Spiral of Silence: It’s a wretch to resist.
As the author of last semester’s Dixie Sun News publication Erotic Topic, the column on human sexuality, I know exactly what it’s like to face wide-spread opinion dissent.
For those of you who don’t know, Spiral of Silence Theory describes how minority opinions wither in the shadow of the majority due to fear of isolation.
It’s a sobering reality, just like any other injustice in the world. People shouldn’t be afraid to speak their mind. So, with that mindset and Erotic Topic as my channel, I became a member of the vocal minority as someone striving to defy this biased spiral.
As I expected, my column met much resistance. No surprise there. Plus, I felt strong enough to face the opposition, and I had enough passion to drive my cause to activate discussion of a taboo topic that shouldn’t be so taboo. So I persisted.
Amidst the controversy, Dixie Sun News posted a Facebook poll March 25 asking readers whether or not Erotic Topic should continue. By the end of the semester, 42 percent supported the column while 58 percent didn’t.
In response to the results, with people under the impression that that would be the end of Erotic Topic (The majority has spoken!) I wrote an address with fire in my heart about why it should stay. I wrote about my ongoing motivation to give minorities a voice and assured the 42 percent would not be forgotten as other editors and I planned to contemplate the column’s fate in between semesters.
It’s been an interesting summer as I tried to decide what to do with my slice of conflict. With so many critics, yet still plenty of supporters (enough I’d be ashamed of disappointing), I still yearned to keep my promise to the minority.
That’s when Spiral of Silence took its hold on me and started to squeeze.
In the beginning, excitement would flutter inside me as I’d sit down to begin my next edition, eager to finally vocalize what was so often ignored in our society. But soon, I began to dread it.
The opposing opinions weren’t what got to me; it was the untrue statements from people who didn’t even read my column that tore at me. People would call me a slut or a whore—someone looking to justify her own raunchy lifestyle. I saw comments like these online, or I heard them float around as rumors.
Erotic Topic’s racy nature undoubtedly had something to do with this. After all, respectable littlegirls don’t use words like “doggy-style!” But here I’ll give you a little peek into my lifestyle: I’m an honors student. I’ve never been in trouble with the law, and I’m loyal, with a boyfriend of more than three years. So, no, I don’t sleep around, and I have morals (what?!).
At this point you’re probably thinking, “Get on with it, what’s going to happen to the sex column?” But I wanted to say these things not to qualify me as a girl with standards, but to remind those with less-than-civil things to say of one minor detail: I am a person. One with the audacity to speak her mind, but a person nonetheless, with the drive to do my best as a columnist and sensitivities to criticisms.
So, over the summer I weighed the fulfillment I got out of the column, which was phenomenal, by the way, with the toll the negativity was taking on me.
I like to say I’m a strong person, that I welcome criticism, but only when it’s constructive—not destructive.
So, it’s gloomy to say, but the critics circling Erotic Topic like vultures waiting for the first chance to start picking away at its bones sucked the motivation from me.
This is why Spiral of Silence exists: it’s the hurt and the emotional labor to keep going.
So, I’ll await the sneers when those wanting Erotic Topic gone hear the news that I resign as its author.
As a typical college student, I have limited mental stamina to deal with the adversity that accompanies publishing a sex column in Dixie Sun News. I’m proud to say I lasted a semester, but another? No thanks.
However, this doesn’t mean I’ll stop expressing my opinions. If a subject strolls along, or even if readers request coverage similar to Erotic Topic’s nature, don’t be surprised if you see a similar excerpt in the opinion section.
As one last thing readers should know, if you’re a minority and you feel like you have something worth saying, let us at Dixie Sun News know. To continue to add to diversity on campus, other editors and I welcome and publish letters to the editor. Perhaps you’d even like to start your own column. Contact us, and we’ll see if we can sign you up.
My mission to give the minority a voice still stands, so I’ll be on the lookout for outlets, even if you’re willing to take up the mantel as sex columnist.
For inquiries, go to Dixie Sun News on Facebook.
Now as an ex-sex columnist, I’m signing off.