So I almost lost my temper yesterday in class.
I can’t remember how long it’s been since I really REALLY unleashed my temper.
It’s been on lockdown for years.
It’s the class with That Girl. The one that’s been in school all of her life. That knows more than everyone in the class as well as the professor teaching the class. She hogs discussion time, is abrasive and at times downright offensive.
She is the girl that eschews all things conventional. Uber Femminist. Rails against the institution of marriage. Has said many times how she does not want children. . . and there is absolutely nothing wrong with making these choices in life…but when you pronounce them to the class with an obvious tone of disdain to anyone who makes different choices…it’s offensive. She can be described as the stereotypical femminist who is single, plain in appearance, slightly overweight, and collects both degrees and cats. (there’s irony in the stereotype, eh?)
But she is educated. She is really really educated. She is in the minority…
That knows better.
We’ve been looking at poetry this week. Gwendolyn Brooks for one. (I do love me some Gwendolyn Brooks poetry.) Other works by other women authors. Jewish authors. African-American authors. Lesbian authors. Married, mothered authors. It’s delightful.
The poem More of a Corpse than a Woman by Muriel Rukeyser was up for discussion yesterday.
“…all of them alike, expensive girls, the leaden friends, one used to play piano, one of them once wrote a sonnet, one even seemed awakened enough to photograph wheatfields–the dull girls with the educated minds and technical passions–pure love was their employment, they tried it for enjoyment.”
She is certainly referencing a specific stereotype. We all know women that fit this description. And certainly, in 1938 when this piece was written, it was the majority, not minority of women who followed this path in their lives. The educated female writer was in the minority.
Now. Our professor makes this point. That we all know this type of woman.
That Girl, then commandeers the class. Tells her story of how she only looked at all girls schools when she was looking. That she was a legacy in the Pi Phi house at OU and just wanted NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT LIFE.
This turned into a vocal lynching of all things sorority/fraternity and while we’re at it let’s throw in the Junior League too.
“vapid. stupid. empty.”
“I cant imagine wanting that life”
“ugh. and when they grow up…the jr league..just as bad…”
I was gritting my teeth, clenching my fists, holding my breath.
THIS is what we’ve come to? It was nothing more than a grown up game of dodgeball by a sanctimonious group of people that for some reason or another chose a different path than that of a sorority, or any charitable women’s organization.
It was offensive.
My sisters, my friends, my people have a long history with sororities. My PseudoSis1 is in the Junior League. I know what work and good comes out of groups like this.
Are there snotty white girls with their pearls and pointy shoes and their plastic surgery scars tucked neatly behind their I-Know-My-Husband-Is-Cheating-smiles?
Do you think they are exclusive only to the Kappa Delta house or the Junior League? Have you not seen them at church? Sitting in the library? Teaching grad school? Working at the bank?
Pull your head out sweetheart.
I don’t remember much of the remainder of the class.
I was equal parts pissed and heartbroken.
My professor was beating the drum just as loudly as That Girl, and everyone else on the bandwagon.
Aren’t we…ESPECIALLY those of us in this class who are studying themes like “women finding a voice, and women writing and fighting social issues”. . . aren’t we supposed to lift each other up? Aren’t we supposed to look at where we’ve come and sound the trumpet for the fact that we GET A CHOICE in our path? Shouldn’t WE be the ones to set fire to the stereotypes and dance crazy on the graves of our suppressors?
- We COULDN’T VOTE UNTIL 1920! (the 19th Ammendment)
- We didn’t have the right to chose what happened to our own bodies until 1973! (Roe v. Wade)
- In 2006, nearly 13 million children under 18 years of age lived in households with incomes below the poverty threshold ($20,614 for a family of 4 in 2006); (www.hrsa.gov)
- Women make 75.5 cents for every dollar a man makes. (http://usgovinfo.about.com)
Don’t we have more important things on our plate?
I am not a sorority girl.
I didn’t ever have that option.
I am not a member of the Junior League.
I am a member of the League of Amazing and Indefinable Woman***
And like the women before me, I stumble. I get back up.
I want the best for all of us.
I want to know and to do…better.
And the next time That Girl starts talking trash on a group of people that I love…well…I want to be able to stand my ground and curb the instinct to pull out her voice box with my manicured nails. . .
but I’ll be sure to wear my pearls on that day…just in case.
***Membership Open To All!