EDITORIAL: Living in a world where the default perspective isn’t yours

Graphic by: Charlie Zitta | Production Manager

We live in a world that is dominated by the male perspective. From language itself to government legislation and everything in between, men are the default perspective.

It’s ingrained in our society, and frankly, we’re tired of it. There shouldn’t be one perspective that is held as the standard. There shouldn’t be one perspective that’s seen as more valuable, simply because of gender.

It impacts us and the world we live in, in both simple and nuanced ways. Our everyday language at its very core is man-focused. Linguistics is one of the  most obvious  examples in the world as male-unless-otherwise-indicated.  Think about the word “man” in English. Society uses this word to refer to all humanity.  “All men are created equally”  “mankind” “policeman” and even the action of “manning a ship.”

Of course, if “man” had not gained its new connotations since its  origins, this would not be the problem.  Upon first use,  mann  meant simply “a person.” The fact that the word was hijacked to focus only on the male perspective is one of the initial problems. 

Even outside of English, languages tend to  use the male format as gender neutral. Why? Why isn’t there simply a  gender-neutral  term which does not alienate half of the population? While this isn’t the most significant issue of living in a world made for men, it’s one of the daily reminders that the status quo is male.

As we discussed this editorial as a group, we all realized that we somewhat hated being girls growing up. There was a desire to be a “tomboy” and reject all things perceived as “girly.”

Generation Z is known for  our disillusionment with traditional gender norms. Advocate.com and them.us report that 50% of Gen  Zers  believe that the rigid gender binary is outdated and archaic.   

This does not, however, foreshadow the destruction of  gender as a whole. If anything, young people are aiming to destruct preconceived notions of the biological sexes while using gender expression as a creative outlet.  

One  small  example of this  larger  concept is the evolution of  the color pink. Many women recall having a deep hatred for pink as young girls. It was often extended to all feminine things such as dresses, or even other women.  

As women get older, we see the sense of superiority connected to this hatred. So much of 2000s “tomboy” culture stemmed from the need to be different than other girls. With maturity comes an important question:  what is wrong with other girls? 

Of course, this is a dead-end question. The only thing wrong with other girls was the fact that they were girls. They adhered to all the things that  the world deemed feminine. Tomboy culture was the result of girls realizing that their gender is all too often used as an insult.  

We were told we played sports “like a girl” as a way to look down on us and make us feel weak. The word “girly” itself was an insult. These subtle, consistent attacks on our gender as children left a mark.

This need to not be like other girls or feminine came from internalized misogyny, which nearly everyone has to some degree. But as we grew up, each of us at some point all recognized how deeply it ran in us and attempted to unlearn these subconscious biases toward our own gender.

Unfortunately, this idea of internalized misogyny is novel to many, especially the men in our lives. Even the nicest, well-meaning of the men in our lives often fail to truly examine issues from our perspective, unable to break out of the male lens society functions in.

This commonly arises as an issue when discussing more sensitive topics, such as sexual assault. In the age of the  Me Too  movement, the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment has been brought to light.  

The Rape, Abuse and Incest Network (RAINN) is the biggest anti-sexual violence organization in the United States. It has found that college students are at a three times higher risk of sexual violence than the general population.  RAINN’s data shows that 26.4% of female undergraduate college students are victims of rape or sexual assault through violence during their time in college.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 90% of sexual assaults on college campuses will not be reported.

There is often a culture of victim blaming surrounding assault. Women are often asked what they were wearing or what they did to get assaulted, implying that it’s their fault rather than that of the perpetrator. This was recently highlighted in a Minnesota Supreme Court decision, which set an incredibly dangerous precedent for rape trials in the future.

In a decision just this week, the court ruled that the man would not be charged with felony rape because the woman had voluntarily drank beforehand. The court decided that the language in the law determined a person should only be considered “mentally incapacitated” and incapable of consenting to sex if they were intoxicated with substances “without the person’s agreement.”

In simple words, if you chose to get drunk to the point where you are mentally incapable of giving consent and are sexually assaulted, the person who assaulted you will not receive a felony charge. The precedent this sets at the State Supreme Court level is terrifying. And it’s just another example of victim blaming.

It feels like in situations like this, women’s perspectives are not taken into account. In a court of law, all perspectives involved should be taken into account. Yet this is clearly not the case.

We challenge our readers to think about these issues from women’s perspective. Rather than blowing us off as over reactionary, think about what it’s like to be reminded by your everyday language that the world does not see things from your point of view, and in most cases, it’s an afterthought.

Rather than telling us that the “you play like a girl” insults were jokes, try to understand the way that planted seeds of misogyny in us from a young age and led us to hate anything feminine. Rather than telling us that sexual assault is a gray situation and you see both sides, consider the fear we live in, in a world where one in five of us will be sexually assaulted at some point in our lives.

And don’t think of these things from our perspective because you have a mother, sister or daughter. Think of these things because women are people and we have inherent value as human beings.

The Torch (Female) Editorial Board, which was created specifically for the Women’s History Month issue, is made of up Editor in Chief Cora Hall, Managing Copy Editor Kaylin Johnson, Lifestyles Editor Marissa Russell, News Reporter Rebecca VanderKooi and News Reporter Jessica Oakes.