Women in Education: Where We Learn That We Are an Object

School classroom can be a dangerous place for women to grow up if the education system remains men-centered. Women might be exposed to indoctrination to believe themselves as sub-human, even possibly lowering the self-worth they have on themselves. This is a real issue based on my personal classroom experience in the past, where one of my male teachers told the class, “Why do women need to go to school? Women don’t need to get high education. Your nature is only to end up in the well, the kitchen, and the bed.” The well and the kitchen implied that women were born to draw water from the well, do household chores, and cook in the kitchen, while the bed hinted at us women as sexual slaves who had no other job but to satisfy men. Thus, the teacher believed women do not deserve an education because we should not have any other career; because we are created for the sole purpose of serving everyone but ourselves, and there is no alternative to that, neither be a lawyer, a teacher, a businesswoman, or an independent, free-thinking entity. Nothing. But to be of service to men. Because no matter how hard we try, how excellent we possibly are in our studies, and how big our dreams are, women should not think of doing anything to make ourselves happy, fulfill our ambitions, benefit our lives, and achieve our dreams, if it does not put men as the core of our aspiration. As if women were not even created for… Ourselves.

Victim-blaming of women also exists in classrooms. This culture exists everywhere, and the education system was no exception. My personal experience recalled another male teacher trying to justify sexual assault that some men did on the news and blame it on the victim — women — by saying, “No wonder women get raped. Look, they wear such pieces that display their breast everywhere.” Then followed by the sounds of male students laughing together with that teacher. This type of misogyny in educators will create nothing but a generation of entitled rapists and a world where women have automatically lost our rights to safety the moment we wear something that men’s culture deemed inappropriate or “inviting.” Neither men nor women deserve to be raped even when they are bare naked. But, somehow, assault can be normalized and something that causes “no wonder” when the victims are women. Women are told to expect to get raped if they wear anything they like that accidentally crosses the “appropriate” standard. But, whose standard was that? Why should we accept a standard that fits only one party’s interest? Was it really the standard when it was always relatively changing depending on the person’s interest whenever they felt like it? And who is the standard? Men? Why?

Even in this modern age, the education system is tragically not friendly for women. Schools still let unqualified teachers, with a misogynistic ideology, spread their backward mindset in a class consisting of both genders: male and female students, but cannot treat and see them as equally human. Schools may let female students register at their school, be their students, wear their uniform, but somehow act as if women were not there because women have rights to education and a bright future as much as men did, and instead, merely because of formality that forced them to follow the rest of the world’s universal law to give women a spot and to make themselves seen as progressive when they actually do not believe that women deserve any of these basic rights. The education system should create a safe environment for women to study and take action against gender inequality that happens on a daily basis. Those are only small examples of many anti-women experiences that the author went through during school days for being born with two X chromosomes. We, women, received this type of treatment even from our teachers and were taught to expect it. The educational institution ironically turns out to be a place where women learn that we are an object. But, women deserve better.

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Raden Ayu Lefiana

Raden Ayu Lefiana

2223200085. Class 4B. English Language Education Student at the University of Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa.