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March 27, 2007



And by sending e-mails like this to all freshmen (which as Meghan noted, Harvard's Dean of Freshmen sent out earlier this month, no joke): "Hooking Up: Hot Hints For Making Your Harvard (or Future) Sex Life Great Thursday, March 1, 7:00 PM, Ticknor Lounge... Join us for a scintillating and sexy talk with Amber Madison..."


-- Bloodhound Gang, "Bad Touch"


As a recent Harvard alum, I find it hi-LArious that the "lascivious" habits of Harvard students and the backlash aginst them are so highly publicized. I don't know what's happened in the last four years, but when I was an undergraduate, students were having sex for sure, but Harvard kids still had the reputation for "wanting it, but rarely getting it (or simply not knowing how to)."

As for the event, I find it mildly creepy that the freshman dean's office is sponsoring an event on sexual pleasure (the one time I was hauled in front of the freshman dean for my poor math grade makes me cringe at such thoughts!), but I am not outraged or offended. While I would not have attended one of these myself, I don't see it as the be-all and end-all of decent society. Also, it may be the best thing for those who ARE for promoting abstinance on campus--i.e., "Look at this ridiculous event being sponsored," thus giving people with, say, my general mindset reason to listen to them.


MAP, you have a point.

FYI, I contacted the organizers of True Love Revolution to get clarification, and the reason they sent chocolate hearts to freshmen girls was very practical. They wanted to send valentines to the whole freshman class, but they were only able to get money for half of the freshmen from their financial sponsor. So they had to decide: who would probably enjoy getting a Valentine in the mail more, guys or gals? They decided that the gals would generally probably appreciate them more, so it wasn't an ideological thing at all.

At any rate, I think "mildly creepy" is a perfect way of describing Harvard's endorsement of the lecture, actually. This kind of thing is definitely not surprising or shocking anymore (alas).


Why couldn't the True Love Revolution have sent the valentines to the first half of the alphabet? In fact, as a Harvard student, I know that it had to have been a lot more time-consuming (and that is one thing -- time -- that we at Harvard do not have) to research which mailboxes belonged to women. It would have been logistically much easier to just stick the valentines in any mailbox, regardless of the owner's gender, until the organization ran out. Although I do not practice abstinence personally, I think that it is a perfectly legitimate lifestyle, and I think that the True Love Revolution's mission is admirable. In fact, as someone who studies sexuality academically, I am heartened to see more discussion about sexual choices, especially about those that are less popular and that receive more criticism. I'm all about creating safe spaces for people to talk about their lives and find communities to share them with. However, I am absolutely opposed to a movement that purports to be about inclusion but actually targets specific people based on certain identity characteristics. If the True Love Revolution believes that abstinence is a good and appropriate choice for both men and women, and if they seek a membership of multiple genders, then they made a grave mistake by sending advertisement valentines exclusively to women. In doing so, they lost an enormous amount of credibility and of my and the campus's respect -- in fact, my Catholic friend who is planning on remaining abstinent until marriage was as outraged as I was about the organization's decision.


Vanessa says: "I am absolutely opposed to a movement that purports to be about inclusion but actually targets specific people based on certain identity characteristics."

Really? Are you opposed to the student organizations for Black students? for lesbians and transgenders? the Arab Students group? the Bulgarian club? Asian American dancers? the lesbian Republican chorale group? (OK, I made the last one up.)

There are literally hundreds of student groups at Harvard that "target specific people based on certain identity characteristics." Maybe these groups don't count for you, since they make no attempt to be inclusive. They are explicitly exclusive. (A student organization that was explicitly limited to white males would, of course, be completely unacceptable, wouldn't it? But identity politics are great for everybody else.)

Sounds to me like you have found your reason to criticize and discount the abstinence group. Does every action that the abstinence group does have to meet your criteria of "inclusivity"? What if they want to target men in their next campaign? Not good enough for you?


Mary, I believe that you are arguing a point tangent to what Vanessa actually said. The identity- based groups you mention are not necessarily about inclusion, and those who are make it a point to try and reach everybody (I remember, in particular, the Christian Impact handing out cookies to everybody walking out of the dining hall indiscriminantly during Holy Week, with the message that Jesus loves us and wants us to have a cookie. I was like, sweet, cookies. Thanks guys!).
Vanessa has a point--the excuse the abstinence group used seemed a bit flimsy. And, seriously, if the group is to be about abstinance and traditional morals, why do it half-baked? The traditional message groups like this tend to send is that a young woman's virginity is precious and should be tended to accordingly. It seems to me that this group needs to go all out with its intentions if it wishes to be taken seriously. Espousing a doctrine of abstinence for men and women and then singling out simply the women may have been unintentional, but was a poor move, credibility-wise.

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