*This is an opinion piece about my own personal views on the topic of feminism, it doesn’t represent the views of all Her Campus writers*
I was 7 years old when I found out I was to have my first male teacher. This reduced to me to tears. Up until that point I had only been exposed to female teachers and the change was confusing for 7-year-old me. To my surprise, within days he became my favourite teacher and 12 years later he is still one of the best teachers I’ve ever had.
Many years later, after numerous female teachers, some amazing and some dreadful, the opinion of my 7-year-old self still rings true. I find myself, a proud feminist, shunning female lecturers in favour of their male contemporaries.
Does this go against all my feminist beliefs? And if so, should I feel guilty about it?
I have found that seminars led by male lecturers are more engaging, less awkward and students are more likely to participate, leading to better group discussions and debates.
I think is due to the male lecturers themselves talking more and asserting their opinions. In comparison, women leading seminars often focus on encouraging the group to speak more and involve less guidance and spoon feeding. You would think this would be the better approach: to be heard and have the chance to guide your own learning. So why do I prefer being in a seminar where I know my voice is less likely to be heard?
Maybe it’s because I find the atmosphere of a male-led seminar more relaxed and less intense. I know when I speak my opinion will have the reaction of, “that’s interesting, let’s discuss that further”, rather than, “hmm, but why is that?”. Maybe it’s because I expect a lively discussion that will make me think and scribble away jotting notes, rather than staring at the clock for two hours.
Whatever the reason may be, I feel more comfortable during these seminars and this gives me more confidence. However, I feel guilty as a feminist for preferring male lecturers. It was only 1948 when Agnes Headlam-Morley was the first woman to be appointed a full professorship at Oxford. Even today only 1 in 5 professors in the UK is female. I feel that I should be championing female lecturers, and to a certain extent I am. The female professors that have lectured or led my seminars are experts in their respective fields and still really interesting to listen to.
So am I a bad feminist for preferring male lecturers? No, I’m not. To me, feminism is about choice and more importantly not feeling guilty about the choices I make. Gender preferences for a variety of things, including academics, is one of those choices. I am lucky to have grown up surrounded by so many strong, independent women; my mum, my grandma, my teachers and my friends. They have all given me the confidence and independence to be comfortable in the choices that make me happy.
I also think to prefer female academics purely because they’re female could be considered bad feminism in its own way. But, at the end of the day, there shouldn’t be a “right” or a “wrong” way to be feminist. Personally, feminism is about being confident and comfortable in your own skin, and seminars led by male professors give me that confidence.
I’m not anti-feminist, or even a bad feminist, I’m simply pro me.