An Open Letter to Raylan Alleman

25 Sep

Dear Raylan Alleman,

Yes, I am in fact responding because I’m one of those pesky feminists that went off to college, forgetting my proper place as a woman. You wrote an article last week called “6 Reasons (+2) to NOT Send Your Daughter to College.” [n.b. I’m sure it’s been a while since you’ve been at college, but 6+2=8 and split infinitives are grammatically incorrect—just for future reference] Normally I ignore articles like yours, but somehow it’s gotten quite a bit of attention, so I thought I would take the time to respond and further advance “the feminist agenda.” I’ll try to use that masculine logic concept to examine your “practical wisdom.”

First, let’s look at the common objections to your argument that you presented.

  • You don’t believe in educating women. You assert that college and education have very little to do with each other, despite colleges being the bastions of higher education and the liberal arts—the foundation of a strong education. So we women can obviously just go to the library and learn what we could have learned in a classroom. I see. I’d like to ask if you’ve read Beowulf in old English on your own. Have you? I read it with a professor and had the opportunity to examine ways it’s been translated. That was great. Unfortunately, I can’t do that alone in the library. But I see now—that’s inappropriate for my gender. I should just study Catholic doctrine at home. It’s funny that I actually attend a Catholic university where I’ve taken classes that involved reading the Catechism, the Bible, and papal encyclicals—but I’m sure I would have gotten just as much out of them alone in my room without any sort of discussion. Plus, if I did opt for pre-professional training, that might convince me that I could try to have a career…what a shame.
  •  You believe in oppressing women. No, no, no—we’re clearly misconstruing the argument that a woman’s duty lies in her maternal and domestic duties, which don’t require “learning.” Don’t get me wrong, I have a great deal of admiration for those women who choose to have families, but to state that having a career is the work of evil feminists and Satan…are we really going to play the devil card this early? Let’s just allow society and our economic structure to collapse as we remove half the workforce so that “the terrorists devil doesn’t win!”
  • God calls women to use their talents. Of course these talents are limited to child rearing and homeschooling, and if one feels an aversion to children, she should be immediately directed toward the single life or that of a religious sister, which, by your standards, means she also has no appropriate talent. (Awkward…)
  • A woman needs to have something to provide income in case her husband dies, becomes disabled, or leaves her. Obviously in a world with high rates of violent crime, dangerous jobs, and fatal illnesses, death is incredibly unlikely. Becoming disabled is also clearly not a possibility for anyone who might be working a blue-collar “manly” job. And leaving a spouse? In a world where the divorce rate is near 50%? Crazy. Impossible! So remote! Just get that super affordable insurance… Plus, let’s just remind women that they throw their “COMPLETE trust and future on a man” because it’s always smart to become completely dependent on someone else.

So now, after suffering along through that superb display of logic, we get to the promised 6 8 points.

  1. She will attract the wrong types of men. Right. Education couldn’t possibly provide her with the foresight or maturity needed to avoid marrying a lazy man who doesn’t value her. No. The way to attract the “right type of man” is to have no college degree or work experience and go looking for someone who won’t let her work and insists she stay home, have children, then homeschool them while doing all the household tasks. I don’t know about anyone else, but support of the patriarchy is my favorite character trait in a man.
  2. She will be in a near occasion of sin. Now, I’m Catholic, so let’s look at it from a Catholic perspective. There’s no place we’ve ever seen living amid sin while resisting temptation as a positive life choice that actually teaches one how to be virtuous. In fact, we should probably condemn Jesus for spending those forty days and nights in the desert when he let the devil come tempt him day in and day out because living in a state of temptation is just wrong. And all those times he interacted with beggars and corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes? Those were mistakes. Clearly we shouldn’t learn anything from those stories, though we should make sure to take books like Leviticus at face value.
  3. She will not learn to be a wife and mother. “Nothing that is taught in a college curriculum is geared toward domestic homemaking.” For those who want to have a family, I’m sure there’s nothing helpful about the skills of multitasking or person-to-person interaction in different situations. Those pesky colleges just keep insisting on giving women skills for professional careers, tempting them to be manly and to have careers. And for those of us who don’t want children, giving us the ability to have a career is just double-temptation!
  4. The cost of a degree is becoming more difficult to recoup. I’ll give you that, though I’m going to help advance your point even further by pointing out that even in those “masculine fields,” women make less than their male counterparts. Though, I’ll go so far as to say the cost of a degree is actually becoming crazy high for everyone. As an English major, I’ll almost give you this point. Luckily my husbandless, childless life will suit the salary of a barista quite well.
  5. You don’t have to prove anything to the world. I’ll admit, I think our society does assume everyone will go to college and we’ve devalued blue-collar work to an unacceptable level. However, I’m not at college to prove anything to the world. In fact, I don’t think most people are paying $60,000 per year to prove something to the world—that’s the most expensive way to win an argument ever. My economics class would also suggest that the cost-benefit analysis of that amount of debt to pride in having “shown the world up” shows one side to be far more rational. The reasons I’m in college have everything to do with preparing myself for future professional success, pursuing my academic passions, and making myself into a better person who can truly contribute to the world.
  6. It could be a near occasion of sin for the parents. Oh man, I’m an only child and my parents don’t pay for my education? You mean they chose to make an economically sound decision for them and they’re teaching me responsibility while I work and educate myself? I feel gypped…thanks a lot.
  7. She will regret it. Spot on, truly, spot on. Those feminists—they’ll get you every time! I let them talk me into packing my bags, heading down to our nation’s capital, and receiving a first-rate liberal arts education. I’ve read Shakespeare with renowned scholars, met Nancy Pelosi at President Obama’s speech, and made friends I’ll have with me for the rest of my life. If that’s not the definition of regret, I don’t know what is.
  8. It could interfere with a religious vocation. You’re so right. Those Jesuit ideals of discernment and introspection couldn’t possibly inspire anyone to consider what God might be calling them to do in life. And those IHM sisters who ran my high school and Immaculata University—well they were just preaching up the wrong tree.

Well, as wonderfully compelling as your logic has been, I have to remain adamant about being an “evil feminist.” I just cannot bring myself to refute the value of a college degree in my life. Your rhetoric was compelling and your reasoning flawless, yet somehow, I remain staunch in my choice to attend college. I remain staunch in my right to female independence, of my right to not marry or have children if I so choose, of my right to pursue a career in any field I see fit, of my right to have the tools and resources to function in an increasingly educated society, of my right to stand up and tell people like you, Mr. Alleman, that we will not be treated as distinctly “other” citizens, forced to fit neatly into the boxes you’ve carved out for us, left at home to be obedient and submissive to our husbands, and deprived of formative life experiences that have the potential to shape us into the best people we can be.

Sincerely,

Emily Coccia

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