Facebook controversy overshadows protest
This is a sidebar to the story “CAMPUS RESPONDS TO GRIESEMER READMISSION” to add additional context. Read the original story here.
This story contains graphic language and references to sexual assault.
At around 10 p.m. on Thursday, May 18, a Facebook debate broke out on the event page for Friday’s sexual assault protest hosted by GirlUp.
The discussion was in response to a post made by GirlUp’s president, Autumn Dukich, from her personal account. Dukich posted a photo of two signs, one of which read, “Watch out, Connor. My pussy grabs back.”
One student, unaffiliated with GirlUp, responded to the photo, expressing that the phrase on the sign made them feel uncomfortable. The student felt this post was an example of TERF, an acronym standing for Trans Exclusive Radical Feminism, a type of feminism that excludes transgender and nonbinary people.
Use of genitalia as a rallying cry for feminist organizing, from Womxn’s march pussy hats to “Pussy Grabs Back” slogans, has drawn criticism for being exclusionary towards trans people, especially as trans people are disproportionately impacted by sexual assault. Many see such behavior as being emblematic of feminism focusing on white, cis-gendered women.
Another student, also unaffiliated with GirlUp, posted several comments. They argued Dukich’s sign was warranted, and anyone saying the sign was trans-exclusive was “full of sh*t.”
Fierce debate broke out within the comments between that student and numerous other commenters critical of the sign, the student’s aggressive comments, disregarded for concerns and personal attacks, and continued in to the evening after the protest.
Among others, Associated Students President-Elect Simrun Chhabra responded from her personal account in agreement that Dukich’s sign was inappropriate, saying it “delegitimizes trans identities.” Soon after, the same student responded to Chhabra, accusing her of unfairly speaking for trans people.
Dukich, who had originally thanked the student for their comments, ended up apologizing on behalf of GirlUp for the student’s comments which may have made people feel “unwelcome, harassed, or uncomfortable.” Dukich was asked by several commenters to block the student from GirlUp’s page, however, Dukich did not respond.
Many people ended up posting statuses encouraging other students not to attend the Friday protest, resulting in lowered attendance.
One student, who identified themself as a sexual assault survivor, said they decided not to attend the protest due to concerns it would not be inclusive based on the facebook discussion.
On Monday, May 22, a number of signs went up around campus in response to the student’s comments. Many of the signs used direct quotes from the comment section, pointing out phrases they deemed to be trans-exclusive. Other signs read, “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminism is NOT Intersectional.”
This story was updated May 23 to add more context, clarify Facebook comments and link to the main article. A content warning was also added.