The University of Richmond is a joke. But not because of the lack of a diverse "dialogue" on campus, or our "demeaning" attitude toward "minority groups and women," but rather because, in our attempts to rectify "the persistent and appalling" acts according to our society's expectations, we have instead produced an almost comedic interpretation of political correctness. Additionally, we rely completely on our authority figures - be it teachers, administration, police, or even parents - to carry out punishment on those people who, heaven forbid, have "offended" us, thus shrugging the onus off of our own shoulders.
As a woman, my "appropriate reaction" to the recent demeaning e-mail sent by a member of a fraternity is to be outraged. Right? Society tells me that if I don't expect some considerable repercussions for that student -- if I don't want a sincere apology, a demotion, and a fine - then I myself am demeaning my own sex by not taking this "appalling" event seriously enough. I am "behind the times," do not consider my own rights significant, and, most disgustingly, am OK with the so-called patriarchal society in which we live with little interest in the advancement of my sex.
Here I am, not being affected. Go ahead, judge me - call me jaded, call me insensitive, call me what you like, but you know what? If people stopped getting ticked off at the slightest generalized insults, then maybe we could get somewhere in a "dialogue" about race and sex. Maybe we'd be closer to accepting each other's differences, instead of tiptoeing around them.
But from what I gathered in Lauren Grewe's article, we should detain every Richmond Braves fan for carrying plush red tomahawks and imitating Indian war chants at the baseball games. Yes, there is a point at which we should get angry, when comments become actions, and when someone has a serious intent to offend, but nearly every action can in someway, to someone somewhere be considered offensive.
To me, it is clear that the "jokes" in the e-mail were a pathetic attempt to impress already easily impressed frat potentials, and I would like to think that the author of said comments does not actually consider them truths. So why do we feel the need to defend ourselves from ignorant, exaggerated stereotypes?
To me the most effective choice is this: don't associate with people that offend you. Stop giving them the attention they want by publicizing their faults. It's like our parents taught us in kindergarten: don't let them get under your skin and they'll stop trying.
This article is not about being okay with misogynistic or racist comments; it's about making the choice on your own not to give these people and their actions a single undeserving thought. Of course if the act is brought to light, the person will feel obligated to apologize, to bow his head low and say "I was wrong." But who's to say that next week he won't be spouting the same jokes, trying to convince freshmen it's cool? In my experience, public embarrassment has only served to create more of a problem, though it may be much more hidden.
We, as members of the University of Richmond, are obligated to act ourselves. We have to stop expecting authority figures to step in and inflict punishment; we instead need to step in at the personal level and say, "this is wrong." Don't you think it would have been more effective if one of the rush chair's fraternity brothers had replied to his e-mail, saying, "this has got to stop," rather tattling to the authorities? Everyone makes desperate attempts every day to please his peers, and so the most effective way to end offensive behavior is for his friends - his friends - to tell him it's offensive. So step up to the plate -- stop accepting outrageous obscenities in everyday conversation, and stop expecting someone else to do something about it for you.
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