Gender Week: An Introduction from Toby Richkind ’16

Dear Reader,

The concept of sexism can be a daunting idea: connotations of hatred and disgust come spiraling out of its ugly mouth as we think “Why, I would never….” But the sad truth is you probably have. Despite our best efforts to distance ourselves from the reality of this oppressive mechanism, you and I are just as wrapped up in sexism as everyone else. From loaded words to that Carl’s Jr. ad, we all have been a part of sexism. It is engrained in our culture and in our minds. It is who we are as a society.

So then, what exactly is sexism?

Honestly, I have no idea. I cannot define it, nor encompass it, because I truly do not fully understand it. And I don’t think it can actually be defined; for with a definition comes subsequent misuse. I believe that every experience, which previously has been chalked up as “sexism,” has had its uniqueness and complexities discarded. Suddenly, through such a word, an individual moment is lost in a whirlwind of conceptual misunderstandings, which seemingly only give way to hostility and anger. In essence, the term sexism defaces the reality of an experience, desensitizes society to the true pain felt, and ultimately disrespects those who suffered through the event in question. Each experience of so-called sexism is far too complex to sum up in one single word.

So, instead of tackling a concept far too vast for me to comprehend, let us endeavor to understand these experiences. Lick-Wilmerding is a school of diverse peoples, each member of this community bringing with them their entire life story. Throughout this week, you will read these stories, and hopefully, they will help us all understand not necessarily what sexism is, but how it appears in our everyday world.

The goal of Gender Week on the Hyphen isn’t to outright fix all of society’s flaws related to sexism, but to begin a conversation of how we have all been hurt in some way, and how we can all hope to overcome that pain as the fortified and powerful community that we are.

While only a week has been dedicated to cover these issues, the conversation cannot and will not end here. We must strive to understand ourselves and those around us, we must communicate and listen, we must speak and be heard.

Welcome to Gender Week.


Toby Richkind


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