Sexism: the human issue


Kate McCartney

LHS junior Michelle Masek starts Gender Equality Club this spring.

Kate McCartney, Feature Editor

The introduction of Gender Equality Club at LHS this May brings awareness to the issue of sexism in society, and it all started with a spark of curiosity and the creation of a simple survey for its founder: LHS junior Michelle Masek.

I first was approached by Masek in our shared ad-room class when she asked me if I would feel comfortable taking her anonymous sexual harassment survey. As I was first going though it, I didn’t really think much of it; however, I surprisingly realized that out of the 11 questions centered around past experience of sexual harassment in a public setting, only one of them had never applied to me. Her survey was a similar version of the controversial 97% survey done in the U.K. in March, just modified to be catered to LHS students, with additional questions about what people felt like LHS administration had done to try to combat sexual harassment.

“The 97% survey found that 97% of the women sampled [of the ages 18-24] had been sexually harassed in a public space. People were saying that the sample pool of 1,000 women was too small to represent the millions of women in the U.K,” said Masek. “I was seeing all of the complaints on the Internet about it, and I wanted to create my own survey that would get rid of all the contradicting statements by people around me who disagreed with it [the statistic]. I was giving it out around the school and people suggested I make a club because they were interested. That’s basically how this all started.”

Masek intends on focusing on a variety of issues within the broader topic of gender inequality and for all genders, sexual harassment is just the start.

“I definitely want to talk about rape culture and the stigma surrounding victims,” said Masek. “Also the stereotypes that fall with men in toxic masculinity and then for women, having to act feminine in a certain way.”

She emphasizes that sexism does not just happen to women; people of all genders are affected by the stigmas and stereotypes of traditional societal roles that have long been set in place.

“I want to reach everyone who will come. Men, women, non-binary, just anyone who will want to learn about how people are affected by gender inequalities and what the government has placed on women and men,” said Masek. “Both men and women are faced with inequalities in society, so it’s not just a women’s issue or a men’s issue, it’s a human issue that needs to be fixed.”

Although the club does not have a set layout yet, Masek wants to incorporate diverse types of interactive lessons throughout club meetings.

“There is a human rights group in Sioux Falls that my adviser has reached out to, so hopefully they’ll come out and talk,” said Masek. “I want to have presentations, as well as open discussion about the different ways society has taught genders how to act, and laws that have limited gender’s freedom.”

Gender Equality Club will meet every Monday after school at 3:20 p.m., in Madam Coombs’ room, E201. The first meeting is Monday, May 10 and everyone is welcome.