24 February 2009

The Ninja's final word on Exposure til Disclosure and the TBNYU occupation

Alright everyone, I think we all can agree this has gotten a little silly.
This is the last post the Ninjas will be making about the protests of the last week, unless a member submits something related to it.

It's been hard to process everything since Thursday. I've had my feminism questioned because I chose to be naked in a political and nonsexual way, because we were smiling and dancing while doing so (to quote the fantastic Emma Goldman, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution."), because we were smoking (REALLY?). I've been called awful things, and a few terribly nice things. I've been offered breast implants and violence on a pretty much equal scale.

In sum, I've been spending way too much time on the internet.

I've said my piece in defense of our actions, and I stand behind them fully. As an activist, I believe strongly in the strength of your convictions. I also believe in admitting your mistakes, so I'll do so.

I regret not getting the full consensus of the occupiers before carrying out this protest. Many TBNYU-ers have been overwhelmingly supportive (apparently a similar protest had been discussed by the group earlier), but I would like to officially apologize for any distraction our action might have caused.
The same apology is extended to any Ninja who feels like they were alienated by this particular decision. We still stand entirely for free expression of individuals, and this was Nadia, Emily, and I using that free expression. We encourage anyone who disagreed to submit their concerns to us to continue the productive conversation.
More foresight and preparation for public reaction probably wouldn't have hurt. I spent the weekend inundated in the reactions of others, and coming out of it I'm ready to say that even given that foresight I would have done exactly the same thing. But it still would have been nice.

That said, I'm so extremely grateful for the conversation that has come out of this. Issues of body-hatred, appropriate forms of protest, forced sexualization, freedom of expression, what it means to be a feminist, and many other have been circulating in this blog and in other forums, and I think it's totally 100% rad to have people thinking about these things in complicated ways, even if they vehemently disagree with our actions.

My reasoning for placing myself in solidarity with TBNYU is pretty straightforward. I am investing my future in NYU. I have no confidence that NYU is investing anything in its students. There NEEDS to be some kind of accountability on the part of the administration toward the students, and right now there is absolutely none. If I'm going to walk into the world with the NYU name permanently attached to me, then I INSIST upon greater student involvement in issues concerning how this university is run.

Both the actions of TBNYU and our action of solidarity have elicited such strong reactions on both sides of the debate. On our part, yes, many people are seeing the images as appropriated by the media and saying "Hey! Boobs!" But even if they're saying "Boobs!" and then "Take Back NYU?", that still lands them at Take Back NYU. Our protest was not senseless nudity, and there's no way to separate the images from the intent. As things begin to quiet down, I'm confident that the levelheaded and intelligent on both sides are going to begin to ask "Why?" Why did these students feel compelled to take such strong, loud, and inflammatory actions? Whether or not you agree with the tactics of TBNYU!, everyone is currently talking about their actions and their demands. There is an active conversation on how to better address issues such as budget disclosure, university policy, and how an administration should interact with their students. This was not a reality at our university before. The conversation has transcended a single, contained group and an administration that would not by any means acknowledge us. Now it's on the tongues of both students and administration. That, my Ninja friends, I consider a success.

There's a lot to be said about the blatant woman hatred and misogyny that was aimed at Nadia and I by the oh so complex anonymity of the internet, but that's an issue not exclusive to us and trying to analyze these pretty common attacks probably isn't productive when I really just want to sharpen my theoretical Ninja sword and go to town.

So I'll end on a positive note with a comment at NYUlocal.com by Lauren Levy that just made me all smile-y
"Your action made this old second-wave feminist feel hopeful and proud — and so does your articulate explanation of the issues. When you evoke so much explicit woman hating, you know you’re onto a taboo that needs exposure. So — I’ll be watching your web page to see when you might be doing it again, maybe 60 year old nipples would add a useful dimension to the statement (and I know the woman haters love to see old nipples)."

And one more from Emma Goldman
" Every effort for progress, for enlightenment, for science, for religious, political, and economic liberty, emanates from the minority, and not from the mass."

Love and Rage

1 comment:

  1. I am homeless. Can I stay with you in your dorm room until June, at which time I will then leave with you and we will spend the summer at your parents' place in Rye? And you can show me your boobs? I am very commited to your cause, but I've been marginalized by society because of my race, sexuality, religion and harm-inducing body odor. Viva la douche!