Feminists protest conservative female speaker, retreat to 'safe space’

Kaitlyn Schallhorn
Former Reporter

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  • Feminist students at Oberlin College in Ohio protested a talk given by Christina Hoff Sommers Tuesday evening.
  • The students, who felt the event needed a “trigger warning,” opened up a safe space for their peers who might need to “decompress” during or after the event.
  • The feminist students said they would be “gatekeeping” the event to exclude those who they felt would be toxic to the safe space.
  • Picture of Christina Hoff Sommers via the American Enterprise Institute.

    Right before Christina Hoff Sommers, a venerable scholar and author on modern feminism, took the stage at Oberlin College, feminist students encouraged their peers to join them in a separate location which they deemed a “safe space.”

    But many feminist students stayed for the event and filled the entire first three rows of the auditorium. While some students jeered and mocked Sommers during her almost two-hour presentation on feminism, those in the first few rows sat silently and stared directly at Sommers with duct tape covering their mouths.

    “I hate to say it, but some of those students need the services of a professional deprogrammer. What I saw was very cult-like.”   

    Sommers estimated more than 300 people attended the event, not including those who “retreated to a ‘safe room’ nearby.”

    Handmade signs were also placed around campus, as reported by Third Base Politics.

    “Christina Hoff Sommers & OCRL [Oberlin College Republicans and Libertarians] support rapists!!” one sign said.

    “Fuck anti-feminists,” read another sign.

    In a video posted to YouTube by Third Base Politics, two female students encouraged their peers to “take care of” themselves and read Oberlin’s sexual misconduct policy that were distributed throughout the auditorium by the students prior to Sommers’s event. The two females used air quotes to mock those who attended the event “to hear both sides of the story” and said they would be available to speak to those who wish to have a deeper conversation after the event.

    “And just so everyone is aware, we will be gatekeeping the [safe space] event, so if we feel that you are a toxic, dangerous, and/or violent person, we’re not going to allow you into the event, so please keep that in mind,” one of the students said in the video.

    “It was such a strange experience,” Sommers told Campus Reform. “The students were so carried away with the idea that I was a threat to their safety—the Oberlin officials became alarmed—about my wellbeing. They arranged for security guards to escort me to and from the lecture to protect me from the safe spacers.”

    Sommers said students “hooted, hollered, jeered, and mocked nearly everything” she said.

    “I doubt my appeals to reason and rules of evidence made much of an impression,” Sommers told Campus Reform. “I hate to say it, but some of those students need the services of a professional deprogrammer. What I saw was very cult-like.”

    According to her Twitter page, several students did quietly thank Sommers for her talk and apologized for their peers’ behavior.

    As previously reported by Campus Reform, Oberlin feminists decried the event put on by OCRL. The female students, many of whom declined to comment to Campus Reform for the article, said on the event’s public Facebook page that Sommers’ presence on campus made them feel “unsafe.”

    But it’s not only the feminists at the Buckeye State’s Oberlin that have accused Sommers of being a “rape denialist” and “misogynistic.” Sommers was met with the same lot of accusations during a talk last week at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

    Sommers is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and host of the weekly Factual Feminist series.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @K_Schallhorn



    Kaitlyn Schallhorn

    Kaitlyn Schallhorn

    Former Reporter

    Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a reporter with Campus Reform. Prior to joining Campus Reform, Kaitlyn was a reporter at Red Alert Politics and covered business and restaurants for the Alexandria Times.  

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