History Repeats: "Editor’s Corner: A Battle of the Sexes"

By: Michele Berman  |  November 21, 2019

November 22, 1994

Editor’s Corner: A Battle of the Sexes

By Michele Berman

When I was about five years old (AHHH, the good ole’ days), my favorite t-shirt was a pink one that read: “Anything boys can do, girls can do better.” Probably, my mother had bought it for me as a remedy for the guilt she harbored in providing me with no sisters, but two CARING, LOVING and HARMLESS brothers (a twinge of sarcasm there, folks). Throughout the long, tumultuous years of sibling rivalry (I’m happy to say, that after 21 years, the natives are no longer restless), the female (that’s me) endured physical trauma (sibling abuse, if such a thing exists), emotional trauma (name calling and the like) and the painful but ever present competitive edge between male and female, or shall we say in this case — brothers and sister.

I learned to love my status as the only daughter, and yet I always seemed to feel a lingering gender role differentiation posed within my household, otherwise known as stereotypical male-female garbage (for lack of a better word). My parents were never outright in vocalizing their contradictory (at times) thoughts on the role of a daughter versus the role of a son, but at times the stereotyping was there nevertheless. However, that never affected me as much as it did when I entered YU. 

During my whole life, I had been enrolled in schools where students, both male and female, were given the same chances to succeed. Girls, as we were called then, were part of athletic teams (just like the boys), debating teams (many times boys AND girls being partners and winning), and even, though many at this institution might regard as racial, shiurim (actual learning GemaraI) with boys. Though we wore skirts, we were never looked down upon, or regarded as less[…]or less likely to succeed. Many high school classmates of mine (girls) went on to ivy league institutions. Many of my female classmates won prestigious scholarships and awards at graduation. We were treated as a homogenous group in regard to our abilities. And we never saw each other in a competitive manner such as girls against boys. 

Yeshiva University was the first time in my life when I became separated from the “boys,” now referred to as “men” (hey, we were in college), and it was a personal choice to this day I have never regretted. However, what became a shock to me was not that my classes were filled with women ONLY (I kind of liked that), but that there was a war raging on within the university — a blatant “battle of the sexes.” It was, and still is, the battle between Yeshiva College and Stern College for Women (no longer girls). 

Before […] I begin, the premise for the following is not meant in the slightest bit to be a bashing of one campus against the other because we are all a part of Yeshiva University , and thus ultimately, we are all part of the same school. 

Firstly, I would like to call students’ attention to certain university terminologies deemed necessary while in attendance here, thanks to YC’s Statistics Professor Dr. Marilyn Schneider for pointing them out during an SCW shabbaton. The undergraduate schools are NOT Stern College and YU, but rather Stern College and Yeshiva College, equaling Yeshiva University. (Now I hope I never hear this one again!)

Next comes the comparing of YC and SCW facilities. Yes, it is true, and we are deeply saddened that we, SCW, have no pool, no theater, no appropriate gym, no campus and no second residence hall (Beth always said: BUY A BUILDING), but instead of blaming and bashing the men uptown let’s start here — in Stern — by acknowledging the hard work that goes into what we do have. Those individuals who wish to strive for things at SCW, which students take for granted and which other colleges have, are already starting with the odds against them. Thus, during our fight to receive things that the main campus has (never stop fighting for what you want and deserve), it is equally important to realize that what goes on at SCW is done by hardworking individuals who don’t have the luxuries that the main campus have, and yet labor to overcome these obstacles. Such individuals, for example, include the Stern College Dramatics Society Board, who have struggled and triumphed with sold-out musicals and dramas, despite the fact that they have no fully-equipped theater to hold their performances in, never mind their rehearsals. Or individuals like the Stern Lady Macs basketball team, who have held winning seasons despite a lack of proper gym where “home” games must be held away because the SCW gym is useless for holding games against other college teams. These students are not complaining about what the men up at YC have been given, but are rather productively striving to establish fundamental extra-curricular activities so that future  students can participate in them as well as take SCW seriously. 

This semester, the contrasting YC and SCW school budgets are constantly major headlines, another aspect of the battle. Gita Schachter’s article… is not meant to be a bashing one against YCSC, but rather a definition of the two student councils’ contrasting philosophies. The student can decide for himself or herself whether THEIR council leaders are conducting THEIR money in the appropriate manner. 

In addition, as a proud participant of The Observer, I must admit that I am extremely tired of The Observer being compared to YC’s paper, The Commentator. The Observer is put out on a tri-weekly basis, whereas The Commentator is fortunate enough to publish bi-weekly. As of now, and we hope this will change in the near future, The Observer, to no fault of its own, is only able to commit on a tri-weekly basis due to inherent facility and technical problems. That does NOT mean that SCW has no news, and that The Observer only represents their women as observers, whereas The Commentator represents their men as commentators. No, SCW students are just as much commentators and participants in their school, and the more students who become active, and the more The Observer can do as a voice for its students. And to dispel another mistable myth, The Observer serves the same purpose that The Commentator does — the purpose of supplying students with news. 

(What’s ironic is that while all of this bashing is going on, women and men still find time for peace, as can be seen from the great number of engagements and marriages born from the dating between YC men and SCW women.)

Before I have totally bored you with my tirade, I must conclude by saying that men and women are different, biologically and emotionally, however, that does not give ANYONE, male or female, the right to bash another male or female, especially when they, WE, all belong to the same university. So too, my brothers and I belong to the same family and thus have become close only after many family struggles and painful times, which facilitated a respect we shared for one another as males and female — but most of all as people. 

Thank You, 

Michele Berman