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Op-Ed: Sex: A mutually beneficial relationship

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In an opinion column on Friday, Feb. 26, Yanran Lu argued that our “puritanical” sex culture was encouraging women to remain passive victims in the face of male sexual exploitation. A well-written column that explores sex issues certainly does have a place in a college newspaper, but that is not what this, nor any other of Yanran’s articles, have been. Her columns are supposedly designed to “sexually liberate” women. While this is clearly a good intention, the means with which she seeks to support this aim are demeaning and hurtful to our male peers, at best, and damaging to sexual relations at Stanford as a whole.

The relentless theme of Yanran’s articles is one of domination. Are there men who are guilty of committing the crimes that she attributes to them? Of course. Are they the majority? Hardly. The vast majority of men we know are very concerned about being nice, respectful and treating the women in their lives with care and integrity. Yanran characterizes men as nothing more than selfish, sex-crazed monsters who don’t give a damn about women and need to be beaten into submission, literally. The message: screw men over because men have screwed women over.

Let’s remember too that women are not always innocent victims. We both have male friends who have been manipulated and used by women in an equally disgusting fashion. Again, I believe that these women are in the minority, but arguing that men are the only perpetrators of these kinds of evils is misguided and damaging to the males who are in equally disruptive relationships. Furthermore, women have and should exercise some agency; we are disturbed by the degree to which Yanran wants to portray them as victims. We are adults, and we should conduct ourselves as such. Even if her characterization of men did apply to the vast majority, which we strongly disagree with, there is no reason why women should act like five-year-olds and return the favor.

Yanran’s articles never deal with equal exchange based on love, friendship or even basic mutual respect. They are about conquest and revenge. This is not a healthy standard to promote, and while we think it’s her personal business if that is how Yanran chooses to relate to sex, we would appreciate if she didn’t proselytize her values to the entire campus. In the online comments section, some readers have called Yanran brave for her articles. Talking about sex and relationships is hardly revolutionary, and talking about them in a way that encourages the sexes to engage in a battle for supremacy and domination is not only lacking in bravery, but is also damaging to the campus culture. If Yanran truly wanted to be brave, she would write about sex in a way that encourages mutual respect rather than one in which the sexes are constantly at odds with each other.

Being a feminist should not be about hating or demeaning men. It should be about celebrating the strengths of women and building a better, more equal future for our children. Just as we would never want our daughters to be discriminated against, we also don’t want our sons to suffer that same fate. In the name of our children, some of whom will likely be male, we want to stand for a world and a culture that equally respects both men and women, and does not continue a petty game of competition between the sexes. Most Stanford men are compassionate individuals who have been raised to champion equal rights for their female peers.

We would appreciate if Yanran would see fit to move past the brand of feminism that hates men and enter into the 21st century, which we hope will move towards a future that values the contributions of both genders. This kind of vile portrayal of sexual and love dynamics is exactly part of the problem in reinforcing existing stereotypes of competing genders, rather than any kind of love that is based on mutual respect and trust. If not love, we should at least support sexual interactions that are based on a mutually beneficial physical and emotional exchange, rather than an insecure, selfish attempt to one-up each other in some sick competition. Yanran’s articles may be sensational, but they are far from representative of campus culture and norms, much less from presenting healthy attitudes towards sexuality.

Michael Albada ’10

Heather Buckelew ’10

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