Women have made great strides when it comes to the fight for equality. For years, they have fought for equal rights when it comes to politics, pay in the workplace and being presented with the same opportunities as men, and while they’ve come a long way, there is still a long way to go to get the same treatment as men.
One female student recently made it clear that she is fighting oppressive beliefs when she stripped down to her underwear during a presentation at Cornell University. The decision to strip down to her undergarments came after her Acting in Public Professor Rebekah Maggor, allegedly told the female student, Letitia Chai, that her shorts were too short. She had been giving a practice run of her presentation and Chai was wearing jean shorts.
The professor also asked Chai what her mother would think of her outfit, and Chai responded with the following…
“My mom is a feminist, gender and sexuality studies professor. She’s fine with my shorts.”
The professor was concerned that the men in the room would be distracted by the shorts and wouldn’t be able to absorb the presentation. So, Chai retaliated and in front of teachers and students, she stripped down during the presentation at the Ivy League school.
As to be expected, the incident caused an uproar in the school and Chai shared her side of the story on social media, offering the following recap of the demonstration on Facebook…
“The first thing that the professor said to me was ‘is that really what you would wear? She, a white woman, continued: ‘Your shorts are too short.’”
“The professor proceeded to tell me, in front of my whole class, that I was inviting the male gaze away from the content of my presentation and onto my body. She said I was making a statement by wearing my outfit. I told her that I sure as hell wouldn’t change my outfit to make her or anyone else feel more comfortable.”
According to 11 out of 14 students who were present for the Maggor’s comments, Chai’s description of the event was inaccurate and that the professor was simply sharing that the outfit may not be the best choice for professionalism when it comes to giving a presentation.
“I do not tell my students what to wear, nor do I define for them what constitutes appropriate dress,” said Maggor. “I ask them to reflect for themselves and make their own decisions.”
Commenters shared their thoughts on the incident…
“Oh dear, she misinterpreted what was said, automatically jumped to offended, and made an idiot of herself…a lot of that going around.”
“I work in a hospital that has a strict dress code. They tell women not to wear yoga pants or show cleavage or bare midriffs. They tell men to be clean shaven, no Bermuda shorts, no jeans. Sure maybe in a perfect world, we can wear whatever we comfortably want to wear. However, that’s not the world we live in. We have social norms and codes. I wouldn’t want a police officer showing up in his sweatpants if I call for help.”
Do you think she overreacted?