A little bit of everything

Welcome to Aristurtle, a title lovingly ripped off from the Science of Sleep. This really is just a little bit of everything, a news digest pulled from many different sources. Generally anything that makes me want to rant tends to make it onto this blog, with very little plotting or advanced planning.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cap and Gown time...er, no, just gown please.

Graduation. A time honoured tradition where you are presented with your hard-earned (or not as the case may be....) degree. However you spent those 4/however many years of your life, your graduation day is a bit of an undeniable milestone. I'm decidedly unemotional about it in a way, but at the same time I'm looking forward to it. However, it brings up an issue that hasn't been on my mind since my mother graduated a few years ago: to Cap or not to Cap?

This tradition seems to differ between countries, but in Ireland it's a decidedly outdated and sexist one. Only women wear the graduation cap, as many sources have told me, to symbolise that this is a "cap" on their education, i.e. because they will presumably spend the rest of their lives making babies and keeping house. That is, if they're lucky enough to be chosen by a clever clever man. However, male graduands do not wear the cap since they'll continue their education, whether that be in an educational Institute or in everyday life. We have to remember you see, that Irish men are never happy unless they are educating themselves in some way. Forever learning, forever becoming more and more intelligent (if that were possible).

So I'm a little bitter. I've always been easily riled up by sexism, whether harmful or harmless, although in my opinion no act of sexism, however small, is harmless. It will always have some subtle influence on some (or all) women, causing them to feel undervalued, angry, frustrated and undermined. Therefore I refuse to be part of that kind of tradition.

I'm not saying I reject the idea of tradition - some traditions are fine. I am saying that I will only honour a tradition that deserves to be honoured - an honourable, fair tradition untouched by discrimination. Another example of a tradition I'd happilly defy is the line in American marriage ceremonies where the father of the bride is asked to say that he "presents this woman in Holy Matrimony". Let's just say I'd be editing that script a little if I were ever to get married. The thought of traditions such as these gives me a special kind of nausea. I can't say I was happy to see my mother wearing the cap on her graduation day but it's a personal choice. I won't discredit any other women who want to wear it or who are genuinely not bothered by that old wive's tale, but it would make me feel ill to have to look at myself in the hat. No thanks.

Still, I do feel quite grown up these days despite being only 21. I think this song is a good one for the occasion.

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