Career counsellors love to ask it, students despise answering it. It’s that infamous question: What’s the value of an education? To fully develop as a human being? To pursue a life-long passion? To get a well paying career? To… take Gold-digging 101?
I think it’s forgivable to scratch your head over that last one. Almost a century of women’s lib, three waves of feminism later and you would think we would have progressed a bit. But apparently even three waves of feminism can’t erode a boulder (or turd) of sexism, as the idea of going to college to find a husband still seems totally reasonable to some.
Personally, I think the idea of going to college specifically to find a partner misses the point of a secondary-education. It’s a bit like going to the dentist to try and get a hot date. Sure, it might happen, but I’m more interested in getting my filling patched up, than scoring the hygienist’s number.
I’m not the only one giving the “Find Mr. Right in College” idea a big old side-eye. Amber Estes, a writer for the University of Georgia’s independent student newspaper, Red and Black, found a unique way to express her opinions on the matter. Early July, Amber wrote an article for Red and Black entitled “How to Find That Perfect Husband in College.” The article lays out how to find, seduce and marry a man with the big dollar bills in six easy steps.
Get out the fire extinguishers, because here comes the flame war. With lines like,
“On your first date, STAY CLASSY. A man won’t get down on one knee for a woman who is overly willing to get down on both of hers. You want him to see joint bank accounts in your future, not a joint cab ride home to his place,”
“Playing coy was fun, but coy does not a trophy wife make,”
It’s easy to see how the article got people riled. Most of the outrage stemmed from Amber’s apparent anti-feminist outlook: The classic women are parasitic, money-suckers and men are oblivious ATMs that spew out cash for anything with boobs.
Consequently, Amber has been attacked with a lot of furious emails and tweets over the past few weeks. Many zeroed in on her sorority status, assuming that since she is a sorority sister, she must also be an idiot. Combatting a sexist cliché with another sexist cliché? My mind is blown by the intellectual depth of the internet.
But, there were a few hints that all was not as it seemed. An online poll beside Amber’s article asking readers if they thought the work was satire or not, seems like a giant, throbbing hint to me. That and the mind-gratingly, ridiculous points the article makes, all seem to point to satire—which thankfully is exactly what Amber was trying to do.
There was some grumbling over Amber’s sarcastic abilities, but that isn’t nearly as crucial as considering the reactions to the original article. The fact that many people accepted this article at face value is a sign that we still have progress to make in the academic environment. As Amber wrote in her follow up to the original article, “If the subject weren’t a sensitive one, it never would have generated such attention.”
Attention and scrutiny are exactly what these sexist and stereotypical tropes require. If we are going to get any sort of education, first we must question the beliefs we have already been taught.