Rethinking Sex: Anonymous accounts of and about sexual harassment at Bowdoin College, is a collection of student stories and opinions from 1987 (Document CS, 66). One imagines that women wrote the majority of the stories, as most describe heterosexual encounters between men and women, with men as the aggressors. Part of Rethinking Sex Week, the publication accompanied an open forum.
By 1987, women had been at Bowdoin for over fifteen years and the Women’s Resource Center had been open for seven years. However, this may have been one of the first times issues of sexual harassment were addressed so publically. The safe environment of the Women’s Resource Center provided community and may well have raised consciousness sufficiently that women found the courage to share their stories publically albeit anonymously. The variety of stories in Rethinking Sex shows the differing and contradictory perspectives on sex in the Bowdoin community in the 1980s.
The means of educating Bowdoin students on issues of sexual harassment or sexual assault through sharing of anonymous personal stories remains an important part of life at Bowdoin today. In the fall of 2009, a new performance became an annual part of first-year orientation. Speak about it originated from stories in Speak, a more modern version of Rethinking Sex. Rethinking Sex may have started a trend in educating the Bowdoin community around these issues. Speak and Speak about it are also important elements of the Women’s Resource Center’s role on campus today.