The YDN published an editorial this morning titled “The Right Kind of Feminism” which criticizes the Women’s Center and has sparked a huge controversy on the YDN website, across Facebook, and all over campus. The editorial, which at least one YDN editor has publicly disagreed with, opens by saying that “Often, the boisterous will stop at nothing to get a rise out of others — especially when they know just the right buttons to push.” The YDN was talking about DKE, and how they did provocative things simply for the sake of making noise– later, they apply the same argument against the Women’s Center, describing the center’s immediate response to the DKE incident as “histrionics.” But it seems like the YDN isn’t following its own advice. This editorial says inflammatory things that probably did not need to be said, nearly a week after the incident and the initial firestorm of “he said, she said” controversy has given way to dialogue.
The editorial makes some very sweeping generalizations, including that “Feminists at Yale should remember that, on a campus as progressive as ours, most of their battles are already won: All of us agree on gender equality” and “Their history of radicalism has alienated Yale’s women; few think of the Center as a representative forum in which to tackle gender relations.”
Many people are up in arms about the piece, and the YDN website is overflowing with comments. Melanie Boyd, the faculty adviser to the Women’s center, wrote, “How disappointing. The YDN editors should know better than most how hard the Women’s Center has worked over the past few days to shape a productive conversation about this incident. And the results of their efforts have been most impressive: both at the Forum on Friday and beyond, they have initiated active problem-solving among students, faculty, and administrators.”
Other comments included: “Wow. Seeing this on the opinion page this morning was like being punched in the gut. I’m not a member of the Women’s Center, but I am a Yale woman who appreciates what they do very much. To see their actions and attitudes belittled in a publication I read every day was incredibly alienating.”
Some agreed with the editorial, like this commenter: “Well said. The Women’s Center initially reacted in a way that detracts from the opportunity to meaningfully discuss the public displays of crude, insensitive jokes about rape and women’s rights – but then provided such a forum to redeem the conversation.”
We can all agree that Yalies love to get agitated for a cause, sometimes more than they might need to… we can all remember “Yalies Against Yalies Against Meatless Mondays.” But in this case, the issues are more serious than tofu, and the response across campus is a sign of the serious tone with which the community is addressing this incident. Clearly the YDN knew this controversial outcry would happen if they published the piece; the real question is why they wanted it to.