Onyeador: The wrong kind of response

I am disappointed and disheartened by the News’ View yesterday about the Women’s Center’s efforts to address the offensive actions of DKE pledges last Wednesday night. Calling the response of the Women’s Center to the ridiculous chants on Wednesday “histrionics,” an unnecessary, gendered term, is sexist and inaccurate, much like the rest of the article. It is irresponsible to present such a misleading opinion piece from the board of the Yale Daily News, our main source of information on campus. The News arguably provides a compass for students on controversial issues. In deeming the work of the Women’s Center an overreaction, they are attempting to silence a crucial voice on campus.

I am a Yale woman who, while not formally affiliated with the Women’s Center, finds their feminist activism extremely valuable. I appreciate their fight for the rights and respect of women to the benefit of all people on Yale’s campus. I feel more secure knowing that there is an organization on campus working to improve my community by calling for the reform of sexual culture and an end to sexual violence.

The News unfairly indicts the Center in a condescending and patronizing tone. It’s clear to me that the Women’s Center is leading a responsible and productive discussion in response to the negative aspects of our sexual culture. The News’ allegations that the Women’s Center overreacted draws on stereotypes about women as emotional and out of control. Representing the dialogue between the Women’s Center as a “daylong, private spat” and claiming that after acts of misogyny, the Women’s Center “spent their time painting murals of their vaginas,” is blatant sexism. The News cited a party with DKE and a talk at Toad’s as steps that the Women’s Center has made toward the mainstream. But they have done much more than that to be inclusive and effective, including housing increasingly diverse resident groups and hosting open forums, which are opportunities for all students to play a role in the Center’s activities.

On Wednesday, I was appalled when I heard that, once again, offensive public speech was taking place on campus. I felt that the Center’s response that night was not only justified but helpful. It is not right to make light of sexual violence in any way. Chants of “no means yes; yes means anal” are not just a play on the message about consent we hear from administrators. They signal to me a serious lack of respect or concern for the listeners. Making excuses for such behavior and ignoring the implications of those words denies the existence of more serious acts of sexual harassment and violence that occur on our campus. We must combat dangerous speech and fight to ensure that all women on campus are free, safe and respected.

Ivy Onyeador is a senior in Saybrook College.

Comments

  • SY10

    Great piece. What the YDN wrote was offensive, and it’s important to make it clear that many (most, I hope) Yalies realize that fact before the rest of the world decides that we’re just all a bunch of sexists.

  • The Anti-Yale

    The uproar, including on yesterday’s posting board with a record (I believe) 86 responses, is the IMPORTANT thing. Whether the News was on or off-target, whether the WC was over or under-reacting, is not the point. The point is that the campus is clamouring for BOUNDARIES, not only for civil speech, but for “hooking-up”.

    Only after the uproar of free speech, (SPACE FOR WHICH HAS BEEN PROVIDED BY THE YDN, I MIGHT ADD), can the dust settle and moderate voices prevail, as they have begun to today.

    There used to be three stages before hooking up and they took weeks if not months to achieve: kissing, petting, and heavy petting. It was UNDERSTOOD that the process took months. Anything faster was a warning sign that something was wrong with whoever was rushing it.

    Now, like everything else in our society, the process has been telescoped into a single injection.

    As one of my Yale professors once said (paraphrase) “If you do not think sex is a very powerful
    experience like playing with fire, you are dangerously wrong.”

    Our society goes from the match to the bonfire, with nothing in between, and then wonders why people (males) behave like raw libidos in public.

    Time to slow down.

  • djgibboni

    Remarkable how you folks just don’t get it. Free speech, however unpleasant, is free speech — no “boundaries,” no restrictions.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Free speech is free speech. Civil speech is civil speech. Free sex is free sex. Civil sex is civil sex.

  • FailBoat

    > On Wednesday, I was appalled when I heard that, once again, offensive public speech was taking place on campus.

    OMG OFFENSIVE PUBLIC SPEECH STOP THE PRESSES.

    *Yawn*. There are far more offensive things going on at Yale (and in the world) than a bunch of drunk fratboys making light of rape.

  • 1Y1

    Thank you, Ivy, for getting discourse back on track.

  • spiderjerk2

    Thank you for this enlightened editorial. We need more people to draw attention to the grave injustices occurring against women on this campus. These pig-headed frat pledges have the wrong attitude, making light of sexual felonies and the women who sustain them at this campus on a daily basis. None of my friends or I have been sexually assaulted, but I have heard the stories and they are not pretty. We should do all we can to restrict the speech of those who support these crimes and nobly shout them down wherever they appear.

  • pablum

    Nowhere does Ms. Onyeador suggest that free speech should be curtailed. Responding — through mockery, disdain, and so forth — to instances of *stupid* or dangerous speech denies nobody their right to speech; rather, it elevates the practice by making those who enjoy their rights responsible for how they choose to use them. The fact that speech is free means that it can also be freely questioned and challenged.

    Yale is not a micronation with a constitution and a bill of rights; it is a private organization with a specific mission and message. In this light, it tends to exercise remarkable restraint when it comes to allowing some of the more foolish embarrassments to its reputation — from all sides of the ideological spectrum.

  • FailBoat

    > Yale is not a micronation with a constitution and a bill of rights; it is a private organization with a specific mission and message. In this light, it tends to exercise remarkable restraint when it comes to allowing some of the more foolish embarrassments to its reputation — from all sides of the ideological spectrum.

    I think the YWC was singing a different tune when Aliza Schvartz was doing her senior project.

    Maybe if the DKE brothers had called their initiation “performance art”, the YWC would have stood up for it.

  • The Anti-Yale

    *Maybe if the DKE brothers had called their initiation “performance art”, the YWC would have stood up for it.*

    FB:
    That’s an ***interesting*** point.
    PK

  • d11

    thanks ivy. well done.

  • GW11

    Preach Ivy.

  • lauragottesdiener2010

    Thanks Ivy. I’m glad to see women on campus speaking out against Op-Ed. Well written and balanced article. I hope you keep on working to create positive change for women on campus.

  • The Anti-Yale

    *Maybe if the DKE brothers had called their initiation “performance art”, the YWC would have stood up for it.*

    So ***”intention”*** is the determining factor? Was Ms. Schvartz’s intention didactic? Provocative? Defiant? No one knows.

    Would it have made a difference if her performance art involved 20 undergraduate women presenting their project in public with what they *alleged* were female reproductive body fluids? Was it Ms. Schvartz’s project or the imagery it conjured up of trivialized reproductive fluids which was menacing last year?

    What if the DKE “brothers had performed the same acts as they performed last week inside a private building (the equivalent of Skull and Bones’s crypt) and swore participants to secrecy? And if a witness had revealed the secret, would that clandestiene ritual then be menacing?

    Was it the *groupness* and the *maleness* and the *drunkenness* and the *publicness* that was menacing or was it the words and the imagery of violation themselves which were menacing? Or both?

    How does anyone know what the DKE brothers’ ***intentions*** were?

    Since it is impossible to determine the INTENTIONS of either Ms. Schvartz or the DKE brothers how can the alleged ***private*** ***use*** of reproductive fluids by one woman in performance art be analagous to the certifiable, ***public,*** drunken ***behavior*** of a group of males last week chanting words about “reproductive fluids”?

    If it cannot be analogous, how is the WC’s support of Ms. Schvartz’s “project” but condemnation of the DKE “parade” an act of hypocrisy on the part of the Women’s Center?

  • kathryn

    Right on Ivy — I am very happy to see you wrote this. I feel sane again.

    Kathryn

  • The Anti-Yale

    The *WEREN’T* drunk?
    Necrophilia? Unsafe sex?
    OMG.
    Maybe they are just stupid.

  • Jezebelian

    Thank you Ivy.

  • WoobieTuesday

    Fantastic article.