I am writing in response to Sam Solnick and Kate Wills’ article, (“No Sex Please – We’re British and Inconspicuous,” Daily Nexus, Jan. 19) It is so great to hear that you are both enjoying your time in Isla Vista. I hope that you do report back to “The Institute of Undersexed, Underprivileged and Rained-Upon Brits at Cambridge University,” but before you do, I wanted to clear up a few things. I was very concerned by some of the ways that you labeled and talked about the types of sexual behavior that you see in our college town, specifically in your example of the “Machiavellian,” who “will stop at nothing to become the Prince of the Puntang Clan, Rohypnol included.”
I am writing because a guy who will stop at nothing, a guy who will use drugs and alcohol as weapons, and/or a guy who will not take no for an answer is not just another horny American guy out looking for sex. He is a rapist, and this is a very important distinction to make. Sex happens between two or more consenting people. Sex can be fun and exciting – it can be used to pass time, to feel good, to express love or to make babies. In absolute contrast, sexual assault is not sex. Sexual assault is not consensual, and it is not fun.
So, Sam and Kate, when you report your findings to your friends in Cambridge, please remind them that when they are engaging in sex, in America or abroad, it is of absolute importance to get consent – a verbal yes or positive, active participation – from all parties involved.
That being said, I am also writing to address a problem that is along the same lines – a problem that I have encountered in the Nexus time and time again. Last week, the editorial staff of the Daily Nexus issued an apology for the contents of a Weather column, which included racist and offensive statements. That’s wonderful. Racism has no place in our school or in our newspaper. But why stop at racism?
A basic search on Daily Nexus Online returns 24 results for the word “slut,” 18 results for the word “whore” and 6 results for the word “skank” – absolute examples of the sexism that is pervasive in many aspects of our community, our school and our newspaper. Some of the results do include women and men complaining about the use of the words – but the majority come from articles with statements like “Junior David Downs takes his soapbox to all his classes and is little more than a word whore,” (“The Low Down: Double Standard in Federal Drug Policy Condemns Thousands,” Daily Nexus, Apr. 12, 2001) and “Well, Halloween passed once again. All the good girls dressed up like sluts, and the slutty girls dressed up like, well, sluts” (“No More Treats, Just More Tricks,” Daily Nexus, Nov. 4, 2004). By including these statements and by never issuing an apology of any kind, the editorial staff of the Nexus shows readers that they do tolerate sexism.
Racism and sexism – as well as heterosexism and many other “isms” – go hand in hand as forces of oppression that exist to marginalize, exploit and silence certain groups and individuals in our community. I think that it is important for the Nexus and other organizations to recognize and discuss the connections of all these oppressions. I also think that it is important for the Nexus to realize that, as Audre Lorde says, there is no hierarchy to oppression and all must be both recognized and protested because, as someone recently told me, we can all work to chip away various aspects of oppression, but we must all work together and acknowledge all aspects of oppression – none of us are free until all of us are free.
Katie Mahon is a third-year communication and sociology major.