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.

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.