Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"After class, skimpy equality" by Lisa Belkin

Here. Good article summarizing the situation on college campuses, where rampant sexism and super objectification is the norm in campus life. After having lived in Seattle's University district for a couple of years, not as a student but just as a citizen who saw most of these folks when they weren't in the classroom, I can testify that what she reports is spot on. I do have issues with the tone of the article, that reflects an exasperated puzzlement about where the attitudes come from.

The thing is that college behavior doesn't come out of a vacuum. Instead, college culture builds on high school behavior. If male college kids act extremely sexist, and female students are going along with it, it's unlikely that college environments and the behavior of older college kids are the sole sources. When we look at high school culture, if it's in any way similar to not only what I experienced but what is portrayed on MTV as well as other youth outlets, you not only have similar objectification but objectification bought by folks who are viewed,if not as the best and brightest, than at least as the 'right people'. People who are regarded as 'preppy' or 'jocks', the folks expected to go on to college and lovingly approved of by school administrations. Jock culture in high schools, and its female counterpart, is highly associated both with members of the upper class and people aspiring to become members, the football players, cheerleaders, sons and daughters of business people who are embraced by the schools as having the right attitude. In a way, the culture outlined by Belkin is really an indictment of the corporate class. After all, just who makes up fraternities and sororities?

Perhaps, though, as a reporter at the New York Times, if Belkin wants to find the sources of the culture she's reporting on, she should look around her, because surely the social circle of the New York Times includes just these people.

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