Sex, relationships, religious ethics and noodles are all popular topics of conversation in the Trinity Western community. We “define relationships” by taking walks around the pond, flirting in the Lower Caf, and making out in the Back 40. While it is possible to satisfy our need for relationship and emotional intimacy just about anywhere on Trinity’s campus, it is not necessarily possible to satisfy our need for noodles everywhere at Trinity. Fellow students have taken initiative and sought to change that. These students started a business called Send Noods, which supplies students with noodles ordered through an Instagram account.
However, students have had varying reactions to the name “Send Noods.” Generally, students, particularly those familiar with the “meme,” have responded positively. Despite this general favorability, some students have voiced concerns. To be clear, the purpose of this article is not to make a moral judgement about the use of the phrase. Instead, it is to examine the different responses of various members of our community. These concerns range from students questioning the use of sexually explicit language in a Christian community, to students questioning the phrase’s close association with assault and harassment. Many also pointed out that the timing is inconvenient, due to the prevalence of sexual politics in our international conversation. Most of these conversations consisted of students asking each other questions and trying to work through their own response.
As a gender studies minor, I couldn’t resist examining the response of those who have concerns. First, I turned to theory. I asked, “What is the precedence for associating this phrase with pornography?” Unfortunately, there is little consensus in the feminist community about whether “feminist” or “empowering” pornography exists. Is it possible to subject your body to another person’s gaze for their sole pleasure to be empowering? Is it possible for us, as a community, to use a phrase like “send noods,” which sounds like harassment, but is actually referring to noodles, constructively?
For many on our campus the answer is “no.” In their eyes, even using a phrase which owes its humour to the phrase “send nudes” is problematic. The phrase “send nudes” is offensive to some because it is asking an individual to give up their bodily autonomy. A woman, (for example, this is not an inherently male nor female issue), giving a man an intimate photo gives him control over her body. Not only can he use it for his pleasure long after they share emotional intimacy, but he can also use it for her humiliation when he no longer respects her dignity. He is asking her to give him power which she cannot take back.
Some might respond by saying, “Women have the power to say ‘no.’” Many would view the behaviour of “sending noods” to be an expression of agency on the part of the woman. However, the members of the Trinity community who have concerns are objecting to the request for someone to “send noods,” not necessarily the actual action of sending nudes.
On the other hand, we are talking about ramen noodles. We are talking about a “meme” on the internet. We are talking about our fellow students taking initiative to meet a need on campus. The proprietors of Send Noods are fellow students who are involved in and committed to the Trinity community.
Monique Bouchard, a second year student, defended the name “send noods” by saying, “It is taking something dark and evil, like lusting after pornography, and bringing it into the light.” Instead of wanting actual “nudes,” the Trinity community prefers noodles. She argues that Send Noods is an example of how Trinity is a place where we reject control, coercion and carnality, in favour of community and intimacy.
In sum, Trinity is a place where we engage in conversation, as members of a community and as students. Our studies and spiritual formation are challenging us to critically evaluate the language, decisions, and responses we accept in our community. We need to remain committed to have these conversations in ways which affirm each other and contribute to a greater sense of intimacy and belonging on campus.