In my recent post, Rabbit Fumes In the Back Row, I yelled about someone making a “go make me a sandwich” joke during an school council election speech; one that I’m pretty sure has to be approved by teachers. This made me really, really, really angry. Like, time to bring out the feminist adamantium claws angry. (If you didn’t get that, go read Rabbit Fumes in the Back Row). It pissed me off to such an extreme degree, in fact, that I decided to do more than yell on my blog.
Yep! I wrote a letter. I am still communicating with teachers to figure out how to send it to the right people, but I’ve started to figure it out. I’m actually a little shaky because I got this huge adrenaline rush writing it. Talk about a feminism nerd. Then again, I’m the girl who wears her homemade Betty Friedan and Kathleen Hanna pins pretty much every day.
Speaking of Kathleen Hanna, I want to thank Bikini Kill and my mom. Because you know I had on my headphones on and was growling along to “White Boy” as I wrote the letter. And also, my mom is pretty much Awesome Feminist Mom and she helped me figure out who to send it to and such. Seriously, though, my mom is sitcom-mama levels of awesome. You know how on cheesy sitcoms the sidekick will have a parent that represents a minority or “very special issue”? Like the sidekick’s dad will be gay and explain on the show how gays are just like everyone else* or the mom will be a feminist? Yeah, well my mom isn’t a creepy sitcom mom, but she’s pretty great. I would not be a feminist without her. And no, she didn’t brainwash me by reading me The Female Eunuch while I was still in utero or something. She just happens to be a
asskicking strong woman who I admire and who is awesomely independent and who even let me play with Barbies and read Seventeen until I went on my walkabout in the Australian bush and met my spirit animal. My spirit animal is Simone de Beauvoir, by the way. I sort of wish it had been a bear or something though. Simone de Beauvoir is much harder to carve into a totem pole than a bear, or fish, or eagle or something.
The text of my letter is below, although I censored some stuff. While normally I am entirely against censorship, I would prefer not to give away anyone’s names or the school I go to, because for all I know you are a creepy stalker. So I will have to settle for writing myself a stern letter about the harms of censorship.
To Whom It May Concern:
During yesterday’s assembly, a comment was presented as humorous; however, I found it to be personally offensive as well as sexist and degrading. In (student name)’s speech, she suggested that we create incentives for students to attend events; she quoted several students, including one who claimed that an incentive for them would be “a woman who would make them a sandwich”. The connotation of this joke is that a woman’s voice is not important, and that their role is to shut up and serve men. This is a pretty common “joke” that is always inappropriate, oppressive, and intended to silence women.
I was surprised and concerned that no (school name) adults made any effort to intervene and that it was passed off as humorous. At (school name), we pride ourselves on our tolerance and I know that no comments that were similarly oppressive, such as a racist joke, would never be allowed. As a young feminist, I was appalled and offended that this was allowed. I don’t feel safe in an environment that would support sexist comments without any reprimand. Jokes that demean my worth as a young woman do not make me want to attend (school name) events, and it is debasing to all the young women at (school name) to hear these kind of misogynistic comments in a supposedly fun environment like an assembly. I hope that this can be addressed soon.
*This would be great, if I didn’t hate sitcoms as a general rule. And the “very special episodes” are always super patronizing.