Lexi Schnaser – Staff Writer

At the start of every semester, I am optimistic about my classes. I love learning about government and criminal justice. Yet, class after class, I realize I am greatly outnumbered by my male peers.

In any of my major-specific classes at Dordt University, I’ve been one of the few or the only woman in the class. Being the lone woman in a class full of men talking about policies and ideologies that specifically affect you and your body is exhausting.

Maybe I’m picking my battles wisely. Maybe I’m putting my energy into other responsibilities. Maybe I’m just giving up. But I’m tired of being exhausted. I’m tired of working in groups with men who either don’t let me pitch in on ideas or expect me to organize our project and do everyone’s work for them. I’m tired of always getting picked on to answer questions in class or never getting called on. I’m tired of being looked at like I’m a crazy liberal. I’m tired of explaining to my male friends why it’s harmful to make jokes about women being stay-at-home mothers. I’m especially anxious for an upcoming debate about women’s reproductive health rights for my constitutional law class—in which I’m the only woman.

I’m tired for my friends in other male-dominated majors. I’m tired for my friend who is one of two theology majors in her a class, where her male counterpart is always called on for his opinion when theological matters come up in class. I’m tired from reading class materials exclusively written by men.

I’m tired of walking into a male professor’s office and wondering if they even believe I can accomplish all my professional goals. When I decide I don’t think law school is right for me, I shouldn’t have to be worried about a professor saying, “I was right. She wasn’t strong enough for it.”

Still, I have a few male friends in my major for whom I am incredibly grateful. I am thankful for the female social work professors I’ve had classes with who encourage me to continue. I’m thankful for the conversations I’ve had where people respond with empathy to my frustrations.

 And while I’m thankful, I’m also just ready to be done. Almost halfway through my last semester at Dordt, I’m wondering if I’ve done enough, and why it seems to be my responsibility to support myself—a woman in political science, criminal justice, and beyond.

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