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Women Living Well - 2004
Student Papers
On Serendip

Women Living Well in Communities

Kate Tucker

A community is usual formed of people with some sort of similarity, but that similarity can be in only one part of their lives. So, for example, at Bryn Mawr all students are interested in the academic experience here, but individually they all very greatly in interests. This difference is the reason that tensions arise. Even when people unite around a common issue, there are always other things that they disagree on. In my personal experience as a leader of the pro-choice club on campus, it has been very interesting to see how the people in the group have so many differing views on other issues. They are certainly united for the right to have an abortion, but in terms of views on life and certainly political views, they have extremely different opinions. They also have different views on how we should accomplish our goals as a club.

These differences in opinions are often very helpful. If we all thought the same thing, then nothing new or interesting would ever happen. As a community, we often have different approaches and these are what make life really interesting. Actually, this question is really interesting and timely because we've recently had some extra tension in the Bryn Mawr community. A display sponsored by the BiCo Pro-Life club equated abortion with genocide and the people from the organization made comments that were extremely offensive, including saying that homosexuality is a disease.

While I was absolutely horrified at the display and have written in great detail previously on the subject, the effect it has had on tensions within the community have been fascinating to watch. People felt very personally attacked by this display and by the words and the literature of the people that accompanied it. This created some very negative tension between the pro-choice and anti-choice members of the Bryn Mawr community. But it has interestingly really solidified the Pro-Choice community. I have never seen people this worked up about anything in the entire time that I have been at Bryn Mawr. Students offended by the display quickly came up with their own more tasteful counter display. At least 100 students signed a poster in protest. While the display created negative tension directed at one group, it really unified those who were offended.

I am unable to draw final conclusions from the events of last week. I am absolutely certain that it helped the cause that I support. I think it is terribly sad that a club on campus chose to bring a group here that would hurt so many people, offend them and degrade them. As a group leader, I have always wanted to avoid too much tension because I didn't want to hurt those who were not part of my group. It appears that tension can actually be quite useful, but I think I still dislike its use in this fashion. I think it is actually quite easy for members of a community to retain their individuality within a group. Anyone who has a strong sense of self will be able to hold on to this, despite what others tell them to believe. But that is often a challenge for many people. I guess the real issue is if the group supports diversity or not. There are many communities that try and dictate all parts of peoples lives. In those groups, it is hard to behave as an individual, because that behavior will get you kicked out of the group. But communities with a more positive outlook often welcome people and encourage them to be themselves. Any good community should do this.

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