This is my last Opinions column as a member of The Collegian staff. I wanted to make it memorable for our readers, so, as I do most Wednesdays, I sat down yesterday to think of something new and groundbreaking to be mad about. And, as happens most Wednesdays, I couldn’t think of anything.
At first this dearth of new ideas was very disappointing, but then I came to a realization: I just can’t bring myself to care very passionately about long lines at D-hall, our sports team rankings, the quality of housing’s toilet paper or whatever else might elicit strong opinions from someone with more well-rounded concerns.
I realized that this is because I am still simply, overwhelmingly mad about the same thing I was when I joined The Collegian two years ago, to the point where everything else seems pretty much fine. It’s not new or groundbreaking information, and it won’t add a fresh perspective to any existing literature on the topic. But it just so happens I’m still really mad about living in a culture that is built around discrediting and disempowering me as a woman.
I was mad about this before an influential donor decided that the funniest joke to tell many of America’s richest citizens was one reinforcing the notion that women in power need to be brought down a peg or two, and I’m still mad about it now. I’m still angry that 1 in 4 college women will be sexually assaulted, and most of us won’t tell anyone about it. I’m angry that when women embrace their sexuality despite those horrifying odds, they are often shamed for it, while no such constraint exists for men. I’m angry that this is an emotion that has been deemed inappropriate for me to express, and that writing it down will reflect poorly on my overall performance of acceptable femininity. I’m angry on behalf of the classmates I see shrinking down toward nothing as “bikini season” approaches. I’m even angry on behalf of my male friends who are only allowed to disclose the tiniest range of emotions so as to avoid punishment in the form of being compared to a girl. I’m angry at myself for putting on makeup and dresses to blend in at parties hosted by fraternities known for their exclusion of the queer people and people of color to whom I call myself an ally. I’m still angry that 70 percent of the world’s poor are women and that I’m too nervous to wear sweatpants to class even when it’s cold outside and I have like four minutes to get dressed and they’re calling out to me and sometimes sweatpants just make way more sense.
Most of these issues aren’t ones that we see enforced from the outside. They are so pervasive because they thrive inside our own heads until they seem natural and we blame ourselves when we don’t measure up. I’m absolutely overwhelmed when I try to think of solutions for our campus alone, because how do you change a culture that is serving those in charge? I think that the first step might be to admit it if you’re angry too.