Title IX Fliers Vandalized With Feminist Critiques, Smolak Gives Statement

Photo by Lauren Bailey '16

Photo by Lauren Bailey ’16

For the last week, Kenyon’s Title IX Coordinators have put out a series of much-discussed fliers in Peirce Hall, commenting on sexual misconduct at Kenyon, and providing information on the prevention of misconduct, as well. One recent flier, however, caused a stir with its message on grinding, and its appropriateness. Last night, many of the fliers were written on by a “Sex Positive Feminist” who took fault with the language of the flier, pointing out the negative aspects of the message, as it can shame individuals who choose to partake in provocative dancing, with or without the intent to then have sex. For more, including a comment from Interim Title IX Coordinator Linda Smolak, read after the break.

Photo by Lauren Bailey '16

Photo by Lauren Bailey ’16

When asked about the vandalism, Smolak–who is at a conference and whose response came to us via email–gave us the following statement:

First, I’d welcome anyone to come and talk with me about these table tents. I do take responsibility for them.  We are trying to get out messages related to sexual misconduct in a positive and informal manner.
When I wrote the message that is on this table tent, I very intentionally wrote it as “meet new people.” I did this for two reasons.
First, I did not want to include people who know each other and who want to grind in the message.  When it is consensual behavior, it is different than when someone you don’t know (I.e, have not met) comes up and starts grinding on you.
And this is my second reason. We have heard from a number of students that they have been made uncomfortable at parties by strangers coming up (often behind them) and starting to grind on them.  These students feel that they can’t say anything because this situation (involving strangers) is so common. We are trying to begin a conversation about this issue and raise awareness about it.
The situation I’ve been describing is not the same thing as consensual grinding.  We are not trying to “police” consensual grinding (or other sexual behavior that is consensual).

Smolak also hopes that students come to her with further questions, and encourages students to meet with her to discuss the most effective ways to discuss sex-positive messages on campus, as she “share[s] the interest of getting out positive sexuality and sex positive messages.” When asked about the situation, Crozier Co-Manager Anna Cohen ’16 commented that, “it’s great that the administration is directly trying to raise awareness about Title IX, but this poster in particular is not the most effective.” Cohen also echoed Smolak’s hope of including students’ feedback in the process of creating future posters. Co-Manager Madeline Thompson ’16 agreed with both Cohen and the “Sex Positive Feminist”, adding, “I love that students are taking a stand for themselves with this sort of “grassroots” response,” and also hopes for future student interaction. Crozier was not involved with the fliers, or the vandalism, and does not condone the defacement of public property. To get in touch with Smolak, either email her at smolak@kenyon.edu, or call her at (740) 427-5820.

2 responses

  1. Not only is this not “Vandalism” or “Defacement of Public Property” but I can assure you the notations were done by more than just a single “sex positive feminist”, so it might be best to rephrase your article to note that many individuals wrote on these and are taking action against offensive fliers.
    Not to mention the enthusiastic consent posters previously on display were reminiscent of soviet propaganda and thus were also not effective.

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