By Maya Shavit
What is sexism? Sexism is a notion that minimizes an opposite gender. The tricky part of this issue is that the global society has been so exposed to gender bias for so long that it has become acceptable. The modern society has been a beacon of hope for a younger, more insightful generation to inspire and create change. The only way that full equality between women and men can be reached is to accept and abolish it by eradicating gender-biased products, continuing on tracks of progress, and being proactive feminists. As the future of the American people, teenagers must be aware of these issues in their lives since the world will only evolve if a new generation cultivates equality.
The future can only be changed by those who will not stand for a world that dwarfs the female mind. In a 2018 interview with Freakonomic, the CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, commented on a new product Doritos is considering, a lady-friendly snack. Nooyi suggested that women “don’t like to crunch too loudly in public. And they don’t lick their fingers generously and they don’t like to pour the little broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth.” (Doritos has since denied that such a product exists.) Assigning inanimate objects to a particular sex in retrospect seems obscured, but it has been a monumental factor in marketing strategies around the world.
Having pink pens for women or blue razors for men is an aspect of the global economy that most consumers do not think twice about, but it is problematic because it is generalizing human beings. By assigning items to a particular sex, we suggest that people should conform to certain standards and expectations for each gender. Industry titans like Nooyi are examples of people who are fueling the fire of inequality. Tacking these concepts to a particular sex forces unrealistic burdens onto each person to follow mindlessly in order to be successful.
Progression in the fight for equality has been long and heartbreakingly difficult, but it is far from over. In 1920, states ratified the Nineteenth Amendment granting women the right to vote. The independent nation of the United States had been founded 144 years earlier. Every right that the modern day man has was gifted to him whereas his female counterpart had to work much longer to gain the same rights. This year, 242 years after the creation of the United States of America, some studies suggest that woman still earn less than men do on average, and according to a study published in the Huffington Post in 2015, just 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. The gap between the male and female sex has always been and still is colossal, but the only way to effect change is to be the hope women need.
Maya Angelou, one of the 21st century's greatest activists for the greater good, spoke out on the need for feminism by saying, “I am a feminist. I've been a female for a long time now. It’d be stupid to not be on my own side.” The word feminist in a modern society often has a horrible reputation. Many people define feminist incorrectly as someone who thinks that women are supreme to men. That is where one can make a tremendous mistake. A feminist is one who believes in the equality and empowerment of both genders by pushing the boundaries and demanding fair treatment. To be a feminist is to believe in equality in every sense of the word. By achieving total equality, all aspects of the playing field of the globe are equal. Both economically and socially, the female mind is a force to be reckoned with and one that should be judged on hard work and talent and not by objectification or minimization by colleagues or peers.
The everlasting struggle for equality is fueled by sexism that diminishes others instead of empowering them. The only way to overcome this persistent hurdle is to be the generation with a voice loud enough for everyone to hear. By undermining gender-biased standards; continuing the progression of those who were brave enough to speak out on a real issue plaguing the future doctors, lawyers, and global citizens; and believing in feminism, this turn of future leaders can be the ones to set a new, equal standard for all.
By Shiva Peri
How has the department dealt with censorship?
In the past, we have had issues with people who have come to the show and seen work that they felt was inflammatory to their beliefs. On some occasions, we’ve had to take the work down and on some occasions we’ve been allowed to keep the work up. It’s always an issue that we have to deal with. We are in the process right now of writing a new [set of guidelines] that talks more about … [students’] … freedom of speech, freedom to create their work.
How has censorship affected the art students produce?
Especially in AP, the students are not censored at all. They are allowed to produce any work that they want -- even pieces that some others may view as inflammatory. … They’re allowed to [portray] nudes, they’re allowed to [portray] violence … [But] our policy states that anyone in the art department is not allowed to do artwork that promotes violence, nudity, alcohol, cigarettes, etc. Right now we’re dealing with the Confederate flag … The issue comes into play when it comes time to display that work. We often have many discussions with administration [about the art and the artist’s statement]. If [students] have a clear, concise statement based on what they were trying to say and things are not taken out of context, we have found that [the artist statement] eliminates a lot of the [potential] uproar.
How does censorship affect how professional students can be as artists?
We are a public school and we have guidelines under the law to follow. Whereas, museums and such are privately owned … This is a public school with taxpayers … If a student comes to us with a subject matter that we feel is inflammatory, we will often ask them, “What is it you are really trying to say? Why is it you are really trying to say that? Is it really important?” … We make sure, before we put a piece up, that there have been many layers of discussion as to whether or not that piece being created is really necessary or just for shock value. Ultimately, a shock-value piece is going to hurt many of the other [students’ artwork].