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Amber Estes' ‘husband’ column should be discussed, not attacked - The Red and Black : Opinion

Amber Estes' ‘husband’ column should be discussed, not attacked

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Posted: Saturday, July 21, 2012 4:45 am | Updated: 12:00 pm, Mon Mar 25, 2013.

A young woman is being crucified and, in missing her original point, the opportunity for a larger, more pertinent discussion has been lost.

I have problems with Amber Estes’ column “How to Find the Perfect Husband in College.” Her metaphors are tired, her quips are hackneyed and the piece reads, to me, as trite overall. I didn’t like it.

I’m allowed to have an opinion about Estes’ opinion. So is everyone else, and everyone else has — from anonymous online commenters to Newsweek’s Tumblr, this story has blown up. But despite my critiques, the biggest problem I have with this article is the hysteria that has developed around it.

Estes produced a satirical, albeit poorly written, piece detailing the ways in which a woman in college can secure her ultimate goal— not a degree, but a man. In the days that have followed, Facebook friends and reporters alike hoisted this piece as totally incongruous with the way this country works. That assertion is much more amusing to me than the original article itself.

My travels and experiences throughout the United States have made it abundantly clear that, as a woman, my worth is still somewhat tied to my ability to snag a man (as well as his ability to provide for country club cherubs, as Estes’ article touches on). No matter where in the country I’ve ventured, the first question asked of me is not what I do but if I’m in a relationship and if that relationship will lead to marriage.

What twenty-something female among us hasn’t been told a relationship not destined for the altar is a waste of time? At this point I find a smug humor in watching strangers squirm and try to politely debate my position that I don’t know I’ll ever want to be wed.

Dismissing these realities as a “Southern thing” is to laughably ignore the shared sexism the rest of the states perpetrate as well. Talking about how stupid this article is overwrites these experiences and stifles any possibility of taking conversations about the perceived role of women to a productive place. Just because your state has voted blue in the past few elections doesn’t make it an ideal bastion of politically correct living.

As a female undergraduate at the University and a woman raised primarily in the South, I’m also offended by the assertion that this column could be a serious work. I’ll be the first to admit the South has mostly conservative political and social views, but we’ve entered into the 21st century too.

Antiquated doesn’t even begin to describe your view of the Southeast if you think this article is representative of the attitude and expectations of the women around me. It’s frankly insulting to see so many people pigeonholing the gender of an entire region into a vapid, self-seeking existence. Southerners aren’t a different species and women from the South have just as much worth as women originating elsewhere — and we know it.

I’m equally disappointed by and embarrassed for all the newsrooms and social media mavens from my region of the States and those beyond who have been so quick to attack Amber Estes as insulting, unintelligent or worse. Not just for the aforementioned reasons but for her right to — had her article not been satire — be whoever she feels like being. I don’t presume to know Estes’ future ambitions, but she, like every woman, is permitted to pursue a life within or outside of the home.

There’s no one correct way to be an independent woman.

Steps towards equality should seek to always leave women the ultimate choice in the life path they take, not automatically propel them into a new, typecast role. Restrictions, no matter how extreme, are wrong, especially when they are more vehemently cast on one group of people.

Let’s keep talking about sexism and expectations for young women. But we need to continue the conversation in a way that looks at the issues from a systemic standpoint and not a cowardly position that puts one area — or one woman — at fault.

— Maura Friedman is a senior from Atlanta majoring in journalism and political science

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  • CJS posted at 2:31 pm on Mon, Jul 23, 2012.

    CJS Posts: 36

    That was one of the most delicious platters of angry idiots I ever saw; I will show this to the children of my children.

  • jono897 posted at 4:56 am on Mon, Jul 23, 2012.

    jono897 Posts: 1

    I agree with Maura's overall point that the hysteria around this article should change to an intellectual discussion/debate about the impact this way of thinking has on our society and where it comes from. However, there are several inconsistencies in Maura's article. She first states that this type of thinking (some may call it an ideology) is prevalent throughout our country... She states, "the United States have made it abundantly clear that, as a woman, my worth is still somewhat tied to my ability to snag a man." Again... "What twenty-something female among us hasn’t been told a relationship not destined for the altar is a waste of time?"

    Which I agree with... However... then she goes on to say that she finds it offensive that some people originally thought this article was a serious one. Wellllllll, if some of the country actually does prescribe to this ideology... then why are you surprised that people thought it was serious?

    I think Amber's original article was BRILLIANT for 2 reasons...

    1. The best satire makes you question whether or not it is a satire. This article certainly made even the most insightful reader question just for a moment at least whether or not it was serious or not. This is because she perfectly described how SOME (by no means a majority) girls at UGA actually think.

    2. The fact that some people thought this article was serious (including women, I know because I sent it to a few girls) says more about US than her. If you were a girl who read it and thought, "hey that's great advice," then you are exactly who this article is making fun of. If you thought "This girl is just another foolish sorostitute"...then you are too ignorant to understand that this is satire. And if you knew it was satire... well then you just understand that there are many girls at UGA that think this way, and the ones that do are not self-aware enough to write such an article.

  • ookigrande posted at 1:54 pm on Sun, Jul 22, 2012.

    ookigrande Posts: 30

    Agreed, Elle!

  • elle posted at 12:55 pm on Sun, Jul 22, 2012.

    elle Posts: 10

    First off, while I'm surprised we're still talking about Estes' piece, thanks for writing a piece that reflects on it that shifts the focus to a discussion that can be intelligently carried out. Still, ookigrande is right. Estes got too caught up in emotion and should have filtered that out before she wrote her response piece because she came off as petulant. But thank you Maura for a constructively written piece.

    Now can we stop talking about this girl and her poorly-written satire?

  • ookigrande posted at 3:43 pm on Sat, Jul 21, 2012.

    ookigrande Posts: 30

    This doesn't change my opinion that her original piece sucked.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if it is an "attack" on her writing or her personality (however misplaced).

    And you know, we probably could have a discussion on sexism and expectations of women if her original piece had been, oh I don't know, good? And then she writes another piece defending her original (which isn't really a problem), but also writes it in a condescending tone directed at her audience (which is kind of a problem).

    Why should we, as an audience, not be offended when she says things like "To all who do not understand satire..." or "For the countless number who seems to have skipped ninth grade literature..." Honestly, with this tone, she would've been better off not writing a defense at all. It just made her look pretentious.

    Anyway, I still liked this article. "Just because your state has voted blue in the past few elections doesn’t make it an ideal bastion of politically correct living" was a good line. THIS article could prompt discussion on sexism and women's expectations.