USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Humboldt University’
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Humboldt University Proverb

“Humboldt, where the men are men and so are the women.”

Context: The informant and myself were visiting Humboldt to see how the school has changed. The trip was built around the nostalgia of her college years. This proverb was then given while driving from San Fransisco to Arcadia, where Humboldt University is.

Informant Analysis: The informant attended Humboldt University in the 80’s while it was still a relatively small school. She noted that their mascot is a lumberjack, a very manly and strong figure. In part she said this was because Humboldt was a logging town surrounded by giant redwood trees. During her time there, she noted that the only people who went to Humboldt were very “granola” people– meaning that they were the outdoorsy type who enjoyed sustainable living. The few women who chose to attend Humboldt were also notoriously manly. According to the informant, it was a joke that the woman who went to Humboldt had hairier legs than the men.

Collector Analysis: I do agree with much of what the informant said about how the lumberjack figure represents Humboldt University well. I also wonder if this folk slogan was propagated by the men or women who attended the university. To be a woman at a predominantly male school is difficult and does promote for the women to affect a more masculine persona. It may be a way to fit in to the culture of the school or out of basic fear of being a woman in a male culture. While the proverb is a compliment to men, and viewed as a diss to women, I would argue that this piece serves as a strong representation of gender roles during the 80’s in Northern California. Although the culture and politics are very liberal today in Arcata, during that time, there was a strong clash of conservative farmers and liberal college students. This proverb may be a representation of this clash that occurred around the school.

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