- Feminism and controversy surged throughout campus on
March 10. Black and white flyers depicted a drawing of a woman grasping
onto a hammer with "FEMINISM" on the handle. In the middle of
the female symbol fists were clenched and space above the woman read: "If
I had a hammer...I'd SMASH Patriarchy." A bubble by her face said,
"I FOUND IT!"
- UNH students found it, too.
- Approximately 40 people attended the Patriarchy Slam
organized by the Feminist Action League (FAL). ..The event, featuring poetry
readings, skits, monologues and an open microphone, was designed to give
women a space to share their experiences of oppression in a comfortable
setting, Megan Smith, a member of the FAL, said.
- "[The event was designed to] encourage women to
confront the perpetrators who are men," Smith said. "Ninety-nine
percent of sexual perpetrators are men. They are the root cause of the
rape and oppression against women."
- The FAL's hatred of the patriarchy, a male-ruled society,
was decoratively affirmed with 10 hanging balloons, each displaying a letter
of the word "patriarchy." Each was dramatically popped throughout
the event, symbolizing the eradication of the patriarchy.
- "This is a place where women can feel empowered,"
Smith said. "There aren't many places in the world where women can
speak out against those who have oppressed us, beat us and raped us."
- The name of the event mimics the aggression that men
exert, Smith said.
- "'Slam' is an aggressive word, but slamming is the
classic way men respond," she said. "They feel threatened and
shape it as hate. It's an aggressive word, but it shouldn't get in the
way of our message."
- ...Monologues by members of the FAL poked fun at feminist
stereotypes and set the tone of an evening of sarcasm and wit.
- "Hello, my name is Mary Man-Hating-Is-Fun,"
one participant said. "I am 23 years old, and I am what a feminist
looks like. Ever since I learned to embrace my feminist nature, I found
great joy in threatening men's lives, flicking off frat brothers and plotting
the patriarchy's death. I hate men because they are men, because I see
them for what they are: misogynistic, sexist, oppressive and absurdly pathetic
beings who only serve to pollute and contaminate this world with war, abuse,
oppression and rape."
- Members of the FAL wore scissors around their necks,
as members of the audience lightheartedly sang a song about castration.
- One woman told tales of five of her friends who have
been raped, one, tragically, by a stepfather. Another talked about being
ridiculed for her virginity, another of being discriminated against for
a lesbian relationship, and another of witnessing her mother's boyfriend
sexually abuse her.
- Others spoke of oppression and sexual assault here on
campus. Through passionate and at times tear-choked words, the MUB became
a sexist battle zone at lunch hour, and bulletin boards in dorms became
canvasses for chauvinistic, offensive graffiti.
- The issue of men's entitlement to women's bodies for
sexual pleasure was raised by one woman. She claimed that she's been told
by men that dancing provocatively at clubs is "just asking" for
- "Why does my dancing have to be about pleasing them?
Why can't it just be about me?" she asked.
- Women's magazines were also targeted as FAL members denounced
the sex expert of a popular publication. The experts, they said, encourage
women to give in to men's sexual fantasies, even if they don't feel comfortable
or even have a medical condition that would make the acts painful.
- "Thanks for reminding me that the purpose of sex
is male pleasure and entitlement!" one FAL member sarcastically exclaimed.
- "This is what women get for advice when they don't
like it or feel uncomfortable or have an illness! This is rape!" Smith
- The connection between rape and pornography was also
- Whitney Williams read quotes from pornography sites,
one of which described giving women vodka and then having sex with them.
- "What does it sound like? Rape!" she exclaimed.
- "We're told porn is sexually arousing to women,
but porn looks a lot like rape to us," Smith said. "It's encouraging
a rape culture."
- A skit about a controversial Socratic Society meeting
asserted that women who watch pornography are traitors to women.
- "Women who use porn are being complicit in the oppression
of women," one woman said. "They are legitimizing an industry
that enslaves women and they are traitors to their gender."
- But not every woman in the audience agreed.
- One woman walked onto the stage and nervously stated
that she'd been contemplating speaking for a long time. ..."I like
porn. And guess what? I've been raped," she said. "I'm not a
gender traitor. I take control of my sexuality, and rape isn't always as
clearly cut as we think. Some women like sex. You're fighting yourself
if you turn on women who like porn."
- The woman walked out of the room and left a stunned and
silent audience behind.
- A member of the FAL then spoke in rebuttal, stating,
"If you like porn, you're ignoring the fact that many women are sexually
trafficked into this industry." She continued that 30 percent of all
pornography is made against the women's will and that 75 percent of women
were raped or sexually abused before they were porn stars.
- But just as the FAL is infuriated with our society's
obsession with pornography, some people, like David Huffman, a contributor
for UNH's conservative publication "Common Sense," were offended
by the event's messages. Huffman also was the only audience member who
was asked to leave during open microphone. The reason: women would feel
uncomfortable with him there, members of the FAL said.
- "It was advertised as a public event, nowhere did
the posters say 'Women Only,'" Huffman said. "They excluded me
from a public event based upon my gender. There were a few other men there
who were allowed to stay, but I was singled out in particular. Excluding
one person from a public event is almost impossible to justify unless they
are disruptive, which I was not. This is discrimination."
- "[This] was an evening of man hating. This is no
different than any other extremist organization that...promotes stereotypes,"
- He found the subject of castration particularly offensive.
- "The poems that talked about castrating men were
threatening, along with the scissors the girls wore around their necks,"
he said. "Ms. Smith read a poem where she said that she was proud
to hate men. How is this any different than hating African-Americans or
- "What I heard last night was not feminism; it was
a hate rally," he continued. "I went there with an open mind,
thinking the patriarchy was only that group of sexist, chauvinists that
discriminate against women. Ms. Smith said that all men are the enemy.
This is clear cut sexism and blind hatred."
- But Rob Wolff, a member of the Men Against Patriarchy,
an organization that is considered an ally to the FAL, thinks that the
event's messages were justified.
- "Women have to face threats from men everyday all
their lives in subtle and obvious ways," Wolff said. "I hope
men are confronted. That's what it's going to take. Events like this are
the beginning of a women's revolution."
- And this women's revolution, he argued, is not initiated
by a sexist organization.
- "That view is fundamentally misguided," Wolff
said. "Sexism is a weapon against the chronically disempowered. Men
are empowered by society and anyone who claims the FAL is sexist is missing
- Although Huffman may have been outnumbered at the Patriarchy
Slam, he certainly isn't alone on campus: Williams' columns have sparked
a flood of angry op-ed responses, showing that the members of the FAL aren't
the only ones on campus using words to slam.
- First published March 25, 2005