“What, do you think he’s hot, too?” my professor asked me as I raised my hand. The journalism class was discussing the suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and as I raised my hand to add something to the conversation, my professor posed this embarrassing question.
Sure, some of the other girls in the class mentioned that they found him attractive and my professor meant the comment as a joke, but I didn’t take it as one.
I felt as if what I had to say didn’t matter. It was the first time I noticed someone make a verbal assumption about what I was thinking. Instead of listening to me, my professor decided to make her own conclusion about what I have to say. I couldn’t help but think that if I was one of the guys in the class, my professor would never had made that joke.
As a kid, I grew up on the sidelines of football games. My dad was a high school and college football coach; I loved going to games and still do. From a young age, I learned the different positions and rules, and as I got older and more interested, I began to learn the types of plays and strategies.
I feel most comfortable on a football field, watching a game on television or even talking about a team to whomever will listen. Just like some people feel at home when they make their grandma’s apple pie, I feel at home when I hear the ref’s whistle blow.
However, whenever I bring up the fact that I love sports, specifically football, I typically get an eyebrow raise or a response of “Oh really? That’s cool.” This is often followed by some sort of question about the statistics of a certain team or player, as if it is necessary to legitimize my interest in such a male-dominated world. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little put off by it.
In the same way, I’m sure that if a guy expressed his interest in a typically female-dominated realm, he would get a similar response. It is as if there are cultural interests that are supposed to appeal to one gender or the other.
Gender equality has come a long way, but it still has a long way to go. Maybe we just need a wake-up call to see that all people should be taken seriously, even if their involvement in the conversation is not in agreement with what typical gender norms say it should be.
In retrospect, I should have said something to my professor when she called on me that day. I wish I would have made the point that I intended to make, making her comment inaccurate and irrelevant. It takes courage to stand up for yourself in situations where you feel small. I don’t think I will forget what my professor said to me. It opened my eyes to the fact that there is still gender inequality that needs to be worked on.