By Fruma Landa, News Editor
“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” -Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Faced with Yeshiva University’s men’s club, my body tenses with frustration and my blood begins to sizzle with anger. Men’s clubs are spaces women are not privileged to attend, thus not privy to the conversations and opportunities that take place within. Men’s clubs do not always look menacing — it can be bro time, watching football beer in hand, a time when men sit around and chill. Yet these seemingly innocent gatherings may result in severe ramifications. Often a time for brainstorming and sharing information, at these clubs, men conveniently seem to seal deals or pass on positions and promotions to other men.
Men’s clubs open opportunities to other men. Without women present, women’s voices are not taken into consideration when decisions are being made and ideas considered. Intentionally or not, women are excluded from these crucial conversations. As these conversations often contain a level of confidentiality, it is unlikely for women to have access to the events that transpired until outcomes are made public and the decision-making processes are complete. While these decisions often affect women, they do not contribute to the decision-making processes.
My life at Yeshiva University is clouded with men’s clubs. It’s in the clusters of men chatting as they go to minyan together, casually filling each other in on their daily updates. It happens at the bima too, men catching the eyes of other men, smiling at some inside joke lost on the women in the room. It happens in the caf, dorm rooms, apartments, lounges, meetings, sports games — anywhere where men congregate with no women present.
Almost every news article I work on feels like a battle with the patriarchy and publishing feels like a victory. Why must every article be a fight against men’s clubs? It’s exhausting. It feels near impossible to find anyone willing to share information with me while all the men in my life seem to have it.
My anger does not come from a place of feeling left out. It comes from the pain and frustration of watching men accomplish with ease what I struggle to accomplish, as I am held an arm’s length away. These men’s clubs are part of a patriarchal structure designed to keep the power in the hands of men. I am tortured knowing that I may need to spend hours trying to find information shared casually among groups of men, and fight tirelessly for my opinions to be heard. It exhausts me that I push myself three times harder than my male peers to overcome countless hurdles that men are privileged enough not to encounter. After all this, I am still seen as inferior by many.
The power is not in my hands, it’s in the hands of men. If they do not choose to share information with me or to help me out, then there is nothing I can do. I cannot succeed. No matter how hard I try or how much effort I invest, I cannot force people to let me in. It is infuriating to know that if men do not want to share information with me, then I am done — I have nothing to work with and my voice is not heard. There are thick brick walls barring me from entering the YU men’s club and I cannot knock them down. Men are the only ones who have the key.
This isn’t the fault of individual men, it’s the fault of a world resting upon years of patriarchal structures that we all need to do our part in changing. We need to work on opening doors and creating spaces for women. Women deserve to be seen and heard.
What are men so afraid of? How can I be expected to live my life banging my fists, begging to be let in? Men have the power and they do not like to share. We need to stop excluding women from the places decisions are being made.