Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween: Women Undress to Impress

I’ll keep this short and sweet: what is it about Halloween that provokes women to wear next to nothing? I say this as a veteran of semi-nudity on past Halloweens. Freshman year, I was Britney Spears from her breakout video, “Hit Me Baby One More Time”. Sophomore year, I upped the nakedness by dressing as Samantha from Sex and the City. (Both times I ended up drunk and freezing.)

Last Friday, Sabrina and I joked about keeping a tally on the number of naked women we might see over the weekend, but we didn’t really have a defense for our own actions nor an explanation for anyone else’s. There seems to be a desire to be provocative and flashy, but only when it is "appropriate". So tell us, what’s up with the nudity? Why does it seem to happen only when we dress in costume? Who determines when nudity is acceptable? Men? Women? Both? Why is the nakedness called slutty? Who, if anyone, are we trying to please? And, if so, why?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Many Men at Elite Colleges Refuse Careers as Caregivers and Domestic Laborers

Last Wednesday (October 19, 2005), the Women’s Faculty Forum held a panel entitled “What’s the purpose of a Yale Education?” in response to Louis Story’s New York Times article, “Many Women at Elite Colleges Set Career Path To Motherhood”. While the panel consisted of both men and women, who offered thoughtful and candid responses to the article, the panel’s diversity could not compensate for the overwhelming number of women in the audience.

Yet the unequal gender composition of the room, while disturbing, was only part of the problem. People were ready to talk about their personal experiences, but very few were willing to ask why. Why were the students quoted in Ms. Story’s article so complacent with the status quo? Why were only women asked rather than men? Why were businesses not required to defend their policies concerning parental leave and how those policies hamper certain individuals’ career paths?

What came across instead was women’s defensiveness with regard to their personal decisions. The room was fraught with tension; women who were stay-at-home mothers felt they had to justify their lack of a “legitimate” career while women who had high-powered jobs felt they had to justify their “selfish” choice to leave the house.

We left the room somewhat frustrated that so few people had had the chance to speak and that those who did speak felt compelled to defend their choices rather than demanding change.

Today’s Ivy-League woman, which is the only woman Ms. Story’s article actually attempts to speak for, is in a lose-lose situation: choosing a career over her children appears selfish while choosing her children over a career appears wasteful of her Ivy League education. Women should not have to compromise their desires to be practicing doctors and “good” mothers. And they should not have to be judged for making those decisions by a society that has failed to accept communal responsibility for parenting the next generation. As Dean Salovey argued in his opening remarks: the bottom line is that women need to have choices, real choices that fit with their individual desires rather than fitting with social expectations and institutions.


It is a sad truth that many students at Yale refuse to identify as feminist, either because they don’t know what it means or don’t see it as applicable to daily life. Despite their ability and willingness to recognize gender injustice, most students are reluctant to label such injustice a product of sexism and therefore do not consider their outrage to be a kind of feminism.

Our goal is to build an educational dialogue about the definition of feminism, its role in society, and the debates within feminism in order to cohere the movement and build its strength. This blog will provide feminist commentary on life at Yale: news, events on campus, scholarship and, most importantly, daily experiences.

Currently, an integrated dialogue is absent. The September rape accusation on campus, for example, finally prompted discussion about sexual assault at Yale, yet the discussion lacked a visible and unified feminist response. We want to create a space where a football player, a Women’s Center board member, and a rape survivor can each communicate on such issues without feeling threatened or silenced. Additionally, the daily oppression we all experience never makes it to the front page of the Yale Daily News. In the blog, we intend to cover those stories which are personal and are in turn marginalized for political reasons. We want to become an alternative news source.

We invite anyone and everyone to post their reactions and to ask those difficult questions we rarely publicly ask. Be bold. Be brave enough to post your name. Be respectful: this is a safe space for debate.

We will post several times per week, and occasionally host guest bloggers to provide new voices. Questions or suggestions should be directed to

It's time we all got it.