quickly spiraling out of control, and all you have to do is look around you, anywhere on campus. Someone on Sheridan is told they have pretty eyes. The TA in your discussion section praises someone for asking a good question. You hear someone in Norris get congratulated on a job offer they received from Bain. The one thing that all these students have in common, besides all being heavily involved in charity work? They’re all young women.
“I don’t think I could even begin to count the times I have been judged based on my list of personal accomplishments on this campus,” said Jennifer Steinberg (SESP, ’16). “Just the other day, I was eating dinner with a large group of friends, because I’m a very pleasant person to be around, and I heard two of them across the table – both men, mind you – talking to themselves about how proud they were of me that I was accepted to study abroad in Bogotá this summer. I was so disgusted that I almost had to leave the table.”
Such a problem is not unique to Ms. Steinberg. In a recent poll conducted on campus, over 97% of women said that they have been judged in one way or another while at Northwestern, whether by their good looks, their cheery disposition, their strong record of academic achievement, their intellectual curiosity and creativity, or their accomplished list of personal goals.
Even more concerning: 76% said that they had been judged based on one of the above criteria in the past week.
“This trend is alarming, but it certainly isn’t a novel concept,” remarked Hilda Rothchilde, a professor of Women’s Studies here at Northwestern. “Over the past fifty years or so, there has been a general upward trend in the number of young women who are being evaluated, both professionally and otherwise, on their respective characters.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if, in as little as ten years, women everywhere were being assessed based on their collected talents and attributes.”
Unsurprisingly, the men on this campus seem not to realize the detrimental effects of such evaluations.
“Yeah, all the time,” responded Benjamin Gilpin (Weinberg ’14), when asked if he had judged any of his female friends in the past 24-hour period. “Just a few hours ago, I saw my friend Katie and told her I thought she had really nice leadership abilities – she just landed an internship with Aldi for the summer. She’s one of the most charismatic, smartest people I know.”
So, Northwestern, here's the thing: I love you. But I implore you to consider this: when evaluating a female friend, when considering what kind of person she is, try to look past just her gorgeous body and her giant brain and her voracious hunger for knowledge. Try not to think about her 3.9 GPA or her charitable and giving nature. And certainly don’t gauge her only on her verbal and written skills, her ability as a musician, her commitment to her own personal health and hygiene, her hysterical sense of humor, her persistent loyalty as a friend, her impressively coordinated and precise dance moves, her appreciation of 19th-Century fiction, her ability to do complex algebra in her head in a matter of seconds, and her warm and benevolent heart and soul.
Because, honestly? There’s more to a girl than just that.