Another letter to the Record in response to the complaints about the cover of the student telephone directory.

To The Editor:

What is the big deal? Is the cover of the 1985 Williams Student Directory really going to foster chauvinist and sexist feelings on campus? Is it really going to “perpetuate exploitive attitudes toward women”? Does the telephone directory have that much impact on the minds, thoughts and feelings of Williams’ students and faculty?

I object to the letter in last week’s Record for two reasons. First, I do not find the cover so offensive and insulting, and I do not believe its impact will be so strong as anticipated by the authors of the letter. However, I acknowledge a difference in opinions concerning the picture on the cover, and I enjoy an exchange of views. Secondly, I object to the manner and tone in which the article was written. Come on. Let’s be level-headed in our approach to this topic. The tone of the letter is far from level-headed. Such sentences as “The cover . . . must offend and appall anyone who considers its message” and “The pose of the woman, who wears a sweatshirt branded with a bold “Williams” and has her backed turned toward the camera, implies that her body and nothing else is what matters about her” — such sentences are so tainted with extremism and pre-suppositions on the part of the authors that any well-intentioned message is lost. The article, imbued with its hypersensitive diction, just becomes polimical rant and raving.

A more moderate and level-headed letter could have objected to the cover and carried the same message. I still, personally, would not agree with the charge that the cover is objectionable. A more carefully written letter, though, would not have prompted me to write a rebuttal.

In conclusion, I would advise the writers of last week’s letter to more carefully scrutinize their word choice in order to convey a more credible message.

Jeffrey B. Lilley ’86

1) What do you think Professor Lynda Bundtzen would have said in response 24 years ago? What do you think she would say today? I sent Professor Bundtzen an e-mail on Tuesday but have not heard back. Do you think I will?

2) Jeff Lilley ’86 is the co-author of China Hands: Nine Decades of Adventure, Espionage, and Diplomacy in Asia and wrote this charming article (pdf) for the Alumni Review.

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