Two seniors have launched a feminist blog to address the issue of sexism at Yale and offer criticism of a number of recent articles published in widely-read campus periodicals.
The blog, named “broad recognition,” was created in late October by Della Sentilles ’06 and Sabrina Manville ’06 with funding from the Women’s Center’s Amy Rossborough Fellowship. While representatives of the Women’s Center said the new Web site could serve as an effective venue for campus-wide dialogue about sexism at Yale, authors of articles Sentilles and Manville have critiqued said they think the blog has misrepresented their arguments.
The first post addressed the Women’s Center forum inspired by Louise Story’s controversial September article in The New York Times titled “Many Women at Elite Colleges Set Career Path to Motherhood.” Since then, the blog has also targeted a recent Maureen Dowd article in the Times and several articles in Yale publications — including the Yale Daily News, the Yale Herald and Rumpus — as examples of sexism in the media.
Women’s Center Constituency Coordinator Margaret Doherty ’07, who has also posted on the blog, said she is excited about the opportunity for students with opposing perspectives to express their opinions in one forum.
“There have definitely been a diversity of opinions expressed so far,” she said. “People aren’t going to be saying the same thing.”
Sentilles said the goal of the blog is to provide an open forum for all Yale students to engage in conversation about feminist issues. She said she hopes the commentary will shed light on incidents of sexism at Yale that go largely unnoticed by the general population.
“I think that people see things and read things and process that there is something kind of wrong with them,” Sentilles said. “Because we don’t have blatant sexism [at Yale] the insidious examples of sexism are missed.”
But authors and editors of the publications criticized on the blog said Sentilles and Manville exaggerate points made in their articles.
Rumpus Publisher Molly Clark-Barol ’08 said the pair’s criticism of an October Rumpus article titled “Lick Softly and Carry a Big Stick,” which was about oral sex, was unwarranted, as the story was meant to be humorous rather than discriminatory.
“This tongue-in-cheek article was about finding and exploiting the humor in the popular conception of a harmlessly, inarguably awkward tension,” Clark-Barol said in an e-mail.
Sarah O’Brien ’09, one of the article’s two authors, said the bloggers misrepresented the piece by attributing particularly controversial quotes from individuals cited in the article to the Rumpus itself. She said the commentary also ignored the fact that the article was equally critical of Yale men as Yale women.
“The tone of the article is equally one of self-ridicule and ridicule of others, equally from the male and female point-of-view,” she said in an e-mail. “No one survived our article unscathed. I hope that people can recognize that and relax a little.”
But Manville said that while the blog may be perceived as too hard on campus publications, she and Sentilles feel an obligation to address what they see as major problems in University media.
“The press at Yale has been extremely irresponsible in what it has been publishing.” she said.
Matthew Gillum GRD ’11, a columnist for the News, said he was disappointed with the blog’s portrayal of his argument about the connection between evolution and rape as providing an excuse for rape on the basis of genetics.
“I’m not a rape-monger,” he said. “I think these allegations are actually slander.”
Sentilles and Manville also criticized an article in the Yale Herald by Dana Schuster ’07 called “In the Animal Kingdom of Yale, Sexual Predators Rule,” accusing it of glorifying date rape at Yale.
Manville said she and Sentilles are trying to be provocative to promote more discussion about feminist issues. She said the nature of blog-writing sometimes leads to heated commentary, and she is glad that multiple bloggers have both disagreed with and rebuked the authors for their statements.
“It’s such an informal medium that we are going to say things that aren’t necessarily thought-through,” she said.
Nick Minichino ’07, who has posted on the blog, said despite current criticisms, he thinks “broad recognition” is developing a greater degree of balance over time, as a more diverse pool of bloggers post comments.
Minichino is a music critic for the News.
“Its hard to say anything about it quite yet because it’s so new,” he said. “I feel like as time is going on and more people are finding out about it, it’s starting to be more of a balanced discourse.”
Sentilles said she and Manville hope to draw more readers as they continue to focus on Yale-based issues.