A Cornell student used her thesis presentation to make a statement after her professor chastised her choice of clothing earlier in the week during a trial run for her "Acting in Public: Performance in Everyday Life" final.
Letitia Chai explained that she decided to strip down after her professor, Rebekah Maggor called her out in front of other students for wearing short denim shorts while running through her thesis. Before she could even start the practice run, Maggor interrupted her and asked: "is that really what you would wear?"
In a Facebook post that Chai screengrabbed and uploaded to Google Drive, she explained that "the professor proceeded to tell me, in front of my whole class, that I was inviting the male gaze away from the content of my presentation and onto my body."
She said that some of her classmates stood up for her. A male student questioned the teacher for insinuating that men were not capable of focusing on the intent of the speech because they were distracted by her outfit. A female student agreed and accused Maggor of being inappropriate.
After the incident, she wrote a Facebook post asking her friends and classmates to wear their favorite underwear, “in solidarity with anyone who has been asked to change how they look to make other people feel more comfortable.”
Chai streamed the nearly 40-minute presentation on Facebook LIVE, which was watched by people around the world, including her parents in Korea. Before she started her formal presentation, she stripped down to her bra and panties and asked her fellow classmates to do the same and 28 of the 44 people in the room joined her.
After her emotional introduction, Chai regained her composure and delivered her thesis on rehabilitation for displaced people and refugees.