Some people may wonder why our reaction to "Roxie the Red Devil" is so strong. They may not understand the common bond we share that is masked in class warfare: Devils vs. Panthers. They may not understand why we love Richard despite his toothy grin, or worse, they may not understand our deep-seated respect for Converse Tradition and, most of all, the college's fundamental mission to empower every type of woman.
Perhaps 1889 Week wouldn't be so invigorating if we didn't know, at our core, that we believe in the same things: empowering women to be thinkers, doers, and leaders. All women. We don't believe in empowering only the ones in the sexy red dresses, and we don't stand behind only the ones who, like Roxie, love a polka-dotted sash.
Would we devote ourselves to dances and powderpuff games if we didn't know that classes before us had also tested their loyalty and sisterhood while carrying around these ridiculous yet lovable icons? I don't know about you, but I want to meet Converse women for years to come who identify with Richard and Pantera. It's part of what makes us sisters - a shared experience that few others understand.
The Roxie advertisement used the slogan "Beside every great man is a Converse woman." Since when has that been the value we claim? We find our worth not in the wonderful men (or women) beside us, but in our own capacity to learn, love, and be contributing members of society.
Roxie insinuates that we - as Red Devils, and Pink Panthers - have a preconceived notion of what constitutes success. Our mascot, the image we choose to represent us, now singles out a small sect of Converse Women. It highlights them as being a preferred variety. Richard didn't do that. There was a piece of Richard in all of us. Richard had that boyish bowtie, but he also has those feminine lips. Richard defies stereotypes, just like we do. Richard makes people stop and look twice. That's what we, Connies, want, isn't it? We want people to stop and look again, because we're different. We don't want to look like the next girl in a red dress. We want to stand out and stand together.
I don't see myself in Roxie. I don't see my lesbian friends or my musician friends or my Model League friends in Roxie. I especially don't see the values I equate in my heart to Converse in Roxie.
Comment on this post to "sign" our petition. Let's save our little Richard.
See Roxie here.
UPDATE. Completely overwhelmed and inspired by the multitude of personal stories and thoughts shared about Converse today, there is now a real petition. Please sign and share!