Fact: I am tired of how women are treated in the BiCo.

CCM's picture
CCM
290 Interdisc. Gen/Sex
Professors Dalke & Lindgren
4 December 2009
Final Project Proposal:
For such an intelligent community of scholars why do students in the BiCo express such sexist attitudes towards women?
 
            Fact: I am tired of how women are treated in the BiCo. 
 
            For a collegiate community that is comprised of some of America’s brightest and most talented men and women I am shocked that sexist attitudes still penetrate our prestigious campuses. These days I typically dread going to social events at Haverford. I dread being in the company of men that only see me as an object, another woman that needs to be conquered. There’s even a chance that World War III might break out if my butt is smacked one more time. What bothers me the most is that many of my female peers actually tolerate these sexist attitudes from their male counterparts. 
 
            Fact: I can’t fight this battle on my own. 
 
            Another Saturday night can’t go by where I am left alone, confronting some drunken stranger that has violated my body by smacking my rear end. Once reading this some of you may say that I am being too dramatic. Luckily for me I am rather stubborn and I will most likely ignore your critical remarks. Aren’t you tired of walking past tables in the dining center and hearing the word “SLUT” being thrown around?   Why is it that the vast majority of men on our co-ed campus identify promiscuous women as “SLUTS” and their fellow bros as “PLAYERS?” A couple of weeks ago I attended a social gathering where I witnessed a male student yell “Get out whore” over and over again to a fellow female student. Much to my dismay the woman in question did not at any point confront her attacker or defend herself to other partygoers from his verbal attacks. She simply ignored the entire humiliating affair. Seeing that no one was going to confront this particular individual I decided to take up the task myself. Upon having a conversation with this male student I quickly discovered that he believed that his verbal attacks were completely justifiable. According to him, the girl in question deserved to be called a whore since she had not only dated but had also broken up with several of his male friends…
 
            I can go on and on about the sexist ways in which men treat and discuss women on our campuses. Furthermore, I can also talk for hours about how many BiCo women excuse and even tolerate these attitudes of complete disrespect. Whether you want to believe it or not patriarchy still exists in our little Main Line bubble. From where I stand men still dominate our educational and social networks. But why is this still happening? What can we do to stop this injustice? First off I believe that it’s critical that we try to understand how and why these attitudes develop among our male and female peers. As a class we have time and time again discussed the notion of activism. I have heard from many of you that you wish to be active on campus. Even though we have reached the end of the semester I believe that we can still accomplish our dream of being feminist activists. With that said I have decided to pioneer a poster campaign on the Haverford (and possibly Bryn Mawr) campus that will raise awareness about the underlining sexist attitudes that many individuals in the BiCo community have towards women. The flyers that I will post around campus will display controversial statements/questions that will hopefully prompt students to question the existing attitudes and stereotypes that they have about BiCo women. Furthermore, I will include a “reaction space” on each poster that will welcome student responses to the issues that are being presented. In an effort to encourage further discussion I will create a forum on the Anonymous Boards and possibly on Haverford’s GO! Boards as well. I have also created an email address (BiCoFeminists@gmail.com) where students can email us their reactions. Overall, I hope that this project will raise awareness about the treatment of women on our campuses and I invite everyone in this class to participate in this campaign. If you are at all interested in helping me come up with poster topics then please post your ideas here! Though I have included some ideas below I am more than willing to incorporate any suggestions you may have. I am particularly interested in hearing from the Bryn Mawr students in our class. Are there any issues that, as Bryn Mawr College students, you feel need to be addressed? Also, if anyone is interested in helping me poster Haverford (or Bryn Mawr even) then please let me know. I will greatly appreciate any help that I can get and I will be more than happy to provide you with the neon pink paper that I will be using for this campaign. 
 
            Below I have included some sample statements that I will use for the poster campaign in addition to a list of texts that I will refer to during this project. These texts will not only provide me with a foundation for understanding the development of these sexist attitudes but they will also provide me with supplemental material to include in my flyers. 
 
Sample statements/questions:
 
  1. We live with boys not men.
  2. There’s no such thing as a female player.
  3. It’s okay for strangers to smack my ass.
  4. Promiscuous women are sluts. Promiscuous men are players. 
  5. Women are objects that can be exploited by men.
  6. If I show too much skin I will be considered a slut.
  7. Why hasn’t Haverford had any female presidents?
  8. The portraits that are located in academic and public buildings around Haverford’s campus are predominantly of male administrators/notable alumni. 
  9. Haverford has an active feminist group on campus.
  10. If male runners go topless then women runners can also go topless.
  11. BiCo women aren’t affected by societal pressures to conform to beauty norms. 
  12. BiCo women are easy.
  13. The Haverford College cricket team is and always will be a male dominated sport.
  14. Female athletic teams aren’t taken seriously in the BiCo.
  15. Sexism doesn’t exist on our campus.
  16. The social honor code pressures me to confront students that have made sexist remarks.
 
I haven’t decided on a title for this campaign but I have included some ideas below. Please let me know if you have any other suggestions! =)
 
  1. It’s Okay (i.e. “It’s okay to smack my ass” etc.)
  2. BiCo Feminists
  3. Sexism in the BiCo
 
References:
 
  1. Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1997.            
 
I will use this text as a means to better understand women’s identity issues. Are the issues that Betty Friedan refers to, in regards to women feeling pressure to be wives, mothers etc., still present in our modern society. Do college-aged women still deal with these identity conflicts? On another note, since this text made such a profound impact in influencing the women’s movement of the 60’s I would like to analyze the type of discourse that Friedan uses to covey her key points. 
 
  1. Kimmel, Michael S., and Michael A. Messner. Men's Lives (7th Edition). Boston: Pearson Education,            Inc., 2007. 151-223.
 
This text will help me to better understand the masculine identities of college-aged men and the identity conflicts that they face. Part three of this text which is titled, “Collegiate Masculinities: Privilege and Peril,” will be particularly helpful. I will refer to several articles in this section that discuss the impact of fraternity life, alcohol, and sexual assault on men and women in a college setting. 
 
  1. Wolf, Naomi. The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are used Against Women. New York: William          Morrow and Company, Inc., 1991.
 

I will use Wolf’s theories about women and the pressure that they face to conform to societal beauty norms as a stepping-stone for understanding the struggles that BiCo women face with their physical appearances. How do we as intellectual women respond to the issues surrounding the “beauty myth?”   

Comments

CCM's picture

UPDATES

Hello everyone,

I hope finals are treating you well =)

If you are looking for a reason to procrastinate then feel free to check out the results of my "It's Okay...." poster campaign.  If you are a Haverford student and can access the GO! boards then check out the discussion thread titled "So on the subject of the pink posters."  If you are a BiCo student and want to see  anonymous comments about the campaign then check out Haverford's anonymous boards

And here's a shout out to Kayla, Karina, Emily B., Emily S., and Kristen for being so helpful and agreeing to help post my posters around campus!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

-CCM

rae's picture

Interesting Thoughts

Hey, Cristina,

First of all, I think that this is good idea. It reminds me a little of the Words That Hurt campaign a few years back (maybe two years ago). It was at Bryn Mawr; they put up posters with offensive words and slurs and had space for people to write their thoughts about the words. Clearly, it's not the same thing, but there's a similar sort of call for people to respond.

It's an interesting idea. I generally stay on BMC's campus, and I hadn't realized that there were as many offensive sexist people at Haverford as there apparently are (the "get out whore" comments and all). Not that I thought Haverford students were magically better than others; I just don't really interact with Ford guys much. Anyway, that's sad to hear.

I guess this isn't going to count toward my two comments, given that three people have already commented, but I wanted to share what I thought, even if it's not for class credit or anything like that.

Also, this wouldn't be for your project or anything, but I read a couple of really interesting books in Marissa Golden's "Women, Work, and Family" last fall that you might be interested in: Pamela Stone's Opting Out? Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home, and Mary Blair-Loy's Competing Devotions. Your mention of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique made me think of them, particularly Opting Out?, because it deals with the pressures to wife and mother that even "modern women" face. Anyway, I just thought I would suggest it for your copious free time (just kidding!).
 

CCM's picture

Thank you

Thank you all for the wonderful feedback!  I am thrilled that you are interested in my project!  I edited my statements according to your advice...please let me know what you think =)

 

 

It’s OKAY…
  1. It’s okay that there’s no such thing as a female player.
  2. It’s okay for strangers to smack my ass.
  3. It’s okay that promiscuous women are labeled as sluts while promiscuous men are labeled as players
  4. It’s okay that I will be considered a slut if I show too much skin. 
  5. It’s okay that BiCo women have a reputation for being easy.
  6. It’s okay that the Haverford College cricket team is and always will be a male dominated sport.
  7. It’s okay that female athletic teams aren’t taken seriously in the BiCo.
 

 

kjmason's picture

not counting towards my two posts but I'm interested

 Even though your paper has two comments already, I'm really excited about your idea and I'd love to help with postering on either campus. I like the title idea "it's okay" best. I definately agree with Karina about making your statements more cohesive, and pointed. I'm so excited to see what all this generates, because I have also noticed these patterns on our campuses and I also find them appalling. Great project idea. 

Karina's picture

Ok I really like this idea. I

Ok I really like this idea. I think calling it the "it's okay" campaign or something along those lines rings true and if you figure out a way to start every statement with "it's okay that..." it might give it a nice sense of unity for coherence's sake. It might also be a bit more provocative in terms of wording which could be good in terms of getting stronger reactions. I also think that since you are banking on the power of repetition and ubiquity (I'm assuming you want these to be alllll over the bico for a stronger impact) I would suggest that you choose only the strongest of the 16 statements and maybe only keep 5-7.

I like the idea of also having something on the posters (Go!, email, etc.) that would encourage people's feedback. It seems like your aim is to generate an honest, much needed discussion but I also wonder if, as you're pointing out the problems you might not also try to (or encourage people in the reaction spaces) to think of what form a solution might take, if it even exists, of course.

Also, I am definitely willing to help you put up some flyers.

ebock's picture

idea

I love the idea and I think that it's a great way to create conversation about the oft-neglected state of gender relations in the bi-co. I think though that your project could really benefit from a couple of other perspectives: a non-heterosexual perspective and a multi-cultural aspect. How does being a student of color at Haverford or Bryn Mawr interact with some of the questions that you already have?  Does it complicate it in any way?  What is it like to be a lesbian in the bi-co? Or bisexual? I think infusing it with a variety of perspectives would strengthen what already seems like a very thought-provoking project! Good luck!

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