Posted by Catherine Kruse (’11)
Dear Mr. Gilleran,
I am not sure if you actually are aware of Love Your Body Week’s overall purpose, since you seem to think that it was about ending sexual assault on campus. Actually, our overall purpose was to alert women at W&L that the problems that they experience as women are not personal problems, but rather shared issues that many other women around them experience. Eating disorders and sexual assault are possibly the most isolating problems that a woman can experience, and since neither are problems that are discussed at large by the W&L campus, KEWL did Love Your Body week to show these women and those who support them that they are not alone. So in response to your query that the PostSecret wall will aid in stopping sexual assault—no, that is not the point. The point of the wall is to show women (and their male counterparts) that they are not alone in the problems that they face every day and feel they cannot talk about. The truth of the matter is that there are many women on campus who have the same problem and have isolated themselves to the point that they, too, feel that no one can understand what they are going through. Thus, the purpose of the wall really isn’t about sexual assault at all. It is about raising women’s self esteem and attempting to try to start a bridge of communication between women.
One of the issues that I personally have found most intriguing about Love Your Body Week is the way that we always have to bring it back to men. I am not saying this because I hate men, because I think that all men are rapists, or even because I think that you are totally, totally wrong about your perception that we are victimizing you. I am saying this because it is true. Love Your Body Week is NOT about men. It is not directed towards men; it is not for men specifically, and we did not design it with you in mind. We actually took the idea for the week and geared it towards women. I am NOT going to apologize for this. That being said, our posters were not meant to “shame” men into doing something about sexual assault. They were not made specifically for men; they were made so that our student body (women and men) becomes aware of sexual assault on this campus. Yes, that implies that we would like something to be done about it, but I do not understand why that implies that we would only like men to do something about it. Furthermore, the posters were certainly not meant to say that every male who looked at them was not concerned about his women classmates. However, it is clear that over half of the national average of men who looked at them are not concerned about their male classmates.
I personally feel that there are many people complaining about Love Your Body Week for the wrong reasons and because they are scared of the real implications of the campaign. If we stop talking about what is wrong with the campaign and start looking at what is right with it, we have to confront problems that women face on a large scale every day. If we stop seeing it as an attack, but rather as an opportunity to educate ourselves about problems that should be fix, we might just have to fix them and admit to ourselves that women have been marginalized and hurt. We have been marginalized, we have marginalized ourselves because of bad self esteem or other problems, and all of us have allowed it to happen. Posters in the wrong place, claims about victimizing men (even though none of the posters say that we are against men or incriminate them in any way), assumptions that ‘we are trying to make fat girls feel good about themselves and not exercise’ are all said so that we do not have to talk about the real problems that this campus experiences. To again channel Galina, I am sorry if a random assortment of men on campus felt uncomfortable about Love Your Body Week. However, I am much, much more sorry that over twice the national average of women on this campus are RAPED every year because they are under the false pretense that all men at this school are honorable. If we continue to defend the small problems with Love Your Body Week and ignore the real problems (eating disorders and sexual assault), our campus cannot possibly hope to change. We need people to acknowledge that there are problems unabashedly. These people need to be men, women, students, faculty, administration, and staff. These problems should be mourned and worked towards as a collective community, rather than seen as a possibly blemished that needs to be covered up and defended.
Catherine Kruse '11