[Editor’s note: the following piece is Editor-in-Chief Jessica Blough’s response to comments on her Opinion article Jersey culture promotes sexism ]
First of all, I want to make it very clear that I respect your right to disagree with me. The purpose of an Opinion piece is to prompt discussion, and this discussion depends on disagreement. I am not writing this because you did not agree with me; that would be petty and unprofessional on my part. I’m not trying to play victim.
I’m writing this because you chose to formulate your disagreement not in a discussion, or a Letter-to-the-Editor, but in attacks on my bias and my personality. You called me “whiny.” You said that the only reason I could possibly have a problem with a sexist and outdated practice was because I was jealous, implying that I cannot separate my personal emotions from my writing. You tried to knock down my argument by relying on feminine stereotypes: that I am uncontrollably emotional and therefore cannot separate the spheres of my brain that observe and react and the ones that have overly-emotional meltdowns (which, in my opinion, only reinforces my argument about ingrained sexism).
I understand that you didn’t intend for your words to get back to me. You figured that the group text you sent them in, though large, was confidential. You aimed to attack my position to your friends, but not to my face.
I know that journalism, as a profession, as a hobby, as a passion, is under attack right now. I’ve seen it in the media, on Twitter, on the news. There’s an assumption that because debate is okay, because a widespread difference in opinions is acceptable, then expressing your opinion in a hateful way will go unnoticed, without consequence. You absolutely have a right to express your opinion, the same way that I have a right to express mine. You even have an unalienable right to attack mine. But that doesn’t mean you should.
You made a choice between the constructive and the easy argument, and you didn’t choose the constructive one. Calling me “whiny” will not stop me from expressing my beliefs. Calling me “jealous” will not make me doubt my argument.
Lastly, I want to thank you for allowing me to recognize my own strength. Two years ago, your comments, as they stumbled into my ears, would have made me doubt that entire piece and many others. I would have been ashamed and embarrassed, and it probably would have held me back from expressing future opinions. Instead, my initial reaction to hearing that you had sent my article around was excitement. The more people I heard give negative feedback, the more I realized how much my article had circulated throughout the school. I did not care if my opinion was liked, I cared that it was heard. So I thank you for the additional advertisement, as well as the opportunity to reflect on my personal growth.
In the future, I encourage you to voice your opinions on this article or any other via a Letter-to-the-Editor, which would be published in our paper for the whole school.