David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Undone -- The Sweater Wrong

February 5, 2016

So, after a month of posting poems and blogs about my parents, I turn back to the headlines of academia looking for some good material.  It's early February, the middle of winter, so I should be pleasantly surprised to read about energy conservation and the importance of sweaters at a major university.  Assuming we are willing to call Simon Fraser University, a public institution founded 50 years ago in the frozen tundra of British Columbia, Canada, a major university, I hit paydirt.

Turns out that Simon Fraser posted a video about conserving energy by turning down the thermostat and turning up the heat by the wearing of sweaters.  Needless to say, it didn't take long for faculty members to express their outrage about a video that has a male student referencing his female teacher's attractiveness in her sweater.  If you want to get to a subtextual outrage, read the comments to this article, where the angst is over the connotations of the female faculty member being called""Miss" rather than "doctor" or "professor.  The only thing the videomakers failed to include to hit the trifecta of offensiveness is a reference to the university's namesake, explorer and . . . fur trader.

And as long as we are feeling outraged, watch the video and feel outraged about so many other details:  Taking your hair out of its stereotypical bun and letting it hang loose over your shoulders conserves heat, as does apparently not wearing glasses.

Perhaps most disturbing is that Miss, or rather Professor, Pinkham has solitaire up on her computer, a really, really, really old Solitaire. 

Or, go all the way to the end of the video to see that it supports "National Sweater Day, February 6, 2014."  Yes, you read that right, 2014.  Not only did they pay for a sexist video, they paid for a re-used one, sloppily re-used.

It is not a comforting thought to hear that "the origins" of a video posted on your university website "are under investigation."  How much investigation is needed, especially when the end of the video clearly credits "Simon Fraser University: Facilities Services"?  Don't need to bring in Geraldo Rivera for that investigation.

My favorite line in the article comes when the Vice President of External Relations says, "As the video was produced by an external vendor, I had not seen it."  I guess Congress is not the only group of individuals that has no problem passing something along without knowing what is in it. I can only guess that this VP of External Relations will soon be the Ex-VP of External Relations.  Right about now, Weezer's Undone (The Sweater Song) must be echoing through her head:

If you want to destroy my sweater

Hold this thread as I walk away.

Watch me unravel, I'll soon be naked,

Lying on the floor, I've come undone.


There is a new stanza:

If you want to destroy my career,

Post this video as I look away.

Watch my career unravel, I'll soon be jobless,

Drinking at the bar, I've come undone.


As the article notes, the video didn't stay up that long.  In fact, it was pulled down almost as quickly as it went up, so that it actually didn't even make it to National Sweater Day, 2016.  That's too bad. I would have loved to seen what these marketing geniuses did with Labor Day.