Professors at the University of Wyoming say the school’s new cowboy slogan promotes “white heterosexual” masculinity.
Expanding upon the University of Wyoming’s Cowboy mascot, the school recently adopted a new slogan — “The World Needs More Cowboys.” But some professors are up in arms over the choice, claiming that it promotes “white heterosexual” masculinity.
Christine Porter, associate professor of kinesiology and health at the university, is leading the charge against the new slogan.
“The history of cowboys, of course, is much more diverse than that racially, and presumably also for sexual orientation,” Porter said in a comment. “But the image — what the word ‘cowboy’ means off the top of almost everybody’s head in the U.S. — is the white, heterosexual male.”
Porter explained that she thinks the slogan might potentially ostracize students who aren’t white and male. “I care most about our university having a slogan that makes all people feel welcome here,” Porter added. “I also care about us not embarrassing ourselves as an institution across the nation. However proud this state is of our cowboy tradition, it just does not translate outside the Rocky Mountain West.”
Chad Baldwin, the school’s communications director, says that the criticisms of the new slogan will not stop its full adoption. “The criticism of the slogan as being sexist, racist, and offensive simply does not hold water in the context of the overall campaign,” Baldwin said. “‘Cowboys’ is the university’s official mascot and nickname, and the upcoming campaign casts it in a way that we have demonstrated is effective in catching the attention of prospective students from outside Wyoming.”
“We’re casting it so that it’s not gender-specific,” Baldwin added. “It’s not at all exclusionary. It’s the spirit of the cowboy that we all kind of share in. So, we’re basically throwing away the old stereotypes and updating what it means to be a cowboy and what it looks like. A cowboy is not what you are, but who you are.”