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.