Let me just first say, that picking up the Women and Gender Studies minor was one of the best things to ever happen to me at JMU. It opened my eyes and taught me more about privilege and discrimination than 19 years of existing. It’s shaped who I am today, and built my critical eye for social missconstruction (see what I did there?) more than I could’ve ever imagined.
So in a surprising twist, this week I found out about a pretty interesting guy who goes to University of Toronto named Wongene. At first he actually sounded similar to me sophomore year-
Continue Reading shy, confused with what direction he wanted to take his life and looking to try new things. So he did exactly what I did and signed up for a Women and Gender Studies class because it fit his schedule, and he probably thought it sounded interesting. Here’s the twist though, when he showed up to class the first day he was the only male! Oh my! And apparently, as a result of “shyness” he felt so uncomfortable being surrounded by female students that he refused to participate or show up to class. Naturally, because he refused to attend class OR drop it, Wongene ended up failing the course with flying colors.
Here’s the part where the story gets plain silly. When he tried to argue about participation with his professor, she wouldn’t budge. Not even a little. So obviously, this meant the next logical step was going to the Universities’ Human Rights Tribunal to argue about classroom discrimination. Now most people’s red alert should be going off right now- a guy yelling discrimination since he failed a class he refused to attend because, and I quote “40 women were sort of sitting in a semicircle and the thought of spending two hours every week sitting there for the next four months was overwhelming.” There’s just something ironic about a light-skinned male complaining about feeling uncomfortable. Remember, he actually never went to class. Ever.
So as I try to make sense of it all- I’m really scared for Wongene. And I’m really scared for all the people out there like Wongene who refuse to engage and give other’s a chance because of personal preference. The thought of a world where people can just make excuses in order to bash others or not give them a chance; it sounds despicable. But in all reality, I’m not scared for those people at all- I’m scared for the victims, for the people who get discriminated against for being themselves. I’m scared, because at the end of the day not everyone has the luxury of being born with the privilege to judge others through personal partialities. Thankfully the Human Rights Tribunal didn’t even give this kid a chance- or even allow him to make a mockery of equality.
Locking back, when I got the chance to sit in Wongene’s shoes in 2010, I can boldly say I went the other direction. Every day since then has been a journey in understanding. I can only hope that one day, everyone who has a “fear” of someone else, whether because of their religion, color, sexual orientation or gender, can learn to understand the beauty of equality.
For a link to the original article, click here.