20 January 2010

School starts!

Yesterday was the first day of my second semester. I had my science fiction class, which promises to be fun, but was surprised by how reticent I felt in there. It's an undergraduate course that I'm taking while doing extra reading and work with the professor, and so the students in there were predictably quiet. So Amy (the professor) asked us for examples of invasion (one of the themse of the class) in history, and I thought I'd pipe up. The first example I thought of was the Iraq War and the occupation of Afghanistan. And then I reconsidered, eyeing the two men dressed in Corps uniforms in the front row.

It was the first time in over a year that I have felt like I couldn't say something in a course because I'd receive a negative reaction from other students. I was talking with Sarah (my friend at A&M who also went to Southwestern) and she told me that, best case scenario, I would have gotten a mixed reaction. And we lamented a little, because at Southwestern, I would have been in a strange class indeed to have had ONE person react negatively. Frankly, I would have been surprised if the same question in a Southwestern classroom had generated ANY responses that weren't the U.S. invading other countries. Both Iraq wars, Afghanistan, Vietnam, U.S. political coups, all of these things would have been given, but the example given by the students in my sci fi class--the Cold War (by which they meant the threat of communism), the only conflict in which the U.S. has ever felt even the threat of invasion (frankly, I'm surprised no one said "immigrants")--would have been the last thing for an SU student to shout out. The U.S. does the invading in real life, not the other way around, and it shows a rather skewed view of reality to call out only the Cold War as an example of invasion. Which is not to say that it isn't a valid answer--it is, and the threat of the Cold War inspired plenty of SF--but it was the only answer given by a class of twenty or thirty students.

Let's just say that I think this class is going to give me more insight into A&M than I really ever wanted.

However, the first day also brought me a little happy. And from the Battalion, no less. A senior English major, James Cavin, wrote an article called "Showing a little less leg," which I clicked on thinking that it would be some screed about how women should stop dressing so slutty on campus or something. But no! It was about how he thinks that forcing women to shave and wax their legs (and other places) is crazy and barbaric, ending with this:
Ladies, we need to stop putting up with this macho bull crap. If we all just womanned up and told society to screw it's sexist objectifying hairless concepts of beauty, we would have a world without waxing kits and Nair. A world without razors.
Isn't that great? And it's from a man. At A&M. There is hope for this place after all.

This caught my eye because it's from Freakonomics, a book that A&M forced its TAs to teach to ENGL 104 classes: Apparently the author of Freakonomics is completely unable to account for why women are more likely to sit in the passenger seat of a vehicle and men are more likely to drive. It's a goddamn mystery. Maybe it's because women are weak weaklings whose arms could break at the very sight of a steering wheel.

And the Economist is debating whether women in the industrial world have "never had it so good." Yes, seriously. And right now, 67% of their voters agree that yes, Western women should shut up because their husbands aren't allowed to beat them anymore. Or something. I'm being hyperbolic, but as Jill over at Feministe points out, pointing out how far we've come is often shorthand for "so be grateful and shut the hell up."


brooke said...

Wow, I really like that article about the razors.

I would love to see more articles like it that actually got a few more people to think about this. it's an almost impossible idea to argue against... "Women should remove all their body hair because... prepubescence is sexy?"