Shrinking the Size of a Cock: Actively Fighting Against Sexist Power Structures

By Samrat Pradhan

During freshman year, I listened to Sam Gelb’s Senior Speech about a class project in which he had to write a report on a non-white male scientist. He argued that by excluding white men in that project, Blake was actively delegitimizing the accomplishments of people. He proceeded to argue that by constantly looking at society through a race/gender lens, we won’t ever move past injustice. Then he quoted Martin Luther King Jr. Whether you hated or loved that speech, everyone left the JNA knowing that it took some “balls”.

In class, we read a Star Tribune article on how 46 of the 50 top CEOs in Minnesota were men. Then we sat around looking at the Hahn/Cock sculpture. If you “guys” don’t remember, it was a very large big blue cock on a pedestal. The sculpture was a darkly humorous way of reminding us that we live in a society in which people have significant privilege simply by the possession of a cock. The Star Tribune article, for me, was not shocking. After all, every one of our presidents has been male, most out rounds at debate tournaments I have traveled to are almost all boys. It’s quite amusing that there was more likely a chance that someone with the last name sounding like “Hahn/Cock” to sign the Declaration of Independence than a woman. 

This is what Sam Gelb missed in his speech. By researching non-male scientists, we are not delegitimizing the success men have had in science. Rather, it is a reminder to us on how amazing it is that women were able to move past such adversity and contribute to the growth of science. It is also a reminder of how far we have to go as a society still. We can’t kid ourselves into seeing a gender/race-blind outlook of our society. Otherwise, we will be complicit in a sexist and racist status quo.

I have seen with my own eyes how actively fighting back against sexist power structures will result in change. Blake Debate has comparable numbers of women and men on the team, and our most successful teams are also very gender-balanced. Why are we so different from other high school debate teams?It is because our coaches have put an active effort to ensure gender equality: We openly share prep (so it isn’t divided only through friendships), we have coaches receptive to teams running gender/race-based arguments, we make sure our tournaments have women judges in each out round, etc. When I joined the DECA club at Blake, all the club leaders were men. However, our captains recognized how problematic their leadership was and made an active effort to put women in leadership roles. Now our club actually has more women than men leaders. While there is always more to do, if Blake DECA and Blake Debate was an accurate microcosm of our larger society, the Hahn/Cock sculpture probably would have looked a lot smaller during our class trip to the Sculpture Garden.

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