The letter (all emphasis in original):
February 20, 2004
Ms. Eileen Bresnahan
Chair, Women's Studies Department
14 East Cache La Poudre Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Dear Ms. Bresnahan:
Time and again, I've heard the following complain: Men are not supportive of "women's issues." Not going to debate the validity of the charge, but merely offer a solution.
Years after realizing our liberal arts degrees were as potent as library cards, my friends and I came up with a new drinking game. We regularly attend feminist events (Take Back the Night, pro-choice fundraiser, Jewel concerts, etc...) and upon hearing the word patriarchy we chug beer. Ditto that for oppression. Any variation on "empowered" demands a double chug (that's two beers). And finally, when a sentence begins with: "as a woman, I feel that..." we pound the hard stuff.
Before the event lets out, we stumble home and play a similar game with reality TV programs and variations of the word "classy."
Now this might smack of paternalism, but just think about it: Promoting this game will mean more men attending your events where you can overcharge them for liquor and send them on their way before the evening's end. You could make a killing, even from -- or especially from -- conservatives.
Kenneth H. Cleaver
The response (emphasis in original):
Kenneth H. Cleaver
PO Box 1034
Colorado Springs, CO 80901
Dear Brother in the Struggle Against Patriarchal Oppression:
Thank you for your provocative fundraising suggestion: consideration of this suggestion has been for us, as women, an empowering experience. The task of fighting patriarchal oppression and empowering the young women in our charge is daunting, and we are gratified to know that you and your friends do support us with your attendance and are willing to make such substantial financial contributions to our efforts. The Women's Studies faculty has alloted considerable time from our anti-patriarchy, anti-oppression, pro-women's-empowerment discussion to ponder your suggestion. As women we believe we should nurture any anti-patriarchy/pro-empowerment allies that come our way.
Unfortunately, Colorado College has strict rules about the availability of alcohol at school-sponsored events, so we are unable to serve or promote alcohol at our events. We realize that your motives are pure and that you undoubtedly have no interest in getting drunk yourself or in getting female students drunk; thus we are confident that you and your friends will be willing to pay for the words themselves without the alcohol. Beer costs about $3.50/glass in most of our local pubs. Since, however, this fundraiser is not about beer as much as it is about the good fight against patriarchal oppression, we, as women, are confident that you and your non-patriarchal buddies will be willing to pay $5/word. We encourage you to. Pay triple for phrase "as women, we feel" rather than engaging in more patriarchal violence. Further, from our experience, as women, we feel the hard stuff you're pounding is not as hard as you think.
We have responded as a collective and signed all our liberation names because, as we're sure you know, designating a spokesperson is the epitome of hierarchy and patriarchal oppression. As women, we feel we must resist such oppression and strive for empowerment in even the small things.
We imagine when you refer to "my friends and I" in your letter that the group you refer to is rather small. Surely, you have no more than two or three friends who can afford such an anti-patriarchal game. Being generous, let's say there are five of you committed to fighting oppression and helping us empower current and future generations of women. By our count of the words that inspire your game (see count below), we expect that each of you will forthwith send us a check for $280. You can check our events on the college web site. As women we look forward to your participation. Yes, indeed, let the killing begin.
Eight "as women, we feel" = $120 * Seven "empower" = $70 * Ten "patriarchy" = $50 * Eight "oppression" = $40