Monday, March 19, 2012
Sandra, Sarah, and sexism
Janine Hanrahan Appreciating St. Patrick’sDon’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. Yes, we are talking about one of the most wonderful days in our BC career, and yes, we know that last sentence made you want to gag but we don’t care. Whether you were dartying, exploring Boston, or watching the Luck of the Irish, Saint Patrick’s day at BC was certainly one to remember. In the case of the boy we found vomiting in some Mod bushes while singing “Shipping up to Boston,” we’re sorry that your memories will be lost forever. Social School swag- U.S. News and World Report just ranked BC’s Graduate School of Social Work as the 10th best graduate social work school nationally. In 2009, it was ranked 14th. TU/TD would like to congratulate all those staff members and graduate students who made the school what it is today. Mario, memoralized- Move over Hope Diamond, it’s Pacman’s time to shine. The Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. has just opened an exhibit about video games, the f irst of its kind. Taking its visitors through video game history, from Space Invaders to Call of Duty, the exhibit features giant interactive screens. Which basically means it’s a giant free arcade. Vindication- After three consecutive semesters of having the worst pick time, BC TU/TD has finally secured one before 10 a.m. on the first day. For all you haters out there, after getting 4:45 on the last day freshman year (that is, actually, the last pick time in the ENTIRE SCHOOL), we deserve this. The possibilities of our schedule are endless. Should we have no classes on Friday? Monday? Should we decide to only have classes past 12? The world is our oyster.
Thumbs Down Invisible Crazy- The cofounder of Invisible Children, Jason Russell, was arrested for vandalism and public masturbation. His publicist blames the incident on a combination of dehydration, exhaustion, and malnutrition. We don’t know about you guys, but we do that when we’re hungry too, so what’s the big deal? GOP Gut- A passenger on an all-gay cruise snapped a picture of Rick Santorum shirtless in Puerto Rico. Come on guys, can we please stop with half naked pictures of presidential contenders? We were just recovering from seeing Gingrich posed on a rock like an obese Ariel, and now we have this to deal with.
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Once upon a time, Sandra Fluke was just a law student at Georgetown and Sarah Palin was just the former governor of Alaska. In these bygone days, “slut,” “prostitute,” “c—,” and “t —” were words not often seen in the newspaper or heard on CNN. Then along came Rush Limbaugh, Bill Maher, and a national controversy about the words used to describe women. Now Sandra Fluke is the latest victim of the Republican Party’s “war on women,” and Sarah Palin is the longsuffering target of liberals’ unchecked misogyny. The end—or so Democrats and Republicans would respectively have it. But of course, the partisan spin sheds an incomplete light on the firestorm that Limbaugh set off when he railed against Fluke for three days on his radio show, calling her a “slut” and a “prostitute” who is “having so much sex she can’t afford her own birth control pills.” Limbaugh’s comments came after Fluke offered testimony in favor of the Obama Administration’s contraception mandate before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. In his vulgar tirade, Limbaugh conveniently ignored the fact that Fluke’s testimony had nothing to do with her sex life, but rather concerned a friend of hers who suffered from a medical condition that required treatment with contraceptives, which Georgetown’s health insurance policy refused to cover. But who needs those sorts of details? While Mitt Romney and his cohorts on the campaign trail were con-
tent to let Limbaugh’s comments slide, or excuse them as the absurdities of an “entertainer,” Democrats seized the day—portraying Limbaugh’s words as further evidence of the GOP’s antiwomen bias. In response, Republicans pointed out that Bill Maher, who recently donated $1 million to President Obama’s super PAC, has called Palin and Michele Bachmann “bimbos,” in addition to calling Palin a “c—” and a “t—” According to David Axelrod, a key advisor to President Obama, the super PAC should keep the money because Maher’s comments are “different.” Why of course! As Maher pointed out, Palin is a “public figure who gives as good as she gets.” Obviously it is fine to call her a c—, and the audience laughed when he said it after all! But despite what the spin-doctors
would have us believe, Maher’s comments about Palin and Limbaugh’s rampage against Fluke are really no different—they are just the latest examples of the sexism women face. While Maher claims that his use of the “c-word” merely makes him a “potty mouth,” it is hardly a coincidence that he used it when describing Palin and not George W. Bush. Like the words slut and prostitute, the c-word is reserved for women. When an organization was formed to stop
Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, it was named Citizens United Not Timid (yes, Citizens United of Supreme Court infamy) so that the acronym would spell the c-word. Last time I checked, there are no similarly named super PACs opposing male candidates. Likewise, Limbaugh hasn’t suggested that any of the men who testified before Congress post sex tapes of themselves—only Fluke has that distinction. So as much as we might like to tell ourselves that sexism no longer exists, or that it doesn’t matter, the fact is that it does. Sexism is not only reprehensible—it is destructive. It makes it more difficult for women to be taken seriously in the political arena (and everywhere else, for that matter), and it also dissuades women from getting involved. What woman would want to be subjected to the name-calling and constant scrutiny of her appearance that people like Palin and Hillary Clinton face? Not very many, which is one of the reasons why women only compose 17 percent of Congress despite making up half of the population. When President Obama discussed his decision to call Fluke and express his support for her, he invoked his own daughters, saying, “I don’t want them attacked or called horrible names because they’re being good citizens.” President Obama is absolutely right, but he and everyone else need to realize that this is true for all women, not just the ones with whom we agree or like. As long as calling out sexism is a mere political calculation rather than a serious and deliberate effort, we will continue to have these sorts of incidents long after Fluke and Palin are gone. Janine Hanrahan is a staff columnist for The Heights. She welcomes comments at email@example.com.
Jump shots and job hunts
Tim O’Connor For me, March has always been a time for college basketball. I entered my first NCAA pool through my dad’s work when I was seven or eight. A couple of years later, I won for the first time. I put the money toward a skateboard. Since then, I’ve managed two more wins. This surprises me. I enjoy watching basketball, I have a familiarity with the better players on my favorite teams, but I lack the obsessive knowledge that some of my more informed peers possess. I couldn’t tell you who the best player in the league is, what team is the runaway favorite, or how the infallible judgment of the selection committee screwed a deserving squad out of a good seed. I really just enjoy watching the games and leaving things to chance. Every year, it’s hard to find time to actually sit down and fill in the bracket. I don’t understand why. The entire process–at least the haphazard, random, and arbitrary approach I bring to it–takes all of five minutes. I suppose I just have a lot going on. The normal distractions from previous years returned: the chaos of heading back from Spring Break and an onslaught of midterms and papers always hit around the same time as my e-mail invitation to rejoin the pool I’ve been a part of for 15 years. At least I didn’t have to worry about housing this time around. That’s one problem we seniors no longer have. So, last Wednesday, I finally opened up CBS Sports’ website and made my selections. It was a welcome reprieve from meticulously researching school districts that would be present at the career fair I would
attend that evening. I’m told that it is important to distinguish yourself by asking intelligent, focused questions, so I do make an effort to get a sense of what a district is about. Knowing that tedious note-taking on potential employers would be my reward for completing my bracket, I ended up spending a little more time filling it in this year than usual. It was still a pretty random affair, but I looked at a couple of injury reports. My decision to have Ohio State take the championship was a result of the combined opinions of Charles Barkley and Barack Obama. Both had Ohio State making it to the Final Four, but neither had them going all the way. That was my personal touch.
A couple hours later, I noticed that a fellow job seeker had applied her own personal touch to her resume: the paper she had printed it on was a cloudy, whirling blend of soft gold and white. I hadn’t thought of that, but I didn’t let it worry me. My approach would be more intellectual than aesthetic. I maneuvered my way through a sea of suits and dress blouses, locating the first target on my list. I briefly reviewed my research before getting in line, introduced myself to the recruiter, and launched into my 30-second pitch. Take some notes, get a business card if the recruiter has one, thank them for their time. As I meandered between booths, my mind kept wandering back to my bracket. I resolved to make a couple of
BY BEN VADNAL
key changes. Our fellow Jesuits over at Marquette, for example, would have to fall to Michigan State. In the end, I know getting the right picks is mostly a matter of luck. Last year, anyone who followed conventional wisdom got blown out of the water, not a single first or second seed made it to the Final Four. Still, deferring to the rankings makes me feel like I’m exerting some control on a random, arbitrary process. If you do things “the right way,” you’ll surely win the pool. I found another district on my list, and took a quick glance at my notes. I approached the booth, ready to talk about the challenges of teaching at a school that speaks four different languages. When I was almost at the table, a representative from the booth immediately to the right intercepted me. This was not the plan. I was caught unprepared when he introduced himself – I hadn’t done much research on his school because their website didn’t list any openings. Nonetheless, I launched into my spiel, and when I mentioned I was looking for an English teaching position, he enthusiastically introduced me to the man standing next to him: the head of the high school’s English department. Of the dozens of schools I had talked to, this was the first time I had met the person I wanted to talk to—the one who, a couple of weeks from now, will begin pouring over resumes and applications and calling candidates in for interviews. Of course, I–or any other senior, for that matter–won’t get a job based on pure chance. Rather, it will be our resolve and determination going forward, combined with the hard work we’ve put in over the past four years. Still, from where I’m standing right now, with full awareness of how ambiguous and uncertain my future is, a little luck definitely couldn’t hurt. Tim O’Connor is a staff columnist for The Heights. He welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eagles for each other
Pooja Shah When I first saw all the Facebook status posts, profile picture changes, wall posts, and tweets go viral about the disappearance of Franco Garcia, I was afraid, to say the least. It shocked me how a student could tragically disappear from a night out with friends without a single clue left behind. It was even more discomforting knowing that the extensive investigation resulted in few answers to the dozens of questions everyone on campus had. A few days before Spring Break, the student body received yet another e-mail after an incident of an intruder lurking in the Mods. To be honest, after both these occurrences I began to question my own safety. I was uncomfortable at the thought of walking alone at obscure hours or at the idea that any individual could easily enter the open campus. If there’s any thing I learned in the last month, it is how strong the Boston College community really is. I have never seen another time when BC students gathered together to garner support for each other during the search for Franco. Whether it was arranging who puts up flyers where, or who communicates with the remainder of the student body, students have certainly exhausted every effort during this difficult time. By doing so, the campus fosters renewed feelings of comfort, safety, and a general unspoken understanding that we are here for each other in time of need. Yes, BC students party with one another and create a sense of togetherness during football games and other major sporting events, but I never valued how tightly knit our community was or how much we care for each other until now. It is definitely when a difficult circumstance arises that we are all especially proactive. Even in my personal experience, I have seen the compassion of my peers. For instance, during one of my 3 a.m. walks back from the library, I occasionally kept looking over my shoulder out of paranoia. To my surprise, a student that I had only briefly met in a class freshman year decided to walk me back to my dorm. It makes me so proud to be part of an atmosphere that is surrounded by kindness and one where I do not feel as if I don’t belong or that I am, in a sense, alone. Perhaps the reason for this cohesiveness is due to the fact that BC is founded on Jesuit ideals, which emphasizes that a university is a community. Not to say it’s the only reason, but the fact that everyone at BC is expected to contribute to the spiritual, intellectual and moral development of one another, as explained in the mission statement, represents our dedication to each other. There have been times when I feel trapped in the “BC bubble,” but in a way, this confinement actually forces us to become closer. This religious and spiritual vision enables us to distribute our responsibilities among ourselves and to our surroundings. Another aspect that may be accountable for this togetherness is the idea that our institution stresses doing service. Through volunteering and service, we become men and women for others and learn how to be supportive. These lessons are absolutely crucial throughout our college careers and any other obstacles that may face BC, because without them, we may not be as prepared to take on these challenges. Let us remember what we’ve learned, and pray that Franco comes home soon. Pooja Shah is a staff columnist for The Heights. She welcomes comments at email@example.com.