I Have Opinions, You Guys
There are some unique challenges that accompany tutoring college students from other countries. For instance, sometimes they are assigned to write a persuasive essay and the topic they choose is that of the cultural differences between women in the U.S. and women in Saudi Arabia. In one particular case the student in question was, in fact, from Saudi Arabia, but was not, himself, a woman. But he had lots of things to say! And hey, cultural differences, for sure. (I couldn’t help but wonder how offended said student was by his ability to tell that I have both boobs and hair.) He had lots to say about the state of our great nation and how it is deteriorating because women in this country don’t behave as though their primary responsibility is to care for their children. Clearly he hasn’t met any of the breast-feed-till-they-can-ask-for-a-snack attachment parents out there. Or the parents who spend the equivalent of college tuition to get their toddlers into the best pre-schools. Or the working single mothers with no support or the crazed minivan drivers who don’t have time to eat. His paper suggested that many mothers in the U.S. can’t take care of their children because they have to work because of taxes. Sooooo. Oh, also we dress like sluts and bring shame to our families.
It’s fine! It’s fine. Everybody is entitled to their own opinions. Every non-native speaker at the University I work for is entitled to some help with grammar. And I will happily help them! I like doing it. And even if their paper is straight-up offensive, I will put on my professional face and NOT start crying in frustration. Also, this kid was SUPER NICE; it was confusing. He was apologetic about his grammar and punctuation mistakes. He rolled his eyes at his own errors as though he felt like he was wasting my time. He truly wanted to improve and find a way to make his paper seem more neutral and less preachy, and he wanted to use specific examples (of destroyed American families, presumably) to back up his assertions. But, omg you guys. He has some opinions.
On a related note, I got How To Be a Woman by Cailtin Moran from the library yesterday and IT IS SO GOOD I CAN’T EVEN. She suggests women should reclaim their body hair and grow/style it to suit their outfits. She also calls her vagina a cunt because WHY NOT? That is one powerful word. She thinks the best way to combat the patriarchy is to laugh at it. I couldn’t agree more. I’m only 59 pages in, but I already found a quote that is so perfect I have to share it with you:
“—[M]y husband and I stared down at our beautiful little daughter. Blue-eyed, kissy-mouthed, and soft as a velvet mouse, she had just done a dump so enormous, it had filled every crevice of her lower body. My husband approached her nethers tentatively with a wet wipe, and then slumped back, looking defeated. ‘Not only have I got to clean all… this out,’ he said, looking on the verge of mania, ‘but I don’t even know what I’m cleaning. What are we going to call it? We can’t call it ‘cunt.’’ ‘Her NAME is Lizzie!’ I said, shocked. ‘You know what I mean,’ my husband sighed. ‘I’m not using that word. That’s what you’ve got. You’ve got a cunt. It’s not what she’s got. You’ve got… Scooby. She’s got Scrappy Doo. It’s totally different. Oh God—it’s all up her back as far as her hat. I’m wiping shit off a hat. I’m not sure I like parenthood. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO CALL HER VAGINA?’”
And that, my friends, is how to write about feminism in 2012. MAKE IT FUN.
And you can imagine the little thrill I got when the aforementioned student left my tutoring station and I took out this book and read this passage to myself. It’s a pretty okay day to be a lady.
Caitlin Moran, my most recent hero.