That lovable, oversized kangaroo seen at various events around campus is named Zippy. Why? Because our athletic teams were named after a rubber over-shoe called a zipper which was invented by Goodyear, the company located right here in good old Akron.
I am not sure what that has to do with kangaroos, but I guess if the Browns can be Dawgs, then we Zips can be Roos. Our beloved Zippy has been a Capital One Mascot of the Year award winner and has been ranked alongside some of the weirdest college mascots on several sports websites.
One little-known or at least rarely discussed fact about Zippy is that she is a female. Only seven other colleges in the entire country have a female mascot. Why then does our favorite lady seem to have a gender identity crisis? More importantly, why are our female students not in an uproar about this travesty?
The pouch on the front of the costume should be a dead giveaway for anyone who has even a miniscule semblance of marsupial knowledge. Unfortunately, this shouldn’t be the only characteristic that makes Zippy a female.
How about a personality? I know most college students are focused more on physical appearance, but personality is what will remain long after good looks fade away. Zippy is incredibly masculine in her behavior. Even the way she walks around conveys a macho attitude.
While there is nothing wrong with a woman embracing her masculine side (gender is, after all, a performance), it seems that the powers that be are more interested in hiding the fact that she is female. This could be because to be female is to be weak, according to society; a University never wants to be seen as weak. If this is the case for Zippy, then there is something seriously wrong with that.
This point is made even clearer when one considers that the person inside the Zippy mascot is also a guy. Does the University feel that a female isn’t worthy to be Zippy?
I’m not sure. One thing that I am sure of, though, is that anyone who believes in gender equality on campus should be staging protests. The beacon of our school’s identity that is flashed at sporting events, on our clothes, coffee mugs and billboards and is a national award winner is shining a spotlight on discrimination at its core.
To insinuate that a woman can’t wear the suit is sexist. Is it because it’s too heavy? Is it because it’s too big? Is it because of the athleticism needed to perform difficult stunts? Does any of this mean that there isn’t one woman out of 30,000 students that can represent our school?
That is insulting to not only the female body, but to our overall intelligence. There can be no rational explanation for the idea that a female student wouldn’t make a great female mascot. By using Zippy’s celebrity, The University of Akron could send a strong message to women all across our great nation. It would make sense to show the country that our school promotes equality and diversity.