Hotties, Law Schools, listserv, Ridiculousness, Sexism

Do Michigan Law Men Have Thin, Saggy Skins?

You have to hand it to the University of Michigan Law School. They always keep it interesting in Ann Arbor.

Today’s tale of wacky wolverines arises out of the law school’s “Mr. Wolverine” beauty pageant. Yeah, it sounds like exactly what it is. It’s a nice little event where Michigan men “dress down” for the amusement of their peers, with proceeds going to charity.

You’d like to think that a law school could pull one of these things off without turmoil, but this is Michigan. After the event, the student newspaper, Res Gestae, ran a review of the pageant authored by Chaka Laguerre. Laguerre is a Michigan Law student and a former Miss Jamaica World.

Laguerre’s review was a little bit snarky. And for reasons passing understanding, people got so pissed about it that the paper took the review down, and the Michigan listserv went nuts.

You’ve gotta love Michigan….

Through the magic of Google Cache, you can still find the full Laguerre review of the Mr. Wolverine pageant. Most of it is fluffy and nice. But near the end, Laguerre pokes some fun at the participants:

Okay, this is the part I was dying to get to. Usually, I am not at a loss for words… but right now, I am – for good and bad reasons. I mean, some dudes looked yummy – like a Belgian waffle, with strawberries and whipped cream. And some…. just looked like the whipped cream.

Not to be mean, but in a “manny” pageant, you should actually have a hot bod. For the law student, who has lost all sense of what this is, let me try to explain… a washboard stomach (preferably an 8-pack, but we will settle with 6), toned arms and legs, and a nice ass! It’s not easy to look like this, but neither is Property Law, yet we all get through it. Suck it up – workout and diet. You only have to do it once your entire time here – consider it pro bono work; after all, you are providing a service for the women at the law school. (And, since we’re all probably going corporate anyway, this is the least you can do.)

But seriously, getting on stage with flabs of flesh flapping and swinging everywhere is criminally negligent homicide, and trust me, we will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.

I don’t have a problem with these thoughts, for two reasons:

(1) Guys say stuff like this about girls all the time. All the time. In public, in private, everywhere on the internet. If a woman over a size six walks out of her house, there’s going to be some dude making snarky comments about her. If she gets on stage with a bathing suit on, guys who would have absolutely no chance of sleeping with her will make all kinds of derogatory comments.

You want proof? Laguerre is considerably more fit and attractive than a lot of people in the Mr. Wolverine contest, and she’s probably going to get killed in the comments to this post. At least when Laguerre was making fun of how other people look, she had the stones to use her real name.

(2) Despite the best efforts of ATL commenters over the past two and a half years, I’m comfortable in my own skin. That said, I’m not running around entering beauty pageants. And if I did (I assume I have a price, though I can’t imagine what it could be), I would be prepared to get the worst of what the internet had to dish out.

Any Michigan Law students who entered this contest should have been prepared to take a little ribbing from their classmates and in the student newspaper. If they weren’t, then they should have kept their shirts on and gone back to their home under the stairs.

Anyway, my aversion to sexual double standards and thin-skinned “beauty” contestants was not shared by the Michigan Law listserv. Here’s the opening salvo on the message board:

The article titled “Advice for Mr. Wolverine 2011,” by Chaka Laguerre, was lacking in both humor and insight. I was particularly appalled at the statements regarding the “Beauty and Physique” of the contestants:

“Not to be mean, but in a “manny” pageant, you should actually have a hot bod. For the law student, who has lost all sense of what this is, let me try to explain…a washboard stomach (preferably an 8-pack, but we will settle with 6), toned arms and legs, and a nice ass!…”

This pretty much speaks for itself.

To the author, I am sorry that you have to settle for 6-packs here at Michigan instead of your normal 8, but please feel free to head back to wherever you were before this to enjoy said 8-packs again. I have a feeling most of us wont mind. Further, if this article was an attempt at humor or satire, consider it a failed experiment.

Mr. Wolverine is not supposed to be a chance for the student body to point and laugh at members of our community, rather it is simply a fun night with friends that is meant to spoof the beauty pageant format, not replicate it.

My Lord, cry me a freaking river. I love how this joker is talking about the respect people should show to members of the Michigan community in the same comment where he tells one such member to go back to where she came from. And I really thought pointing and laughing was part and parcel of having a fun “spoof.” But what do I know; I’m just a guy who can make it through an entire day without getting my panties in a twist.

It wasn’t just this one kid; other Michigan students chimed in, to similar effect:

As somebody who has been involved in the competition and knows first-hand how intimidating it can be to go before the entire law school solely for the purpose of entertaining your peers, it is astounding to me that the Res Gestae permitted an article that so vulgarly and abrasively criticizes the physical appearance of the contestants. While I’m sure we all found it fantastic to know that the author is a self-described former beauty queen herself (and I can only hope this unnecessary detail was entirely self-mocking; after reading the rest of the article, I sincerely doubt it was), the Mr. Wolverine competition is a charity event where members of our community (who have dedicated weeks of effort at no personal benefit to them) go before the law school simply to give the audience a few laughs. At no point has it ever been a beauty contest — even if [Redacted] are strikingly handsome — and at no point did it ever become acceptable for somebody to publicly ridicule the contestants for their physical appearance.

The comments were inappropriate for a law school publication, and I commend [Redacted] for standing up against those whose judgment was lacking when it came time to publish the article. I cannot even imagine the backlash that would have ensued (and rightly so) if this article had been written by a male critiquing the bodies of female students participating in a law school charity event. Our student body should be one of inclusion and support, where individuals are not afraid to make fun of themselves for the enjoyment of their peers. The article published today undermines that spirit of community.

Where to begin? If you want to be in charge of the publication decisions of Res Gestae, why don’t you apply to be an editor of Res Gestae? And what the hell do you mean by “afraid to make fun of themselves”? Are you suggesting that you want to live in a world where it’s okay for you to make fun of yourself, but if anybody else makes fun of you, that person must be shouted down for not inspiring inclusiveness? What the hell is wrong with you? It’s a freaking BEAUTY CONTEST. Spoof or whatever, the whole point is to be entertained by people’s physical appearance.

A few Michigan Law students had a less hysterical reaction to Laguerre’s argument. Here’s my favorite response:

JEE-ZUS. I don’t normally take the lawopen bait, but after almost 3 years of listening to people whine about every little thing that hurts their feel-goods, I’ll bite.

How the hell do any of you expect to survive outside of a coddling educational environment with such thin skins? Cry me an effing river. You can hardly say *anything* at MLaw without making someone cry. Sticks and stones.

That’s the best point: how the hell can you expect to make it in the real world without medication if you expect to live in a place where a fat man can’t be called fat when he’s making fun of the fact that he’s fat? Jesus covered in cheesecake, sometimes people say ouchy words. Get over it.

It was supposed to be a fun night, Michigan students. A column in the student newspaper didn’t ruin it, but your collective inability to take some jokes — jokes that were invited, in the name of charity — just might.

Advice for Mr. Wolverine 2011 [Res Gestae via Google Cache]

(hidden for your protection)

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