“Your body makes you a woman, your mind makes you a scholar, but the duck pond run makes you a Mawrtyr.”
I think every Bryn Mawr student knows that saying; it’s especially prevalent around Hell Week. As much as I love the “the duck pond run makes you a Mawrtyr” sentiment (and I really, truly do), I’m not such a fan of the first part. Even before I identified as trans, I felt something a little off about the beginning.
So, let’s start with the beginning. Contrary to popular belief, your body does not actually determine your gender (i.e. there’s a distinction between sex and gender). I know it may seem like I’m making too big a deal of it (because so much of what I do has to do with gender), but it’s more than just a nitpicky, theoretical detail.
Even though Bryn Mawr is one of the Seven Sisters and still a women’s college, not all students at Bryn Mawr identify as women. Not all frosh necessarily want to be identified as women. I think it’d be incredibly unfortunate if even one of the people being helled were made uncomfortable, or made to feel even the least bit unwelcome, over something as unnecessary as that line. It’s not the important part of the saying, but it could be troublesome; I say that the potential troubles outweigh the balance and rhythm of the saying.
Next line: “your mind makes you a scholar.” It’s not as big a deal (really, more me being hung up on semantics), but being a scholar is about more than just your mind — it’s about the learning, what the mind does. Perhaps something like “your education makes you a scholar” would be better (especially since the bond, in this case, is being together at Bryn Mawr). However, that has a lot of unpleasant classist connotations (for example, that one can only be a scholar if one has the money, or at least the privilege, to obtain a certain level of education). I’m thinking that I’m going to settle for “your studies make you a scholar” if the line is important.
And lastly, “the duck pond run makes you a Mawrtyr.” I love it. It’s not perfect, but I’m okay with that. To me, Mawrtyrs are those who love Bryn Mawr and Bryn Mawr’s Traditions. The duck pond run is one of Bryn Mawr’s most important, most beloved traditions. It’s not necessary to belong at Bryn Mawr (I’m really trying to not dismiss or devalue people who are at Bryn Mawr for reasons other than the Traditions, like the stellar academics), but it’s definitely a big part of being a Mawrtyr.
The duck pond run is, truly, the defining moment in becoming a Mawrtyr. Before it, some crucial experience is missing. After the duck pond run, it’s as though something essential has been gained that you hadn’t even realized was lacking. To me, the duck pond run is an inherent part of being a Mawrtyr, and being a Mawrtyr is like coming home. It means belonging to a community of incredibly vibrant, intelligent, passionate, quirky people — people with whom I have shared experiences, shared history, and shared knowledge. Being a Mawrtyr is for life, not just for the few short years of college. Being a Mawrtyr is something that can’t be explained; it can only be experienced.
The duck pond run makes you a Mawrtyr.