UGA Bans Hoop Skirts: Cultural Generalization As A Form Of Racism

UGA Bans Hoop Skirts: Cultural Generalization As A Form Of Racism

With the banning of hoop skirts, the university is committing a devastating act of generalization.
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Recently, a leaked video of University of Oklahoma SAEs singing a racist chant prompted an increase in national scrutiny of fraternities. On Monday, UGA responded to the backlash from the incident by banning girls from wearing hoop skirts, affecting KA's Founder's Day celebration and SAE's Magnolia Ball. There is controversy surrounding the decision for two reasons; both fraternities at UGA have done nothing wrong and are in no way associated with the actions of the SAEs at Oklahoma, and while many see the antebellum hoop skirt as a costume worn for fun, others see the hoop skirt as a manifestation of racial intolerance that in some way celebrates racial intolerance.

It's a tricky subject for sure, since the U.S. has a history of racial inequality, but the ban on hoop skirts is unjustified and narrow-minded. In no way do hoop skirts have any relation to racial intolerance, as they have been a fashion staple for women for almost 300 years. Hoop skirts were popular all over the world for more than two centuries. They were called Verdugado in the 15th century, Panniers or “side hoops" in the 18th century and Crinoline in the mid-19th century. Hoop skirts could be seen all over Europe in places like Spain, France, England, and later in the United States. Recall that in “Gone with the Wind," Scarlett and Mammy are both seen wearing hoop skirts. They were worn by women of all ages, social statuses and races to create a more “womanly" shape.

Historically, fashion is largely associated with human culture. Clothing indicates the time in history, the economic class, the geographic location of the wearer, the gender and the society a person belonged to. There is no denying the importance of clothing to cultures around the world as they signify national pride and pay homage to the past, but there is no culture in existence that doesn't have an ugly side. Is it right to let the ugly overshadow the good?

The Ancient Egyptians were quite the fashion plates of the ancient world; their traditional garb consisted of gladiator sandals strapped up their legs with white togas and ornate headpieces. The Egyptians weren't just style masters, they were known for their equal treatment of the sexes, scientific advances and their modern organization of the government. Their traditional clothing is relevant today -- children wear the full Egyptian garb for Halloween and gladiator sandals are trendy fashion staples; both completely accepted by society.

Yet, Egyptian culture is not squeaky clean. They were notorious for their enslavement and mistreatment of their conquered, but when people see children in togas they don't automatically think of Egyptian slavery because Egypt was bigger than just that. Slavery was a terrible institution that devastated thousands who suffered horrific injustices, but letting the institution of slavery manifest itself through traditional Egyptian clothing is a terrible generalization of a much deeper culture.

German Lederhosen is as iconic as it is historic. The shorts were worn in Germany, Austria and Northern Italy from the 18th century to just before World War II. Germany was settled by the Holy Roman Empire and was the birthplace of Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation. Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press that allowed for the mass production of printed books. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Handel, who all identify as German or Austrian, composed some of the most beautiful music the world has ever heard. While German history is rich and celebrated, not all of German history is innocent. The Protestant Reformation was horribly violent, thousands were put to death as a result of their faith and many more persecuted. More recently was the Holocaust, the attempted elimination of the Jewish people by Adolf Hitler and the Axis Powers. Both events were horrific and inexcusable. The world still heals from the heartbreaking injustices suffered in the Holocaust and the global devastation it caused. We will always remember the lives that were lost and the extent of the pain the Holocaust caused. The German culture is not defined by the ugly aspects of its history. People wear Lederhosen today at festivals and to represent German pride.

The hoop skirt is a part of southern culture; that much cannot be denied. The antebellum South was the beginning of the “southern culture" that many people identify with today. When the United States was settled, many immigrants came to the South and started towns, businesses, and families. The economies flourished as the population of the US skyrocketed. Early southern culture, known for its booming economy, foreign trade and emphasis on civil mannerisms had an ugly side to its history too, in racism and slavery. Both were equally terrible yet were certainly not the only parts of Southern culture.

There is no wholly innocent or perfectly just culture that has ever existed. Every culture is flawed and has committed unspeakable transgressions against humanity, but every culture has good aspects as well and deserves to be remembered. The world would truly be a sad place if culture were remembered for only the negative aspects. It is unfair to generalize any one culture because culture itself represents so many diverse people and ideas. It is truly disheartening that the beauty, chivalry and respect of southern tradition and culture have been eclipsed by the images of racism. Similar arguments could be made about the terrible transgressions of almost any race or tradition throughout history.

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A Letter To My Go-To Aunt

Happiness is having the best aunt in the world.
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I know I don't say it enough, so let me start off by saying thank you.

You'll never understand how incredibly blessed I am to have you in my life. You'll also never understand how special you are to me and how much I love you.

I can't thank you enough for countless days and nights at your house venting, and never being too busy when I need you. Thank you for the shopping days and always helping me find the best deals on the cutest clothes. For all the appointments I didn't want to go to by myself. Thank you for making two prom days and a graduation party days I could never forget. Thank you for being overprotective when it comes to the men in my life.

Most importantly, thank you for being my support system throughout the numerous highs and lows my life has brought me. Thank you for being honest even when it isn't what I want to hear. Thank you for always keeping my feet on the ground and keeping me sane when I feel like freaking out. Thank you for always supporting whatever dream I choose to chase that day. Thank you for being a second mom. Thank you for bringing me into your family and treating me like one of your own, for making me feel special because you do not have an obligation to spend time with me.

You've been my hero and role model from the time you came into my life. You don't know how to say no when family comes to you for help. You're understanding, kind, fun, full of life and you have the biggest heart. However, you're honest and strong and sometimes a little intimidating. No matter what will always have a special place in my heart.

There is no possible way to ever thank you for every thing you have done for me and will continue to do for me. Thank you for being you.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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Abortion Bans Are Only A Small Part Of The Republican War On Women

These bans expose the Republican Party for what it truly is.

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This week, several states passed laws that ban abortion after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know that they're pregnant. The most egregious of these is Alabama — the state has banned abortion except for in cases of danger to the mother. Exceptions in the cases of rape and incest were actively voted against by the state legislature. Under the new law, any doctor who is caught giving an abortion would be sentenced to 99 years in prison, and the woman would be charged with murder.

Apart from the fact that this explicitly violates the decision of Roe v. Wade (which is the point), this is only a small part of the slow but steady degradation of women's rights by Republicans in the United States. To anyone who believes that this is simply about people being "pro-life" or "saving the children," then tell them to look at what happens after the fetus is carried to term.

Republicans oppose forcing fathers to be involved in the lives of their children that were forcibly carried to term, desires to cut food stamps and make it more difficult to feed said child, cut funding for affordable housing to make it more difficult for them to find homes, cut spending to public education so these children can't move up the social ladder, and refuse to offer the woman or her child health insurance to keep them both healthy. What about efforts to prevent pregnancy? Republicans also oppose funding birth control and contraception, as well as opposing comprehensive sexual education. To them, the only feasible solution is to simply keep your legs shut. They oppose all of these things because it is, in their eyes, a violation of individual rights to force people to do something. The bill also makes women who get abortions felons, and felons can't vote. I'll let you finish putting those two together.

If you view it from this framework, it would seem like Republicans are being extremely hypocritical by violating the personal freedoms of pregnant women, but if you look at it from the view of restricting social mobility for women, then it makes perfect sense. The Republican dogma of "individual rights" and "personal responsibility" is a socially acceptable facade that they use to cover up their true intentions of protecting the status quo and protect those in power. About any Republican policy, ask yourself: does this disperse power or consolidate it? Whether it be education, healthcare, the environment, or the economy, Republicans love to keep power away from the average citizen and give it to the small number of people that they deem "deserving" of it because of their race, gender, wealth, or power. This is the case with abortion as well; Power is being taken from women, and being given back to men in a reversal of the Feminist Movement of the 1970s.

Republicans don't believe in systemic issues. They believe that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed regardless of what point they started. This is why they love capitalism so much. It acts as some sort of great filter in which only those who deserve power can make it to the top. It's also why they hate social policies; they think that helping people who can't help themselves changes the hierarchy in a negative way by giving people who don't "deserve" power, power. Of course, we know that just because you have money and power doesn't mean you earned it fair and square, and even if Republicans believe it, it wouldn't change anything because it wouldn't change how they want to distribute power.

In short, Republican policies, including abortion, leave the average American with less money, less protection, less education, worse health, less opportunity, fewer rights, and less freedom. This is NOT a side effect. This is the point. Regardless of what Republicans will tell you about "inalienable rights" and how everyone is equal, in reality, they believe that some people and groups are more deserving of rights than others, and the group that deserves rights the most are the ones "that will do the best with them." To Republicans, this group consists of the wealthy, the powerful, and the white — the mega-rich, the CEOs of large companies, gun owners and Christians.

So, who do Republicans think deserve power and give it to? People who look and think like them. This, however, begs the question: Who do they want to take it from?

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