Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Feminists tip ‘scale’ of absurdity

Taking up the mantle of feminist heroes such as Betty
Friedan and Susan B. Anthony is no easy task.

And judging from the recent antics of the Campus Women’s
Center, in order to continue the revolution initiated by those luminaries of
centuries past, it is necessary that the original ideals of feminism, rooted in
common sense and liberty, be discarded in favor of a distinctly radical brand
of social betterment.

CWC has drawn the lines of battle along the dimensions of a
weighing scale, once located in a woman’s bathroom in the Memorial Union, which
a handful of activists stole in 2005. The women, claiming they were
“liberating” the scale, took it from the bathroom and placed it in
CWC offices. It resided there until a few weeks ago, when the Union decided to
rightfully take back its property.


During a Union subcommittee meeting and a subsequent
interview, Chynna Haas of CWC argued the scale was both a trigger for weight
loss disorders and a symbol of oppression for women.

The scale will likely be transferred to ASM, which will then
proceed to place it in the CWC offices, according to Wisconsin Union President
John Barnhardt.

Haas and the CWC are correct — the scale did need to be
removed. But their justifications border on the ridiculous. Simply because an
inanimate object makes one uncomfortable, it does not necessarily follow that
said object is in any way malignant or indicative of some larger bogeyman, as
the CWC suggests.

Haas is also correct in arguing the scales serve as triggers
for weight loss disorders. Her experience with women who have suffered from
such illnesses is an unimpeachable argument in her favor. However, according to
the National Women’s Health Resource Center, weight loss disorders can be
encouraged simply by “the pressure of living in a culture where self-worth
is equated with unattainable standards of slimness and beauty.” And that
standard of what qualifies as a trigger begs the question: How does moving a
scale address the far more urgent matter, the detriments of the aforementioned

The scale also may be a manifestation of a society that
values physical standards of beauty over personal ones, but that same scale is
certainly not the cause. The cause of weight insecurity is exactly what the
NWHRC indicates — a society that judges beauty in an astoundingly particular
way. And it is farfetched for CWC to assume that by eradicating a superficial
representation of a much larger societal problem it can manage to solve the
problem itself. Just because one relegates the symbol of an upraised fist to
the basement of Humanities, it does not necessarily follow that the absurdity
of the ISO’s politics would disappear with it.?

It is also difficult to reconcile the basic feminist ideal
of living on equal terms with the CWC’s position — that women need to be
shielded from every aspect of society that could potentially do them harm.

But the most disturbing element of the whole situation is
the language the CWC used to justify its theft. Haas and her predecessors claim
to have “liberated” the scale.

Speaking about stupid misdeeds in the language of
revolutionary heroism always lends itself to convenient euphemisms: I didn’t
steal a slice of pizza from Ian’s, I “liberated” it. I didn’t punch
my roommate, but rather “overthrew” him. In the face.

But no matter how cleverly Ms. Haas may disguise the actions
of past CWC members, it is an unavoidable fact that in this case,
“liberation” is really just a beautification of theft.

The CWC does have an undeniable role to perform at this
university, and with events such as the current “Take Back the Night”
week, it fulfills its organizational objectives without making arguments that
are unnecessarily provocative and contrary to the original objectives of the
feminist movement. The argument can be made that critiquing the language of the
CWC, but not its actions, amounts to semantics. But no matter how correct CWC
was in deciding to “liberate” the scale, in this case, the thought
counts just as much as the deed itself.


Sam Clegg ([email protected])
is a freshman majoring in economics and political science.

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