Why This Woman Delivered Her Senior Thesis in Her Underwear

Unfortunately, body and slut shaming of students does not end at high school graduation, as Letitia Chai, a Cornell University student, learned while giving her senior thesis presentation earlier this month. Instead of focusing on the content of her presentation, Chaiís professor immediately commented on the length of Chaiís shorts. Chai decided to fight back.

During a trial run of her thesis presentation, before Letitia Chai had the opportunity to deliver her thesis, Professor Rebekah Maggor asked Chai if the blue button down shirt and cutoff jean shorts were “really what [she] would wear?”

“I think that I was so taken aback that I didnít really know how to respond,” she said in an interview with The Cornell Sun.

Despite the class having no formalized dress code, Maggor told Chai her shorts were “too short” and that she was making a statement with what she had chosen to wear. Maggor warned that she would attract “menís attention” from the content of her thesis.

A male student made a comment that the speaker has a “moral obligation” to the audience to dress conservatively during her presentation.

ďI am not responsible for anyoneís attention because we are capable of thinking for ourselves and we have agency,Ē Chai said.

At this point, Chai walked out of the class accompanied by two other students for support. The professor followed shortly after and asked what Chaiís mother would think of her clothing. Chai responded that her mom is a feminist, gender and sexuality studies professor who is fine with her daughterís shorts. Maggor asked Chai what she was going to do.

“Iím going to give the best damn speech of my life,” Chai responded.

And she did. In her underwear. She stripped to her bra and underwear, went back into the room, and delivered her thesis.

Following the incident, Chai organized a protest to take place during her actual thesis presentation. She invited the public to the presentation and suggested they join her in stripping during her presentation.

Twenty-eight of the 44 people in attendance removed at least some of their clothing in solidarity with Chai, who once again delivered her presentation in her underwear.

Chai says the problem she has is not with her specific professor, who her other students call a “gift to Cornell”, rather the mindset that encourages men and women to police womenís bodies and clothing choices.

Chai is right, and the slut shaming and body shaming†of women is exhausting. It seems like we can’t stave off the criticisms, no matter what we choose to wear.

A friend of mine was told by her boss that her work attire was “too sexy.” She wore a long-sleeved button up shirt and dress pants to work every day, but despite this being pretty standard business casual attire, her boss deemed it inappropriate.

Hillary Clinton famously wore conservative pantsuits throughout the presidential election and was endlessly mocked for her clothing choices, with pundits and comedians suggesting she dressed too much like a man.

God forbid a woman choose to dress modestly for religious reasons and wear a hijab, then we’ll all have even more judgments to pass.

Women can’t win when we dress conservatively, and we can’t win when we dress “provocatively” because each one is entirely subjective.†No one can please everyone, and we shouldn’t have to. If it’s not your body, it’s not your problem.†If you can’t keep your eyes off of a woman’s body while she’s speaking, then you don’t deserve to be in the room.

Enough already.

Letís stop pretending there is any way a woman can dress that everyone will find appropriate. The problem isnít with what any given woman is wearing, the problem is with us. What any one person finds ďappropriateĒ will be deemed inappropriate by someone else, so how about we just let women dress themselves and chill the eff out already?

Photo Via YouTube

169 comments

Shirley P
Shirley Plowman29 days ago

THANK YOU

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Tania N
Tania N2 months ago

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Tania N
Tania N2 months ago

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Tania N
Tania N2 months ago

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Tania N
Tania N2 months ago

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Tania N
Tania N2 months ago

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Tania N
Tania N2 months ago

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Tania N
Tania N2 months ago

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Tania N
Tania N2 months ago

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Tania N
Tania N2 months ago

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