Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The “social justice” year in review, Bowdoin College style

(Ed. Note:  We’ve been collecting source material for this post for nearly a year now, and concluded it’s time to publish.  Frank Lee, material turned out to be more plentiful than we originally estimated, so the raw form of the post became quite long.  We’ve spent several hours editing it, and after doing so, have concluded the best thing to do is publish it in the form you see below.  It is perhaps the longest post we’ve published, but we encourage you to do your best to make it through the series of cited articles and columns.  We promise that in return you’ll have a new-found appreciation of the social weaponry being developed at Camp Bowdoin, Headquarters of the Maine Regiment of the Social Justice Warfare Command.  Including weapons of mass confusion.  We apologize for our lack of dedication in refining the post further, but not much, actually.  In a wierd way, it may be that the haphazard and confusing structure of the post is entirely appropriate to and indicative of the general subject.) 


It’s widely accepted that Bowdoin College is the anointed thought leader here in the best little small town in America.  Among other things, they’ve compelled the creation of a Human Rights Task Force, which as we’ve argued before, is a deep hole from which there is no electropolitically viable escape. 

Various town councilors and other community “leaders” meet from time to time looking to validate this body, and to convince those who compelled it that yes, the town heard you, and even though it doesn’t quite know what to do about it, sympathetic officials will keep trying, if only to stimulate complimentary press coverage every few months.  Their work on “who we are” continues, with no estimate available on its completion.

We think you also know that Side considers itself to have a fiduciary obligation to keep readers abreast (sorry for the sexist term) of thought breakthroughs on the Bowdoin campus.  We do that primarily by picking up every edition of the Bowdoin Orient we find in local establishments, and scanning it cover to cover for the latest in cultural breakthroughs, and other overthrows of long held common sensical views and positions.

So today we come to you with an assortment of such ‘advances’ from the campus newspaper during the recent college year.  Among the more compelling and endearing such reports are the items we cite below, in which bloody tampons are celebrated as “art,” and human feces are used as political “statements.”  Kids will be kids, won’t they?

No wonder Brunswick is so much better off for having this elite, highly selective, small liberal arts college anchor our town, and impose our cultural norms.   Not to mention having their way with our municipal government.


Students could choose to use their own photographs or the photographs of others for their installations. According to Professor Koster, the goal of the project was for the message and themes of the photographs to take precedence over authorship. He encouraged students to think about the interaction between the space, the audience and the installation.

This assignment resulted in nine different installments around campus. Victoria Pitaktong ’17 attempted to reduce the stigma around women’s periods by hanging images of her friends’ bloody pads in the stalls of the men’s bathroom in David Saul Smith Union. 

“I think there’s a lot of taboo around the period—that it’s nasty, people just don’t want to talk about it,” she said. “I find it difficult to hear when men say that women are just whining about their periods when they’re going through pain. You can’t even look at these things directly, how can you say women are weak?”




Couldn’t someone tell those ‘who menstrate and want to use the male facilities’ to carry their own damn tampons with them?  Don’t they realize that such facilities are simply social constructs, and don’t really represent any ‘identity truth?’  Apparently, you can’t post-modernize or socially reconstruct your way out of your body menstruating….which should be a slap up side the head, shouldn’t it?

Not too many years from now, these social justinistas will be sporting looks like this, purchased at great cost from places like Barneys in NYC.


We can’t help but wonder whether these sociological advances, ‘intersecting’ with the creation of the Brunswick HRTF, will soon result in Town Hall bathrooms, and all other publicly accessible restrooms, being required to do the same thing.  And a local “resistance” movement taking a hint from the Bowdoin crowd on how to respond.

Now that we think of it, the HRTF could make a major step forward by declaring use of the term “john” for a restroom a hate crime, and insisting that it be replaced with “chris,” or “pat,” or, well, how about a contest to unite the community on this vital issue?

“Excuse me officer, is there a public chris nearby?”

How far can we be from installing urinals in ladies rooms?  And condom dispensing machines.  Let’s face it: “Human Rights” in contemporary thinking is a moving target; use of bathrooms; equipping them with the amenities of the opposite sex; etc.  It’s all good, right?  The problem is, once society caves to every current demand, where will they seek accommodation next?

Well, here you go…

Campus bathrooms stocked with free feminine hygiene products

By Nell Fitzgerald

Orient Staff

March 4, 2017

The gender-neutral bathroom on the second floor of David Saul Smith Union has been stocked with free pads and tampons as part of a pilot project created by several female students who received funding for the products from Bowdoin Student Government (BSG)’s Good Ideas Fund. After receiving positive student feedback, the College plans to add feminine hygiene product dispensers in more bathrooms across campus.

Last semester, Annie Glenn ’17 and Sophie Binenfeld ’17 brought their idea of free feminine hygiene products available in campus bathrooms to Director of Housing Operations Lisa Rendall. Rendall connected them with other students who had expressed similar concerns through the Women’s Resource Center.

“This issue was raised three times by different people in the same week,” Glenn said. “[It] shows how important it is on this campus.”

The students decided to call their project “Free Flow.” They sought funding from BSG’s Good Idea Fund in order to facilitate a pilot project. The project was approved—they received $500, which allowed them to purchase 20 baskets of pads and tampons to place around campus.

To determine the logistics of placing the products in bathrooms, the students met with Facilities Management.

“Facilities was really helpful,” Binenfeld said. “But we met in a room of literally all men, and it’s something that they know literally nothing about. They were really forthcoming about that. They said, ‘we know nothing about tampons or pads.’ They understood that they didn’t know what they were doing, but they asked us for help.”

After the conversation, Facilities decided that housekeeping would stock the products in its closets and refill baskets and dispensaries while making rounds.

As a test run, a basket of tampons and pads was placed in the bathroom on the second floor of Smith Union. Binenfeld said that she has already heard good responses from students.

“We’ve gotten really positive feedback. It’s really exciting to hear girls say, ‘Oh my gosh! I really need a tampon right now! This is awesome!’ It’s been really cool,” she said.

Project Free Flow plans on putting baskets in most bathrooms around campus over the next several weeks, including male and gender inclusive facilities in order to ensure that products are available to trans men. Binenfeld said this part of the initiative poses some logistical challenges, since male bathrooms do not have counter space, and were not built to house dispensers.

Given the success of the pilot project, the College will be providing feminine hygiene products in bathrooms across campus in the future. The College bought four tampon dispensaries that can be attached directly to bathroom walls and stock significantly more products than the baskets. The dispensaries, which will dispense products for free, will be placed in central bathrooms on campus, including bathrooms in Moulton Union, Thorne Hall, Smith Union and the basement of Hawthorne-Longfellow Library.

Which ended up spawning this Editorial Board item:

Leave tampons alone

By Editorial Board

March 31, 2017

As part of the Free Flow project to make tampons and pads accessible to the Bowdoin community, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) is sponsoring free dispensers in several women’s, men’s and gender-neutral restrooms.

Since the dispensers and trash receptacles were installed over break, tampons from the containers in the men’s bathroom have been found in the trash over 10 times. On Wednesday morning a housekeeper found that someone had defecated in the metal receptacle intended for used tampons. Obviously, this is unacceptable.

The pads and tampons were placed in men’s bathrooms for people who menstruate and use the men’s bathroom, such as trans men and some gender nonconforming people. For some students, this may not be immediately apparent. But the type of behavior exhibited this past week is both disrespectful to the housekeeping staff and a direct disregard for the rights of trans* students on campus. It is an act of bias and it deserves a prompt administrative response.

Whether or not a person menstruates does not determine their gender identity or which bathroom they use. While the trans* community on campus is small, it exists, and trans* people have the right to go to the bathroom in a space that accommodates their needs.

While we don’t currently know who was responsible for these actions, it’s important to address the malice they illustrate. That the products have been thrown out over 10 times this week clearly shows that this was not an accident. These actions send a message that trans* people are not wanted or welcome in men’s restrooms, which is a message we as a community cannot tolerate.

It is our responsibility to ensure that trans* students feel comfortable on campus, including in the bathroom. If you see someone throwing away these products, confront them. Putting tampons in the trash is unproductive and disrespectful. If you find issue with the Free Flow initiative, voice your concerns in a constructive, mature manner, perhaps through BSG or the Orient. If you have questions or would like to learn more, reach out.

In a world where it is illegal in some places to use the bathroom for the gender that you identify with or even express your gender identity, it is incredibly important that we show support for trans* rights. Placing dispensers in men’s bathrooms is an important step towards recognizing this community. Many people simply don’t understand what it means to not be cisgender. Trans* students face difficulties that are incomprehensible to people who haven’t or won’t experience them themselves. Questioning your gender identity and navigating a cis- and heteronormative society is often a relentless and onerous stress on a trans* person’s life.

Yet, due to the trans* community’s size at Bowdoin, trans* rights are not often given that attention. In their column from earlier this year, Ari Mehrberg ’20 called attention to a general apathy on campus to these issues. This hurts the trans* community and we cannot maintain this attitude. It is integral that we listen to the voices of trans* students and be supportive where we can. This starts with respecting pads and tampons in the men’s restroom, but it goes beyond this: show up to events, educate yourself about trans* identities and refer to people by their desired pronouns. Surely we can manage this.

It’s hard to keep up with this pace of progress, but you can try, can’t you?  Nuances and complexities and intersectionalities are a challenge, but if you’re going to show solidarity with our gownies, you better get hip.  Or thigh.  Or elbow.

This discussion is almost as riveting as the opinion columns a few years back that described how to shave your V-area, and how to stimulate your partner’s prostate gland.

V-Day is now passe… ‘yesterday:’ (14 April Orient)


“There had been talk the past couple of years about how conceptions of female sexuality and gender had sort of changed,” said Heywood, who in addition to writing RISE is a leader of V-Day. “I think [‘The Vagina Monologues’] doesn’t show the nuance and complexities and intersectionalities of being a woman and other identities on this campus and so it doesn’t have that universality that it used to have.”

There were also complaints that the writer of “The Vagina Monologues,” Eve Ensler, distanced the women’s stories from the truth by conducting group interviews and then writing the monologues herself. RISE was written based on the stories of women on Bowdoin’s campus collected through submissions in an online forum and interviews. The directors and actors of the show made efforts to stay as true as possible to the women’s stories, while still preserving anonymity.


Rebkah Tesfamariam ’18 did not participate in “The Vagina Monologues” in the past years, but is acting in RISE this year.

“I think there’s something really special about knowing there’s someone whose story on campus I have the privilege of reading to the campus, and bringing to light some more serious and funny and important issues that people might not feel comfortable with sharing in the other spaces,” she said.

The women who came together to present RISE hope that knowing the stories being performed come from Bowdoin students will stimulate conversation about the issues that come up in the show.

“I hope that people really question their interactions with people on a romantic or even on a friendship level after this, because there’s the weight of knowing there is a woman on this campus who feels this way,” said Tesfamariam.

Heywood is confident that RISE is more effective in showing the nuance and complexity of intersecting identities than “The Vagina Monologues.” However, she recognizes that the show cannot cover the entire range of female experience.



“Non-binary people”  “othering us”  “Be an active ally”  “normalizing us”

When will they stop “othering” old white men, Republicans and conservatives?’'

When will there be a campus movement to “normalize” conservatives and white males?  Is “cismale” a normalizing, validating term?  Is “cisfemale” the same?


Letter to the editor

Controversial art display

This piece represents the opinion of the author:

Michael W. McCullom


January 26, 2017

We live in a society where very little is sacred and every element of the human condition is on display or exploited for pure shock value. It seems that either destroying or entirely laying waste to previously taboo barriers and boundaries has become an accepted practice in today’s curriculum. This sentiment was recently on display in the most recent installment of The Bowdoin Orient, and I challenge anyone to read Nell Fitzgerald’s article, “Provocative Student Art Brings Menstrual Blood, Trump’s Face in View” and not be repulsed. I cannot fathom how offended I would be to stumble upon photographs of women’s used menstrual pads while visiting a Bowdoin College men’s bathroom. It begs the question: who validates these graphic and visually repugnant pictures as art?  Presumably this was sanctioned by the Bowdoin College Visual Arts Department, so I am assuming there was both consent and possibly encouragement to pursue this project. I strongly doubt any individual who witnessed these horrifying pictures ever drew the sympathetic connections regarding “period angst” that the artist had hoped. Both this project and its presumed objective have failed miserably and has likely fostered antipathy and gall towards its intended subject rather than empathy. Repulsive and disgusting.

Michael W. McCullom ’86



“Among many things, I often regard my adolescence as a self-discovery of my anxiety.“


Issue of May 5th:

It’s now “gender confirmation” surgery, and Bowdoin health care covers it.


Director of the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity Kate Stern sees many benefits of this policy change, even for students who will never take advantage of it.  

“It’s a really wonderful supportive option that the College is including in our health insurance, but it’s by no means something that all trans students will take advantage of,” Stern said.  “Even for trans students that won’t take advantage of it, it’s quite the show of support that they have that choice.”

Stern believes transgender students are not the only ones who benefit from this change.
“One thing I’ve learned about our queer community is that they are quite the trans allies and advocates,” Stern said.  “When the College does things that support our trans students, it means a lot to our queer students in pretty powerful ways.”

(Above from:


Student Affairs – Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity

The Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, located at 24 College Street, provides support, resources, safe space, and education for Bowdoin College students of all sexual orientation and gender identities. The Center director serves openly LGBTIQA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, allies, and asexual) students, as well as those in all stages of the coming out process, and provides education and outreach about LGBTIQA issues to the larger Bowdoin community. Student organizations including the Bowdoin Queer Straight Alliance (BQSA) are advised by the director of the Center. Additional offerings include Winning Together: Allies in Athletics, Proud of My Whole Self, OUTWeek, Februqueery, OUTPeers, OUTAllies, a weekly Thursday evening dinner series for LGBTIQA students, and a regular dinner discussion for men. The Center also maintains a resource library that includes materials from gender, sexuality, and women’s studies courses, classic and contemporary queer fiction and non-fiction, DVDs, CDs, and current LGBTIQA-themed periodicals.

Just a thought: is there any recognition of Growing Up Anxiety Disorder, and treatment for it?  Or I Want My Mommy Anxiety Disorder? 


This article included the “message” below, which we’ve had to make available via scribd due to production incompatibilities.  So if you’re having difficulty reading the questions below, try going to this link and looking at page 4:


After reading the article and the “message above,” you have to ask yourself how these pampered and privileged elite students, swaddled in political correctness, safe spaces, places of refuge, speech codes, officially sanctioned ‘hook-ups,’ and all manner of coddling that was unknown to you and Side in our college years, have managed to become so fragile in their late teens and very early twenties. 

As for us, we still consider our time on campus among the very best years of our life, and we never needed therapy, nor recall anyone else who did.  Hell; we’re not sure having a therapist was even a known cultural option in that era.

We don’t mean to make light of the anxieties and neuroses being experienced by today’s best and brightest, but read their comments in the article.  Some expect to graduate and then continue regular ‘therapy’ outside their local cocoon, often called The Bowdoin Bubble.  Just how well will they be able to cope with the real world, where the less fortunate among us are forced to live? 

If four years of partying your ass off, being nurtured by a faculty and campus atmosphere that cultivates your every social, cultural, and transitional whim, all while living in a sedate and pressure-free rural haven leaves you in a state of mental confusion, distress, and vulnerability, how will you ever be able to successfully and healthily face and adapt to the grown-up circumstances that await you just outside the bubble?

It happens that we have a theory to offer up for discussion on what’s actually going on here.  Could it be that deep within their souls and minds, their mysterious inner selves are telling them that they’re being intellectually abused by the entire Bowdoin experience, and that this is causing an inner battle with their innate common sense and humanity?  A battle that is disturbing their mental equilibrium, though it has not yet surfaced as an epiphany?  And hence, driving their need for help in making some kind of sense of it all?  That today’s elite college is a scam, and they’re being cheated and conned out of their birthright compass and sensibilities?  That they’re being robbed of the joy and memories and optimism that their college years should provide in abundance?

What if it was really that simple?  That what really troubles them is an unrecognized and unidentified yearning for something other than post-modernism and social construction and language redefinition and trashing of long held knowledge and truth, and the academic fads that push it as the only real enlightenment?  That such intellectual conflict and dissonance, driven by cultural warriors, is the real culprit that needs to be diagnosed, and “confronted?”

Oh well, we can muse on such things, can’t we?  And we could even suggest that one of the most fundamental Human Rights that should avail to everyone is freedom from intellectual abuse, especially in very expensive captive situations.

One more thing.  In case you worry that such matters are limited to our own “Brunswick Bubble,” inside which the Bowdoin Bubble lives, take a look at this item from a City nearby. 


Maybe the Brunswick Human Rights Task Force shoud contact Lewiston authorities and suggest they set up a parallel organization.  They could even collaborate; after all, our HRTF has had numerous breakthroughs and advances in their efforts to date.  We’re just not up to speed on them because we don’t subscribe to The Ostrich.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating and disgusting all at once. Many thanks for taking the time to put this together. Amazing that on the day that my copy of The Big Lie arrives on my doorstep, the pemster publishes this. Thanks again.