It is common sense that “To Promote Dialogue, Student Organizations Should Not Invite Prejudiced Speakers,” as The Heights’ Editorial Board wrote on May 3. Unfortunately, Boston College, including The Heights, needs to have a better understanding of what is appropriate and what is not. The Heights claims that Kristan Hawkins gave a “civil” “Lies Feminists Tell” presentation in 2019, but, as the leading protest organizer, I maintain that this event was contrary to the paper’s belief—a classic example of why “student organizations should not invite discriminatory speakers that ostracize members of the BC community and do not constructively participate in open debate.”
The Heights dismissed the feelings of alienated students and reduced the “Lies Feminist Tell” debate to “the right to abortion.” Firstly, the title of the event quite literally called those identifying with feminism liars, undermining students seeking to advance gender equality on issues from health care to gender-based violence. It was telling that those attending the event in opposition were largely marginalized on account of their gender. Further problematic was the idolization of the first and second waves of feminism by Hawkins—despite their issues with racism, homophobia, transphobia, and more. The Heights failed to recognize that the event was a friendly reminder that BC is not a safe space for those who use contraception or have had an abortion, let alone survivors, and took place during CARE Week. For example, Hawkins falsely equated bodily choice with the violation of agency by comparing abortion to sexual violence.
To clarify, “Lies Feminists Tell” was “civil,” as The Heights claims, because those opposing the event took the high ground, even after continued attempts to silence us. Hawkins, but not BC Students for Sexual Health, is allowed to set foot on campus, and the right of students to peacefully protest the event was ignored. I was threatened with suspension, and students were not only barred from occupying empty seats by the administration and BCPD but also removed from the hallway outside. Meanwhile, Hawkins made a presentation declaring “I’m the boss of this situation” and “I wanna win” before interrupting, interrogating, and yelling at the only five students allowed to ask questions, making at least one cry.
In summary, if there is an argument to be made that student groups should not incite hate on the Heights, the “Lies Feminists Tell” event absolutely cannot be worshipped as an example of productive dialogue. It’s honestly sad that I have to defend the absolutely valid feelings of those who participated in the protest over two years later. It tells you that nothing has changed with the BC administration when the Office of Student Involvement rejects the Intersectional Feminist Activism Club as a legitimate student organization. But change has come with students being more willing than ever to fight for what is right on campus. To The Heights and my peers, how will you mainstream gender into the fight for justice for all intersectional identities in the BC community?
Hollie Watts, MCAS ’21