The Georgetown University Grilling Society will be sponsoring a week of events from April 21 to April 25 that they have chosen to call “Grills Gone Wild Week.” The T-shirt, sales of which have been postponed, read “GUGS: Grade A, Size D,” with our university’s name on the back.

Let’s put this into context – both on the larger societal level and with respect to GUGS.

We live in a patriarchal global society. Though at different levels and affecting different realms, inequality between the sexes is still a reality in countries across the globe. Despite the strides that the feminist movement (which, let’s be clear, advocates equality between the sexes) has made, it is undeniable that women and men are still far from being equals in almost all economic, political and social terms. Here it is most relevant to focus on the latter, specifically in regards to portrayals of sexuality. The media’s use of sexuality in advertising has women at the forefront of defining what “sexy” is supposed to be. Too often, it seems that women are cast in the familiar roles of the brainless blonde or the vampy vixen. So the message that is put forth by the socialization agents that surround us is that, by fitting in to one of these archetypes, we will be accepted and liked by those around us – and most importantly, we will not be one of these ugly, angry, man-hating, bra-burning feminists. Eating disorders and distress about body image come from somewhere; they are often a response to the culture that tells women how they should look in order to appease society.

We are surrounded by gender socialization agents, and the messages they send out are internalized by all of us.

So, yes, this is part of a much larger pandemic, and GUGS’ decisions are just one piece of the puzzle. It’s a puzzle-piece, though, that is being perpetuated by our fellow Hoyas, and that brings the environment created by the media straight to our immediate surroundings and reality. It is also continuing to further the degradation of an already-marginalized group, when Hoyas have a tradition of being socially conscious individuals who take action to fight precisely that. Some individuals have claimed that the T-shirts are funny and should be laughed off, and they question why others are so apparently “humorless.” Frankly, the cultural representation of women as lacking a sense of humor is getting a bit old as a strategy to convince us to silence ourselves when we want to speak out against matters we deem to be of importance. Humor is a valuable part of our culture, but unfortunately, the casual joke can serve as a subtle enforcer of the existing hierarchy without us even taking note of it.

No one that I know is asking that GUGS be denied its right to carry out its mission of grilling burgers and providing them to students – burgers that the majority of Hoyas consider quite delicious. Certainly, no I one know “hates” GUGS. In fact, several of the people I have been talking to about this matter know, and are friends with, many of the members of GUGS. Yet, many of them were surprised and disheartened by the decisions that were made by individuals they respect. GUGS’ service and value to the community in its provision of a delicious food option is something it is admired for and for which respect is clearly deserved. Aside from this institutional aspect of its mission as is stated in its constitution, however, the culture that this organization has chosen to cultivate is another matter.

To brand those who think otherwise – which includes both men and women – as “angry feminists” is the oldest strategy in the book as an attempt to keep voices of individuals suppressed. It is a smart strategy, no doubt, one that plays on people’s misconceptions of the word “feminism” and distorts its true meaning and the goals of the movement. But you know what? When individuals are speaking out against denigration of any kind, I would say that they are merely doing their jobs. By making “feminism” a dirty word, people are discouraged from associating with a movement that promotes a better way of life for both men and women, as could be easily seen if a concerted effort were made to study its true goals.

Flávia Menezes is a senior in the College. She is the co-chair of Take Back the Night and a member of the United Feminists.

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