I was recently featured as part of the Behrend Beacon’s Alumni Features series. I was hesitant to participate because of how I was contacted. My husband provided my name to the Features Editor, who continued to refer to me as ‘your wife’ in emails between them. Mr. Hassel reached out to me and, despite my reluctance, I gave an interview.
The first paragraph of this feature ends by referring to me as ‘the wife of Scott Soltis’, then giving his degree and his accomplishments (despite my never having provided them in my interview). Meanwhile, in the article featuring my husband, I am only mentioned once as ‘his wife’. While I love my husband and am very proud of our relationship and the life we have built for ourselves, it is not the way that I choose to define myself or my accomplishments. It confounds me how, particularly in these times, a woman and her achievements cannot stand on their own merit.
In the first paragraph, Mr. Hassel writes, “Another staple of the college experience, however, can be the fortuitous meeting of significant others and the understanding of love…” While this is not necessarily untrue, it is not reflective in any way of the interview I gave. Never once in my interview did I mention how I met my significant other or how I came to understand love. When I look at the differences in the articles featuring Scott and myself and consider the different message I conveyed in my interview, I must ask, is it because I am a woman that Mr. Hassel wanted to fit my interview into this narrative?
I urge the Beacon’s editorial staff to consider a person’s individual value, regardless or sex or gender, when writing about their subjects. When setting out to feature someone in an alumni-featuring article, feature him or her or them. Feature his or her or their accomplishments. Feature the content he or she or they provide(s) to you in an interview. Let’s do away with double standards and preconceived narratives.