Gender inequality still prevalent, says panel

Women’s Worth Week’s first event addresses feminism, self-esteem and discrimination on campus

Law professor Lynne Hanson (left) says the suspension of the Fine Arts program is one example of gender discrimination on campus.
Law professor Lynne Hanson (left) says the suspension of the Fine Arts program is one example of gender discrimination on campus.
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According to law professor Lynne Hanson, gender discrimination still exists at Queen’s, including the recent suspension of admissions to the Bachelor of Fine Arts program.

“BFA student enrolment is basically 90 per cent women. It’s kind of like a microcosm,” she said, speaking at a panel discussion for the kick-off of Women’s Worth Week. “They tend to value areas where males are more predominant. There’s a slant to these things and it’s hidden.”

Women’s Worth Week runs until today aiming to promote awareness of violence against women and self-esteem issues.

Hanson said new waves of anti-feminism have begun to surface in society as a response to feminist stereotypes.

“The word ‘feminism’ has become negative,” she said. “I don’t think it’s accidental, but we almost have to reinstate it similar to how they did in the 1970s.”

Hanson said that while gender inequalities are prevalent on campus, students are knowledgeable enough to recognize when they occur and how they affect different groups of people.

“Generally I find the student body to be very enlightened,” she said. “It’s not across the board, but I think that in a way people will be very receptive to [help] tackle these issues.”

The panel attracted close to 10 people and began with a skit aiming to deconstruct derogatory female stereotypes that have been connected with sexual assault toward women.

Seven members from Queen’s Performance Outreach for Students’ Social Education donned purple and yellow T-shirts and stepped forward one by one to explain the problems behind the sexual assault of women. “The problem is not whether I’m sexually active,” one member said to the audience.

“It is that you judge,” another said.

The theatre group, under the purview of the AMS Social Issues Commission, attempted to deconstruct approximately 10 similar stereotypes before asking audience members to recount their experiences of abuse perpetrated by males.

The panel also featured Kim Graham, a community co-ordinator at the Kingston Sexual Assault Centre.

Graham claimed that men and women are still unequal.

“When most people think of gender equality they think of men and upper-middle class white women,” Graham said. “There is a further [discrepancy] in equality between men and women of colour, immigrant women or queer women.”

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