The Rumpus: How’s That Barnard Thing Working Out For You?

rumpusHi there! It’s great to see you too. It’s been ages. How’s that Barnard thing working out for you?

Are you empowered? Validated? Have found your voice and are you expressing yourself? Remember how they played that Madonna song at your graduation? Three people did their graduation thesis on Madonna that year! Did you know that?

Did you fall in love? Did you find a partner who eschews traditional gender roles and values equality as much as you do? Someone who encourages you to fulfill yourself and who’s content to stay in the background while you shine? And does he… Oh, sorry to hear it. And right after he finished his residency? Bummer. But hey, that is a good settlement. It’s lucky you had that phone text transcript. Good for you!

Are you leaning in? You are? That’s fantastic! You’re leaning in! You’re putting your right hand in and your right hand out, you’re putting your right hand in and… Can I just say that it’s so brave that you went ahead and had her on your own like that. What’s that? That is an awesome idea for a birthday party theme. She’s going to love it.

You’re still incensed by the cosmetic and fashion industry’s shameless and relentless exploitation of women, right? Naomi Wolf told it! I agree – things have gone from bad to worse. And the Miracle Suit does wear out a little too quickly, but you have to admit that Shiseido has the best whitening cream. Don’t discount La Prairie Luxe Skin Cavier, though. It’s also pretty bitchin’.

Did you finally pay off those school loans?

Are you making a difference? Still politically active? Remember how much energy you invested in that campaign? The phone bank calls and the ‘meet and greets’, the fundraisers and the long bus rides to Toledo? Remember when the President we all admired humiliated his wife on such a global, colossal scale after she’d given up her career for him? What a bummer.

How does it feel to be one of the last Barnard women to write her thesis on a typewriter? ‘Revolutionary Changes in Gender Roles: The Women of Nicaragua’? I’m totally going to track that down and take it with me to read in Cabo this spring. I also am not entirely sure what Tumblr is for, but it looks pretty.

Remember Dennis Dalton? Plato and Aristotle? Gandhi and Marx? How cool were those poignant Rolling Stones quotes! Wasn’t it all so illuminating and profound? That’s funny – I’ve also noticed major drama every time a bag of M&Ms is opened in my house. It’s almost as if they think they’ll stop existing if they don’t get the blue ones. She sounds like the cutest.

Remember all the fuss about how you didn’t have the core curriculum like your coed brothers and sisters across the street? What was the big deal, anyway? They think they’re so great with their fancy degrees and their penises. As if an education is worth more just because you read Euripides in Lit Hum. It’s like Prince said, “All that glitters ain’t gold.”

Are you part of the solution? Didn’t Bono turn out great? You got to shake his hand at Davos!? How exciting! What kind of work do you do by the way? No, I haven’t heard of that particular Super PAC – I just remember the Karl Rove one. That sounds interesting. It’s so great to travel for work.

It’s wonderful to hear that you discovered a sense of humor. How come everything was so not funny back then? Luckily for you, smiling wasn’t a prerequisite for admissions! You’d have ended up in your safety school for sure. You would have hated it up there – it’s so cold in the winter.

Did you take back the night? Wasn’t it empowering to march with all those women on the streets of Morningside Heights? We have the right to dress the way we want to, go where we want to, when we want to… What’s that? Oh, sorry to hear it. Do they not have special glasses to correct that kind of thing? You should so not give up on driving after dusk! Eat more carrots!

You’re still a feminist, right? A humanist? Do you still believe in the power of a really good novel to transform the world? I also loved her coverage and analysis of ‘Breaking Bad’. It’s never enough just to watch it, is it? Reading about it makes it so much more of a complete cultural experience.

Are you still wearing black? Now it’s slimming as well as vaguely political and non-conformist. She does? Every day? I didn’t realize “Barbie Pink” was a thing. That’s adorable. Does she also insist on the tiara or just the glitter? The more you talk about her the more she sounds totally yummy.

Are you still celebrating diversity? Remember First-Year orientation? Didn’t it feel like a revolution happening right before our very eyes? Yes, those neighborhoods did get pretty white in a hurry! It’s almost as if Shisheido’s Lucent Brightening Cream was sprayed Agent Orange style all over Fort Greene. Congratulations on that townhouse.

Did you take control of your sexuality? You did? Good for you! It is ironic, isn’t it? I think the official term for that is “andropause”.

Remember that seminar on Women and Government? It was so stimulating. Especially that one class where you talked about gender empowerment and dreamed of the day when America would elect its first female president. Wasn’t that an amazing … What? Get the fuck out of here! That is too funny. Good for her!

A verion of this essay appeared in The Rumpus

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