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V’ word usage

Letters to the Editor | Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I’m only a guy and thus know less than nothing about such things. Also, I’d always hoped my first Viewpoint could be about something a little more pleasant than this. But alas, in reading Michayla Sullivan’s letter (“Absurder was being satirical,” Apr. 7), I wondered why she was “bewildered” to find that a girl found the front page of the Absurder somewhat offensive.

Don’t worry, I won’t resuscitate the Monologues debate; I’m only chiming in regarding that Absurder disagreement – namely, the other half of the play’s title. And yes, I’m afraid I’m among the ranks of those “several people” who minimize naming in public what seemed to be the protagonist of said play.

Doubtless this will seem overly Catholic to many students, and overly Puritan to many Catholics. Maybe it is. Give me a chance.

Michayla applauds The Observer for satirizing a certain “embarrassment” and “fear” on campus about using the word. Well, satire is satire, I do know that, but I also know that many who support the article find this “embarrassment” not only laughable, but wrong. It seems they feel that such “embarrassment” has been responsible for past oppression of women and for continued violence against them, and that encouraging more people consistently to use those three syllables in everyday conversation will help to end both those trends.

That women shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed of their anatomy, I agree. Of course I agree. My prudish silence is actually not meant to make my female friends ashamed of themselves or to “put them in their place,” unless that place is the station of respect that’s theirs as women. Reluctance to name “it” is simply reluctance to make the word something common, casual, worthless, dime-a-dozen, because it’s not, and neither is any girl.

What next? Does our culture’s insistence on clothing likewise imply that women have something to be “ashamed of?” If people want so much to make the body part common parlance, simply because hiding something results in unhealthy shame, then the next step might as well be a petition for nudity.

Somehow I’m guessing this would stop neither objectification nor sexual violence. As it is, the one-track attempt to get people to say the word more often can only damage what still remains of respect for girls as human beings. Having now maddened Michayla by my stubborn exclusion of the term as much as she maddened me by her use of it, we’re probably about even. It seems that what some would call an unhealthy embarrassment, I call a healthy respect. Most will probably say they don’t need my stinking respect. They’re right; they don’t. It ain’t worth much. But you know what? Too bad. They have my respect anyway.

Will Erickson


Morrissey Hall

April 7