Friday, March 31, 2006

"Man"! what a beautiful word!

Hey, frat boys! How many times can you use the word "gentleman" in an article on improving your sw8 frat's image on campus?
"Our pledge process tries to teach some of these values through the True Gentlemen, as well as many old-fashioned principles of etiquette [such as] proper table settings [and] walking on the street side with a girl," [Sam] Beutler [07] said. "It's also about presenting yourself well, which we try and uphold in events such as football tailgates, where all our brothers are dressed in coat and tie."
Here's the thing: I don't want us to go back to the "good" old days. "Gentleman" is a word reeking of offensive/oppressive class and gender role stereotypes - if you want to revamp your image, how about doing it in an actually progressive way?

Needless to say, I'm not holding my breath. Looks like fraternities will continue to be
flagrant institutionalizations of masculinity and male privilege...and they're damn proud of it.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Petition alert: gender non-discrimination clause

QPAC (Yale's Queer Political Action Committee) has been campaigning to expand Yale's Non-Discrimination Policy to include protection of "gender identity and gender expression."

Its members are currently gathering petition signatures to present to the administration, demonstrating support from across the Yale community for this action. The petition is now available online here.

Sign up and spread the word; QPAC's goal is 1000 signatures by Wed April 5th. There is also a rally planned on Wednesday, April 5th at 5pm on Beinecke Plaza.

Biceps and arm candy: the female body in the sports world

Loren's editorial today discusses the sexualization of women in the sports world. There seemed to be several different arguments at work here, and I want to try and separate them from each other.

Men's sports get a ton of coverage, and their (mostly male) coaches are therefore in the spotlight. The wives of these men are often depicted as physical accessories to their husbands in a way that successful women's partners are not - because women coaches tend to be coaching less-covered (women's) teams, but also because of gender norms which more closely link a woman's worth with her physical appearance and husband's status (and, importantly, with her acceptance of a submissive relationship to that husband). The sexy/mothering dichotomy is interesting in this, but I won't get Freudian.

Jenkins' front-page Times article presents wives whose significance is entirely relative to their function in the lives of the men who comprise the legitimate event. They play the supportive wives of die-hard coaches, the mother figures and the nurturers to the team. More and more, they also represent the sexy hallmarks of the accomplishment that continues to define a woman's success as gauged by popular media attention: her ability to satisfy the heterosexual male gaze.

This expectation of women's "physical availability for men" extends to female athletes, who are photographed in hyperfeminine clothing and whose bodies become the main attraction, instead of their actual athletic accomplishments. I'd love to hear our female athlete readers weigh in: how can we navigate the tension between this physical nature of sports and the resistance to objectification we promote as feminists?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

YDN's error is sadly ironic

A YDN correction today to yesterday's article on the YLS "Disempowered Voices in Legal Academia" panel, which was organized mostly by women students and well-attended by women, ignores the problematic racial and gendered nature of the error.

broad recognition reader (thanks SM) noted that the article itself "does not quote a single woman student. The YDN even takes the words of one black woman student -- "I just want to ask everybody to look around the room at the group of people that we have here. This is the world I want to live in" -- and ascribes them to me, a white man...It appears that the struggle to make women's voices heard at Yale has a long way to go."

Student poll on Hashemi

The results are in from Yale Herald's student opinion poll on whether Hashemi should be admitted to Yale in various programs. 1900 students took the poll. President Levin denies John Fund's claim that he will determine Hashemi's admission status. All this confirms the desire of Fund and others to turn this debate into a political firestorm - when some of the questions they want all of us at Yale to answer are questions for another authority.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

You ask why we left out Hashemi

broad recognition seeks to
uncover the insidious forms of sexism on this campus which are masked by a veneer of privilege and liberal politics, and ignored. To analyze this misogyny is not simple - not as easy, for example, as singling out a former spokesman of the Taliban, the latest cultural icon of misogyny. Asking why we left out Hashemi inevitably moves the discussion away from the misogynistic events on this campus and into the realm of American foreign policy. This blog is not meant for such a discussion.

Our discomfort in employing the rhetoric of our particular feminism in the context of other cultures and in the context of this blog does not deny that there is sexism in these cultures. It merely demonstrates what type of discussion we are trying to achieve with broad recognition, and our recognition of the ways in which American feminism has been manipulated to justify violence abroad.

Yes, the Taliban is a violently sexist and oppressive regime. Yes, the Taliban has some viewpoints and practices that we deplore. If Hashemi still subscribes to those tenets, then Yale has admitted a sexist man. It’s not the first time.