On campuses across the nation, young women are enthusiastically taking the stage throughout the month of February chanting a four-letter word for women’s body parts, recreating child rape and degrading men as part of The Vagina Monologues.
Chapters of the Network of enlightened Women (NeW), a book club for culturally conservative women on over a dozen campuses nationwide, have been countering this play on many campuses by, for example, posting signs and handing out educational information about the play. Rather than just passing out literature, the women in the Arizona State University (ASU) chapter of NeW decided to start their own event: An Annual Gentlemen’s Showcase.
At the March 3rd Showcase, this NeW chapter will honor the top ten gentlemen at ASU to show appreciation for those men who treat women with dignity and respect, and to counter the anti-male agenda of The Vagina Monologues. Since January, students have been nominating male ASU students for performing a gentlemanly act. The ten most-nominated gentlemen will be honored at a catered dinner event.
To promote the Showcase, the NeW chapter at ASU has created a short video asking students four questions: What is a gentleman? What are the characteristics of a gentleman? Are there gentlemen at ASU? Are gentlemen an endangered species?
Student answers range from the serious to the comical. For example, some student responses to the question “What is a gentleman?” include, “just a man that has manners I guess,” “well, we don’t know. We haven’t ever seen one before,” “someone who opens doors, is chivalrous, and a nice guy,” “a gentlemen is a person that likes to do nice things and doesn’t really ask for anything in return” and “someone who is nice and courteous and is always looking out for other people before themselves.”
The Showcase is the first of its kind and has been wildly popular at ASU.
This event has been successful thus far largely for two reasons. First, it is “pro” something. Too often on campus, conservatives are the students taking the “anti” position. Here, these women are taking a positive stance of being for gentlemen. Even better, they have framed the issue so that they are taking the popular position. Who is against men acting like gentlemen? With this position, these women will likely win over new members interested in their cause.
Second, the Showcase idea is creative and fun. Watch the video. It is available on the NeW blog. It made me smile and laugh. I forwarded the video widely and I am sure others did too. These women creatively address a serious issue, the culture wars, and their creativity is effective. Too often, conservative groups lack creativity and innovation. Conservatives on campus need to make a bigger effort to recruit innovative students and not be afraid to implement some new ideas.
To become more effective on campus, conservative students should follow the lead of this NeW chapter at ASU by advocating positively and creatively for their next cause.