By Eliana Lindenberg, Staff Writer
Where do I start with this article? It’s hard to write with a blank page glaring at me and a million thoughts running through my head. It’s difficult to begin because of the personal impact the following issue has on me. I have been the target of a particular phenomenon at Yeshiva University for many months, relating to sexist and misogynistic confessions sent in to the “YU and Stern Confessions” page. Many confessions and submissions to the “YU and Stern Crushes” page have objectified me as well, and I have noticed a pattern that goes beyond the pages.
There is a demeaning culture at YU of the male student body objectifying the female student body. We are not welcome in their spaces — in the Beit Midrash, the pool — because we are viewed as objects who may tempt them to stray. When the uptown shabbaton happened last year, a rosh yeshiva told his talmidim to leave Washington Heights for Shabbat to avoid the women who would be coming to their campus.
This same culture influences the confessions sent in to the “YU and Stern Confessions” page. The submissions are telling of the student body’s views of women at Yeshiva University. They objectify the female student body, often targeting individual women.
I have been a target of that objectification in particular, probably because of my public role on “Rejected Confessions” — a short show, my sister, Shifra Lindenberg, and I, host about why some submissions get rejected from the page. It’s disturbing to see some of the submissions that discuss me. There are confessions that are benign. There are some that are just strange. Many make me into an object to be owned, used, or shown off. In a time when YU is facing criticism due to Beren students’ lack of opportunities and access to facilities on campus, as compared to Wilf students, can’t the administration do something to express their beliefs that the women of Yeshiva University are just as valuable as the men?
They don’t though. They do nothing to dispel this gross sexism amongst the male student body. They make it worse by doubling down on their policies that exclude women. They continue to fail to provide adequate funding for the women of YU to be equal and involved members of the community.
Personally, I am indignant about being objectified. It doesn’t give me confidence when I see submissions like, “Eliana Lindenberg is so cute i just want to place a bow on her and take her home for chanukah,” or “To all the guys crushing on Eliana Lindenberg, she’s way out of your league. (Also back off, she’s mine).” These are bizarre and possessive of me, and they’re uncomfortable to read. It’s even stranger to read something like, “Yo eliana lindenberg really chops my chives with her things that she gots! Like those shins! Oo boy those shins really drowns my dough. And we cant forget about her wrists obviously!!! When she flicks that bad boy, its game over man. Just game over man! Boy does she just pepper my pterodactyls.” Perhaps this was meant as a joke. I don’t care if it was. It’s strange and objectifying. If this was the worst though, I would not be writing this article. I wouldn’t feel the need to call out the administration and the student body if this was the worst that I have been subjected to. But it isn’t the worst. I am angry because I see submissions like, “Eliana Lindenberg would be a great pornstar” all of the time. This constant gross stream of submissions about me and the other women of the Beren Campus is unacceptable. But it’s indicative of a larger problem at YU. Like I mentioned above, the women of YU are objectified by the men and there is no effort to solve that problem. The university only makes it worse.
Students excuse this behavior by saying, “Oh it’s a joke, a troll,” or “They’re sending it in because they know you’ll see it.” As if that’s a justification. It isn’t. The reason doesn’t matter, and the objectifying comments are still indicative of how the student body views women, since they’re cowardly enough to send in these thoughts and comments under the relative safety of anonymity.
And to those who try to give me a reason for this behavior — you’re part of the problem too.
I am under no delusion that the awareness of these submissions to the confessions page will immediately reflect a positive change in the student body. I also do not believe that our university will take action after this article is published. But I do hope to start a conversation on campus. I hope my friends and fellow students will reflect on the issue at hand and make a long term effort to change the culture of sexism at this university. Ultimately, I hope to see a university that provides the same opportunities to both its male and female students, as well as a student body that treats each and every one of its members as equals.