The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday February 5th

Column: Why a Gender Issue?


Director of investigations Samantha Sabin 

I hate being called a “mystery.”

Every so often I’ll have a seemingly heartfelt conversation with one of my male friends and it will happen: “I don’t know, Sam, you’re mysterious. I just don't get you.”

I am a person who has a hard time asking for help. I don’t talk about my feelings as often as others. And I tend to downplay my personal struggles.

Yes, those are characteristics associated with masculinity. 

Yes, I am (still) a cisgender woman.

For many of my friends, that constitutes me as a “mystery.” My masculine personality traits do not align with my feminine presentation, and it confuses them. I get why I'm considered a mystery, but that doesn’t mean I am one.

If we went by the terms set by my friends, most of the people in today’s special section would be considered a “mystery.” Many of the students covered face the same societal norms and expectations, and they challenge them everyday in a deeper way than me.

When the special projects and investigations team first considered the possibility of a Gender Issue back in October, we weren't excited by the idea. We only thought on the surface level — How many people attend men's sports events over women's? Are men or women more likely to get a traffic ticket? Are women paid less or more than men at UNC? 

We were restricted to the comparison, surface-level stories. The stories that are seemingly predictable and have been covered by countless other news outlets.   

Then we thought about those who might be considered "mysteries." Those who face institutional sexism in seemingly small but consistent ways. 

Although biology is consistently ranked as one of the most popular programs for female students in the past five years, women still face expectations to use their STEM degree to go into more "nurturing" fields — like nursing or teaching — instead of going into research.

Despite having the first female students enroll at UNC in 1897, women didn't have their own residence hall on campus until 1925. And in 2000, we reached the roughly 60 percent female student body we all know on campus. 

And no matter how masculine society might consider various sports, one rugby player still has the tradition of getting a manicure before every game. 

Gender is all around: Whether it's in the state legislature's recent decision making process (We see you, House Bill 2) or if it's in one-on-one conversations students have with their professors. 

Today's issue was comprised by a dozen reporters, designers and photographers. That's not nearly enough people to get everything and everyone, but it is enough to deepen and continue the conversation on campus.

Here's to the "mysteries," and to making sure no one else is ever called that again for challenging gender norms. 


The road to a 60 percent female campus
Adding men’s varsity sports tougher thanks to Title IX
Only about a third of CAPS patients are men
Women STEM majors foresee different post-grad stress
The Gender Issue
How new voter ID laws affect the transgender community
Report: HB2 has cost Wake County more than $700,000
Biology is consistently a popular major among female students
Intersex conditions pose unique challenges for doctors 
Click the headline to view the story
A level playing field for gender and athletics
Report: HB2 has cost Wake County more than $700,000
Intersex conditions pose unique challenges for UNC, Duke doctors
Only a third of CAPS patients are men
How new voter ID laws affect the transgender community


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