The Female Body

By: McKenna Ritter

I set out to write an article discussing reactions to this painting by Gracie Mowery: context, emotions, appropriateness at HB, body image, and sexualization of women. However, when I went out into the hallways to ask around, with a recording device in hand, I was asked to keep it anonymous and once to turn it off.

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Here lies the problem. The only way to be engaged in conversations that deserve a voice (race, religion, gender, etc.) is to own your opinion and be open and nonjudgmental toward others. This is an issue to be addressed from both sides. Those who were uncertain and didn’t want to be quoted doubted valid opinions that belong in talk of that issue. I had discussions with every interviewee. Even those I disagreed with held me in long, in-depth discussions about issues far beyond a painting. Anonymity restricts the ability for the HB community to read it and turn to you for further discussion. However, on the other side, many are not open to reception of ideas they disagree with. In cases of race, religion, and gender especially opinions are often considered “unimportant” or people are “unable to understand” and therefore, can’t hold an opinion. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. Many dismiss the ideas of others that conflict their own. This stubbornness stunts possibilities for change. Listening to all points of view and examining conflict of opinion is the only true method to changing something in the world.

HB is an incredibly open environment, with many eager for difficult conversations. Every dialogue I had was incredibly engaging and fulfilling. Talks often were the best when they were with people with completely opposite opinions. Removing yourself from the conversation is the same as enlarging the problem. Bystanders are just as guilty as bullies.

As I encourage you to discuss “difficult” or “touchy” issues with your classmates and teachers, I would like suggest a couple strategies. First, be open in your questions and comments. Often when people begin these tricky discussions, they tiptoe around the central issue. Dive in and talk about the nitty-gritty. Second, be respectful. Everyone comes into this world in different situations and has different experiences. Don’t use disclaimers, but ask others to correct you if you aren’t politically correct in your questioning. Often a quick sorry is plenty and then you know how to approach future questions and conversations. Three, if you have a specific issue in mind for discussion, it never hurts to read about it or ask an expert. Understanding a topic as fully as possible always gives support to your opinions and allows for a thorough discussion.