Ruth de Jesus was the assistant director of the Cross Cultural Center. Letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the editorial coverage of Mustang News.
The recent article you published about Cal Poly’s OWN (Original Women’s Narratives) may well have fit in the opinion section. Please let me explain.
The rationale to bring a student-centered, culturally diverse, more updated and inclusive expression of women’s experiences than that offered by the traditionally celebrated Vagina Monologues is legitimate. While I appreciate the earnestness of your reporting staff in breaking a story, I am left wanting more by its unbalanced approach.
As a survivor of various forms of trauma, I must say I cannot be reduced or fully defined by any one of them, though they inform my experience as a woman. I can, in fact, speak about my womanhood (even as it occupies the privilege of my cisgendered identity) without having to talk about the trauma that has threatened my well-being and sought to diminish the fullness of my womanhood. To be sure, the breadth and depth of women’s experiences served as the inspiration for OWN.
As a survivor of various forms of trauma and a professional in higher education, I respect what the Gender Equity Center staff and the OWN students are doing in order to be sensitive about and responsible for the submissions they receive.
OWN’s advisory group did consider the implications of including stories with themes of sexual violence. They considered the realities and pain. They considered the social constructs that perpetuate such violence. They considered the triggering impact of such stories on the audience. They considered their responsibility to their community. They considered the policies of the institution. They considered the spirit of what gave birth to OWN.
They considered many things and they consulted with professionals, advocates and students. I know this because I was part of many conversations and knew of many more conversations that have taken place about OWN’s debut.
To do anything for the first time requires courage. To do it well requires thoughtfulness. I hope that the Cal Poly community will welcome OWN.
The article headlined OWN as “avoiding sexual violence discussion,” when in reality it seeks to broaden the representation of women’s narratives in public spaces. The audience can expect to hear about sexual violence. And culture. And body image. And race. And class. And sexuality. And gender identity. That is exciting. And at Cal Poly, that is breaking news!
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