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Dartmouth Student's Project Asks Female Students To Look At Their Nether Regions

First Posted: 11/09/10 02:59 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:10 PM ET

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Never before has a gift mirror caused so much controversy.

According to Ivy Gate, on Oct. 18, Dartmouth women each received a handheld mirror in their campus mailboxes as part of Senior Mayuka Kowaguchi's Orchid Project. The students were gently instructed by an accompanying note to use the mirror to look at their vulvas. As Kawaguchi wrote in the Dartmouth:

I was inspired to begin this project through my own personal experience of having difficulty developing a healthy relationship with my body, particularly those characteristics that make me uniquely female, due to my conservative, Japanese upbringing. I designed this as my end-of-term project proposal for Sexperts training in the Fall of 2009, and with encouragement from those around me, the project became a reality.

Kowaguchi's project was endorsed by the university's president, Jim Yong Kim, who told the Dartmouth that "if this sparks a more open and honest dialogue about women's health and about how gender is really a critical issue when you think about individual health, I think that's a good thing."

Some students, however, were offended by the language in Kowaguchi's note. Dartmouth contributing columnist Grace D'arcy wrote that by imploring female students "to shift their perspective from the expectations and limitations of belief patterns," Kowaguchi was implicitly attacking religion, and religious groups on campus.

Said D'arcy, "the Orchid Project's backhanded dissemination of letters insulting and urging the abandonment of faith, cannot and must not be ignored for the action that they truly represent: a liberal attack on faith."

And some students were offended by the project for purely practical reasons. Writes one angry alum, "suffice it to say that in a time of budgetary famine, it defies comprehension that the College's Office of Pluralism and Leadership [which funded the project] would pay for the distribution of mirrors to all 1,976 undergraduate women on campus."

Do you find the Orchid Project inspiring, offensive or unnecessarily expensive? Weigh in below.

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Filed by Danielle Wiener-Bronner  |