At Yale, the Women’s Center seeks to “enable all students on campus,” unless you are a conservative on the notoriously liberal campus. Hosting events like the Reproductive Rights Action League and coordinating marches in support of abortion, the Women’s Center at Yale attempts to bill itself as a space for all, but takes deliberate steps to distance itself from conservative women, many of whom are involved in pro-life activities on campus. Yale’s liberalism is not breaking news. A survey of incoming freshman in the fall of 2018 found that only 10 percent identified as “somewhat conservative” or “very conservative” while 74 percent identified as “somewhat liberal” or “very liberal.” Nonetheless, there is a contingency of conservatives on campus, and conservative women, but the organizations they flock to, such as Choose Life at Yale, have been systematically denied membership to the Women’s Center. One of the political action coordinators of the Yale Women’s Center told the Yale Daily News in 2014 that Choose Life at Yale was not welcome to join the Center or use their space and marketing tools. “I personally do not think promoting crisis pregnancy centers on their website that may seek to shame and guilt women into carrying pregnancies they may not want, and which may neglect to inform them of all their options, is serving the community,” the coordinator said. Instead, to be a member of the Women’s Center, according to the Yale Women’s Center constitution, one must “break down societal gender structures and roles and ensure every woman’s right to reproductive freedom, a voice, freedom of sexuality, a full range of health and social services, and economic, political and educational equality.” For women who may oppose abortion, advocate for abstinence, or believe in a traditional gender binary, there is no center for them. Despite being female, they are not welcome in the Women’s Center. I attended an event at the Women’s Center during my sophomore year of college, a talk-back discussion following an appearance by Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers on campus. Sommers, who is critical of modern feminism yet still supports the empowerment of women, was considered controversial by the campus Left. In that small space, I listened as conservative views were mocked and ridiculed as backward, antiquated, and evil. I heard my identity as a conservative woman be degraded and demeaned. Ultimately, I left the Women’s Center knowing that I was not welcome back, no matter how much of a woman I was. Women’s centers, especially at Yale, are not designed for all women. They are designed for liberals. Men, so long as they are liberal, are more welcome than conservative women. LGBTQ groups often criticize women’s centers for their sexism and transphobia, but the exclusion no one talks about is exclusion for ideological beliefs. The Center’s promise to ensure women a “voice” is a lie when they work so dutifully to silence conservative women on campus. There is no center for conservative women, at least not one sanctioned by walls in a university building. Instead, all around Yale’s campus and liberal campuses nationwide, conservative women find each other quietly. They bond over coffee and in discussion boards and in dorm rooms, where the often oppressive liberal regime cannot find them, chastise them, or make them feel like less of a woman for their beliefs. There are no women’s centers for conservative women, and we should recognize that as a problem. Conservative women do not need their own center; they do not need a bubble to protect them. They simply need to be included for their womanhood instead of excluded for their beliefs.
Aryssa is a graduate student at the University of Kentucky, an alumna of the National Journalism Center, and a contributor to the New Guard.