How I know it’s finals time:
1) I have to add Claremont Cash to pay for that extra cup of coffee my Flex can no longer cover.
2) The occasional “study break” for Collins snack becomes a 5-C snack challenge.
3) I take the time to read the self-promoting posters around campus.
Upon allowing my eager eyes to wander, I came across one poster that caught my attention:
If the site itself was as provocative as the poster, I thought, I should see what this proposed solution to sex hair is all about. It would be, at least, a source for further procrastination. What I found on the website, located at HerCampus.com/CMC, was even more disturbing than the posters. I was appalled to find not only an inaccurate representation, but, more importantly, a superficial portrayal of CMC women.
"Don’t make yourself too available, but throw out hints like 'I really enjoy hanging with you' so you can boost his confidence," the dating tip reads.
"Build up his confidence a little, stroke his ego (and maybe a little more)," a sex column advises.
Statements such as these ask women to succumb to a behavior just "get the guy." Not only do the sex and dating articles suggest that a woman's self-confidence is dependent on male approval and physical appearance, but it also assumes a solely heterosexual student body. Placing such a heavy emphasis on dating, exercise, partying, and senior crushes simply reinforces the superficiality from which the women’s movement continuously works to distance itself.
It would be one thing if the alcohol-induced girls running after the boys in bro tanks were an accurate depiction of the women here. But it’s not. My time here has presented me with women that are not only remarkably intelligent, but also independent thinkers and leaders. As a woman at CMC, I can confirm that we spend our time discussing issues of greater substance than those the Her Campus website would imply. Like most college girls, we still talk about our weekend hookups and our Pilates workout schedules, but that just barely skims the surface of what I have come to know in the women around me. Contrary to what the site may demonstrate, we are more than a group of diet-frenzied, boy-crazy, party-hopping women, grasping onto our days as love-struck tweens who watched Degrassi.
And we don't want to go back to those days either. While we may occasionally fall victim to Leonardo DiCaprio's love sonnets in Titanic 3-D, we are in no way trying to become the desperate-to-find-Prince-Charming Bridget Jones, despite what this statement from the Her Campus website may imply:
"All that is left are girls hopelessly waiting for guys to sweep them off their feet and take them to their fairytale love story."
This summer, in the absence of TNR and Wednesday afternoon party informs, CMC students could easily take the time to sit back and relax. Instead, women at this campus have found interesting opportunities outside the world of Pilates and dating. Lauren Callahan ’14, for example, will be working for the Institute for Science and International Security, researching nuclear weaponry and diplomacy in the Middle East while attending meetings with other related think tanks. Across the globe in Mysore, India, Amy Hershberger ’14 will be interning at the Public Health Research Institute of India, researching antibiotic resistance of UTI’s and traveling to various hospitals in India to compile data for the research. And freshmen Elise Hansell '15 will be working for the Human Rights Initiative in Dallas to help refugees seek asylum by organizing cases with pro bono attorneys.
These are only a few of the responses I received from asking just 30 girls about their summer plans. So perhaps for the next “CMC Celebrity,” the Her Campus writers will, for example, choose to highlight a student’s ambitious summer plans instead of glorifying the popularity of a so-called iconic male student.
Her Campus has the potential to be a great resource for students. It serves as a way to individualize CMC women from those of other colleges across the country, and if you couldn’t tell from this article, I am all in favor of more spaces for women on this campus. The problem is that, even with one recently posted article about CMC women, Her Campus is still a poor representation of the student body.
Right now, the site undermines the character and achievements of the women on campus while exacerbating stereotypes that uphold sexism. Interestingly, I looked at other Her Campus college branches only to find myself engaged and impressed with the information presented. This is not a criticism of the brand, but rather a criticism of the majority of the content on the CMC portion of the site.
All this being said, I write this article understanding that this is a fairly new undertaking. For this reason, I urge whoever decides to write, or continues to write, for Her Campus to take a step back and really take a few minutes to think about the women at Claremont McKenna. Think about your friends, your girlfriend, and your classmates; think about the people they are because I can bet my cup of coffee that they are more than what this says about them. This is not simply a message to Her Campus, but rather a message to the student body to remember that, when utilizing our voice, we have the power to collectively construct an image of CMC that is truly representative of who we are.