If Harvard Students Were Honest…

Dear Professor,

I want to start by apologizing for turning in my essay so late. I have been working diligently on all my assignments to ensure that I can give each one the thought and attention it deserves, but also, season two of Euphoria just came out so you know how it be. Since we’re on the subject, I wondered if you might grant me an extension on next month’s paper as well. I plan on being sick that week, and there is a concert in New York that I desperately need to aid my recovery.

Anyway, attached, you’ll find the final draft of my Expos 20 essay titled, “Insects Insights: How Endangered Fleas Defeat Patriarchy.” Isn’t that a great title? My boyfriend Jeff came up with it last night while shot-gunning a White Claw in the Wigglesworth basement. He’s very talented. The essay, of course, is the culmination of all my newly acquired facility and passion for expository writing, which is to say, that it’s complete crap. But that’s not my fault! You must remember that I’m incredibly gifted, so if I perform badly on an assignment, it’s probably because the professor is stupid — no matter what the Nobel Prize committee states!

As a Harvard student, I’m tremendously grateful for the opportunity to expand my intellectual horizons by spending copious amounts of time in your mandatory writing class. As a human teenager, though, I hate it with the passion of a thousand suns. It’s nothing personal, you know? I’m just not really into books. Or reading. Or words. I guess writing is fine if it’s for something cool like TV (have you seen Euphoria????) but otherwise, I’m not super into it.

Still, I want to mention how cool it is that this Expos class is insect-themed! Was it my first choice of topics? No. (The class about pirates was full.) Was it my second choice? Also no. (The witches one was full too.) Still, over the course of the semester, I’ve learned lots of valuable things. For example, do you know how many pages of insect-related argumentation you can write before people start getting annoyed at you? Three. The answer is three pages. But we’re well beyond that now, so I apologize in advance for this literary dribble.


Now before we get to the essay, there are two things you’ll need to keep in mind. Firstly, like all Harvard students, I foolishly believe that the key to generating substantive intellectual arguments isn’t about what you say, but how you sound. Thus, the less I know about a subject, the more obnoxious my vocabulary will become. (This phenomenon also explains why Gov concentrators use such big words)! Secondly, I wrote 50 percent of this paper while “krunk with the boyz” at Yardfest, so there’s a pretty good chance that most of it is actually just Swae Lee lyrics. Sorry about that. It’s not plagiarism if you apologize, right?

Now without further ado: the essay.

The most salient insect of this post-modernist society would veritably, indubitably, and unequivocally be the “Ctenocephalides felis,” otherwise known as the domestic flea. This creature is a well-known hematophagic organism. If you do not already know what “hematophagic” means, then you might as well stop reading. Thou incompetence art the rankest compound of villainous smell that ever offended my nostril. In fact, the inherent intellectualist nature of the domestic flea necessitates that I utilize gargantuan locutions of Brobdingnagian proportions throughout the duration of this essay. So try to keep up.

Domestic fleas fulfill many important roles in environmental ecosystems. These roles are complex and widely studied. So well-studied, in fact, that there’s no need to rehash them here. Instead, it behooves us to examine how these creatures function as an abstract symbol for feminine domesticity.“But wait!” you say. “Why is that the least bit relevant?” Well, I could explain myself, but if my argumentative intentions are not already clear to you, you’ll probably never understand.

My argument is as follows. Because the “Ctenocephalides felis” is colloquially known as the “domestic flea,” we can conclude that fleas are actually just an animalistic representation of female servitude. Furthermore, pesticides – whose very purpose is to exterminate these “domestic creatures” – are the prime symbol of feminist liberation. Thus, I argue that because Harvard is an institution that claims to support the psycho-sexual liberation of women, it should invest in pesticides to liberate the Adams dining hall from fruit flies.

Because I have managed to outline and defend my argument in the first two paragraphs, I really see no need to continue for much longer. I will conclude, then, by turning to contemporary experts. In his seminal work “Sunflower,” existentialist philosopher Swae Lee discusses his previous studies of the domestic flea with colleague Post Malone. “Needless to say, I keep her in check. She was a bad-bad, nevertheless. Callin’ it quits now, baby, I’m a wreck. Crash at my place, baby, you’re a wreck.”

Here, Swae Lee clearly identifies domesticity as a “bad-bad” and emphasizes the importance of keeping “her” — our internalized tendencies toward oppressive domesticity — in check.

Well said, Swae Lee. Well said.

Mireya Sánchez-Maes ’24 is a joint concentrator in English and Theater, Dance, and Media in Currier House. Her column “Insect Insights” appears on alternate Wednesdays.