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Just One of Those Days

October 15, 2010

A typical semester is 15 weeks long.  I teach three classes, two days a week, at an hour and fifteen minutes per class.  That adds up to roughly 90 classes per semester.  Of these classes, I’d say about 20 of them knock my socks off.  These are the classes that I leave thinking, for one reason or another, “God I love these kids.”  The majority of the classes are simply average—decent discussion, decent commentary…decent all around.  I would say about 65 classes fall into this range.

And then there are the other five.

Every semester, without fail, there are about five classes that just leave me pulling my hair out, wondering why I even bother.

Today was one of those days. 

I don’t want to go into the details.  It just was.

Actually, screw that.  Here are the details:

I found myself arguing with an eighteen year-old male student about why an advertisement that blatantly promotes rape and violence against women is, in fact, a big deal, and cannot, in fact, be blamed on the music of Nirvana (yes, that was really his argument).  He told me that the nineties were well-known as “an era that promoted violence,” and that the advertisement was simply a reflection of “that time.”  Thank you, 90’s expert who was born in 1992.


He told me again and again, over and over, that he just didn’t see why the ad was such a big deal.

Wanna see the ad that pissed me off so badly?


Doesn’t look that bad, right?

But you can’t see the print that goes along with it:

Apply generously to your neck so he can smell the scent as you shake your head no.”

Keep in mind that this advertisement was printed in magazines like Seventeen, YM, and Teen.

Because, you know—when teenage girls say “no,” they don’t really mean it.

Anyway.  It was just one of those discussions that really got under my skin.

Moving on.

After a day like today, I just wanted a simple meal.  I’ve probably had macaroni and cheese from a box five times in my life—my mom wasn’t big on the whole Kraft thing (which I’m not grateful for).  I bought this “organic” mac n’ cheese a while back.  Okay, it was two years ago when I still lived in Indiana.  And then I moved it to Pennsylvania.  And then another year passed and I still hadn’t eaten it.  Who does that?

Tonight, I finally put that box of mac n’ cheese to rest.  We ate it with roasted broccoli.  I also (not surprisingly) had a big glass of wine that was 100% necessary.

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Annnnnnd I’m officially done for the night.  Thank goodness the weekend is almost here!

G’night, all!  

23 Comments leave one →
  1. Ayla permalink
    October 15, 2010 12:29 am

    “Apply generously to your neck so he can smell the scent as you shake your head no.”

    Who the hell even comes UP with things like that? Someone needs to fire the guy that thought it up and it would probably do some good if someone could slap sense into that male student. At first I accidentally wrote male “stupid”. That probably would have been a perfectly good mistake. 😉

  2. October 15, 2010 12:43 am

    I’m so sorry about your day/class…that kid seems pretty naive/ignorant to the message of that ad, but we can only go so far in reaching everyone. Hope your next class is much better!

  3. Cathryn permalink
    October 15, 2010 1:50 am

    I have found that 18 year olds do eventually grow up. All we can hope is that they don’t find too much harm on the way. And then, one day, he will be 35 with a 14 year old daughter. And he will finally understand. Know that your conversation today helped to create the man he will eventually become and be proud.

  4. October 15, 2010 2:32 am

    Maybe I don’t get the ad, but it doesn’t seem to be promoting rape or violence. To me, I picture a guy kissing the girl’s neck and her shaking her head as in “no, I’m not interested in you, you lame guy who isn’t good enough for me.” I’m just not picking up anything sexual about the ad. But that’s just want I picture looking at the add right now, not knowing the history of it or anything.

    Even if the ad isn’t intended to promote rape, that doesn’t mean the guy wasn’t totally off base with his opinion that ads promoting rape are excusable.

    • October 15, 2010 1:24 pm

      “I’m just not picking up anything sexual about the ad.”– I mean, it is called “Fetish” 😉

      I agree with you that it could be interpreted in a teasing, not-interested way– and I’m betting (or hoping, at least) that that’s the idea the advertisers had in mind when they created it. Still, anytime you have a young woman (especially a teenager) in very little clothing paired together with the idea of her shaking her head no, it’s hard for me to not at least think of rape. Maybe I’ve just seen too many Lifetime movies called “She Said No” 🙂

      • October 15, 2010 1:45 pm

        I kinda read it the same way, to be honest. That she’s a tease who makes a guy swoon but won’t give it up to him because she’s way out of his league.

        I actually remember that ad from the 90s for some strange reason. Or at least I remember the perfume. It stunk.

      • October 15, 2010 1:50 pm

        You might remember it because of the ad, actually– it got national attention because of outrage from parent groups, NOW, and rape crisis organizations, and they actually ended up pulling all of the ads after just one print.

  5. October 15, 2010 2:55 am

    Regardless of the intent of the ad, it’s really tacky for about a dozen reasons. I have no idea how I would deal with someone as ignorant as that student. At least the one ignorant person in my family is only 5…but even she’d agree this ad is nauseating!

  6. October 15, 2010 11:41 am

    That ad is horrible. I actually have a really hard time watching any movie that is violent towards women. It just really upsets me. Sorry you had to deal with that especially in that way. I hope you got a good nights rest and really mac & cheese and wine make anything better!

  7. Ginger permalink
    October 15, 2010 11:41 am

    Ah, 18-year olds! Feel good that you had the discussion with him, and I bet he will remember it. Good job! (And, I think you might be forgetting the Hamburger Helper I used to make – we should have some when you come home, just for old times sake!)

  8. October 15, 2010 12:57 pm

    Can you IMAGINE the board meeting where that advertisement was passed?! Horrible. Even though it left you drained, it is a very good thing you spoke up.
    Maybe your words will seep their way into that kid’s head. You just never know.

  9. Elizabeth permalink
    October 15, 2010 1:13 pm

    Whoa! I showed the ad to my (former 18-year-old) husband who read the text as taunting not rape, but still scarily inappropriate, especially since those magazines are read by preteens and younger. Your student is at that age when he considers everyone around him far less intellectual. It is experiences like his debate with you that will slowly wisen him up.

    • October 15, 2010 1:48 pm

      Yeah, I mean– I definitely agree that it *could* be read as simply taunting– but any time you put together the image of a woman or girl (especially a young teenage girl) and the idea of her shaking her head no (while in very little clothing), it’s hard for me to not at least see the possibility of it referencing unwanted sexual advances. The whole teen magazine thing is what gets me too– it would be one thing if that were printed in Vogue, or Elle– but Seventeen? Come on.

  10. October 15, 2010 2:07 pm

    that’s disturbing– i hope there were other students in your class who helped you put him in his place. i know where I just graduated (American U) that that would NEVER fly– the far-left women of that school would have been all over him!

  11. October 15, 2010 2:39 pm

    Ugh, that definitely sounds like a Mac and Cheese kind of night. Ads like those make me angry

  12. October 15, 2010 3:25 pm

    Wow… I don’t know if I’d have the patience for that Anna. I admire you!

  13. October 15, 2010 3:34 pm

    Oh my goll, I TOTALLY did the same thing with a box of Annie’s white cheddar shells. I literally moved it from college to DC to my next stop in Charlottesville, where I had it for TWO MORE YEARS until the great clean-out of my pantry prior to moving to Texas this summer.

    Whatever. I still ate it. I survived. 🙂

  14. October 15, 2010 3:53 pm

    I majored in advertising in college, and this ad makes me so mad. It’s degrading to women, it belittles the fact that rape is actually a serious issue, AND it just violates ethics in media.

    It’s sad that your student just thought “that’s how the 90s” were – in reality, messages like this only reinforced violence against women instead of fighting it. So sad.

  15. Emo permalink
    October 15, 2010 4:44 pm

    I remember that perfume, too. I hope he learns his lessons and I hope he doesn’t get a date for his entire college career because his classmates spread the word that he’s a tool.
    And, yay for wine!

  16. October 15, 2010 5:00 pm

    Wow, that’s just…no words. Ads are so incredible b/c they can be so subliminal. Kids not even “getting it” really. It’s scary really. I mean, think about “healthy” foods even. You just assume based on the advertisements, the packaging, the hip look, etc. Glad you had an easy meal and that glass of wine!

  17. October 15, 2010 5:21 pm

    Wow! That’s quite an ad! I’m glad you brought the topic up for conversation.

    I admire you for keeping it together! Hope your day gets better 🙂

  18. Ryan permalink
    October 16, 2010 5:12 pm

    I didn’t hear the Nirvana part. The kid is even stupider than I thought.

  19. Jennifer permalink
    October 17, 2010 12:47 am

    Hi Anna,
    I have never posted a comment before, but love your blog! I just wanted to say THANK YOU for having those exhausting conversations with your students. I promise the message does make people think twice even though they blow it off at the time. I teach women studies and have those conversations constantly with students but also my friends and family and I feel like I talk to a wall, but end up noticing they are much much more aware and look at messages more critically (regardless if they buy into the meaning). Although some do not read deeply into those types of ads, that sadly just points out how immune we all are to them. The fact that we don’t flinch at women in cages like animals to sell shoes (sketchers) or dismembered bodies selling various products means we are just so used to seeing this image that it doesn’t have an impact and advertisers need to keep going to further extremes. Anyways, sorry for the long comment…just happy people are still trying to increase awareness! Keep trying 😉

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