Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Feminists at Colorado College "seek dialogue"

And humorlessness ensues. Tomi-Ann Roberts, director of the Feminist and Gender Studies Program at CC:
I would like to address several errors in recent media coverage of the controversial publication of a satirical flier at Colorado College, and present some perspective from the college's Feminist and Gender Studies Program.

Our program's bathroom publication, the Monthly Rag, is itself something of a parody, if you note its title, which emphasizes the idea of women being "on the rag."
Say, that is funny. Fifteen-year-old-boy funny.

It is meant as a playful, informational flier regarding "taboo" subjects related to women's bodies and sexuality.

In the issue that was taken down in many bathrooms and replaced with the Monthly Bag, our flier has a point of historical fact with "Did You Know" as its heading. In it the term vagina dentata is explained. (The vagina dentata, or "toothed vagina," appears in the myths of many cultures, representing castration fears.)

She's an educator, all right.

Contrast this to the Monthly Bag's own "Did You Know." There, the point of educational fact is: "The Barrett .50-caliber sniper rifle has an effective range of 2,000 meters."

These two "Did You Know" segments are decidedly not equivalent. I daresay that speaking freely on these matters in public forums would get you different "punishments" indeed. Say, for example, the Bag writers were in an airport, and they spoke out loud about the vagina dentata. They might get some disgusted looks from other passengers. Some might even tell them to shut up. But let's say they spoke out loud in the airport about the range of a .50-caliber sniper rifle. They'd be taken out by security.

And a logician.

If you post an anonymous, hostile parody of a publication intended to educate about the experiences of a historically marginalized group, then get ready for folks to fight back. What we want is dialogue. That's not what the Bag was. A community has the right to ask its members to take ownership of their opinions and to share them in a way that is respectful of others. . . .

The Rocky's Vincent Carroll writes that the problem with the Monthly Bag is "who it offends. It commits the mortal sin of poking fun at the work of activists associated with the Feminist and Gender Studies program" ("CC's free-speech fears," On Point, April 8).

Excuse me, Mr. Carroll, but did you ask any feminists if they were offended? No. . . .

Most of us wanted to take the opportunity to open up a campuswide dialogue about why some white men feel silenced; why our publication offends some; or what gendered experience is about in a "post-feminist" world. That's not how things went down. . . . But please stop fabricating a story about humorless, offended feminists silencing men's free speech. Stop using us as the scapegoat for a mean-spirited "freedom-quest."


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