It’s Not Okay to Comment on Other People’s Bodies

by Chelsea Adonteng '25 on April 20, 2023
Opinion Staff


Regarded by many as a popular music icon with over 90 million records sold worldwide, Ariana Grande has been in the limelight since she was 13 years old performing on Broadway. With time comes experience, and Grande is well aware of the public scrutiny that accompanies fame and fortune. Recently, Grande posted a short video to TikTok addressing people’s overwhelming concern about her body. In it, she addressed how people often compare her current body to the body she used to have, which she mentioned was during a period of her life when she was at her lowest and unhealthiest. While Grande doesn’t owe her audience an explanation, the fact that such a successful artist felt the need to record an explanation is something that her audience should contemplate. 

Living as a celebrity and even living as a human being in general brings judgment, whether it be from other people through a screen or from people in one’s daily life, especially in a time where all people have some form of social media, leaving them vulnerable to negative comments regarding their appearance. While the Internet has proven itself to be a positive place where people can come together to discuss shared interests and learn about situations around the world, there’s also plenty of evidence to show how people often feel comfortable body-shaming other people because of the confidence they get from being behind a screen. 

Ariana puts it perfectly when she says, “People need to be gentler about commenting on other people’s bodies.” No one is entitled to speak about other people’s physical characteristics, especially when they are unaware of the journey that person has taken to get to the stage of life they’re currently in. Even though celebrities share a large portion of their lives with the media, people need to remember that it doesn’t give them the ability to speak on their personal business or comment on their appearance without knowing what they’re going through physically and mentally, simply because they seem so open. 

Every person’s journey with their body is different, and that journey affects them in different ways, good and bad. Even if a comment might be well-intentioned, focusing on people’s bodies reinforces the idea that one’s physical characteristics are a defining factor to who they are, when in reality, one’s character is just as important. Instead of commenting on people’s appearances, people should work to give comments that aren’t appearance-based and praise other beautiful attributes, such as their creativity or their resilience. Positive compliments about a person’s good qualities can brighten someone’s day, rather than a compliment about appearance, which can be hurtful to one’s self-esteem.  

Why Celebrate Women’s History Month at PC?

by Sarah McLaughlin '23 on March 16, 2023

Editor's Column

March marks Women’s History Month, which can trace its roots back to Women’s History Week, first celebrated in 1978, and the original International Women’s Day, which was first celebrated in 1908 when thousands of New York City women garment workers went on strike due to poor working conditions and low wages. Women’s History Month was designated by the US Congress in 1980—a decade after Providence College began admitting women as students, and seven years before the establishment of PC’s Women’s and Gender Studies program.

“Women’s History Month is significant because it pushes us to uncover, make visible, recognize, respect, and celebrate women’s knowledge and contributions across time and space,” says Dr. Abigail Brooks, director of the Providence College WGS program and associate professor of sociology. “In truth, learning and teaching about women’s history should not be limited to one month a year…Still, Women’s History Month pushes critical awareness, teaching, and learning about women’s contributions.”

In the Women’s and Gender Studies program at PC, students study social and natural sciences, health sciences, the humanities, and the arts. Students learn and develop skills in reading, writing, critical thinking, and constructive dialogue. “Students are introduced not only to women’s contributions and struggles, but to gender as a critical category of oppression and analysis,” says Dr. Brooks, “and to the intersections between women, gender, race, class, sexuality, and other identities, categories, communities, and lived material realities that inform and shape people’s everyday lives, contributions, and struggles.” WGS majors often have other majors and minors as well, and students can pursue careers in law, health and medicine, social work, journalism, education and higher education, academia, business, and nonprofits.

Many students believe that the College has an obligation to do better in regard to women’s equality, rights, and inclusivity on campus. Here are a few testimonies from women students:

“As a woman in math and computer science, I feel like the math faculty and other math students have been extremely supportive and have not been biased in the fact that I’m a woman. But I will say that at some points, when I tutor specifically computer science, I get people who are surprised that I’m tutoring computer science because of my gender.”

“Being a woman at PC has its challenges. There are times when I am the only one of three women sitting in my economics classes; there are also times in my political science classes when the male students feel that they can speak to me differently than their male counterparts. But in terms of male faculty being supportive of my endeavors, I can’t say enough.”

“I am really reluctant to find misogyny in people. I like to always err on the side of ignorance and not malice. In my three years here, that part of me has decreased. Very very smart men, professors on campus, have said things that are really shocking to me and people I know.”

Dr. Brooks suggests that PC should incorporate “more feminist, intersectional material, research, scholarship, and contributions into course curricula.” She also recommends that PC reassess and expand the current diversity proficiency requirement. Additionally, diversifying faculty across all departments would be beneficial. Many students agree also that PC should better provide reproductive health care, including birth control, for faculty, staff, and students, as well as affordable day-care facilities and family leave policies for faculty and staff. Increasing, expanding, and improving resources and promotional support for women’s sports should also be on the College’s agenda.

In regard to the WGS program, Dr. Brooks is hoping to help the program transition to a department. They will be submitting their proposal by the end of this semester. “A key goal for Women’s and Gender Studies is to grow our student numbers, and to continue to expand and evolve in new and exciting ways into the future. Spread the word!”

Global Femicide: The Inhumane Actions of Ethiopian Military Forces Against Women & Children 

by Callie Raacke '25 on December 3, 2022
Opinion Staff


Content warning: This article discusses sexual assault and violence.

Global politics has always incorporated global femicide into its range of weaponry and military tactics; however, with modern panels, legislation, and the committee on human rights, global femicide should not be an option. Femicide, along with gender-based violence, is an atrocity that should not be employed as a military tactic. In international politics, this form of gender-based violence is used by governments to suppress certain groups or enemies into submission. A modern-day example of this atrocity is the Ethiopia-Tigray War, in which the Ethiopian military regime raped and abducted girls from Tigray, a region in Ethiopia. This tragedy exemplifies the popular social construct of commodifying women’s and children’s bodies for military control. All countries that commit these atrocities should be charged with War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity.  

A femicide is a form of genocide that is enacted upon only women and girls. Femicide is defined as “the processes by which violence against women becomes socially acceptable and quotidian.” While it is true that femicide has become a socially acceptable means of wielding power in international relations, that does not mean that femicide is not genocide. For example, in regions like Tigray, women are brutally raped, murdered, and sold into sex slavery. Since our world has normalized this genocide of women, we must look to established laws and precedents to argue to the patriarchal society that these acts are inhuman and unjustifiable. In a world where male leaders instigate these egregious acts, we must play by their rules and rhetoric to make them understand that women deserve human dignity too.  

Ethiopia’s militia must be stopped, charged, and punished for their crimes. Amnesty International’s Secretary General states, “it’s clear that rape and sexual violence have been used as a weapon of war to inflict lasting physical and psychological damage on women and girls in Tigray. In addition, hundreds have been subjected to brutal treatment aimed at degrading and dehumanizing them.” This dehumanization should not go unchecked in any circumstance. When it comes to women and girls, it often goes unnoticed and unpunished. We all need to be made aware of the tragedies happening daily to fellow human beings and become un-desensitized to femicide. Women and girls deserve human dignity and should have never been used as a military tactic through dehumanization, psychological abuse, and removal of physical agency to win a war.

BBC did an interview with survivors of the femicide happening in Tigray. Their accounts are horrendous to recall, but they chose to share their stories and relive their trauma. For example, “a 39-year-old woman reported being seized by Eritrean soldiers while traveling with her two children. “Five of them raped me in front of my children,” she told Amnesty. “They used an iron rod, which is used to clean the gun, to burn me. They inserted pieces of metal into my womb… Then they left me on the street.” Her story and her children’s stories matter. The Eritrean soldiers psychologically tortured children by degrading and violating their mothers. First, they physically burned her to show dominance and to scare her and her children into submission. Then, they inflicted brutal pain and dehumanization in an intimate area of her body. Finally, they left her and her children to die in the street. They wanted to psychologically and physically torture, and leave them for dead to send a message to Tigray’s people. This woman’s story is one out of thousands that are told, but there are thousands we will never hear because the victims are dead or missing. This example begs the question of how gender-based violence against women and children became a “justifiable” option in war. 

Gender-based violence that dehumanizes the victims should have never been considered by the Ethiopian military regime because all humans deserve dignity. Unfortunately, the military has made it apparent that they believe women’s and girls’ bodies are commodifiable and destructible. Our global society does not value women’s lives enough to outright say that this is a form of injustice that must be stopped, so we must cite the U.N.’s definition of war crimes and crimes against humanity to argue that the Ethiopian military should be punished. Article 8 of the Rome Statute, concerning war crimes,  states that “Willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments; Committing outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment; rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, as defined in Article 7, Paragraph 2 (f), enforced sterilization or any other form of sexual violence also constituting a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions.” More legal and moral reasons also constitute that Ethiopia should be punished for inhumane war crimes against women and children of Tigray, but action must be taken to prevent such horrors from occurring.

Dissenting Women Ridiculed

by Christina Charie '25 on September 15, 2022
Opinion Editor


Jennifer Lawrence and congresswoman Liz Cheney have more in common than one might assume upon first examination. Both have become the victims of “comedic” posts appearing on Donald Trump Jr.’s Instagram page.

As the self-proclaimed “Meme Wars General,” Trump utilizes his social media to attack opponents using memes instead of promoting his own political opinions. 

After Lawrence’s recent interview with Vogue, Trump criticized the actress’ discussions with her therapist regarding nightmares about Tucker Carlson in a meme. The graphic he posted also attacked Lawrence regarding rumors alleging she had an intimate relationship with Harvey Weinstein, ones that the actress has repeatedly denied. 

Even though Lawrence criticizes Trump’s political views, it does not give him the right to bully her. By making mental health and sexual assault part of the joke, Trump demeans the experience of those who struggle with either issue. For many, it is not a joke. Trump’s ability to satirize these problems only further reflects his privilege. 

While Lawrence has only recently become one of Trump’s comedic targets, Representative Cheney has long been the subject of Trump’s memes.

Frequently, Trump posts pictures with Miss Piggy’s face super-imposed onto photos of Cheney in attempts to demonstrate the congresswoman’s physical resemblance to the famous Muppet character. With two Instagram posts in August 2022 alone, the attacks are constant. 

Trump is welcome to debate Cheney’s views on key issues such as the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. He is not welcome to blatantly ridicule her appearance through Miss Piggy memes. 

Americans should not ignore Trump’s behavior on social media. By failing to criticize his attacks on Lawrence and Cheney, society condones his actions. With his public position, Trump sets a poor example for addressing those with differing views. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is occurring within other right-wing groups. 

Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, received death threats after the NRA encouraged followers to express their frustration with her online back in 2019. Some gun rights supporters even told Watts, “Maybe you should receive death threats.” 

What has our country become? Freedom of speech protects hate speech, but not gun control advocates. One should find this quite alarming. Death threats do not qualify as part of a policy debate. 

More recently, Watts addressed a series of vulgar and  threatening direct messages she shared on Instagram during the summer. After standing up for herself online, Instagram sanctioned Watts’s account for a period of time for sharing direct messages because they were intended for her eyes only. Instagram should ban offenders before blaming the victim. Until social media platforms take action against cyberbullying, activists will continue to face unwarranted insults. 

Instead of informed debate, Americans have reverted to baseless insults. With readily available accurate information at our fingertips, one should take time to learn about how political policy impacts daily life instead of sharing hurtful attacks on someone’s political views or physical appearance. Without a populace truly engaged in politics, the attacks on activists will persist. While political discourse is the cornerstone of democracy, blatant insults and threats are unacceptable.