WOMEN’S CENTER BOARD: Promoting discussion on sexual culture

What can we as students do to build a more positive culture of sexual respect?

Over the past few years, the Women’s Center has worked to spark and sustain campus conversation about sexual culture. Workshops hosted by the Women’s Center last year asked a diverse range of students – feminists, fraternity and sorority members, athletes and other members of the student body – to work together to identify problems and propose solutions about sexual violence and sexual culture at Yale. Title IX discussion dinners organized by the Women’s Center and held at the Provost’s house last spring gave students the opportunity to share their insights and ideas directly with administrators.

This conversation continues. While we do not agree with everything that has been said in discussions unfolding in forums from the Yale Daily News to the Yale Political Union, we are pleased that people are talking. We encourage all students to think critically and to engage with each other in genuine dialogue. As we move forward in our discussion of sexual climate, it is essential that we recognize the variety of voices necessary to create broad and lasting change.

As a student body, we need to continue to work toward building an inclusive community rooted in a fundamental respect for the opportunity of individuals to make choices, including reproductive decisions.

No one decision is right for everyone; what matters is that we respect one another’s choices. Whether straight, LGBTQ (or not self-identified), single, in a long-term relationship or somewhere in between, every individual is to be respected and validated. The same goes for sexual behaviors and practices involving consensual partners. Individuals’ choices pertaining to participation in campus culture – including expression of gender or sexual identities and choices about where to party, what to wear and whether to drink – are never an excuse for disrespect, abuse or sexual violence.

We hope that all members of the Yale community will come to recognize the fact that rape, sexual harassment and other forms of violence do happen on our campus. In multiple university-commissioned reports released over the past several years, Yale faculty, staff and students have acknowledged these problems. This reality is deeply disturbing, but confronting it enables us to reshape our campus for the better.

This year, the Board is devoting much of its energy to encouraging conversation among different swaths of the Yale student body through community dinners and collaborative events with student groups. We hope you will join us in moving this conversation beyond the Opinion page of the YDN and into the cultural houses, the LGBTQ Co-Op, fraternity houses, a cappella rehearsals, dining halls, common rooms and more. But we also hope you join us at the Women’s Center.

Currently, we are in the process of revamping our physical space to make the Women’s Center a more welcoming environment for talking, studying, relaxing and meeting. Finally, we are encouraged by the university’s creation of the Consent and Communication Educators (CCEs) program, which will help bring these conversations to the residential colleges as well as to communities of international students, athletes and LGBTQ students. We look forward to working with the CCEs, and we hope that the administration continues to focus its energy on making the campus a safe and positive place for all students.

We write not just as members of and on behalf of the Women’s Center Board, but also as your fellow students. We hope that you can join us in continuing this discussion, supporting survivors of sexual violence, working to promote concrete change and helping to create a fully inclusive community.

Jazzmin Estebane, Kate Huh, Esi Hutchful, Alexsis Johnson, Anjali Jotwani, Rebecca Suldan and Lily Wang are the coordinators of the Yale Women’s Center board.

Comments

  • The Anti-Yale

    *sexual climate*

    What is this?

    *sexual respect*

    What is this?

    Sexuality–and sexual behavior — used to be private. These phrases imply that it is public.

    • CrazyBus

      Paul I used to think we’d never have any common ground, but in the past month, I really have been agreeing with you more often than not. +1

  • AntZ

    Young men are dropping out of college, life, and society in alarming numbers. This kind of thinly veiled male dehumanization campaign does not help.

    • Standards

      Dear God, won’t someone please think about those poor, affluent men!

      How can you possibly frame this as male dehumanization?

      Please.

  • eli1

    When will the Women’s Center just go away??? Could not be more sick of hearing from them.

  • ElizabethGrayHenry

    > As a student body, we need to continue to work toward building an inclusive community rooted in a fundamental respect for the opportunity of individuals to make choices, including reproductive decisions.

    Can’t believe the Women’s Center would call for “promoting discussion” while at the same time shutting out pro-life view points. This is just more of the same. I really wish they’d engage in dialogue on the abortion issue, but alas they assert that a community must be “rooted in fundamental respect for” abortion rights. I thought the Women’s Center was supposed to represent all Yale women–including pro-life ones like me who don’t have a “fundamental respect for” abortion???

  • RexMottram08

    > No one decision is right for everyone;
    > what matters is that we respect one
    > another’s choices.

    Such a pathetic baseline. We once talked of sexual morality, of chastity.

    A person sodomizing another with a rubber phallus, or defecating on them, or racking up a bed count of 20 strangers is NOT worthy of respect or admiration.

    • lolzipan

      sexual morality, in my eyes, does not equal chastity. If you’ve only slept with one person but you are a total jerk to them, that’s worse than treating 10 former partners with respect.

      I love the examples you give for crazy sex acts. And you don’t have to like any of them, you just should shame anyone, you know? That’s their personal choice. And as far as I know, the Women’s Center doesn’t have posters hanging up say ‘Try pegging!’ or anything.

  • The Anti-Yale

    If you want to do something REALLY controversial, hold a Fe/Male Virgins Week at Yale.

    • lolzipan

      Isn’t that the computer science major?

      I kid, I kid.

  • theantiantiyale

    If you want to do something REALLY controversial, make extremist remarks on lots of YDN articles.

  • River_Tam

    > What can we as students do to build a more positive culture of sexual respect?

    You can start by not supporting and glorifying an industry that degrades and destroys the lives of women.

    Susannah Breslin destroys the myth of a victimless porn industry: http://theyshootstars.com/

  • The Anti-Yale

    *If you want to do something REALLY controversial,
    make extremist remarks on lots of YDN articles.*

    I hadn’t noticed any such controversy.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Controversial? In fact, I had come to believe I was universally ignored or reviled, with one exception in three years.