January 21, 2012

An Open Letter to Queer Duke Women


Firstly, I want to let everybody know about the Bisexual/Questioning visibility campaign that will be happening on campus this semester. We'll be essentially creating posters to raise visibility about Bisexual and Questioning issues. If you want in on this, email me at kab67@duke.edu. Or come to our meeting today at 1:00 PM in Alpine Atrium. Now on to the meat of the post...

Dear Women in the LGBT Community,

Hello. It’s difficult to phrase what I have to say to you, but I’m going to try. It’s the least I can do. I’ve seen and heard many things about how LGBT men at Duke don’t give our women the same respect as they do our men, and what I want to tell you is that I support you. When I came here at the beginning of last semester as an uncomfortable first-year just coming to terms with what his sexuality might mean in the exciting and new environment of college, it was you that made me most comfortable. When made my first probing visit to the Center to see if it was you who spoke to me first. (Specifically, I’m talking about Jen) You struck up a casual conversation, and something about the relaxed tone of your voice and the body language which betrays an introverted nature made me know that I wasn’t alone. That I’m not the only queer person who prefers a book to a social gathering. I have to admit, I looked forward to coming to the Center whenever I could, hoping that you’d be sitting there. You made this place feel that much more like home.

You didn’t just make me comfortable, you made me uncomfortable in the best possible way. (Megan, shout out to you on this section) You made me think about how so much of what I do and think on a day to day basis is inherently sexist. You made me confront my prejudices that I didn’t even realize were sexist. You opened my eyes to the fact that many of my beliefs and actions were inherently sexist and I did not even realize it. You’ve forced me to think, and I can’t thank you enough.

You’ve done so much for me to make me comfortable and to help me progress as a person, so how can I stand by while I hear you express your feelings of alienation in the Community? My best friend is a queer woman, the person who helped me awaken my feminist side is a queer woman, and the person who made me feel most welcome in the Center is a queer woman. As such, it baffles me that some would consider you less valuable as members of our Community. Even more confusing is what I’ve heard from some people, that they don’t see women’s issues as particularly important on the grand scheme of things. Well, I want to tell you that I DO think that women’s issues are very important. I also want to say that I want your input not just on women’s issues, but on every issue. You deserve the same respect as every other member of this community.

Something that’s given me pause of late, however, is the question of how I can help. I know that I find something very wrong with the average treatment of women in today’s society, but I don’t know what to do to solve it. It isn’t your responsibility to have these answers, but I wonder, how can I help? I want to support you in any way that I can, but I’m curious, what should I do? This might just be part of me processing this new feminist impulse, but I’m kind of at a loss for where to go from here. Any advice as to what you would like to see from me, and other men who think like I do, please share.

As for us men, it’s time we stopped being passive about this. I know there’s a lot of us out there that are better than our more sexist peers. So maybe it’s time we stepped up and told people to shut up when they’re being sexist, and correct the incorrect assumptions. Maybe we can try to make it cripplingly uncool to objectify women as purely objects for sexual desire and conquest. That might just be a pipe dream, but I think it’s worth a try.

3 comments:

  1. YES!

    I absolutely love this and I'm glad that someone outside of the Queer Female community is speaking out about this issue.

    Truly refreshing and truly lovely.

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  2. Yes!!! This post says it all. Thanks Kyle, you demonstrate the redeeming side of our sex.

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  3. Kyle, I love this post so, so much, and I'm very glad that you made your way into the Center your first semester (and that I got to meet you!). I was and am impressed with your courage and your desire to be part of LGBT life on campus from day one. We all have so much to learn from each other, and we can all help each other to build a stronger community at Duke. You represent a wonderful group that is taking the first steps toward that future community, and for that I thank you.

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