Student bites on bait

Alright, I'll take the bait. I'm assuming, of course, that John Heiderscheidt's column on Oct. 11 was a tongue-in-cheek ploy to drum up some angry feminist retaliation to make for entertaining Viewpoints, and not actually the educated opinion of a college-aged man. But what can I say, I'm a sucker for feminist rants. First of all, okay, dating sucks and all that other men are from Mars, women are from Venus stuff. Yeah, yeah, we get it and it goes both ways. I'm right there with you on the "best friends" thing, and it's just as off-putting when done by men to their "best friends."

Secondly, a woman in the Oval Office could not single-handedly end war or poverty any more than a minority in the Oval Office could end institutional racism. But the fact in question is whether women can be trusted to make decisions more important than which curtains to hang. Last fall I came across an alarming number of people, women included, who do not believe that a woman is capable of being president and listed safety as their primary concern. Granted, Hillary Clinton would probably lose in a fist fight with Kim Jong Il, but the United States (theoretically) makes decisions of national defense on the basis of strategic planning and rational deliberation, and a woman president is just as capable of these things as a man. This is the 21st century; we no longer have to worry about her uterus becoming dislodged and causing hysteria or about her hormones sucking energy from her brain. The Y chromosome contains no special gene for leadership or rationality.

Finally, we're roaring about plenty of important things. The problem is that when we do, all people seem to want to talk about is what we look like or what we're wearing. Yes, I'm going there. Janet Reno was the first woman Attorney General of the United States. Her legacy with our generation, however, will be her masculine looks and lack of fashion sense. The pressure on women in our society to look a certain way is overwhelming, and a woman's physical appearance is often her most emphasized trait. Do you suppose Anna Kournikova became a household name because of her tennis skills?

OK, now I am talking about equality. Men in positions of power, prestige or fame do not face the same level of scrutiny regarding their physical appearance as do women. They are much more likely to be judged solely on their ideas, actions and abilities. But I want to appeal here to women as well as men. Jessica Simpson is sometimes lauded as a savvy businesswoman because, it is said, she plays herself off as a ditz in order to be more marketable. If this is true, then in my opinion she is effectively selling her integrity and perverting the image of a truly savvy businesswoman in the process. We are better than this.

John, maybe you just need to get some new friends; I know plenty of strong, intelligent, fair-minded women here at Marquette. Then again, I bet you do too, but if you're approaching them with the attitudes you espoused in your column, then you probably just can't recognize it.

This viewpoint was published in The Marquette Tribune on October 18, 2005.

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