Recently, I was alerted to the highest rated definition of “Bennie” on the infamous website UrbanDictionary. For those of you who don’t know, UrbanDictionary is a supposedly humorous catalog of slang commonly used in pop culture and on the web, some of the definitions foul and disgusting.
Well, the users of UrbanDictionary decided to be foul about the students of the women’s college. I am simply stunned by what I read. I’m not going to be so disrespectful as to print it here, but in short, it implied that all Bennies are overweight and make excuses for it by quoting religion. I am simply amazed that the post’s author (and whomever upvoted the definition) would be so shameless as to trash weight and religion in the same “joke.”
First of all, to paint all Bennies as obese is a huge (pardon the pun) misrepresentation. Second, the poster seemed to have been implying that obesity is some sort of sin or irreconcilable flaw. I would like to address these hand in hand, because given the current USA standard of slender beauty force-fed to us by Hollywood, saying either of these statements can be a powerful instrument of emotional pain. For those who truly need to lose weight for health reasons, it is a struggle. You can’t just go on a fad diet for a week and come out looking like movie stars. If you’re going to berate someone for a problem they really struggle with, you might consider what it would be like to have someone constantly nagging you to bring up your grade in your worst class. For those who don’t need to lose weight, popular images of beauty (again, may I direct you to movie stars) have probably convinced them that they actually do. The last thing they need is provocation from their peers, who agree that possessors of a perfectly normal (not movie star) body type need to shrink down. This can plunge them into the same sort of struggle, only now it is a vicious cycle; they constantly seek approval of their bodies, but approval will not come.
I had thought the body image conundrum of America was common knowledge, and those who weren’t getting paid for professional airbrushing were sensitive to this. I guess not.
Third, talk of religion and the Bible was reduced to a word which I am contractually obliged not to print in this family-friendly column (please read with parental guidance if under thirteen). I do not have a strong tie to faith, and advocate pluralism. I am saying this because if even a heathen like me can see what is wrong with such a devaluation of religion, whoever posted the offending definition should too.
Religion is a driving force in many lives. It provides cultural ties and moral codes. Rituals create bonds between families and friends, and tenets spur activists to improve their communities. Most of the peace programs in Africa right now are religiously motivated. What’s more: this is a Catholic college. While the environment is open to multiple faiths, it can really be expected that religion, particularly Catholicism, will be a big part of student life.
Someone on the internet denigrated all of that.
When I wrote the twin columns about being a woman and being a man at CSB/SJU, I got the impression that most students took it upon themselves to act with dignity and grace. However, after seeing how many upvotes this “Bennie” definition received on UrbanDictionary, I am forced to rethink this. If so many people, students or not, agree to it, is our positive environment for student growth being hindered?
Please do us all a favor and downvote that definition until it leaves the internet. We really need to do better than that.