A student at Cornell University stripped down to her underwear during a presentation to make a feminist point.
Letitia Chai, a senior at the Ivy League school, stripped off while giving her thesis presentation to protest comments that her professor had made to her during her practice presentation that she had perceived as sexist.
Writing on Facebook, Chai explained how when she got up to speak, her Acting in Public professor Rebekah Maggor said:
'Is that really what you're going to wear?' I was wearing a long sleeve button-down shirt and denim cut-offs. She, a white woman, continued: 'Your shorts are too short.'
The professor proceeded to tell her that by wearing that outfit, Chai was inviting the male gaze, and distracting from the content of her presentation. Two of her fellow classmates backed her up, but one man agreed with the professor, asking her to dress more conservatively to show some respect.
Continuing in the post, Chai explained why she decided to strip:
This is for every Asian woman who has been told to speak up lest others think she's submissive. This is for every POC man who has been told to pull up his pants to be taken seriously, and every POC woman who was told to straighten her hair to seem intelligent.
This is for every gay friend who was told to dress more 'straight' so that others didn't feel weird around him / her / them. This is for us.
Despite supporting her stand, some of her classmates said that the representation of their professor in Chai's post was slightly skewed. Writing in an open letter to the Cornell Sun, other students of colour in the class, and international students argued that:
While we do agree that there was an error of phrasing on our professor's part, her intent, to us, has always been incredibly sincere. For us, because she mentioned the social role of attire on multiple occasions to other students... we do not believe this instance occurred with malicious intent.