Section: Opinion

Her Campus falls short of its goal

Her Campus Kenyon is currently at a turning point in its existence as an online forum. As Jacqueleen Eng ’19 highlighted in her op-ed “Respect, not gendered scorn, for Her Campus” (Nov. 5),  the goal of the original Her Campus was to give women a platform to share their otherwise unheard voices. Sometimes Her Campus Kenyon succeeds. Unfortunately, the voice being heard is a very specific voice. It is most often the voice of a single type of feminism. Sure, there is validity to this strand of feminism, but it does not represent all the unheard voices on campus. These are the voices that do not fit into feminism dominated by the feminine, the voices that do not fit the binaries or norms. These are the voices that our Her Campus drowns out.

The Odyssey and BuzzFeed dominate the realm of list articles (“listicles”) that aim to relate to readers’ personal struggles and experiences. Her Campus Kenyon tries to replicate a lot of these popular articles with such pieces as “Espresso Yourself: Outfits Based on Your Wiggin Street Coffee Order,” or “Kenyon Fashion Week: Building-Inspired Outfits.” But often on Her Campus there is a lack of Kenyon personalization; stock photos are used rather than actual pictures from Kenyon students.

On the occasions when Her Campus discusses topics that carry more weight, the writing is often interrupted by memes or other distractions that crush any potential influence the article could have.

Her Campus Kenyon has the potential to become a forum where a variety of unheard voices are heard, but first it needs to have confidence that its weightier articles will be read and be interesting without the interruption of memes, stock images and colorful text. In one of the site’s recent articles about body image, the powerful content was interrupted by memes and unnecessary text images that detracted from the sincerity of the writer’s story. Her Campus chapters at other schools may believe those exciting colors and pictures are necessary to draw readers in. But at Kenyon, we should stay away from that. The memes degrade the content to simple problems when often, they are not.

We do not need another BuzzFeed. What we do need is a space for unheard voices to share their stories. Her Campus is appropriate for exactly that. If Her Campus increases the diversity of voices presented and takes ownership of the sincerity in its articles, I believe it will become a publication that is held in high regard for its accessibility and power. Already in the past week, their efforts to draw attention to the issues at Mizzou and Yale showstheir desire to move in this direction. But we aren’t there yet.

Danielle Gorton ’18 is a studio art and English double major from New Haven, Conn. Contact her at gortond@kenyon.edu.

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