Some Duke Freshmen Are Refusing To Read Alison Bechdel’s ‘Fun Home’ For ‘Religious Reasons’

Alison Bechdel with Sydney Lucas, who plays Alison Bechdel in the Fun Home musical.
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Alison Bechdel has probably become best known for “the Bechdel test,” her not-really-meant-to-be-a-test criteria for whether she might want to see a movie. Which is sort of a shame, given how good Fun Home, her graphic memoir is. That’s graphic as in cartoon, not porn, by the way, but it looks like some incoming Duke freshmen didn’t appreciate the distinction. Some of them (a handful, at least) are refusing to read Fun Home (which was on their Summer reading list) on religious grounds.

Freshman Brian Grasso posted in the Class of 2019 Facebook page July 26 that he would not read the book “because of the graphic visual depictions of sexuality,” igniting conversation among students.

“I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it,” Grasso wrote in the post.

“I think. I mean, I haven’t read it, but I have some powerful assumptions, and I don’t appreciate the way I’ve had to react to my own assumptions. It is my goal to never read anything that compromises or challenges my personal beliefs in any way while I’m at college. Furthermore, these nachos are the worst, and I’m never coming to this 7/11 again. Good day, sir.”

Freshman Bianca D’Souza said that while the novel discussed important topics, she did not find the sexual interactions appropriate and could not bring herself to view the images depicting nudity.

Freshman Jeffrey Wubbenhorst based his decision not to read the book on its graphic novel format.

“The nature of ‘Fun Home’ means that content that I might have consented to read in print now violates my conscience due to its pornographic nature,” he wrote in an email.

If your name is “Jeff Wubbenhorst” do you really want to add “gentle conscience” to your list of problems?

Although the book selection has prompted valuable discussions for some first-years, others said it changed their perception of Duke.

“I thought to myself, ‘What kind of school am I going to?’” said freshman Elizabeth Snyder-Mounts.

A university?

Grasso said that many students privately messaged him thanking him for the post and agreeing with his viewpoint. He explained that he knew the post would be controversial but wanted to make sure students with similar Christian beliefs did not feel alone, adding that he also heard from several students with non-Christian backgrounds who chose not to read the book for moral reasons.

“There is so much pressure on Duke students, and they want so badly to fit in,” he said. “But at the end of the day, we don’t have to read the book.” [Duke Chronicle]

Yes, that is true. At the end of the day, you don’t have to read the book. At the end of the day, you don’t have to read the book, or grandstand about proudly not reading the book. At the end of the day, this will probably just be another reason for people to hate Duke. In fact I just pictured everyone in this story wearing Christian Laettner jerseys under their pearls.