We all have baggage, about all kinds of things. My sister describes the state of something being psychological or personal "baggage" for someone—a trauma, compulsion, phobia, fear or obsession, for example—as “having brain spaghetti.” For example, apparently, she has spaghetti about me pinning her down as a child and tickling her until she screamed for mercy. She knows this because when her spouse tried to do the same, the experience she had as a child came flooding back as a complex tangle of fears, feelings, and mental images. Notwithstanding the trauma inflicted on my poor little sister, the spaghetti metaphor is a simple but useful tool for explaining how complex our experiences are, and I bring it up here because I believe a lot of people have spaghetti, most particularly about love.
While much progress has been made over the past decades thanks to feminist scholars’ and activists’ efforts to counter traditional gender stereotypes, several recent events in the United Kingdom, North America and Australia suggest that Western society is experiencing a backlash against feminism. One of the most telling events involves what is called “Freshers’ Week” in universities across the UK and North America. As you all no doubt know, Freshers’ Week is an orientation period for new students at tertiary institutions.