This is not an abstract discussion.

This was posted tonight on Facebook by my friend Faren Tang.

“The latest round of hate speech in Jewett– the words “cunt” and “whore splashed in paint on the 7th floor common room– has me convinced that someone is just trying to get a reaction out of those of us who care about the safety and humanity of all. And they will. Every time. Because I will say, every time: “Not on my campus. Not in my home. Not in my community.” I refuse to allow these things to be said and done without comment.

This is not a game. This is not an abstract discussion. Saying the kinds of hateful, violent, oppressive things that these menaces to our community have been saying creates a hateful, violent culture in which hateful, violent acts occurs. People die from sex-based violence all the time. Women right here in Dutchess County are murdered by their intimate partners on a regular basis. People are raped, and beaten, and abused, and killed because they are seen as objects. Every “Cunt” every “Whore,” every “She was asking for it,” every rape joke made, every slur slung contributes to the culture where people believe that these things are true, and in that culture people rape and beat and abuse and kill. People are assaulted on this campus all the time. One in four women and one in seven men who attend this college will be sexually assaulted by the time they graduate. As I’m writing this editorial, I am sitting in my bedroom in between phone calls with a woman who is in the hospital and trying to find a placement in a domestic violence shelter tonight. This is not a game.This is everyone’s problem. Every act of hate speech, every act of oppression against one group contributes to every other kind of oppression. Sexism, rape culture, racism, cissexism, heterosexsim, classism, ableism, imperialism, colonialism, capitalism are all systems of violent domination, and every act that contributes to one of these systems contributes to all of them. I refuse to stand for any of them. 

By now, I imagine many of you are tired of hearing my voice and reading my words. I am, too. This is not what I want to be doing with my time. This is not what I want any of us to have to do with our time. But I also believe it has to be done. By not reacting, by not taking a stand and insisting that this kind of oppressive, violent hate speech not be tolerated, we tacitly endorse it. And if you are tired of hearing what I have to say about this, then please, say something yourself.

I do not speak for all of feminism. I do not speak for all of feminists on this campus. I do not speak for all of feminists who consider themselves a part of Feminist Alliance. But I am speaking out because care about this. I care about all of us. And if we are going to be a community where we can feel safe, this must stop. We must not tolerate it. Not in our home. Not on our campus. Not anywhere. Not ever.”

-Faren Tang, VC ’13
I’m sad to be away from my VC community during this time on our campus.  It was only a year ago that I ran a teach-in to respond to hateful sexist and homophobic graffiti in my dorm.  I’m grateful for and proud of Faren’s and the feminist presence at Vassar right now.  Here in Tucson, I bear witness to the impact of all sorts of oppression, through bills SB 1070 and HB 2281, which are enforcing racial profiling and eliminating ethnic studies, and politicians standing at a podium, saying teachers who teach love are teaching hate, and Operation Streamline, and Tucson law enforcement questioning women who are reporting domestic violence about their own immigration status.  We have to take a stand against systemic oppression, whether it’s at Vassar or in Arizona or a federal bill or a global policy.  Faren is right – every act of oppression contributes to every other kind of oppression.