By: Rachel Aiello
Walking the halls lately, I can’t help but notice examples of non-inclusive vocabulary running freely unchecked on the posters advertising events on campus. As a woman, I’m offended. Rationally, it’s unfathomable to me that this standard of gender marginalization is acceptable.
From a boys’ night out for beer and a game where the bros can be be “free from her,” to a girls only self-defense class that promises to replace your need for a knight in shining armor, boasting “no more waiting for prince charming!” The unoriginal plays on stereotypes are yawn inducing.
Who knew a select few words could say so much about the current climate for collegiettes on campus? And further, why does the college feel it is appropriate to use gender biased advertising tactics in promotions circulating the school?
Sexism in marketing is used all the time – I get that – but in a college environment those tactics are unnecessary. What bothers me the most is the underlying issue that these examples allude to: the attitude towards appropriate representation of women on campus.
Coming from a university environment that had a strong emphasis on women’s rights and resources it is particularly disheartening to not feel the same support here. Algonquin does not have a women’s resource center and other than the odd event – mostly organized by outside agencies – the college is lacking in its femme functions.
Both uOttawa and Carleton have thriving women’s resource centers and plan multiple events throughout the year, especially in February. This month marks V-day, a campaign to make Valentines a day to celebrate women, so it is fitting to take a step back and consider how Algonquin fits into this global movement.
I think the college and its cohabitants should be doing more to incorporate this theme, especially – but not only – this month. The commentary surrounding gender discrimination is something a college should help foster. Currently, I don’t think that conversation window is open and this is the cause for my concern.
The absence of an environment clearly present to be a safe space for women on campus sends the message that respecting our rights is an afterthought. The college community then becomes less conscious of issues when they arise, resulting in the majority of students walking the halls passing multiple examples of it, like a misworded advertisement, unknowingly.
Part two of Algonquin’s Strategic Mandate Agreement, which was shaped around Ontario’s push to strengthen centers of creativity, innovation and knowledge, includes a list of values, one of which is: respect. It states, “we value the dignity and uniqueness of the individual and equity and diversity in our community.” Uniqueness. Meaning not every boy going to the hockey game is fleeing her, and not every girl taking the self-defense class is waiting for a prince charming.
I think this needs to be kept in mind if as a college community we want to be accountable to our values. A move towards more creative and inclusive marketing would help to build a better platform for gender representation on campus.
We are all aware of the assumptions made about colleges’ level of social consciousness in comparison to universities’. Should we not try to break that? We have the potential to achieve parity and gain the respect of other schools for our advocacy. As a community, Algonquin is already sensitive and active towards a multitude of issues but currently women’s rights seem to be getting overlooked.
If those ads were to run, inserting the discrimination or exclusion of any other minority group, I’m willing to bet that people passing the posters would be much more offended and aware of the discrimination plastering the pages.
I think it is doing the campus culture a disservice to not have an outlet in which individuals with a pro women’s rights mindset are able to feel comfortable. We are here and we need our voices to be heard. If not for our own sake, than for those who have yet to see the negative effects of sexism or aren’t as consciously aware of gender inequality issues.
So with this I say, feminists, come out, come out wherever you are! While the bros: our “prince charming’s” are all at their hockey night out, lets get together and discuss the necessity of gender inclusiveness, over the fire of our bras burning. Maybe we could invite the boys, or we could just go to the game too.