It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that our Sex and Relationships Issue is my favorite one of the year. During my four years at Stony Brook, I’ve heard students refer to it as the one time The Statesman lets loose all year. At the same time, professors and administrators have called it a rag, irresponsible and a crack in our integrity.
I don’t see it as either of those things. Based on responses to our annual survey, we found that despite stereotypes about millennials, most of the Stony Brook students who responded find sex to be a profoundly intimate interaction. In its sixth year, this year’s Sex and Relationships Issue is the best one we’ve ever produced. We chose the theme of Sex and Relationships Today to explore the state of those things in 2016. The feedback has been
However, I can and will admit our shortcomings. As proud as I am of our reporting and visuals, we failed to highlight the diversity of our campus.
I’m glad people on social media asked why all the models were white because 1) it means they actually picked up the issue and 2) it means they also recognize and appreciate how diverse Stony Brook’s student body is.
This problem has come up nearly every year that we’ve published the Sex Issue. In years past, we recruited our models through friends or through social media. This year, we posted a survey on our website asking students to sign up to participate.
We advertised it on our social media as well as we could and several students from various backgrounds signed up. We didn’t reject anyone who responded to our emails with details about the photoshoot. As it turns out, the only students who responded to our emails were white.
As important as it is to address our failure to accurately represent the ethnic and racial makeup of our campus, I think it’s also important to ask ourselves why only white students actively pursued this opportunity.
While I advocate for people to participate, I wouldn’t do it myself because of my own cultural upbringing and insecurities. But I’ll be the first to say that I can’t answer that question for any other person of color besides myself. It’s just not my place.
My goal for this year’s issue was to push the boundaries we had danced around before. Multimedia Editor (and head photographer at the photoshoot) Krysten Massa and I wanted to make this a positive and unique environment for our models and for ourselves.
Stripping down in front of strangers and a camera is by no means easy for anyone, regardless of color, shape or size. But we wanted to showcase how beautiful self-confidence and self-love can be when you allow yourself to feel those things. And if you take a look at our photos and what the models had to say, I think we accomplished just that.
As a Pakistani-American female, I know how much diversity matters and how hindering it is when it doesn’t exist. I love that Stony Brook students care so much about this. But we started this issue six years ago to open up thoughtful discussions about sex and relationships. I don’t think it’s right to disempower our models, who are diverse in their beliefs and experiences, if not in their race.