Letter to the Editor: Jell-O wrestling exposes misogyny

Deborah Bertlesman,  '11

On Saturday, The Statesmen, a bar on Court Street, hosted a Jell-O wrestling event. It was advertised as "girls trying to kill each other for a prize of $600 cash." The Statesmen, despite various e-mails and messages on Facebook, refused to answer to questions asking if they would be willing to allow men to participate or host a separate event for men.

My immediate response as a self-identified feminist was sheer frustration. After consulting with various students I quickly learned I was not alone. I am disappointed that the event took place, but even more disappointed in the women who attend Geneseo that are willing to participate and in the others willing to watch.

This patriarchal bargain seems all too obvious and all too demeaning for any woman, self-identified feminist, educated in gender studies or not, to participate: wear revealing clothing, touch another woman in Jell-O, let others enjoy the presumed overt sexualization present and get $600 if you win. I am not denying that I, along with other women, bargain with patriarchy on a daily basis by spending money on cosmetics, adhering to masculine pronouns, etcetera, but there is not a cost analysis spreadsheet of what a man spends on beauty products versus what I spend in the bathroom every morning. Some would argue that makeup is obviously a choice and not a bargain at all.

The students of Geneseo were presented with patriarchal scales. We had the evidence to show how this event played into the over-sexualization, objectification and consumption of women. Why with that knowledge would any educated student make the decision to participate?

College may be a time to have fun and play by fewer rules than in the real world, but our gained knowledge is worth nothing unless we take action based on it.

Further, The Statesmen posted the following on the Facebook wall for the event: "Don't be a feminist, this is fun."

To have an establishment that is already sponsoring an event that I take issue with as a feminist, tell me, as a woman, not to be one, not only adds to their list of offenses but is outright insulting.

Needless to say, I will not be returning to The Statesmen during my remaining time at Geneseo.