Multiple voices respond to ad
March 25, 2007
Lecture. That’s what professors do, right? Lecture. Perhaps lecturing is how many professors (and students) wanted college to be. We, however, value discussion — multiple voices. When we read Professor Delos’s “message” to men published in the Feb. 23 issue, we felt pressed upon and silenced. Considering that lectures are a singular, aggressive voice declaring the view of one, we find it troubling that he makes claims to value our sexual community as a whole. In the spirit of multiple voices, we have collaborated to write an open letter — an unpaid advertisement — to our fellow students. We have a collected sense of anger, but we shall address specific issues that resonate on an individual level.
p. Sarah: While Delos speaks to the “men” of the community, he speaks for the “young ladies” of the community as well. As a woman heavily invested in the intellectual pursuits of our college, I found his advertisement terrifying. Where do I even begin? Pointing to my “higher biological investment in reproduction,” Delos denies the contribution of women to the campus: intellectually, professionally, spiritually — the list goes on.
p. Delos’s paternalistic outlook on sexuality is archaic at best and ignorant at worst. His voice is chorused by a surprising variety of people as recently evidenced by the outbursts against the Sex Workers’ Art Show, which serves as a touchstone to illustrate how key members of the community seek to control sexuality through silence.
p. Instead of regulating sexuality in general, Delos removes women from the equation, giving only men the power to make sexual choices and giving women the “privilege” of having those choices imposed upon them. Sexuality, for women, is not an entirely reproductive act. To think so limits expressions of female sexuality, which run as diversely from non-vaginal sex to abstinence.
p. Nathaniel: Delos spoke to me as a man, so I shall speak to him as one. His ad narrows the discourse on sexuality and removes the opportunity for conversation. As a queer-identified man, I have taken many opportunities to explore a range of sexual expression, yet Delos seeks to restrict that exploration. As much as Sarah points to the continuum of female sexuality, I urge men to look beyond Delos’s views and take hold of their sexuality.
p. Delos speaks of “manliness,” yet he defines this troubling term solely through sexual choices. “Manliness” extends beyond sexual choice. I would hope that men of the campus community would define themselves in more constructive terms than simply through sexual encounters with women.
p. Sexuality, in itself, is not threatening, neither to the moral fabric of society nor to the individual. What is threatening is silence and imposed power. When he removes women’s voices from the sexual conversation, it is strikingly similar to the silence of women in sexually coercive situations. My fellow men: to combat the imposed power of Delos and others like him, start a conversation.
p. Us: By no means do we claim to be experts on everything about sexuality or sexual “virtue.” Delos cites scientific views on sexuality, and, while we do not devalue these studies, we have framed our discussion in humanistic terms. “Humanistic” reverberates with a variety of implications (feminist, queer, progressive) and speaks to a communal desire for genuine equality, communication and understanding. When Delos condescends to “discuss these issues with any campus group,” we hope equality, communication and understanding can be achieved. However, we have our doubts.
p. We are limited to 700 words. Delos had the financial and professional resources to purchase a full page ad. We are students. Delos, and others like him, has the nominal authority of a Ph.D. and age. We are, however, members of the community to which Delos speaks. Therefore, we urge members of the community to recognize the authority they hold and to engage in difficult dialogue about these difficult issues.
p. We opened with a question about lecturing and we end with an answer: Yes. Professors lecture, but community members respond.
__Nathaniel Amos and Sarah Klotz are juniors at the College.__