LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Re: Re: “Lifting the FeMale Gaze”

Last week, Laur Kim ‘23 wrote a Letter to the Editor claiming that my article, “Lifting the FeMale Gaze,” “perpetuates rape culture.” Kim constructs her entire argument around hypotheticals and assumptions, making her claims hard to defend. Kim states explicitly that “the author’s [intentions] to lift other women up” are “clear” but then accuses them of doing precisely the opposite. 

In this Letter to the Editor, Kim perverts my words to support her narrow agenda. Kim claims that my friend “confided” in me, but nowhere in my article did I give the impression that my friend was doing so. In the article, I used the term “friend” loosely, perhaps too loosely. I want to clarify here that this “friend” was a classmate with whom I had taken a number of classes and was “friendly,” but I would not consider us “friends.” I noted in my article that “she didn’t even seem wildly creeped out by her own comment,” which suggests that my classmate was not at all concerned about the situation she was relaying to me. Kim claims that “Pappas’ friend was likely describing an uncomfortable experience,” but she makes the incredible assumption that my friend was uncomfortable with the experience to begin with. As I stated explicitly in my article, my classmate’s tone was one of “nonchalance” and “indifference,” which is to suggest that she was not at all uncomfortable with her professor’s supposed ogling. I wrote that she “flattered herself,” implying that she was flaunting this claim and appeared to take pride in receiving high marks for this sort of perverted attention.

SWASING | Women’s Rights to Paid Parental Leave 

Over the course of Women’s History Month — and especially on International Women’s Day — our social media feeds are flooded with posts dedicated to women. Universities share stories of well-known female graduates or professors, and politicians give shout-outs to the “strong women” in their lives. While it can be exciting to see women given credit for their contributions to society, these posts as a whole are generally misguided and severely lacking in actual effects on women’s rights and equality. This year for Women’s History Month, instead of more posts “honoring the women in our lives,” I want real policy changes that create tangible and lasting impacts for gender equality — namely, mandated paid parental leave for men and women. 

There are currently no federal laws in the United States that mandate paid parental leave for men or women. Policy decisions on paid parental leave have been left to the states, only 11 of which (plus Washington, D.C.) have enacted laws to guarantee paid family leave. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2022, only 24-27 percent of workers had access to paid family leave.

PAPPAS | Lifting the FeMale Gaze

I was never so aware of my womanhood (should we call it femininity?) until I came to Cornell. My guy friends remind me that I am a woman when they offer to walk me back home in the dark. This reminder is sort of a friendly one (although the idea that I need protection is not entirely comforting to me — that this protection is available to me, should I want it, is nice). My self-proclaimed feminist friends remind me of my womanhood, too, but they do so largely in a self-victimizing way with which I’m much less comfortable. 

ONONYE | Is Womansplaining Activism?

In honesty, while I will be the first to say that Womansplaining is (definitely!) my favorite part of being a Cornell student, it doesn’t actually take me a lot to write my columns. I write most of them in an hour or two the Friday before they’re due to my editor. I prioritize my own experiences and thoughts (key my apt title: Womanplaining) and most of those experiences happened the week that I write: e.g. this week I went to a talk and now I’m writing about my thoughts from that talk, the week of the 2020 election I wrote about the election, when I ran for Student Assembly I wrote about Student Assembly. Obviously my opinion writing is different from writing my thesis or a class paper, but a lot of times they come from the same space. And the crux of the question is whether or not a writing about feminism is feminist activism.