I am a Tracy Flick, and I’m okay with that.
Today while I was preparing a presentation for EIC some friends and I were talking about the current on-campus student body election and general student politics [we think we’re so special]. They informed me of a piece of legislation that passed through Student Senate a few weeks ago which contained an amendment that some called the Amanda Gros[gah]bauer Clause. While their joke was not laughed at and called inappropriate, the idea still stands.
The amendment they speak of is as follows, no emphasis added by me mind you:
Speaking Privileges Clarification and Addition Bill
Special Designation: Student Senate By-Law Bill
Let it be
Enacted(2): That Article IV, Section XV, Subsection (b) of the Bylaws be amended to read:
- (b) Limited speaking privileges may be granted to any other person with two-thirds (2/3) approval of the Senate membership present and voting at any time during a meeting. These speaking privileges shall not extend, for any reason, to periods of debate.
I think it’s no coincidence that the following articles were published this same day. Women are always silenced when they become a threat–sexual or otherwise. Here are some quotes from Former Governer Madeline M. Kunin’s piece published today on the Huffington Post [link below]:
[As a guest lecturer in a Women’s Studies class, this is what she observed]
…[A female student] was afraid of being considered sarcastic and he flaunted it as an interesting or funny attention-getter. What works for a man, still does not work for a woman–both in terms of how they see themselves and how we see them…
…Many women do not want to venture out into the “opinion world” until they are certain of themselves, the facts, and that they are right. They are afraid of being shot down. The result is often silence…
…To be political means to speak out, to risk being called “catty”, or worse. I don’t hear men worrying about whether they may be right or not. They enjoy the fight, whether it is with words or fists…
I never understood what my silence was doing or better yet not doing. On my bag I carry everywhere is a button that reads:
Your silence will not protect you. –Audre Lorde
Angie gave me Audre Lorde’s essays my second semester in my class. It was as if she could see the silence pressing down on me. I have to remind myself daily that standing up for myself is the first step toward any goal.
In the 1999 film, Election, Tracy Flick is: is an ambitious student determined to win her school election. She believes in hard work and ambition. Her drive can be attributed to her desire to be better than other people and she shows contempt for those who have wealth and popularity but don’t appreciate it. Her contempt leads her to be malicious to her competitors, and to violate her own ethical standard by lashing out against [her competition] in spite of all his hard work and dedication.
What this character description leaves out is that she was the most qualified, she had worked hard, and the reason she had any competition was because the advisor of Student Government created it, for he was afraid if he worked with her, he would end up fucking her, and thus fucking himself over.
These details were also ignored as she was cast as “a real and lasting contribution to the cinematic understanding of the villian.” Reese Witherspoon who played Flick even commented that she could not find a job for a while following the release because people thought that she was Tracy Flick: “I’m not Tracy Flick. I couldn’t get jobs for a year after that because people thought I was that crazy and angry and controlling and strange. But yeah, um, I’m not.” Flick’s character furthered the stereotype that powerful women, who form their own opinions, are “crazy and angry and controlling and strange.” [can we cite Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin on this one?].
Even in the small world that is Texas A&M politics, any woman leader on campus, who has anything remotely controversial [less we say political] to say, is ostracized, even by her female peers. “Feminist? Here in College Station? Well then, she’s just asking for trouble.”
Trouble…you mean oppression, boundaries, or even Special Designation By-laws.
If being called names is the worst of it, BRING IT.
Here is a list to get you started: Amanda, Grosgebarbie, Chair of the Environmental Issues Committee, Editor-in-Chief of aggiEWIRE, Head Reporter for The Battalion, Greenpeace Organizer, Union Supporter, feminist, activist, environmentalist, liberal, progressive, over-achiever, too driven, too opinionated, too smart, too crass, too honest, too real, too in-touch, bitch, Grosgebitch, Tracy Flick…I’ll answer to anything, but you’ve been warned–I bite back.
Madeleine Kunin, the first female governor of Vermont, blogs about her surprise at the way young women today are internalizing stereotypes about women in power and politics.
She was guest-lecturing for a women’s studies class, in which there were 16 women and 2 men. When she asked if they thought they’d get involved in politics, she was in for a surprise.
One woman raised her hand and said, “I think I’d like to work behind the scenes. I wouldn’t want to be the candidate. I tend to be sarcastic and I’m afraid people would think I was catty.”
Kunin and the professor pointed out the way in which the woman was stereotyping her own behavior, with no luck. Of course, there was an even better counterpoint from one of the two dudes in the room.
Then, the professor pointed out the writing on the t-shirt one of the men in the class was wearing. I hadn’t bothered to try to decipher it from across the table.It said, in bright yellow scraggly letters on a black background, “SARCASTIC, that’s my strong point.”
But, you know, apparently only guys are allowed to be sarcastic in a good way.
Another girl had another reason she wasn’t sure about getting involved in politics.
Another woman explained that it was so difficult for her to form her own opinions because there was so much information, and so many divided opinions. Her father thought one thing, her friends another, and she was caught in-between.
Kunin pointed out to her that she was still young, but had another thought she left unexpressed at the time.
I suspect very few men would confess to not having opinions, or better yet, would not be worried about their lack of strong opinions.Many women do not want to venture out into the “opinion world” until they are certain of themselves, the facts, and that they are right. They are afraid of being shot down. The result is often silence.
This is an affliction from which I have never suffered, but it’s one Kunin and I have both seen before. Women can often be our own worst enemies, trying to live up to supposed standards of quiet, non-confrontational femininity or enforcing them on other women. It’s sort of like Jill at Feministe’s troll Eliza:
If more fanatic feminists stopped trying to feminize the male community and masculinize the female community we, (this whole country and over) would be in a far better situation.
You know, because gender roles are static and all women are one thing and all men are another and never the twain shall meet.
And Kunin is pretty worried that if the students in a women’s studies class at a card-carrying Liberal East Coast University are viewing themselves this way, it’s more widespread than any of us would like to admit.
To be political means to speak out, to risk being called “catty”, or worse. I don’t hear men worrying about whether they may be right or not. They enjoy the fight, whether it is with words or fists. Women still tend to shy away from controversy, to be uncomfortable with competition. Perhaps that is why only 17 percent of the members of Congress are female, and men are still largely running the country.
I mean, if you’re a woman interested in politics, goodness knows, you wouldn’t want anyone to call you “Tracy Flick” and be mean and suggest that by being outspoken or opinionated you’re less of a woman. That’s not the point of that kind of sexist mockery or anything, to get you to shut up and put you in your place, to keep you from being competition, to get you to quit.
Better words to live by? The day in which some asswipe only calls you “catty” is a day in which you aren’t being nearly opinionated enough.
In Politics, What Works For A Man Still Does Not Work For A Woman [Huffington Post]
Related: Feministe’s Next Top Troll, March Madness Edition: The GET A SENSE OF HUMOR, BITCHEZ Bracket [Feministe]
When Is a Joke Not Just a Joke? (Part 2) [Brainstorm]
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