Quote did not help change stereotype of belly dancers

To the Editor:

After reading William Alden’s article on the A Night at the Kasbah party in Monday’s News (“Students rock Dport’s Kasbah”), I have to say I was disappointed to see a quote about freshman partygoer Imran Bhalo’s “wanting to grind with a hot belly dancer.” Not only is this a generally inappropriate statement, but it clearly does not reflect the image of the Middle East or belly dancing specifically that I, the party organizers and belly dancers in general are trying to promote. As I mentioned in an e-mail answering questions Alden asked me about belly dance, one of the goals of the Yale Belly Dance Society is to dispel negative images of the dance while presenting a fun cultural experience, something that echoes the desire of the Kasbah event committee, which is to present a positive image of the Middle East.

Based on reactions from students throughout the undergraduate and graduate community, this quote is a gross misrepresentation of students’ reactions to the event, and something that places Yalies in an extremely poor light, especially when the response to the event was overwhelmingly positive.

Kasbah was unique in that it joined a diverse group of students together to create a campuswide event that positively celebrated and shared often misunderstood cultures. Such quotes as those attributed to Bhalo only help to perpetuate the extremely negative image of belly dancers and women in general as something akin to strippers or sexual objects. We know that we fight an uphill battle against ingrained misogynistic and uniformed opinions that are reflected in the ignorance and disrespect of those who cannot appreciate the subtlety or tradition of an art form. Despite this, we will continue our efforts to give belly dance and the Middle East the respect and understanding that it wholly deserves.

Kristen Windmuller ’08

President, Yale Belly Dance Society

Christine Boone ’09

Lisa Tian ’09

Janice White ’09

Grace Lu ’09

Officers, Yale Belly Dance Society

Feb. 19

Sports columnist should learn before criticizing

To the Editor:

(Re: “Support your local sportswriter,” sports column, 2/15)

As a member of the Yale women’s squash team, I was rather disappointed to see Dan Adler’s comment regarding my teammate Miranda Ranieri. Adler said he didn’t know very much about squash, and since he admitted this, I find it surprising that he would make such a bold statement as to compare her to Rasheed Wallace. Clearly, since he isn’t very familiar with the game, he was unaware that in squash we actually do give conduct warnings, conduct points are awarded, and in the most extreme of cases conduct games are awarded. I would like to inform you that Miranda has never once received one of these warnings because she is a very conscientious competitor and an excellent example of a good sportswoman. I regret to the fullest that Adler did not approach a member of our team during the match in order to better understand the situation. Appealing to the referee, as well as asking for repeats of calls and score, is a very common practice during the match. Miranda’s actions were not by any means anything to write home about, or the News, rather.

In future I hope he will be more willing to ask about what he does not know rather than make baseless generalizations.

Tara Wadhwa ’09

Feb. 15

The writer is a member of the women’s varsity squash team.