Brooks Fleet and Celia McLean
Staff Writer and Guest Writer
Feminist groups at Colorado College are ineffective.
To clarify, we do identify with the ideologies of feminism and the explicitly stated missions of feminist groups at Colorado College. However, we have a problem with the outdated and aggressive manner with which said groups advertise themselves.
This article is a critique of how we perceive the public relations of feminist organizations on this campus.
The target demographic of feminist discourse is CC students who might not be passionate about feminist issues because they’ve never thought about them. Events like the Red Tent and publications like the Monthly Rag continuously advertise using rhetoric that effectively guilt-trips, alienates, and frightens the demographic to which they should be speaking.
In last week’s Catalyst, Rosemary Curts published an opinion piece patronizing Jack Williamson with her tone and constant reference to his alleged ignorance. While we don’t want to attack her personally, her writing style is important. Her position as a notable voice in a CC feminist organization, which ostensibly gives voices to the oppressed, has become increasingly combative not only in The Catalyst but also on the now-defunct CC Confessions.
Public interactions like these show why so many people on the CC campus are reluctant to call themselves feminists. Aggressive and polarizing rhetoric is a bad way to garner popular support.
We also take issue with the fact that the most pervasive feminist presence on campus is The Monthly Rag. This often antagonistic publication does not foster intelligent discourse or promote ideals of gender equality to disengaged individuals.
Why would you want to call yourself a feminist when such abrasive rhetoric represents feminism at CC? Popular reluctance to identify as feminist is not exclusive to CC because this off-putting rhetoric is present everywhere.
Fortunately, this is not what contemporary feminism is about. Contemporary, or third-wave, feminism is not against men, believes that no woman has invalid opinions, and understands that every woman is a feminist because feminism is about being a woman no matter what other unique identities accompany that identification.
The Block 7 issue of The Monthly Rag seems to contradict this idea.
An excerpt from a Vice article reprinted in the Monthly Rag states, “We get so mad when some nitwit says she’s not a feminist. I guess if you’re cool with being raped all the time and having no options in life other than being a baby machine or a prostitute, then yeah, you’re probably not a feminist. But if you enjoy birth control pills and not being beaten up by your owner—I mean, husband—then you pretty much are one so you may as well stop shaving your legs right now. Just kidding.”
The Vice article makes it seem that it is not possible to be a prostitute and a feminist. This article may be stating the opposite point in a convoluted manner, but it still devalues a prostitute, who is a woman too. Are we still stuck in the 1980s? Why can’t we abandon this hostile tone and make the shift towards third-wave feminism at CC?
We understand this segment was intended to be humorous. However, in the Block 6 Monthly Rag, contributor Kenzie Mulligan-Buckmiller wrote, “But then again, why would we enjoy jokes that reinforce outdated and oppressive notions about women as a monolithic uniform group? Just sayin’.
Are feminists the only people who are allowed to joke about feminism? How can we not see feminist groups on campus as a monolithic uniform group if all we see are attacks against anyone you disagree with?
Further, the aggressive tone of the Vice article quoted in the Rag is exactly the type of speech the creators of the Monthly Bag were censored and punished for in 2008. Why is there a double standard? A college should be a space for an open discussion of ideas, from all sides of the table.
Beyond the ideological concerns we have with the uniform public face of feminism on campus, rape culture at CC illustrates the glaring need for a reformed Feminism Coalition. Barring the issues with First Amendment rights, clearly the double standards present on this campus are not exclusive to women.
Both writers have had the displeasure of hearing women on this campus say, “I practically raped [so-and-so] last weekend” or “I kind of forced him.” These are not hypothetical. These are exact quotes we have both heard on multiple occasions.
It’s certainly possible that some men on this campus speak that way as well, but never would it be accepted in a casual social setting. We don’t mean that all women on campus speak casually about raping men, but it is disturbing that some feel they have the power to do so.
Last block, the male author of this article went to make a t-shirt for the Take Back the Night event. I was met with hesitation from the woman in charge at the desk and with what I perceived to be disbelief.
Is my sexual assault invalidated because of my gender? In her article, Curts stated her opinion that men always try to bring the conversation back to them when discussing sexual assault. However, both women and men are sexually assaulted. Relative indifference towards male sexual assault inhibits progressive discussion.
Few are responsive to rhetoric that alienates and blames the very audience to which it tries to get its point across. In the conversation on both sexual assault and gender equality, we need to be equally inclusive to everyone. Hopefully next year’s editor will institute change in The Monthly Rag to refresh what some believe to be the face of feminism on campus moving us in the right direction.
Beyond the Rag, however, we desperately need to catch up on the times. The most important step towards a better environment for feminist discourse on campus would be a reformed Feminist Coalition. Reforms should focus on making more effective efforts to reach out to students at this school who are unfamiliar with feminist ideology. Feminism is universally inclusive. As feminists, our rhetoric should reflect this universality.