November 15, 2010

Anonymous Posts (11.8.10-11.14.10)


Every week, we collect anonymous entries sent in using the link on our sidebar and post them all on Monday. We post anything as long as it doesn't contain personal attacks or hate speech. Feel free to submit your thoughts and questions :)

So Jess, the new Program Coordinator at the Center started today. She quickly leaned the only-hug greeting policy. Can't wait to work with her because let me tell you - she is fierce as hell.

Remember when I said that a lot of the plans that came out of the Triangle Retreat involved the word "flash"? This is what I meant. See/make out with you there!

"WOMYN" (?) is holding elections for the next issue on Wednesday (more details here).

Um. So I still need lots of people to help put up flags around campus. HALP PLZ? (details here)

Not much else to share, besides Naked smoothies are absolutely, without a doubt, the most gross things I've ever had. Who drinks this stuff?

Anonymous posts, yo.

#1
The COMPLETELY AWESOME first edition of Womyn contained an anonymous entry on p. 30 that broke my heart-- I'm travelling in the opposite direction, but I know that mirror. And I wish I had a way to get in touch with other trans students on campus because it's got to be easier together. So, because I'm really quite impatient, I'm just going to say right now: if you (or any other trans/ gender-questioning students) ever want to talk, email me at lawrenceevalyn@gmail.com -- I'd love to get to know you!

#2
I've been debating for a long time whether I should send this in, and I'm sending it in anonymously, for fear of backlash from the male community.

This community is sexist towards women. There. I said it.
I hate to say it. Because I love so many of you. But as a woman in this community I feel the sexism, and I feel patronized almost everyday.

I know this isn't just a Duke problem (just look around you, sexism is everywhere). But the reason it kills me that we have sexism in our LGBT community here is because, as gay men, YOU SHOULD GET IT. But you don’t! You don’t get it at all! Don’t get me wrong-there are some of you who I feel do understand what sexism looks like (yes, it exists, even within our own community). But those who “don’t get it” far outnumber those who do.

Even those men who pretend or feel that *they* could never possibly be sexist, well, you are. It seems the pervasive attitude of men here is that, "well, I'm gay, so I'm so progressive/liberal/enlightened that *I* could never be sexist...", ACTUALLY, you're the most sexist and patronizing of them all, because you’ve stopped acknowledging the fact that some of your actions could be sexist.

What can you do? It’s actually really simple, which is good news for you, because that means you can start doing these things right away: Include us. Include women. If you’re leadership of something is all male-that’s a problem. Now go change it. Talk about women’s issues even when we’re not there-because if you don’t start creating a better environment even when we’re not there, what makes you think we trust that you’ll start making a better atmosphere once we do show up? Don’t ignore out opinions or write us off in conversations when we talk. Listen to us.

Why should you care about us? Because we’ve been there as your allies for YEARS. We do so much for this community-so much for you. Don’t you know what it’s like to feel excluded or overlooked as a gay man? I know you know what its like to experience bigotry. You may not have experienced sexism, but take it from us: it sucks. As queer women, we get discriminated against twice or three times more than you: strike one, as a LGBTQ person. Strike two, as a woman. (And for some us, strike three, as a woman of color). And it especially sucks when it comes from “family” or “The Community”.

Stop patronizing us. We are strong. We don’t need that from you. And we don’t want your pity either. We just need to be equal. And you should be grateful that you’re being forced to learn this lesson NOW, because when you go out into the larger world, women won’t stand for this kind of sexism. We’ll just write you off as a lost cause.

Does reading this, as a gay man, make you upset? Do you feel uncomfortable? Are you angry that I’m writing this about the community? Well, you should feel uncomfortable. You should feel angry. Our anger is our internal reaction to a situation that is *intolerable*. This situation IS intolerable. And it is unpleasant and uncomfortable to admit that as a community we have a problem, but this might be a time to start leaning into discomfort. Keep in mind that many women who visit our community may not have a choice on whether to think about these issues- they feel this unpleasant discomfort of sexism everyday.

To the men who “get it”: thank you, thank you.

#3
I absolutely love, love, love, LOVE this Blog!

#4
So is the Red Cross serious about gays not giving blood or can I just do it anyway? I'm HIV negative and otherwise well-suited to donate. I know the ban should be reversed, but people still need blood in the meantime.

As long as I don't trip the nurse's gaydar I'm fine to donate, right?


#6
To whoever posted that "signs of heterosexual privilege" flier outside the Allen building: LOVE. IT. Love it! I hope somebody saw it and learned to be just a tiny bit more empathetic.

#7
There are no words that can truly express how much this blog means to me. Thank you for all that you do.

32 comments:

  1. #2: I agree, but I wish you would have expanded on more examples. I worry you're just going to get pushback. What does inclusivity (or exclusivity) look like on a day-to-day basis?

    #3, #7: Me too. Everyone that contributes consistently comes up huge and adds so much to this campus' climate.

    #4: I mean, I can't officially tell you to donate anyway (but I sort of just did).

    #5: Could you please elaborate on this? ...Please?

    #6: ;)

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  2. #2: Fantastic points. Sexism is everywhere and the worst thing that can be done is to ignore it.

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  3. SP, stop being so hostile towards men in the community, and maybe then you'll realize that a lot of us actually do care, and that we do "talk about women’s issues even when [you're] not there". I encourage you to keep an open mind and stop trying so hard to be oppressed.

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  4. #4. Personally, I'm not going to "lie" and give blood when it's perceived as inferior, just like I'm not going to "lie" and join the military when I know my services aren't wanted.

    I guess it comes down to the principle of it.

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  5. To #2 - I'm really confused by your comment. As a woman who identifies with the "community", I've yet to feel any sort of exclusion by gay men. I'm not quite sure what you mean by: "Don’t ignore [our] opinions or write us off in conversations when we talk. Listen to us." Can you give examples? Although we are underrepresented in the LGBT community, men can't help that, and personally I feel that they do a fantastic job of including us - not once have I ever felt ignored. I understand that there is such an increased "risk" of sexism in the gay community, but really, I think this is going too far. Sorry.

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  6. I totally agree with the #2 post. I feel that A LOT. Also, "stop trying so hard to be oppressed" doesn't really make sense....? I know a lot of people care and try, but like when are we talking about violence against women? I guess I missed that day too.

    I'd also like to know what #6 is about..

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  7. If the SP refers to me, I didn't send that post in.

    I'm really fucking crushed that you singled me out too. I know tons of awesome men who rule and others who are still learning. I'm stoked there are so many open minded folks, and I'm thrilled when y'all can help educate me on whatever issues I'm being insensitive about.

    The writer said they feared the backlash from the male community, and sometimes those fears are real. Of course, sometimes we get frustrated. As I'm sure you do too.

    I'm not trying to be oppressed, and I don't know who would do that or what that would look like. Sure, I like to talk. Because one thing I've realized is that when I tell a story or identify myself, other people open up. That's all I'm looking for.

    I can probably come up with a more coherent response tomorrow morning. But I wonder: why is it that you jumped straight to me? What defines a hostile woman? What is it that makes me hostile?

    It's not a surprise this author wanted to be anonymous, and maybe at the base of it all, this is why I've become disillusioned. Because that's how some people decide to respond.

    That's a whole lot of hate speech that I don't want on me.

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  8. #4: I've done it. I say knock yourself out

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  9. #2 Before posting, have you ever considered that being biologically female, all you really needed to do at this time and age to advance the (all-too-tiring) "You-are-sexist" agenda is to either pen some letter or give a shout out and there will be some organisation that will act in some way to pacify you. Not to mention the countless males who would willingly enslave themselves to your whims under the guise of gentlemanliness...

    All I ask is that you spare a thought for the deluge of unspoken emotions a gay male faces, chief amongst which the hurt of unrequited love and the angst of open (and direct) rejection by our biologically-alike. The support networks and avenues for gay males to vent all that frustration are by no measure as extensive as those available to those of us like yourself. While a half of me is sorry that you felt this way, another half really doesn't care.

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  10. Well, I mean, no.

    This anonymous poster is talking about LGBT women, who actually suffer all of the "unspoken emotions a gay male faces, chief amongst which the hurt of unrequited love and the angst of open (and direct) rejection by our biologically-alike."

    The support networks and avenues for gay males to vent all that frustration pales in comparison to those available to queer women.

    To be a queer woman in our society (which includes our campus) is MUCH less acceptable and presents greater challenges than being a gay, etc. male. You think we have a small pool of out gays to choose from? How many out queer women do you think there are?

    Let alone being just a female on this campus. Was everyone here off campus for those emails? Do you know what the frat culture is like? Do you know what the sorority culture is like? What do you think the rape statistics are for men and women are?

    Most importantly, do you know what it's like to be a queer female on this campus.

    Also, fuck condescending, sexist chivalry. Nobody asked for that.

    All of these gender discussions and summits and such on campus are not for nothing. I'm sorry you're "tired" of complaints over "sexism." But at a certain point do you ever wonder if, "hey, maybe there's some legitimacy to this that I'm just not aware of because of how being a not [queer] female works."

    And actually, as gay men in 2010, we actually have a trillion organizations that include HRC, ACLU, Lambda Legal, SLDN, GetEqual and (more locally) Equality North Carolina that would come to our aid if we "penned a letter." No it's not all rainbows and fairy tales for gay men at this point in history, because duh, it is not all rainbows and fairy tales for gay men at this point in history. But believe you me, we've got it much better off than queer women do at this point.

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  11. Media and entertainment is actually a good place to take the pulse of how comfortable America is with certain demographics. Think of all the LGBT characters and icons you can think of off the top of your head. Like Will and Jack, Kurt on Glee and his new husband or whatever (and I guess the football player while we're there). Neil Patrick Harris. Anderson Cooper. Whatever. Do it on your own, don't use my examples. Count how many women there are. Count how many people of color there are. Count how many of those people of color are women.

    And let's even say that media portrayals were all equal. That queer women get the same storylines and such that gay men do. On Duke's campus, you have to (you have to!) notice that there is a much greater visibility among gay men than women. C'mon!

    To say you "don't care" is probably the worst thing someone can say. Truly! That's just not very cool. I mean, I'm all for honesty. But that's just a shitty thing to say. Because the poster never, ever expressed that she felt anything but compassion for the gay male community. She did not say that she did not care about us. If she did, she wouldn't have posted it in the first place.

    And if you can't see that sexism is still an issue in society, and actually, how it is *directly* correlated to your oppression as a gay male, then look again. If you can't see how the pedestaling of "masculinity" in our society and the devaluing of "feminine" characteristics leads to the oppression of BOTH women and gay men, then look again. We're in this together, because the same hegemonic bullshit is being used against both of us. Women's issues are Our issues. Simple as that.

    But whatever. I'm sure I've done little to convince anybody. But if you take only one thing, please let it be to never say that you "don't care" about someone else's feelings. I think #2 has made it abundantly clear that she's "spared a thought" or thousand about the problems a gay male faces. These exist, but understand that whether you like it or not (and I'm not saying you like it! A lot of us do not like it) you have male privilege. And that automatically puts you a step above. And if you're white...

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  12. No offense, gender issues are awesome and all, but someone here is talking about SUICIDE and that has yet to be addressed. That's a little fucked up - someone here is calling out for help and all we can do is talk about ourselves. Typical.

    #5 - I'm sorry that posting anonymously on the BDU blog is the only way that you know of to ask for help from anyone, because now your situation is also anonymous and I have no specific things to say to you, except to just remember the people around you who love you. The significance of your suicide may be diluted in the media because of the recent trend of gay teen suicides, but it's definitely not diluted to your friends and family who care deeply about you.

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  13. In no other context would it be considered acceptable to assume the identity of an anonymous poster, and I'm outraged that people thought it was okay to do that with #2. How dare you. You wouldn't dream of taking an anonymous post, say as #1, and suddenly begin to guess who in the community identifies as trans. It would be considered an atrocious invasion of privacy.

    Also, I'd like to say that encouraging Summer Puente to keep an open mind is like asking Lady Gaga to try and be just a little radical-she already does this ten times over. This amazing woman in our community single-handedly did the ENTIRE layout of WOMYN magazine. Does WOMYN promote an open mind? If it does, then you can attribute that perspective to her.

    Lastly, I'm a woman and I feel sexism from *some* of the men in this community. I love, love, love so many people here-of course we do! That's why we're here and bothering to attempt to change the culture/mindset-because we don't want to leave the community over this, but we also know first-hand that the situation is "intolerable", and we need to change it.

    There are many amazing male allies in this community, but there are also times I've felt very hurt. Examples that Chris asked for...are too numerous to count. The best example I can give is simply walking into a room here and feeling literally irrelevant, or people hearing about WOMYN magazine and saying, "no one will care", "why bother?", or something to that extent.

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  14. I think it's funny that when people see "SP" they think Summer Puente. Perhaps we shouldn't assume that's what he or she meant?

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  15. #2 I understand your point of view but I think you lost sight of the big picture when you started this diatribe.

    Try being a man, not even a gay man, aroung a group of feminists or lesbians and you will see that what happens is much worse than anything you have described. As a man I've been ignored, belittled, coddled and immediately pegged as someone who could not possibly comprehend the intricacices of the female cognosphere, by many lesbians at Duke. I understand you like to vent out frustration but do that by talking to us instead of commenting anonymously. Shouting out in the darkness will at most get you back an echo.

    So to all the girls out there, please stop being so gender-centric and opinionated all the time and maybe some of the guys will be more willing to sit down and talk. What we all really want is to get along and communicate whilsst respecting each other. KThnx

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  16. "So to all the girls out there, please stop being so gender-centric and opinionated all the time and maybe some of the guys will be more willing to sit down and talk." - is the hypocrisy of this statement lost on you?

    "As a man I've been ignored, belittled, coddled and immediately pegged as someone who could not possibly comprehend the intricacices of the female cognosphere, by many lesbians at Duke." - replace man with 'woman' and female with 'male' and lesbians with 'gay males' and that would be more accurate.

    Thank you so much #2 for speaking out. This is a critical issue within our community that needs to be brought to the forefront of discussion, even if it is uncomfortable (especially if it is uncomfortable).

    And #5 - know that we're here for you and that we're listening. As people have said above, are you able to elaborate?

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  17. He didn't even say 'woman' he said 'girls'. Case in point.

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  18. "He didn't even say 'woman' he said 'girls'. Case in point."

    Really? That's your case? That's the problem facing the LGBT community these days? Oh lord.

    Also, Ollie, don't ever tell someone that their personal feelings are not "accurate." You're being as rude and insensitive as you're claiming others are.

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  19. Yeah, I'm sure you're all "here" and that you're all "listening," except when the issue garners too much media attention - then what happens?

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  20. This isn't the first time members of this community have incorrectly speculated as to the author of a blog post. Shit's lame.

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  21. ollie, refusing there is a problem on the other side of the fence is also quite hypocritical. Since nobody is perfect, there are lesbians or women at Duke who aren't immune to being inconsiderate to gays or men in general. We should all give each other the benefit of the doubt before voraciously attacking each other.

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  22. #5:

    Music and literature have continuously saved my life. Now, I don't mean this as literally as you, and yet life has been relentless in the dramas it divvies out nonetheless, regardless of magnitude. And so all I can offer is music (http://bit.ly/aobnHs) and literature (http://on.wsj.com/1ss6ZZ).

    There's something beautiful about the pain I think, and even if it's impossible to see now, it's something I have faith in, like that Family is Good, and dark chocolate is healthy.
    Which is why suicide is so terribly unjust.

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  23. To Anonymous @ 6:50PM: You're correct, nobody is immune from being inconsiderate and giving people the benefit of the doubt is important. I by no means wanted to suggested that there aren't problems on both sides of the fence, so to speak. I was just frustrated that the above poster seemed to be exhibiting the exact behavior that they accused others of.

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  24. Thanks to a friend who pointed this out to me, I'd like to add a response to #5. I'm sorry for skipping straight to #2:

    I would strongly encourage you or anyone else who you know considering suicide to talk to CAPS (http://www.studentaffairs.duke.edu/caps) and schedule an appointment by calling (919) 660-1000 or visiting their office in person at 214 Page. I've been there myself before and I'd recommend it if you're at all struggling with your identity or depression. Janie Long, the Director of the LGBT Center is also always happy to meet with students, and emailing here at janie.long@duke.edu can set you up a meeting time with her asap.

    Also, the Trevor Project is the National 24-hour LGBTQ-youth-suicide prevention hotline. http://www.thetrevorproject.org/ .

    Lastly, if you want to just talk with a student who understands what it's like to struggle with being LGBTQ here at Duke, I'm meganweinand@gmail.com . Let us know what else you want or need.

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  25. What I meant by "He didn't even say woman, he said girls" is that it's just very interesting that he calls himself a "man", but calls his female peers "girls". His language points to his privileged status even though he is not aware of it. The word "girl" refers to a child--it's diminutive. How would you feel if your boss called you "boy"? How did grown African Americans feel to be called "boy" in the days of slavery? It is by no means the most important issue in the LGBTQ community, but it is an issue in the LGBTQ community and the world at large. How would you like to be referred to as a "boy" as a grown man? It is insulting.

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  26. Stop repeating what other people say to you and learn to formulate your own thoughts. People in this community need to stop being so faux-sensitive about things, and then maybe we'll start moving forward in our Movement.

    OBVIOUSLY nothing was meant by the term "girls." I am constantly referred to as a "girl" by my friends, and I call my guy friends "guys" and "boys" whatever, and it's once again obvious that the writer was only using the term because of his known audience - his FRIENDS. I'm sorry, when I approach my friends on the plaza, I don't greet them with a "hey men!" or "hey women!"; you'd instead hear a "hey boys!" or "hey girls!" I'm sorry, correct me next time if you'd instead to be referred to as a woman.
    I feel isolated as a queer woman on this campus, but not for the reasons the second poster has stated (SP, second post/poster?)- rather, I feel that I'm too rational and not hyperemotional enough to fit in with the rest of the queer female community. Whatever happened to breaking down gender stereotypes?

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  27. Anonymous @ 1:12AM could of easily meant "second poster" or w/e, but I believe it's quite easy to catch onto the norm of replying to the anonymous posts here with the # system (and I'm going to assume anonymous 1:12AM is one who frequents the blog enough to speak with such security that this "hostility" happens a lot). 2 or 3 people did so before that anonymous poster belittled and seemingly replied to #2's post without even reading it (because #2 did write:

    "Don’t get me wrong-there are some of you who I feel do understand what sexism looks like (yes, it exists, even within our own community). But those who “don’t get it” far outnumber those who do"

    therefore not writing off all of the men in the community). And really, does the notation of SP even make sense? With all content of the anonymous posts themselves aside, that could've meant sixth post or seventh post.

    Anyways, before, ONCE AGAIN, trolling became the basis for conversation here on the anonymous posts:

    #2: Thank you for speaking your mind, it's unfortunate you had to do so anonymously because, as humans, we get mad when we hear a truth we don't want to hear, but I'm still glad you posted it. Queer men are often oblivious to this fact, but as you said, definitely not all of them. However, the trolling on these posts in regard to your post, #2, can be nothing but a reflection of the work this community has to do. And not just this community, but Duke as a whole in regards to gender specific issues.

    #5: It's infinitely sad that suicide has to even be considered. I really really hope you continue to reach out to others, and if you wish to continue to do so anonymously then those resources Megan posted earlier might do you some good. If you want to attempt to deal with it on your own (which I don't suggest, but by all means, it's your decision to make) Eric has made a fine suggestion.

    My suggestion is to talk to someone about it. I know it's difficult to do so, because in our minds we associate suicide with weakness and inability to find worth in ourselves and others (so, we think of suicide as a generally bad thing--WHICH IT IS!) and we don't want others to know that we were so weak at any point in our lives, but God, does it help to talk. I will fearlessly admit that I was on that path at one point and it was dark and frightening and I was appalled that I even had the capacity to think such atrocious things and plan something so terrible... Let's face the facts, depression isn't something that's easily avoidable. I did EVERYTHING in my power to find worth in my life--which is why I play so many instruments and am so close to my brother--and even then those thoughts would still resurface. I finally sucked it up, grew a pair (erm... hope I don't get flack for using this idiom :P lol), and decided to talk to a few friends--yes, MORE than one friend--about it. Best decision I ever made.

    I really hope everything works out for the better for you, #5

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  28. I am very capable of forming my own thoughts, and I actually don't think I am overly sensitive about this issue. If the word girls was used in a friendly context, I probably would not have even noticed it. There is a difference between "Hey girls, do you want go get a drink?" and "to all the girls out there, please stop being so gender-centric and opinionated all the time..."

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  29. Hey Anonymous 4:24am,

    "I feel isolated as a queer woman on this campus, but not for the reasons the second poster has stated (SP, second post/poster?)- rather, I feel that I'm too rational and not hyperemotional enough to fit in with the rest of the queer female community. Whatever happened to breaking down gender stereotypes?"

    Gah. I'm sorry if the queer female community seems excluding to you. I'm not sure if I know you in person, but I hope you call us out about things that our community does that seem excluding. If there is ONE thing that I think we try, and try, and try to be with the LGBTQ women's community here...it is inclusive. Please please don't hesitate to tell me in person (or again via the blog) specifically what we can do to improve this. It's our responsibility as a group to create a non-isolating environment.

    I would like to add one point from my own personal experience. I was called a "militant lesbian" in the Chronicle the other day, and while I'm still trying to figure out what I think of that label, perhaps I'm perceived as radical. I was telling Risa this earlier this morning-I wasn't always this radical. My first year I didn't do a single thing with the LGBT Center, the Women's Center, or any other sort of activisty group. It built up over the course of years, as collective anger and frustration with what I saw as sexist and heteronormative Duke culture. I see "radicalism" as a response, in my view, to something "intolerable", when working within the current system doesn't work. This is just in defense of our perceived radicalism.

    Lastly, I hope you come to "Women Loving Women" tomorrow at the LGBT Center at 6pm, if you're comfortable. It'd be awesome to have you. Since you're anonymous, I don't know if you've been before (or if we know each other), but I've always found the enviornment to be really accepting and welcoming. It might change your perspective. :D If you're closeted or just can't make it but want to talk, feel free to email me at mrw22@duke.edu. Hope to see you there tomorrow. =)

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  30. Megan, can you link me to the article that called you a militant lesbian?

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  31. Sure Eric Furst- I'm the woman who wrote into the Chronicle, so I knew he was mentioning me. Also, he references WOMYN in the email recipients...(see @wom*n.org) http://dukechronicle.com/article/unveiling-gossip-bro-latenight .

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