Letters to the Editor – Mar. 8
The recent cover pages from the Reflector and Vanessa Gillard’s article “An overview of love’s underview” along with the subsequent response to the article represents an important sociological examination in how we understand ourselves.
The modern metanarratives of science and religion within our modern context have failed to provide a consistent and meaningful morality for us to live our lives, and so many of us have turned to a postmodern relativistic morality. This is not always a bad thing, but it does incur specific dangers which many of those who have responded to Vanessa’s article have picked up on. When I examined those who responded to article I was fascinated by the diversity. Some of you are Latter Day Saints, some another form of Christianity, buy many of you were non-religious (you publicly gave me this information on your Facebook pages). It is because of this that I am confident in suggesting that Gillard has prodded you out of your postmodern slumber into a realization that some values within our plural society still exist.
My first question to you however, is why now? I myself attended Mount Royal for several years and many of the previous sex column articles before Vanessa’s were equally, if not more offensive. I share some of your sentiments on the article, but I would like to warn all of you that you should not trade one paradigm for another metanarrative that is inconsistent, harmful to reason, and imbedded with underlying mixed motivations.
My first concern is that many of you have been caught up in what is psychologically called “group think.” Without being fully aware of the content of the article and context of the images it seems many of you have decided to attack the publication because your friends or acquaintances told you to. As an example many of you attacked the publication for its sexualized image of a “female mouth, swallowing a banana” without realizing that the whole point of the image was to challenge our stereotypes (the girl was a guy). When we give into a mob driven meta-morality this is often what happens, we stop thinking for ourselves.
Another problem with this mob driven centralization of power is you will automatically find inconsistencies within your own socially created absolutist narrative. One respondent as an example suggests that “as a student I do not feel morally comfortable having images and articles such as the one’s described represent myself or the university,” yet he chooses to image himself on facebook wearing a white muscle shirt with ammo around his neck and declares to the world that his goal in life is to be the “greatest jedi in the world and to kill all those fucking trekkies.” As a graduate of Mount Royal I would not be overly comfortable with having this individual represent the morality of the school, yet I would gladly welcome him into the conversation.
And this is my larger point, Gillard has woken you out of your slumber, she has made you more aware of yourselves. The role of the university then is not to silence this voice, but to welcome this voice as a way to discern what is more faithfully the voice of the Mount Royal community. By trying to force a retraction and an apology you will be simply isolating another voice in history, and will head down another path of false truth and inconsistent narratives.
— Jesse Hove. MRU Communications graduate
I am writing to you in regards to “An overview of love’s underview,” Vanessa Gillard’s sex column which appeared in the Feb. 2 issue of The Reflector.
After reading the article and results numerous times, and additionally reading ALL of the letters to the editor The Reflector published both in print and online, I am having some trouble understanding what the controversy is all about.
In one letter, Chantelle Lemieux says she finds the questions “What age did you lose your v-card,” “if you could fool around with a professor who would it be and why” and “where is the best place to have sex in the school and why” offensive in nature. Why? To suggest these questions are offensive is akin to suggesting that conversations like this do not actually take place between classmates, friends and those in relationships, both on and off campus.
There have also been suggestions that the article contributes to the sexual objectification of women. Where? The question regarding having sex with a professor where the top answers were both male?
In another letter, Tara Dumont called having sex in an uncle’s bed rape. Where in the response did it say this person actually had sex with his/her uncle? I doubt (and truly hope) this respondent would not be this flippant with his/her answer had they actually been raped.
One thing can be said of all of the questions, regardless of what was asked or what the responses were: People responded, which means the majority of them are thinking (or have thought) about these before. Granted, some of the responses were likely done as a lark, but these are very real questions and discussions people have and talk about; to think this is not the case is being both unrealistic and somewhat ignorant.
There are very real and very serious sexual issues in our society today-rape, the molestation of children, prostitution and human trafficking, all of which need to addressed with dignity, empathy and a genuinely serious tone. Nowhere in the survey do I see these issues being made light of or being discussed inappropriately, and I think the overwhelmingly negative response to the survey and article is a result of people seeing and reading what they want to see and read. Leave the Feb. 2 cover photo out of the equation, and where is the argument?
— Blaine Meller, MRU student
To Whom It May Concern:
Hello. Comedy here.
Comedy’s my name, and comedy’s my game. I am an art form, a medium, a way of life. I am a filter through which to view the world’s pleasures, terrors, and just plain craziness.
I have survived countless storms, whether it be questions as to what I should be properly used for, to charges that I have been used “unnecessarily” or “harmfully” or “insensitively.” Yet through it all, I have come out on the other side intact, soldiering on, still committed to make people’s lives and the world around them a little better.
Recently, as I’m sure you are well aware, my presence and existence have come under fire once again. Apparently, according to some of your peers, friends, fellow students and teachers, I have no place in a student newspaper. Apparently, I am not allowed to get involved in discussions of sex. Apparently, I am simply not welcome to this party.
Frankly, I didn’t realize that I hadn’t been invited. The wonderful thing about The Reflector is that the door to its office and the pages of its issues have always been open to me, and the staff and writers have made me feel very welcome, as have its readers. I feel as though I have always been used to the best of my potential, particularly in this highly contested circumstance, as I find my outfit of lighthearted satire suits me best and makes me the most appealing to those who enjoy me.
Now, before I go on, let me just clarify what I mean by satire, for those who may not entirely understand. Satire, according to the good folks at Dictionary.com and The Oxford English Dictionary, is “the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding human vice or folly.” In layman’s terms, this means that I am able to shoot down terrible things by making them humorously ridiculous, allowing them to be exposed for being seriously ridiculous in turn.
Consider, for example, the front cover of the sex survey results issue of The Reflector, which so many people took offense to because they say it is demeaning to women. Had they paid attention to the punchline on the inside of the cover, they would have seen the subject whose lips were wrapped suggestively around a banana was actually male, thus subverting the popular image of oral sex and causing it to appear, yes, ridiculous. Get the joke? No? Well, I thought it was funny, and so did many other people I witnessed chuckling at my work.
And that’s the point. As I have travelled throughout history, I have learned that I must often change my appearance and style to suit my audience. Not everyone finds the same thing funny, and conversely, not everyone finds the same thing offensive. So I must adjust. I feel I have done a good enough job at providing my services to everyone regardless of lifestyle and state of mind, but I can only go so far. I, nor those who employ me in their art, should be blamed for failing someone in making them laugh or for offending their sensibilities when I have not been used in the way they desire.
This is especially true when I have made, and continue to make, myself available to them in other forums, other publications, other sources of media. I am here for all of you. It is up to you, and you alone, to seek me out as you see fit, and allow those who enjoy me in ways different than your own to appreciate me equally.
In closing, I would like to thank you for allowing me to speak to you from the heart, and urge those who have taken issue with my latest work not to lose their faith in me. I am still happy and willing to provide you with my employ. You simply have to give me a fair chance to present myself to everyone, regardless of taste and style. That is not only what great art is all about, but also about what a free and unbiased press — so important within a democracy, and especially within a university or college — is founded upon.