Friday, March 14, 2008

A letter to esteemed columnist Brent Bozell

I'm a little distressed that my critique of Sex Week at Yale, and of its manner of presenting pornography, has been appropriated by conservative "journalism" with dubious (if any) feminist sympathies. Transparency, I think, will bring some relief. Below is the full text of my recent letter to a gentleman named Brent Bozell, who in a recent article seems to be laboring under some false impressions (perhaps he should have read my piece more carefully before using it in his own). I also forwarded the letter to the websites that have reprinted his column.

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Mr. Bozell,

I feel compelled to correct some apparent factual errors in your column, "Rape Films at Yale." Your writing suggests that feminists from the Yale Women's Center "[e]nter[ed]" Sex Week at Yale's pornography screening, that I "declared" the porn to be objectionable, and that the film was shut down as a result of these two actions. In fact, leaders of the Yale Women's Center did not attend the screening-- nor did they issue any kind of statement (or declaration) about it. My opinion editorial in the Yale Daily News-- from which you've lifted your quotation of me-- is just that: my personal opinion. While it is true, as you say, that many members of the Women's Center were "not pleased" about the screening, we did not interfere with the screening itself. Free speech is a cornerstone of university life. My view is that discourse is far more constructive than blanket censorship, as I hoped to suggest through my critique of the Sex Week organizers' apology, and my expressed hope that we may talk honestly about porn as a powerful cultural product (not a genre to be categorically, or institutionally, banned).

Also, I am pained at the assumption that my op-ed should be taken as representative of the Yale Women's Center. I am listed under the op-ed as a "junior in Branford College" and the "Amy Rossborough Fellowship Coordinator of the Yale Women's Center." However, this identification does not mean that my opinions are those of all juniors or all members of Branford College, let alone of all the members of the Women's Center. When the Women's Center wishes to issue a statement, the entire board signs as such.

One more note, if I may: you seem to imply in your piece that feminism is a more powerful force at Yale than Christianity. If you must deal in false dichotomies, I am not sure that "more powerful" is the best way to characterize campus feminism in comparison to campus Christianity. "Less funded" and "more vibrant" might be better choices.

Sincerely yours,
Presca Ahn