Nobel winner brings attention to apathy towards women studies, feminism

Irene Ryan
Entertainment Editor

Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”

Malala, 17 years old, is the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient ever.  This is perhaps best exemplified by The Guardian’s remark, “Malala is expected to make a statement at 4:30 p.m. after classes finish at Edgbaston High School for Girls in Birmingham [England].”

In 2012, Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman but survived and continues to fight for girls’ education. Why aren’t girls all over getting excited about activism?  Malala is only a senior in high school, and students here have faced only a tiny amount of the adversity she has faced. There is so little emphasis on the potential power that all young girls could wield.

Webster had a women studies class, but it wasn’t offered this year. This is the first year that it hasn’t been offered in the 12 years Kristin Moore, who started the class, has been teaching it.  It didn’t occur this year due to the dwindling number of students who have signed up.

Moore noticed a decline in members in the last five years.  Before this, she would get 20 plus students per semester.  This year, only 15 students signed up overall.

“I feel that in this generation, students are proving to be more apathetic.  They recognize injustice, but there’s a fear of challenging and questioning the status quo,” Moore said.  “It started with my generation and extends on.  We take it for granted: the sit ins, the hunger strikes.  We take it for granted.”

In a survey conducted of 75 WGHS female students, 68 percent said they identify as feminist, which is refreshing. However, the reasons as to why girls don’t identify as feminists were startling. The responses ranged anywhere from “There is no problem [with sexism] today” to “Because I love men.”  A surprising number of people said the survey was sexist because it wasn’t distributed to male students too.  Girls really felt that something was sexist because their male counterparts didn’t receive it as well.  Are girls really that accepting of their disadvantage in life that when they get any “special treatment,” like a small survey, they think it is sexist?

Girls and women all over can take a very important message from Malala: that despite a society that is stacked against us, women can and should make a difference.

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