Many important issues were raised in the Women’s History Month edition of The Northern Light, nearly all of which were either only vaguely touched on yet overshadowed by inconsequential nonsense or entirely redirected in a way harmful to women everywhere. There are numerous examples of this in nearly every article, but I will confine this letter to what I think are the most important.
I will first address your statement that this was not intended to be the “feminist” or “angry girl” edition of the Northern Light. The false notion that feminists are “angry girls” is probably the most damaging misconception to the feminist movement.
Feminism is simply the idea that women are people and should be treated as such. So while you were clearly intending this statement to tell your readers that this edition wasn’t going to follow the stereotypes attributed to feminists, you were in effect confirming these stereotypes. This was a very thoughtless thing to do in an issue supposedly dedicated to women.
In the Letter From The Editor segment of the paper, you touch on the story of Landen Gambill, who was “charged with violating the student honor code” after filing a complaint against the school after it “nearly ignor(ed) her claims about being raped and abused by her boyfriend, another student.”
This is a very important topic, one that doesn’t get much press. This was an opportunity to discuss the crucial issue that rapists and other sexual assailants are protected by institutions of education, places of employment, the judicial system, and the military to a degree one wouldn’t even expect of a far less developed society. Instead you say, “Because even when women are at their weakest and most vulnerable, our voices about our vaginas are considered ‘intimidating.’” I think this statement is offensive and inappropriate because you imply that this woman was in her “weakest and most vulnerable state” because she had been raped, despite the fact that she was demonstrating her admirable and laudable strength by fighting against those who wronged her.
You then ignore the real issue of the school defending her rapist by saying she was silenced because they found her discussing her vagina to be intimidating. Rape and domestic violence are very serious issues that cannot be reduced to “talking about her vagina.”
I was very happy when I saw Rosie the Riveter on the cover of The Northern Light. However, after reading the articles within this issue, I found its overall content not only dissatisfying and a poor attempt at representing women positively in the media, but this edition also confirmed in the name of empowerment the very same negative stereotypes of women commonly propagated by the media.