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In my first year of middle school I learned that boys pull girls' pigtails. In my first year of high school I learned that women won equality in the 1970s. In my first year of college I learned that my history teacher had lied and that boys still misbehave. I do not understand how any Penn student can claim that gender inequalities on the college campus or in our larger society have been eradicated. We have made vast progress in the larger battles for political and economic rights, yet young women in America still face daily abuses specific to the female gender. This continued battery is especially damaging because it is subtle. We are constantly bombarded by peers and the media to conform to a double standard of beauty: be sexy, but not sluttish; be thin, but not bony; wear black pants, but don't personify the sorority type. Female Wharton graduates can look forward to a businessworld where they will have to fight to earn equal pay for equal work. We are subjected to the torments of males who, seeing us as breasts and genitalia, belittle us through dormroom banter, poor taste but mainstream films and e-mail circulated sex jokes. It's not that we can't take a joke, but it's tiring to be the punchline time and again. I'm the first to assert that not all men are guilty of these offenses; my aim is not to perpetuate stereotypes. But what conclusion are we to come to when repeated experience reinforces these stereotypes? Women at frat parties do find themselves fending off roaming fingers; women in the big city do get accosted; women in the office do become the unhappy recipients of unwanted advances. In the regular course of events, we don't complain about being treated disrespectfully because we have been conditioned to view the swirl of sexual jibes and snide comments as a natural mode of rapport between males and females. I take full responsibility for the fact that I rarely protest these degradations anymore. Somewhere along the line I learned that a little woman in a big world can lose her voice easily, so it's best not to shout. But even as the Penn Women's Center celebrates its 25th Anniversary, reading the public commentary that has lined this newspaper's pages has convinced me that my silence is the surest way to reinforce the status quo. So today I add my voice to the males and females alike who look forward to a more equal society where men and women respect each other as intelligent equals, not sex objects. As the cream of the country's academic crop and its future leaders, it is our duty to continue to strive for gender equality and our special shame if we deny that the problem persists. When I don't need a posse of trustworthy male friends to escort me to a party, when I don't see girls tragically parading their anorexic frames around campus, when I can live through an entire day without being teased by a male student who thinks I find humor in his sexual innuendo, when the card swiper learns my name is not "sweetheart," when I can voice my opinions without being called a bitch, then and only then will I applaud those who declare that the revolution is over. I can only hope it happens before my daughter is old enough to have pigtails.

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