EDITORIAL & OPINIONS
Nobody WINs with cheap jokes
Kats got your tongue
Feminism has become a dirty word. To out yourself as a feminist
is to risk being perceived as a man-hating complainer. When
stripped down to its basic components, feminism is something
quite different than what many perceive it to be: people should
not have different rights based on their gender. In other words,
in the eyes of the law, don't treat me differently because
I am a woman.
It's true some feminists are quite extreme. Who can forget
Gloria Steinman's statement "a woman needs a man like a fish
needs a bicycle?" This bitter extreme can be contrasted by
feminists who believe women should find fulfillment through
housework and child bearing. Clearly, when one refers to "feminism" it
can mean one of many things.
Why is it then, when I call myself a feminist, people ask
me if I burn bras in my spare time? Where does the assumption
come from that dictates all feminists must be angry butch types?
Just because I feel compelled to defend equality in my daily
life does not mean I am bitter.
A recent editorial in The Gazette joked that all members of
the Women's Issues Network do not shave their armpits. This
implication slots WIN members in the category of "angry feminist," despite
the fact WINs focus is on all equality issues, not just those
Some may see this as a harmless joke, but I see this as an
implicit stereotyping which may have the effect of discouraging
those who want to stand up for equality. It may seem like over-analyzing,
but much of what differentiates women from men is cultural.
Things we don't even notice (like this joke) can socialize
people in a certain way and teach them that in this culture,
to defend women's equality is to be a laughable person.
Perhaps legislation has changed how gender roles are played
out in this society, but if a child grows up with a certain
concept of these roles, the laws will not interfere with what
they expect from the opposite sex. So much of what forms these
concepts are deeply intertwined with things like jokes and
Every time a male mutters that a grumpy girl must be "on the
rag or something" and every time a female grumbles that men
are "all the same," these oversimplified concepts of female
and male are reinforced. Stereotypes like these can be dangerous.