Op-Ed: How Can an All-Women’s School be so Masculine?

Where's the feminism?

image credit: feministquotes.tumblr.com/

image credit: feministquotes.tumblr.com/

Meredith Creo

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I was in my New Testament Honors class when Dr. Jeong told us we were going to the library. We had been discussing Greco-Roman influence and the three types of pillars in Greco-Roman architecture. If a pillar is plain with little to no design, then it is Doric, which is masculine.  So we went up to the library and, lo and behold, we notice the pillars were Doric! I looked around and noticed that there were several portraits and busts of men, but of women, only one small statue of a biblical woman named Rebecca and a portrait of Sr. Kathleen O’Brien. Other portraits included George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and John F.  Kennedy, who were clearly notable presidents, but have nothing to do with literature. There was even a bust of Christopher Columbus, who not only has little to do with literature, but committed genocide!

After I left the library, I searched  the entire school, recording every bust, portrait, and statue, and their respective locations. As I was doing this, and even after spending four years at the Academy, I still didn’t know who some of the portrayed people were. When I told multiple people what I was doing and why, they too recognized the lack of female representation. For example, there are two statues of saints on the staircases. I knew one is St. Thomas Aquinas, but I had no idea who the other was. I asked multiple people, including history teachers and staff members who have been here for years, and no one knew except for Ms. O’Rourke; she told me it is St. Francis Xavier. I also wondered why big portraits of Washington and an unknown man adorn the front wall of the study hall on either side of the crucifix, rather than a portrait of our namesake or founder. While I was in the study hall, I also noticed that,  like the library, the pillars are Doric.

I have always been a leader and my life goal is to leave my mark on the world. Of course, I have to take one step at a time, and I think leaving my mark on this amazing school is a step forward in the right direction. As many probably know, I can be quite outspoken because I am open, passionate, and honest. Many would consider that more of a curse than a positive characteristic, which I can understand. When you are as passionate and honest as I am, it can easily be confused with being stubborn and blunt. I admit that I can (unintentionally) be this way, but I recently have been trying my best to  “speak softly and carry a big stick.” At the same time, when I have defended beliefs involving equality, many have accused me of being passionate to the point of radicalism. I am trying not to be as stubborn as I have been before, but one thing that I will never apologize for is standing up against blatant and discriminatory hypocrisies. I should never see eye rolls or hear whispers for defending equal rights for all of God’s children or preaching that we should all love one another and treat others the way we want to be treated; unfortunately, I have. Those words come directly from the Bible, yet people use the same holy text to degrade and devalue my beliefs. To go to an all young-women’s Catholic school where we are supposed to bring each other up in order to grow into strong women, and then to be criticized for suggesting things to support women’s equality is the utmost hypocrisy. This article is not to bash St. E’s because nothing is perfect and I absolutely love this school, and  that is the  reason why I feel the need to write this article. Because in order to fulfill the school’s purpose, which is to empower girls to work together in order to evolve into women, we must first admit our faults and then fight against them, starting with creating a women’s empowerment club.

I know that the word “feminist” can be scary for some people, but I can assure you that it is not. There are extremists in every political, religious, and social group, including in feminism. But the true definition of feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” So if you believe that girls should not be punished for wanting an education like Malala did, and if you believe that a woman should receive equal pay as her male counterpart, then you are a feminist. Feminism does not mean promoting abortions or punishing men. Not all feminists have the exact same views, which is perfectly fine, and we recognize that males experience sexism, too. So to make this all-women’s school feminine again, I am asking you to join my club and to provide a drawing or painting of females that have made an impact and should be represented in the school.   

 

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