Oct. 2, 2014

Guest Column: Reaction to the leaked Sigma Chi email has been extreme and unnecessary

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February 6, 2014

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We’ve all read it. We’ve all seen the outraged statuses, blog posts and articles it provoked. Should the Sigma Chi email have been written? No. Is the community’s anger and insult legitimate? Yes. Does the email indicate that the College of William and Mary has an out-of-control rape culture? Absolutely not.

I could argue that it was only a joke — a very crude one; that men are also often sexually objectified by women; that if you actually read the email, there is nothing in it about forcing nonconsensual sex on a woman; that this email only indicates that 20-year-old men constantly think about sex and enjoy telling lewd jokes. But I won’t. I’m tired of arguing about this.

Instead, I would like to pose some questions to the College community, which, I should say, is the most accepting and respectful community I’ve ever encountered. My goal is to soften the rhetoric of a debate that has unjustifiably and unnecessarily consumed our campus. I’m sure this will elicit criticism from strangers and friends — even my girlfriend asked me not to publicly comment on the issue. However, this is how I feel, and I’m not ashamed of it.

What if a woman had written an email about her “Save the Penises” campaign? How would everyone’s reactions differ? My guess: People still would have found it bizarre, but also clever and funny. It would be forgotten in a day.

Why are we having this discussion about rape culture and misogyny now, rather than after a fellow student was raped in December? Are we only talking about this because of the high publicity and widespread social media attention that the email attracted?

How would this Sigma Chi member be treated if his name were released? Based on the intensity of many reactions, I legitimately would be afraid for his safety. He would surely feel enough condemnation and visceral hate to permanently leave the College. Are you willing to ostracize someone over this email? Do you think he already feels intense remorse for his actions?

How does the reaction to this email impact the protection of free speech? Is it important that the day this email was leaked, the cover article of The Flat Hat celebrated the College’s ranking among the best American universities for free-speech protection? If the author’s name were released, would the administration feel compelled to expel him to satisfy this bloodthirsty student body? Over something he wrote as a joke, probably drunk?

Please do not misinterpret me: I am strongly opposed to violence against women. Rape, of anybody, regardless of sex, is an awful thing. We as a society need to do more to prevent rape from occurring, especially changing our own individual perception of the opposite sex. But does this email encourage rape or indicate that the College, particularly the fraternity community, has a rape culture and is deeply misogynistic? No. So please, resist the urge to hyperbolize the situation.

Email Joshua Fleitman at jnfleitman@email.wm.edu.

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Joshua Fleitman

(53) Readers Comments

  1. Wiggy Babe
    February 8, 2014 at 1:36 PM

    This is appalling. I actually have a hard time wrapping my brain around how you could possibly think this is appropriate. Don't you dare try to excuse his behavior because 'he might have been drunk,' as if that could POSSIBLY make this okay. Don't you DARE try to use the 'boys will be boys' excuse. Are you able to understand that that kind of thinking constitutes rape culture? You are perpetuating rape culture. You are. By dismissing the reactions of the people who felt threatened and angered by this email, you are using YOUR privilege as a male to dismiss and silence the voices of gender and sexual minorities who are most affected by sexual violence and rape culture. Don't you DARE try to tell me how I should feel, as a woman, about an attitude that objectifies women (i.e., me), and threatens predatory behavior towards women (i.e., me). Don't you dare tell me that I am, or ANYONE is 'overreacting' because of this email, because he clearly felt comfortable expressing his opinions to his fraternity brothers, because he obviously felt these words would be positively received. Because, yes, actually, rape culture DOES exist on the William & Mary campus and within the William & Mary community, and by denying that you are denying the experiences of everyone who has been sexually assaulted or raped by someone in this community, everyone who has felt threatened or sexually objectified or made to feel unsafe because of the actions of another person who thinks what they are doing is okay. And don't you DARE try to use the 'freedom of speech' argument, because what you don't seem to understand is that freedom of speech is NOT freedom from response. Don't you DARE try to identify yourself as an ally to women at the same time you are criticizing them for calling out rape culture. Don't you dare tell us that you care about women when you ignored the wishes of your girlfriend in expressing an opinion on this - did you ever ask her how she might be feeling because of this email? Did you ask her why she didn't want you to speak up? Do you realize that by ignoring someone who is directly affected by this, you are acting as an oppressor? Don't you dare use your privilege to speak on this issue to try and silence the people who are actually affected by it. Don't you DARE use the experiences of a survivor who has spoken out as a way to try and shut down this conversation. Are you aware that she identified the author of this email as a member of the defense during her rapist's trial? The author of this email was protecting a rapist. Do you understand that? Yes, this conversation should have started long ago, and yes, it should have been happening last December, but it didn't, and it's starting now, and don't you DARE try to tell us that it's too late. The fact that the Flat Hat felt it was acceptable to publish this article instead of an op ed, such as the open letter written by Professor Jenny Putzi, one that intends to move the conversation about rape culture in the W&M community into the open, instead of this one that is actively trying to shut it down, is appalling, and shameful.

    • Rob Michael
      February 10, 2014 at 3:01 PM

      Don't you dare tell me how to feel as a man about an attitude that objectifies men.

      • Wiggy Babe
        February 11, 2014 at 5:50 PM

        I was speaking very specifically to the person who wrote this article. Which, unless I'm mistaken, wasn't you.

        • Rob Michael
          February 11, 2014 at 8:09 PM

          Wiggy Babe, gets logic thrown back at her, has no good response, says "I wasn't talking to you."

    • Damashkal
      February 11, 2014 at 9:06 AM

      Rape culture is a term coined by angry feminists (ie, you) to allow themselves to make things they disagree with seem awful. Anyone who actually uses the term (besides explaining how ridiculous it is) is using it as a method to cast themselves into a fantasy where they are so desired by men that they would want to do something as awful as rape just to be with them. Honestly explain how "male privelege" exists in the same society where women can (and do) falsely accuse men of rape all to often (ie, me) in order to ease their guilt of sleeping with someone they just met, or as a way to make everyone hate someone they hate (even though they're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty), or just to ruin their life and reputation and possibly get them thrown in prison, without losing your temper and then I might take this whole rape culture bologna seriously. Even if you somehow could do that without spewing feminist propaganda, it's not going to change reality. We'll still live in a country where a woman can ruin a mans life just because she can with little to no evidence, then turn around and go to rally and talk about how oppressed she is.

      • reader
        February 11, 2014 at 3:54 PM

        Your comment is really disrespectful and it shows you don't have a legitimate interest in reducing sexual assault on campus/in this country, because you refuse to even acknowledge that it is a real problem. It IS a real problem. If you truly were unjustly accused of raping someone, then that sucks and is unfair, but to say that rape culture doesn't exist, to totally unilaterally refuse to acknowledge that any men rape women by calling it a "FANTASY," as in:"Rape culture is a term coined by angry feminists...to cast themselves into a fantasy where they are so desired by men that they would want to do something as awful as rape just to be with them" IS DISGUSTING AND--HERE'S THE KICKER--IT MAKES YOU SOUND LIKE A RAPIST, BRO, because only rapists call rape a woman's "fantasy." Evidently, you don't even have a firm enough grasp on the concept of rape to say that you're innocent of it, because your post denies its existence. To claim you are innocent of a crime of which you are accused, you have to acknowledge the fact that what you are accused of doing--in this case, rape--is a crime, and then claim that you did not commit the crime. Look, most female survivors of sexual assualt do not go around hating on all men and most wouldn't deny that false accusations also happen sometimes. Conversely, you (who claim to be falsely accused of rape) seem to be taking your anger out on all women, AND WORSE ALL PPL WHO HAVE BEEN sexually assaulted, and you are denying the fact that rape happens--which, again, your post effectively does by calling rape culture a "woman's fantasy." Yo, I'm not religious but you need salvation!

  2. Guest
    February 8, 2014 at 2:01 PM

    Joshua, your girlfriend is right. It is absolutely not your place to comment on this issue. The opinions expressed in this letter, and the fact that it was given media space, is actively silencing the voices and dismissing the experiences of people who were most affected by this incident - women who are survivors of sexual assault, some of whom have stated, publicly and plainly, that they were personally hurt by the email. Your op-ed invalidates its final, tacked-on last paragraph. Don't claim to care about violence against women until you've thought long and hard about what you wrote here and how it might impact survivors. Also, re: your concerns about freedom of speech? If the main threat you experience in your day-to-day life is to the sanctity of your own opinions, then you have no place in commenting on sexual violence.

  3. Sáràh Shu
    February 8, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    This young person WAS free to speak, but we also have the freedom to respond. I am not infringing upon this man's freedom of speech by telling him that his language was abusive and indicative of his white male privilege in a largely unequal society. I would also like to note that many of the people I have spoken to about this issue don't care to know his name--we know that his individual email is not the issue, rather the fact that he was comfortable voicing these frankly disgusting views is the real issue here. I will additionally say that to compare the response to a woman writing this sort of thing to the original poster is extremely problematic. Women do not have the same privileges in society that men have. It would be laughed off because women, even ones holding large amounts of privilege, have much less power. The difference between a woman sending this email and a man is the difference between an inappropriate joke and a blatant display of aggression, and a reassertion of power over the disempowered. That is not to say that the email wouldn't still be disgusting, but the language as it stands now, in accordance to prevailing power structures, is an assertion of women's low value in society. Overall, though, these sorts of words--"box," for instance, or the assertion that women are worth nothing but their bodies--are the EXACT words that many women here in abusive situations. These are words used to keep women silent after they've been abused--you're "worthless," right? So who cares what you have to say? You cannot act like this is not a big deal, when these words are the used to dehumanize others. When dehumanization occurs, it is much, much easier for people to commit acts of violence, because you're allowed to not see those marginalized groups as people. If they're not people, then who cares? That is the culture that we are trying to change. If we continue to use language like this, then those who would commit acts of violence WILL think that we are subtly condoning their behavior. But it's just an email, right? /s

    • guesst
      February 9, 2014 at 9:55 PM

      Don't condemn all privileged white males (i'm not joking). It's not my fault I'm born into a position of privilege, and I don't abuse it. I have nothing to do with the intolerance in that awful email. i dislike guys like that, de-pledged, and make fun of those dildos. Also, here's a kicker: that guy was looking for attention and now he's on the huffington post. Mission accomplished, well done to all the "we're so politically correct let's give him the attention he deserves" people. Now, more food for though: isn't it ironic that I quit the fraternity because I despised an environment where a sigx style email is OK, and now I know zero females? Why is that? I mean, since everybody, especially girls, hate those environments, shouldn't I find some girls where I hang out, not at fraternities? But no, I can see the look on a girl's face turn to "ew he he donates his would-be frat money? high gpa?? wtf is wrong with him?" as soon as I tell them where I depledged from (i.e. once they learn I'm not in a frat). And every time I go back to a dance party at the frat, guess what, there's girls everywhere, hanging all over the frat stars. So yeah, there might be something wrong with some dudes, but guess who else perpetuates the culture? Surely it couldn't be the innumerable girls that hang out with those guys.

      • Sáràh Shu
        February 9, 2014 at 10:34 PM

        Yes, there are women and minorities that perpetuate rape culture. Of course, though--it's the culture we're all born into. We don't know any other way until we start thinking critically about these power structures, and we start looking critically at our place in society. So I don't mean to condemn white males, rather, I'm saying that white men have a very large amount of privilege, and tend to be the ones who are least aware of it, because they've never had to deal with a society that institutionally discriminates against them. It's not at all their fault, and I don't mean to imply that, it's not my fault, for instance, that I'm a white woman of privilege. The impetus, however, is on me to be more aware of myself as a white person, and know when I'm exerting my white/cisgender/able-bodied privileges. If you don't abuse it, then great, you're on your way to being a more thoughtful and aware member of society.Your decision to de-pledge speaks to your awareness of this problematic culture. But it doesn't fully exempt you from having to face the consequences of holding privilege. You may not condone what's in that email, and that's good, but we all have something to do with it--we all subtly condone this young man's behavior if we continue to act like it's not part of a larger system that poses men as aggressors and women as objects (a system that, I will add, is quite damaging to men as well, due to prevailing views of masculinity, as you seem to allude to), a system that we all contribute to either by our actions or, equally, our inaction. As I said before, by ignoring it or laughing it off we're allowing such violent speech to continue, and we're allowing people who would put violent words into action, act. Again, please don't interpret this as me attempting to condemn white men. I stated in another comment that white men, or people of great privilege, can be wonderful allies. But it's important that they recognize that they do hold privilege, and as a result of that privilege, they are in a position of power over other members of society, whether they like it or not. It's equally important, too, that we act against intolerant speech like this, regardless of our level of privilege. In a way, it's good that this was so publicized, such that more people could engage in a potentially enlightening discourse, or become more aware of their power as bystanders, or recognize their privilege, or choose to educate themselves further on these issues.

      • michrep
        February 10, 2014 at 4:58 AM

        Every time you can go about your day, walk on the street, go for a run, and go out at night without having to worry about being sexually harassed, catcalled, or raped, you are enjoying your male privilege. Every time you apply for a job and your resume is chosen over mine even though they are identical, you are enjoying your male privilege. Every time you gain or lose 5 pounds without comment from family, friends, or strangers, you are enjoying your male privilege. Every time you aren't consciously smiling, and your expression isn't referred to as "resting bitch face" (and strangers ignore you instead of commanding that you "cheer up") you are enjoying your male privilege. You may not have asked for it, but it's there, and making your life easier in a million different ways you don't even consider. I'm sorry that you're having trouble with women, but I can assure you it has nothing to do with the fact that you're no longer in a fraternity. I went to a single frat party in my entire undergraduate career (in the first week of freshman year) hated it, and never made the mistake again. Nor do I know any girl who would be turned off by a high GPA (it is William and Mary after all). I'm not saying some girls don't like the frats, there definitely are those girls, but I am saying at least 50%, if not more, stay as far away from that scene as possible. (I might also add that you used "dildo" as a derogatory term, and can we think about why dildo, a device used mainly for female sexual pleasure independent of a man, might be able to convey a negative meaning?)

        • guesst
          February 14, 2014 at 3:43 PM

          yeah didlo's probably not hugely appropriate for a few reasons. First of all, you make a good point. Second, why sexually objectify anyone at all? and third, because i said "dildos" as part of an unspecific group of people, thereby indicating a stereotype that could be misconstrued and end up in all kinds of confusion. However "dildo" does have some merits. It's got a funny ring to it. It sexually objectifies males and is therefore the closet male equivalent to "slut" I could find, seeing as how there really isn't one, which is odd. dildo=male as an object, which i don't know another word for (is there one?). but idk i use it semi-often the way people use "deuschebag" or "asshole," not really meant politically, im just odd like that. so..I hereby shall refrain from using it in any situation that is even remotely serious. cheers. ... and o yeah actually i absolutely consider the many ways being a white male is much easier than really any other alternative. but of course i can't see everything from my perspective so i just acknowledge that there are things i have and will never consider, and accept new ones whenever i hear them.

      • reader
        February 10, 2014 at 12:20 PM

        What, you don't have classes with females in them? Give me a break, you are the one who decided that only girls it would be acceptable to consider being with in any way are the girls that hang out with the SO-CALLED "frat stars." I'm in swem right now lol looking around me there are 4 ladies (all of whom happen to be physically beautiful, I might add). I'm someone who now abstains from greek-related activities on principle and I know there are other like-minded individuals here even if I sometimes find the small quantity to be discouraging. Now, I applaud your ability to be critical and aware, and I congratulate you on making the decision to de-pledge for moral reasons, seriously that makes you cool--we need more ppl who are willing to be honest and critical for the sake of the community. Its crazy how ppl are misinterpreting concern for the safety of women and the community as radicalism and "disunity," because that's just like telling people that if they don't like something about America then they should just leave...LOL ITS A DEMOCRACY THATS NOT HOW IT WORKS, you sometimes have to voice a concern for change to occur, crazy concept I know... Yes, some females do have a hand in perpetuating rape-culture, but don't conflate that with your own jealousy because spending time at sig chi or with ppl in that organization is NOT perpetuating rape culture. Telling girls that they shouldn't hang out with certain guys and expect to not be disrespected (or worse) IS perpetuating it. That said, I do not think you are wrong to suggest that greek-life in general has a heavy hand in perpetuating rape-culture, but I certainly do not say that as an insult to anyone who is personally involved with a frat or sorority. I'm just saying it is really important to be self-reflective and self-critical and I would encourage sororities an fraternities to continue the process of self-education and to further investigate the rape culture and their role in perpetuating it, because they do perpetuate it. I am not being accusatory because I would say that the WM community collectively perpetuates rape culture too and it certainly perpetuates greek-life, so this is not an issue of pointing to greek-life and calling it out while I sit here on a high horse--to the contrary, I will not ask of the greek community what I am not willing to do myself. I, too will continue to self-educate, I will investigate rape culture further and reflect on ways that I can make sure to be a part of the solution rather than the problem and I encourage you and everyone else to do the same.

  4. Emerson Ives
    February 8, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    Please educate yourself in regards to gender, sexuality, and women's issues. We have a department here on camps that offers classes surrounding these topics. I would suggest qualifying yourself to speak on the matter before basing an entire argument on your limited individual experiences with the situation.

  5. Why do I go here
    February 8, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    You commenters are ridiculous. Your sense of social entitlement is the foundation of all bigoted and intolerant societies everywhere. @wiggybabe:disqus : "Don't you DARE" How shameful of you. Shameful. Assuming you go to this College, how shameful of you to think that others should silence themselves because they do not think the way you do. @Guest: How is it your place to tell others that they have no place in a discussion? The author of this editorial has more than enough right to voice his opinion on something that has affected ALL of us on this campus. @emersonives:disqus : How condescending of you. Everything any of us ever has to say is related to our own "limited" personal experience. Congratulations on your feelings of intellectual superiority. It must be nice telling people they aren't educated enough to offer their opinions. @srhshu:disqus : I like your comment, it was a very respectful and relevant rebuttal.

    • Wiggy Babe
      February 8, 2014 at 3:32 PM

      I am not ashamed to express my anger. I am not ashamed of being angry. I am not ashamed of shaming someone who is rationalizing the actions of someone exhibiting predatory and misogynistic behavior. Silencing? Hardly. He has been given his forum to speak, privileged, by a campus newspaper, over the opinions of those who have much, much more invested in this issue because of the bodies they live. I am angry about that too. Again, freedom of speech does NOT constitute freedom from response, nor does it constitute the negation of negative consequences. If this person is big enough to publish his opinion in a public forum, he is big enough to deal with the response. I am not ashamed to criticize his opinions, thoughts, and words. Criticism and anger do not constitute silencing.

      • Guest
        February 10, 2014 at 1:20 PM

        But you *want* him silenced, yes? Your position is that he *shouldn't* have had this forum - that the paper should have published just another voice that was in total agreement with all the other voices that agree with yours?

        • Wiggy Babe
          February 11, 2014 at 6:15 PM

          Directly after the Town Hall meeting and statements released by the administration, all official W&M coverage of this topic has already taken the path of 'softened rhetoric.' Misogyny, rape culture, sexual assault, sexism - those words never even entered the conversation until about 8 comments in at the Town Hall meeting, and have only been mentioned since in official College publications when people say, "calm down, this isn't what's actually happening." Only exception (thus far) was Jenny Putzi's open letter, which was published unofficially on Facebook. There are people who have been standing up and saying, "This IS a problem, this DOES affect me, this DOES make me feel unsafe" - but those weren't the voices being privileged first. I think that's really disappointing, and angering, that the first people who were granted spaces in public forums to speak were the people who don't understand why others were seriously hurt by the email. And it's disappointing that there are people who don't understand why this is a problem and aren't making the effort to find out. I've seen how things work on this campus, and how this 'community' acts when real problems are brought to light and people try to voice concern. They're shut down, told to shut up, told they're 'hyperbolizing the situation' (whatever language), they are vilified for their anger instead of being heard. It's lazy, and irresponsible. I am happy to see that there have been other people commenting on this article who are trying to dig deeper and figure out what's going on and communicating. If you don't like what I said to the author, that's fine. Talk to me about it.

      • Rob Michael
        February 10, 2014 at 3:04 PM

        Get over yourself. The world is unfair. The difference is men know the world is unfair while women think the world is unfair and blame men for it.

        • Wiggy Babe
          February 11, 2014 at 6:17 PM

          I think you would probably benefit from taking a Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies course - perhaps the Intro class. It's a good opportunity to learn to look deeper into how people actually think and why.

          • Rob Michael
            February 11, 2014 at 8:12 PM

            Yeah, I did the whole male feminism thing, took those classes as electives and was still treated as the enemy, despite vehemently being on the "right side." It's a victim mentality. Decided that most of the third wave was BS and learned a language instead. Honestly, I want those classes expunged from my record.

    • Emerson Ives
      February 8, 2014 at 5:02 PM

      @ Why do I go here: I would expect the same criticism if I wrote an uneducated article pertaining to your field of study. My question is why this person feels qualified to speak on a social phenomenon he knows nothing about (i.e all of his points stem from his own experience). Has he studied women's issues from an academic standpoint? Doubt it, or he wouldn't have published this. I never said he was uneducated. But he is ignorant to topics of gender, sexuality, and women's issues. I wouldn't arbitrarily publish an article about neuroscience because as an intelligent individual I understand any opinion I have regarding the matter is limited. In regards to speaking on experience, any time I have an opinion based on solely an experience I have had to preface the point with, "in my personal experience..." I don't pretend that my experience is total truth. I feel intellectually superior only in the fact that I recognize my privilege, own it, realize my opinion is limited, and use published research in order to back my opinions.

    • John Commoner
      February 8, 2014 at 5:03 PM

      My friend here has already said it, but I'll go ahead and repeat. Freedom of speech does not mean you're safe from social ostracizing, If I say that your behavior warrants you shunned, and that's what happens; guess what? That's not the government silencing you! So yeah, you can go ahead and respond however you like, but in the end, you are wrong. End of Story.

    • Wiggy Babe
      February 8, 2014 at 5:15 PM

      Also, there is an excellent article on the blog Black Girl Dangerous called '4 Ways to Push Back Against Your Privilege" - point number 3 is especially relevant to the issues you take with people who've commented.

  6. AT
    February 8, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    Well stated, Josh. If the people who read your op-ed piece take a moment to think, to absorb what you've said, to reflect upon the surrounding arguments, opinions, and emotions, I think they'll realize that this is simply a human being voicing his sensitive and aware opinion of one tiny facet of an enormously important subject. NO field of study and NO movement for social change can progress at all without viewing all sides of the issues at hand. You provide here one of the many valid angles on which our current and future discussion of sexual and emotional safety/awareness on campus should reflect. If you disagree with Josh's opinion, that's totally fine! It's your inalienable ability as a being with a brain to think differently than others. But consider this: isn't it dangerous to ignore opinions that oppose yours or to simply shut them down and dismiss them as "appalling," "unjustified," etc without trying to understand where they come from? We will never EVER chip away at rape culture and sexual/emotional abuse if we do not trace it to its roots and discover how to unwind its logic and the holds it has in the minds of those who support or take part in it. We must approach it from a place of intellectual understanding (of reason, however twisted it may be) and emotional awareness of the entire playing field, not just the side of survivors (although I am absolutely on your side). Once again, Josh, I respect your opinion. I respect the opinions of the other commenters, and I say that there is room for this entire discussion in our college's response to this email and to the awful truth that rape culture, no matter how hidden, exists everywhere.

    • Wiggy Babe
      February 8, 2014 at 5:13 PM

      Below is an excerpt from an open letter written by Professor Jenny Putzi, in reference to the email and to the Town Hall meeting. Please refer to the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Facebook page to read the rest. She brings up important points about privilege in this particular conversation that relate to your assessment of this article as "simply a human voice expressing his... opinion." "Were male students hurt and offended by this email? Yes, of course. Do men have a part to play in the process of eradicating sexism on our campus and creating a community in which such an email would not be acceptable? Oh yes, they do. And should we in fact pay attention to the way this incident is indicative of a larger indifference to and disrespect of difference on this campus? Absolutely! But I am concerned about how quickly we are ready to insist that this email is not just disrespectful to and violent against women. Isn’t it enough that women are hurt and angered by this situation? And I ask again, where are the women’s voices? Where is the space for women’s anger? Why didn’t this author quote from the William and Mary student who spoke so bravely about being raped last year by a fellow student? Why didn’t we hear about the young woman of color who spoke to her frustration at hearing over and over that if this had been a racist email, the College would have responded immediately? She courageously and patiently explained to the group that as an African American woman,she faced racism and sexism every day on this campus; to act as if this campus isn’t racist, she insisted, won’t make the sexism go away. As a professor at this College, it is my responsibility to care about each and every one of my students—female, male, and gender-nonconforming. I hope that if you were to ask the students in my classes, they would say that I show them all respect and provide a safe space for their voices to be heard, no matter what their point of view. One thing I teach in my classes, however, is how to be aware of your own privilege—how to think through your own unearned advantages in our society and our campus community and allow that awareness to inform how and what you contribute to that community. This whole thing started with an extreme demonstration of male privilege. Can we please talk about that?" There is also an excellent article on the blog Black Girl Dangerous called '4 Ways to Push Back Against Your Privilege" that is also relevant, especially point number 3.

      • waitwhat
        February 9, 2014 at 1:30 PM

        Hi, Wiggy Babe, could you please explain something to me? I read this professor's open letter and I found it to be quite unprofessional. She stated that she was disappointed that an equal amount of men spoke on the issue at this town hall as women did. Aren't we striving for equality, here? Isn't that what this is about? Don't we want to foster a community where women and men can talk about these types of issues together instead of in a one-way direction? Quite frankly, I'm disappointed that you aren't willing to hear different sides of this argument. If we are trying to change society, then everyone who belongs to the community has a right to participate in the discussion and give forth their views which can enlighten us to how other people are thinking about the issue and, therefore, understand where the misunderstandings on these types of issues are stemming from. The solution is not to tell people to "sit the hell down and shut the eff up" (to quote point 3 of the Black Girl Dangerous blog that you insisted we all read), but to listen to people and to talk rationally about the truth. So don't you DARE act as if you are right and he is wrong, when we are all a little biased in the end and it is our duty to keep our ears and hearts open to people who have a different story to tell.

        • Sáràh Shu
          February 9, 2014 at 4:04 PM

          Yes, we absolutely are striving for equality. The issue here, though, is that white, cisgendered, straight men's voices are given precedent over all others, and as a result of their privilege, believe that they have the ability to speak on every subject, to every experience. Now, I'm not saying that white, cisgendered, straight male allies aren't important. Of course they are. But an important facet of being an ally is to be able to listen to the more disadvantaged members of the community you are supporting. The different sides of the argument that I've been seeing aren't so much concerned about how this email or rape culture might affect women, or people of color, rather, they're concerned with their ability to speak freely (i.e., to continue to make offensive comments, unless I am mistaken). Men are given the most freedom of speech, and the most privilege, and as a result of that inequality, it's essential for white men to sit down, and let other people whose voices we rarely hear, begin to speak. Everyone certainly has a right to hold forth, but you're presuming that we currently have a level playing ground in which everyone CAN hold forth, and unfortunately, that is not the case. Think of the language of the email. If, for instance, you merely thought that my response was from a "box," then you wouldn't give any thought at all, because you've made me less human, and therefore less worthy of speech. This sort of language to describe women dismisses them, makes their voices and opinions unimportant, and this happens--let emphasize this--this happens all the time. It happens to women, people of color, trangendered people, people with mental health concerns, disabled people--basically anyone who is not white, male, able-bodied, cisgendered, and straight. So yes, I am trying to change society, but I don't think I have misunderstood the importance of this email. Rather, I am extremely aware that this email is representative of larger cultural problems, mostly because I am part of a disempowered group, and we are frequently reduced back down to our bodies--whether that's by men in the street, by abusers, by significant others, by media, or by an email.

          • MythSlayer
            February 10, 2014 at 9:45 PM

            It is just as unsettling that you can vote as those who believe an invisible man in the sky should guide our political policies. Since it is fairly clear nobody has ever told you the truth, I will go ahead and help you out. There is no such thing as rape culture in the USA. Equality under the law is a great thing and are a requirement for a free society. Physical, mechanical or actual equality will never be achieved through social engineering, shaming, lawsuits or whining. Millions of years of evolution (biology) has hard wired distinct traits into both genders. It has to be difficult to recognize, then completely dismiss, the fact that men killing other men is the reason you can express the fact and logic free opinions you hold. The worldview you opine is predicated upon the hard work of building a country already being done. A common thread among the feminist, socialist and communist ideals is that you are by default a victim of the actions of an evil N (patriarchy, elitist control mechanism, capitalistic society, etc). Further there is no war on women, male privilege or pay gap between men and women doing the same amount/quality of work. These are all myths propagated by individuals looking for useful idiots to further their own causes. Congrats on being a tool. I suspect your emotional response mechanism will kick in and override any sort of logic or all encompassing factual reevaluation of what has lead you to your current mindset. Hard data that conflicts with your indoctrination process will be filtered out like a faithful Jonestown resident. You lack a firm grasp on reality yet want to change society. Try fixing yourself first. Or you could just become a women's studies teacher. It's wide open for cherry picking data and requires no real work unlike STEM or even a trade which the world we live in is built upon. Pretty sure you are too good to go do construction, welding, concrete, plumbing right princess?

          • S S
            February 11, 2014 at 2:16 PM

            See, if you're reading this as an interested party, this is precisely the sort of thing we're upset about. This young person clearly seems to think that women are, in fact, lesser by some facet of biology, and feels somehow comfortable expressing these views. He seems to believe that as a result of female biology I would somehow be unable to respond logically, like an average human being. These sorts of generalizations are very similar to the generalizations made about minorities, as well--that African Americans, for instance, are somehow "less intelligent," and a multitude of other stereotypes. He appears to think that I have a "emotional response" that will "override" my logic, or that I "cherry pick" data. Not to mention his odd ad hominem of "princess" and "tool"--He argues that I cannot construct a logical argument when he himself is unable to construct an argument without resorting to fallacy or backing his claims of biological superiority or difference with factual evidence, despite his claims to "hard data." If he would like to factually back up his claims, then by all means, but I can at least say to anyone reading this that this sort of fallacy ridden argumentation is precisely what I'm trying to avoid, and these sorts of factually questionable claims--women and minorities are "lesser" somehow, and that's why they're disadvantaged, women are "lesser" beings that believe they're the blameless victims--are the reasons why we are upset about this email. These sorts of claims attempt to sort men and women into neat categories that easily explain why men generally have more privilege. Women and men are "just wired that way," for instance. But they also reinforce harmful stereotypes on both sides. Men, for example, are supposed to "strong" "silent," the "providers," they're not supposed to have a wide range of emotions, they're supposed to want sex constantly and be aggressive (something that seriously disadvantages male survivors of sexual assault, a very serious issue). The way this affects women I think has already been explained. But even if we WERE, in fact, "wired" this way, why would we push back against it? Why wouldn't we be happy with the status quo, giving this claimed wiring? Why are so many men and women, of various backgrounds, made so unhappy by these issues?

          • reader
            February 11, 2014 at 3:57 PM

            your comments are great, you have a lot of patience for a lot of ignorance. thank you.

        • Wiggy Babe
          February 9, 2014 at 6:03 PM

          Be aware of your privilege. Yes, everyone has a right to participate in discussion - though I will say again, that right DOES NOT protect you from response - but actually, sometimes the best, and most important thing you can do is to sit down and shut the eff up. Give other people, disempowered people, a space and a chance to speak. Respect their right to have a voice, and respect the fact that they are too often denied that right. Respect the fact that by speaking out you may be silencing people who are already never heard. In regards to the Town Hall meeting, we met to discuss, very specifically, an email that demonstrated predatory behavior towards women, that used dehumanizing and degrading language towards women. Women and survivors of sexual violence are the ones who were targeted in that email. Everyone has a right to speak on that, but seriously, respect the fact that women and survivors are denied space to be heard and to be valued EVERY DAMN DAY, and get out of the way. Respect the fact that actually, your opinion as a male is not the most important one on this subject. We don't have gender equality, we have a system that vastly privileges cis male voices over everyone else's. That means that, as a male, sometimes you need to shut up and let other people speak, because they know more about this than you do, and their experiences are valuable and more relevant than your two cents. Don't stop talking about it, but be very aware of how you are talking about this, who you're talking to, and what space you're speaking to. This is not about 'bias' - this is about lived experiences. I am a woman, and a survivor, and I have every right to be angry and to respond to someone when they say something that is wildly inappropriate, offensive, or hurtful, especially about sexual assault and sexual violence. Because believe it or not, telling someone that the violence and trauma they've experienced - or had re-triggered - as a result of rape culture and this email, in this specific instance - is hurtful. You hurt someone when you tell them that what they've gone through doesn't really matter. That's what this is about.

  7. reader
    February 8, 2014 at 7:20 PM

    "the College community, which, I should say, is the most accepting and respectful community I’ve ever encountered." Joshua, I'd just like to share my perspective on this: for me personally, I cant help but feel that in a truly accepting and respectful college community, the response to this email embarrassment would be to express strong support/solidarity for/with the group of people targeted by it, instead of jumping to the defense of the guy who wrote it. My definition of a respectful and accepting environment would be one where people of both genders could feel safe and comfortable everywhere on campus, day and night. Perhaps you are fortunate enough to always feel safe, comfortable and respected on campus, but consider that a lot of your peers might not share your feeling of security. If you are so fortunate, good for you, seriously! You totally deserve to go to a school where you feel super secure (secure enough to write an article like this, for example), but here are my questions for you, Joshua, Doesn't everyone else deserve to feel that way, too? Don't others who do not share your perspective on the triviality of the email have as much a right to write an article about it as you do? Isn't it possible that the response to this email scandal was so intense because a good many people on campus do not feel accepted/respected/safe? My last question is, what is the real danger of "hyperbolizing the situation" here? Are we in danger of attacking rape culture too hard? Because if so, I say let's hyperbolize, bro. Consider it!

    • michrep
      February 9, 2014 at 1:18 AM

      Hear, hear!

  8. michrep
    February 9, 2014 at 12:58 AM

    My reaction: "What if a woman had written an email about her “Save the Penises” campaign? How would everyone’s reactions differ? My guess: People still would have found it bizarre, but also clever and funny. It would be forgotten in a day." Men are not systematically objectified in the way that women are. I'm sorry, but these are not comparable situations. The reason why it would just be a funny joke if a woman wrote it would be that it in no way harms the male image or male power. Women are constantly fighting against the current not to be treated as mere objects of sexual pleasure, and constantly being reminded that we are failing to overcome, that our intelligence, our power, our resilience is not enough, and that our lives would be easier if we simply gave in (because men [and women] are going to think about us that way anyway, so why fight?). "Why are we having this discussion about rape culture and misogyny now, rather than after a fellow student was raped in December? Are we only talking about this because of the high publicity and widespread social media attention that the email attracted?" I guess the reason why the email was so shocking and upsetting (to me personally) was that I think of William & Mary as a safe space. Have I gotten cat-called? Yes. Have I had men (and women) say inappropriate or ignorant things to me? Yes. But I would say 90% of the time I felt as though men didn't think about the fact that I was a woman before listening to what I had to say. I could wear what I wanted and not feel bad about it. I was treated equally to other students by my professors. Compared to what happens outside of the W&M bubble, this is an amazing environment filled with non-judgmental, accepting, loving people. And every time I've left William and Mary I've felt the wave of sexist assumptions washing over me again, and longed to be back on campus. This email... really made me question whether W&M was as safe and accepting as I thought it was. It literally sickens me to think that someone thought of me and MY body this way while I was walking around campus, worried about exams. Why can't I be a person too? Why are people so intent on not letting me be a person? If I'm not mistaken, the rape of the student in December was by a non-W&M student (I'm not sure though?). That being the case, although it was absolutely terrible, it's more difficult for W&M to regulate or have control over. We don't know who this man was, what his education was like, or what his life was like. In order to get into W&M you have to be highly educated, and in order to survive there you have to be pretty damn accepting. This isn't saying people don't slip through the cracks, because this email is proof that they do, but it is saying that when there is a violation of the trust I have described, the community will correct it if possible. For someone outside of that community, it's more difficult to deal with. "How would this Sigma Chi member be treated if his name were released? Based on the intensity of many reactions, I legitimately would be afraid for his safety. He would surely feel enough condemnation and visceral hate to permanently leave the College. Are you willing to ostracize someone over this email? Do you think he already feels intense remorse for his actions?" I don't think the man's name should be released. I do think there would be a reaction against him, and he would probably have to change schools as a result. I think keeping him at W&M will hopefully teach him that women are more than "snatch," especially after this incident. However, it seems like he has only had to reflect on his actions based on the community's response, a response which you deem hyperbolic. I'm glad this person feels bad. I'm glad the community has reached out to those who've felt violated and victimized by this email, and I'm glad that this person, whoever he is, is able to see the damage of his words and thoughts without being isolated or ostracized. I think this is the best situation for a teaching moment. "How does the reaction to this email impact the protection of free speech? Is it important that the day this email was leaked, the cover article of The Flat Hat celebrated the College’s ranking among the best American universities for free-speech protection? If the author’s name were released, would the administration feel compelled to expel him to satisfy this bloodthirsty student body? Over something he wrote as a joke, probably drunk?" As I say, I don't think his name should be released, but I don't think this has anything to do with free speech. He expressed his opinion openly to all of his brothers on his listserv--an expression of free speech. The fact that one was offended enough to speak out, is another example of free speech. The community outpouring of distress is another example of free speech. He may have been "making a joke" "drunk" but this is an act of violence. My sense of security was seriously shaken FROM HALFWAY ACROSS THE WORLD. Something "being in good fun" doesn't make it right. Good intentions aren't necessarily well-founded. Being drunk isn't a free pass to be an asshole. "But does this email encourage rape or indicate that the College, particularly the fraternity community, has a rape culture and is deeply misogynistic? No." I invite you to reread the email, and reassess your stance.

    • reader
      February 9, 2014 at 11:14 AM

      Yeah, sister, regarding the part where Joshua assumes that the person who wrote the email is "deeply remorseful" is problematic for me as well, because I literally have no reason to believe that, unless I just automatically accept the assumption that this kid's emotional faculties work just like mine, which they clearly do not because I would SEE that line in the sand before crossing into the territory of hurtful/not humorous jokes. But seriously, let's pretend that it is safe to assume this kid really is remorseful--so what? does that change the underlying social context whence sprang this ign'ant junkmail? No, alas, him being sorry does absolutely nothing to make ladies and people of all genders feel that they are being treated with respect and equality here on campus. Him being drunk or sober is also irrelevant, because what you need to understand (Joshua) is that people are looking at this email as something that is REPRESENTATIVE of problems that we were already aware of. You are so right that an appropriate time to start the conversation would have been months ago (I think years ago, personally), but guess what, we're having it now and better late than never. I cant remember which commenter mentioned this but it really struck a chord with me that the people who might be most affected by this incident could be survivors of sexual assault. Its impossible to comprehend anyone else's experience, I know, but Joshua,I think the world would be a better place if you tried. Consider that 1 in 4 American women are survivors of sexual assault and that 1 in 5 college women will be a survivor of sexual assault--isn't that flooring?! That is not a small enough percentage to turn our noses up at and decide that a privileged frat bro (who probably isn't getting punished for this anyways) is off the hook. You know four women that don't go to college, and Im sure you have at least 5 friends-that-are-girls here at school, so really think about this fact: probably, one woman you know (at least) is a survivor of sexual assault. Imagine that said woman-friend goes to WM, read this email, was upset at the reminder that this kind of thinking plagues society, went to the public forum and felt that her voice was drowned out by male students, read your article and felt that even her friend, Joshua, was a part of the problem and not the solution. Would you listen to her if she came and told you how much this hurt her? Or would you brush it off as you did your girlfriend because what you think and what you have to say still seems more important than '1 in 5 girls'?

  9. Ashley
    February 9, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    As a recent William & Mary Alumna and a Sexual Assault Survivor I've been very interested and confused by the discussion this email has caused. When I originally read the email I thought, "Gross, but that sounds about right coming from Sig Chi." Feel free to disagree with me on that statement but that's what I thought and I have good reason for thinking it. Rape Culture is everywhere, and certain segments of our campus community struggle with it more than others but that's not to say that all of W&M is plagued with it. There are far more people fighting against rape culture than those perpetuating it. Now let's be clear, I don't think that the men & women that were outraged by this email should be silenced. Nor, do I think that those that don't understand rape culture or don't think that this email perpetuates rape culture should be silenced. The power is not in the email, it's in the conversation that it started. Just think about how many people now know what the term rape culture is. This conversation can get heated but please don't stop having it. But be sure to listen to the other side though, not just pick through and look for pieces to yell about.

    • AT
      February 9, 2014 at 5:53 PM

      Absolutely.

  10. Guest
    February 9, 2014 at 7:49 PM

    I'm not going to give my name here because I'm honestly worried about the backlash, but I agree with much of what the author says. I'm a junior (female), and, while I found the e-mail crass and indefensible, the reactions to the editorial above are just as troubling. The atmosphere on campus - and most of my friends' campuses - is so hive-minded and radical-dominated that anyone who even suggests something as reasonable and productive as maybe softening rhetoric is pilloried by rage-blinded people who most definitely want to suppress any speech that runs counter to their orthodoxy. You know, like suggesting that this editorial shouldn't even be published. Because it doesn't check the right ideological boxes. It would be nice if we could have a real discussion about this. But we can't. Not because of the patriarchy. Not because of oppressive gender norms. Not because of misogyny. But because any discussion would inevitably turn into a screaming match or a protest if anyone dared run afoul of "acceptable" viewpoints, no matter how respectfully stated, they would be shouted down.

    • Sáràh Shu
      February 9, 2014 at 11:07 PM

      I understand your viewpoint, but to be honest with you, I don't necessarily see intense rage on this particular thread. Certainly I see people getting angry, to some extent, but I think a lot of them have some right to be angry. It was a triggering email, for some, for others it was demeaning and offensive. When people get enraged about these things, it's often because they've been struggling to be heard as a reasonable voice in the past--I think it's far more often that these views are brushed off. But I think they're important, mainly because they're indicative of a larger culture that disadvantages certain members of our society. I know it seems trivial to talk about an email in this way, but the email is a microaggression--that is, a small act of aggression that seeks to demean, in this case, women, and posit women as objects. The idea that women are objects is unfortunately not uncommon; we see it in media, in literature, in our every day lives--it's all in these minor acts of aggression. And those minor acts eventually build to larger ones, simply because once you've dehumanized someone, it's much easier to perpetrate violence against them. There is a historical precedent for such action, time and time again--dehumanization leads to violence. Emails and generally acts like this, though they are easy to brush off, perpetuates dehumanization of certain groups, and our ignoring or simply laughing along gives others our implicit approval of their own dehumanization of a group, and possible violent discrimination. In any case, I'm not trying to shut down your opinion, but I hope that my comment has helped you understand a bit of the outrage.

  11. Guest
    February 9, 2014 at 9:11 PM

    Josh, as a woman and a survivor of sexual assault, I agree with everything you're saying. While what was said in that email was atrocious, I accepted it for the joke that it was. I'm glad you were able to voice your opinion. It was well written and represented a group of people who see this email for what it is-- a joke in poor taste. Please ignore some of the more incensed commenters below, you are entitled to your opinion and you are allowed to post it.

    • reader
      February 11, 2014 at 5:44 PM

      I agree everyone is entitled to their opinions and their experience. Good for you that you weren't deeply upset by the email, I respect your experience, but some survivors have said they were deeply hurt by it and I also respect their experiences, empathize, and I hope others will not dismiss what they have to say.

  12. fuckyoujoshua
    February 10, 2014 at 1:38 AM

    fuck you Joshua.

  13. Guest
    February 10, 2014 at 1:48 AM

    Wow, reading the comments section you would think that a woman cannot walk outside without being raped. I find it ironic that the same people who preach about tolerance and equality viciously attack those who have different viewpoints than their own. As a girl, in a sorority, I honestly don't think that this email warrants the response. It wasn't slanderous, didn't actually mention forcing sex on anyone, and honestly was probably just an inept attempt at satire. Yes it was crass, but no it didn't indicate that every male ever is promoting the so-called "rape culture". The amount of outrage is ridiculous, and when the author of this article suggested toning it down a little, people somehow got even more outraged. No, he's not trying to use his "white privilege" to "marginalize women and minorities", he's telling everyone to calm the fuck down. What I don't understand is how feminists complain about how women are "dehumanized" and "marginalized", but in the same breath paint all men the same brush - that they're rabid beasts that only want to have sex and oppress women. The vicious rhetoric evidenced in this comment thread won't unite people to push for equality, it will only polarize people and drive them further apart. I particularly like how @wiggybabe:disqus said "Don't you dare tell us that you care about women when you ignored the wishes of your girlfriend in expressing an opinion on this". I didn't realize "ignoring the wishes" of one single person meant that you don't care about their entire group. By that logic, I don't care about men, women, whites, blacks, heterosexuals, or homosexuals. Sensationalizing one email is not going to undo the rape culture or achieve equality for men and women. You can argue about how this is "starting a dialogue", but in reality it has started a shouting match, where those with opinions that differ from the feminist agenda are completely shot down and are, dare I say it, marginalized. Actions speak louder than words, but you all are too busy ranting on the internet to go out there and actually change things.

    • Sáràh Shu
      February 10, 2014 at 8:52 AM

      Who has been viciously attacking people? I've seen people tell the author to check his privilege, to educate himself, and to think more deeply on the topic, but I haven't seen those people, in the same breath, call him names, or characterize men as beasts. Current culture paints men as aggressors--hypermasculine is the ideal. Men can't cry, for instance, they're told to "man up," etc., among other examples. So I don't think the people on here are trying to characterize men that way. That would be acting in the same established male aggressor/female victim dichotomy that we've always acted under. And you're right that sensationalizing one email isn't going to change things--but educating people, talking about why this might be an example, starting up activism and programs around sexual assault and intersectional issues, can. I think that's what people are striving for. You are entitled to your opinion, otherwise. I see this as a potential educational opportunity, and while actions do speak louder, I hope that I can convince someone to educate themselves a little more on gender and women's issues such that they'll be more receptive to action. I don't want people to get shouted down, I want them to think a little more deeply, or research and see what all the fuss is about.

    • reader
      February 10, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      "Wow, reading the comments section you would think a woman cannot walk outside without being raped." Wow, I'm saying this out of love, but by posting that sentence you made yourself seem very ignorant. 1 in 5 college women will be sexually assaulted, AND 1 in 4 American women, statistically (and we all know sexual assault is underreported), and while that's not EVERY woman EVERY time she walks outside, that should be enough to have you concerned and at least willing to entertain the notion that conversations about this email could be fertile grounds for educating people and helping to reduce the number of people, regardless of gender, who are sexually assaulted. WM students might not always be emotionally or socially on the ball but you are at least smart enough to realize that given those statistics you probably personally know SEVERAL females who have been directly impacted by sexual violence--whether they have confided that to you is another story all together, and personally, I sure as hell wouldn't confide in a girl who trivializes the rape problem on campus. I wish more people could realize this...what you say about this issue does matter, how you trivialize it does matter, the jokes you make do matter, for anyone who has been directly affected by sexual violence. Those people are all around you, they are 25% of all women you will meet in this country, and (not for all, but) for many of them, an email like this is hurtful beyond anything you can conceive, and beyond my powers of description. Does it have to be that EVERY woman who walks outside gets raped for you to care? Because for me, 1 in 5 is way over my limit, its wildly problematic and it calls for immediate action. The cushy seat of privilege feels nice on your ass, I bet, but you should get off it and come help me fight to create a safer world for our daughters.

    • Wiggy Babe
      February 11, 2014 at 6:39 PM

      That particular comment is telling to me, in addition to being triggering. It's disturbing to see someone claim he is an ally, while simultaneously... not actually acting as an ally. Here we are, talking about women and sexual violence against women and how that's bad (or doesn't exist, as at least one other person here has claimed) and how women should be allowed to talk about it and listened to and then... he didn't listen to her. One woman, who presumably is really important to him, and he didn't listen to her. Maybe just for this one thing, but this one thing is important. What does that mean for the rest of the women who aren't important to him? No, he's not going to go all 'rabid beast' on them (no one here has suggested that, actually, just you) - but what is it going to take before he listens and respects what they're trying to tell him? It's a pretty awful feeling to realize that someone who says they really care about you doesn't care enough to listen when you express that something they do, or are planning to do, upsets you. To me, that's a big red flag.

    • Wiggy Babe
      February 11, 2014 at 6:53 PM

      Also, while you've been busy paying attention to our 'ranting on the Internet,' students have been working with faculty and administration to create programs like 'The Vagina Dialogues,' tomorrow (Wednesday, 2/12) in Andrews 101 at 7:30 PM (next session will be Wednesday, 2/19, same time). There will also be a 'Think Outside the 'Box'' Teach-In on Saturday, 2/15, time and location TBD but here is the info: "This Teach-In will feature a series of "classes" taught by William and Mary faculty, staff, and student organizations on issues of sexual assault and the campus climate for women at our school. We are working on the specific time and locations and will provide more information soon! We welcome anyone who cares about the William and Mary community to attend! Please join us to learn more about these issues and to add your voice to the continuing conversation." There are Facebook events for both. Additionally, students have been working with the SA to create a new resolution to address sexual aggression on campus; Alex Greenspan has been working with the IFC in implementing a new plan addressing sexual assault in fraternities; students are working with the Center of Student Diversity, Student Assembly, AMP, HOPE, Avalon, William & Mary Stands with Survivors, Alpha Chi Omega, and Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies to spread awareness of the prevalence of rape culture and sexual assaults on campus through programs, events, and social media, and to implement policy change - keep an eye out; and have published articles on other sites such as Her Campus on the subject, continuing the dialogue. Many of those students are also ones who have responded to this article - including me. If you are interested in helping 'actually change things,' feel free to contact me. Oh, and if you want a "Think Outside My Box" tshirt (organized/designed/ordered by a student/faculty team), please contact Professor Jenny Putzi, she has access to the Google.doc/order form.

  14. Perspective
    February 10, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    I commend Josh for saying what many normal people on this campus have been thinking. Josh has the right to voice his evenhanded opinion, just as each and every one of you have the right to voice your one-sided beliefs. At the end of the day, there is a double standard in how men are expected to treat women and how women are expected to treat men. Take the Lulu app for example - it is an app exclusively for women, allowing them to judge men purely based on their attractiveness and sexual performance. Imagine if men had a Lulu app? The Forbes article, "Why we should all be scared of the Lulu App," addresses this issue in further detail. Moreover, there is a clear hypocrisy that has been exhibited by those blindingly outraged by last week's e-mail. Let me ask - how many of you who attended the town hall meeting earlier in the week also attended the Wiz Khalifa concert on Saturday? How many of you were at the Big Sean concert yelling "Ass, Ass, Ass, etc?" Are we saying that it is okay for us to pay $25 to watch a performer objectify women as his profession ("Tits out for the boys"), but it is not okay for a fraternity member to make an objectifying joke in a private e-mail? I think neither are right ... yet we are clearly saying that one is, and even more ridiculous, worth paying for. I hope you enjoyed the concert.

    • Wiggy Babe
      February 11, 2014 at 5:46 PM

      I find it rather disturbing that your definition of 'normal' is meant to exclude 'women who were affected by this' and 'survivors of sexual violence who were affected by this.' Meaning the people who've expressed anger or fear about it, and clearly excluding the people who didn't feel safe saying anything at all. Also, I didn't go to the concert, but thanks for bringing misogynistic attitudes and derogatory language to everyone's attention. I highly encourage you to consider working with AMP or the SA in the future in considering who we're bringing to campus to perform - because you're right about that, we are sending mixed messages when allowing that kind of speech to happen in one context but condemning it in another. You can help change that, if you want.

      • Perspective
        February 11, 2014 at 6:33 PM

        Please don't put words in my mouth. My definition of normal is actually meant to INCLUDE the many individuals on campus who take a balanced perspective on these issues. Unfortunately, much like in politics, the loudest voices in the room have been demanding all of the attention on this issue. However, when it comes down to it, the answer lies somewhere in the center. You've been bullying people on this chat like Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly bully people on their TV shows. Herein lies the ultimate hypocrisy in your angry arguments: you tell any individual with an opinion different than you're own that they are attempting to silence women, yet in doing so, you are attempting to silence those expressing alternative points of view.

        • Wiggy Babe
          February 11, 2014 at 7:29 PM

          I think 'normal' isn't the word you were looking for then. Actually, I'm not sure what you mean by 'balanced perspectives,' either. Do you mean people who aren't angry or don't think rape culture is a problem? Or don't think it's as big of a problem as other people have expressed? Also, sigh, telling people to check their privilege and be mindful of who they're speaking to and what they're speaking about, to be conscious that they might be saying something hurtful or triggering or offensive isn't the same thing as silencing. It's called speaking. Speaking out, if you will. Also, in case you misinterpreted my last comment about the concert as sarcasm - I meant it. Please, if that was something that bothers you, do something about it! There are people in SA and AMP who care about this a lot too and are willing to work with you and other students who were bothered by it! You can change things if you want to!!

        • ss
          February 11, 2014 at 7:33 PM

          I think I've said before in this thread that these voices are loud because they've often had to struggle to be heard. But regardless of that, I will note that opinions like yours have been expressed in this thread, they've just been debated. I wouldn't call what Wiggy is doing "bullying"--she's been making good, logical points, and as far as I know she hasn't been name-calling or shutting people down. The worst thing she said, and the worst anyone in this thread has said, is "Listen to us! Privilege the speech of survivors this time, because they are the affected parties!" I don't think that that constitutes bullying. You say that the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Perhaps so, but where is this middle ground that you speak of? What the opposing poles here? It seems like there's a dichotomy being set up here that doesn't necessarily need to be set up. Why am I suddenly on the wrong side for wanting to respond to this email, and the surrounding culture that allowed this email to be written and sent? And why can't I, going back to your previous post, want to change the culture that allows sexist lyrics AND sexist language to exist? The fact of the matter is, the email is something I can productively respond to, that people are taking note of and wanting to debate. This is a great opportunity for us all to learn, to debate, and to teach each other how to be more respectful, and to eradicate some of the toxic culture standpoints on campus. Additionally, you say that some commenters are attempting to silence you, or others with alternative points of view. I don't think that debate or response constitutes silencing, rather I think that responding to a post is meant to spark more conversation or thought on this issue. Also, to be honest, I saw nothing angry in her response to you--she was agreeing with you about Wiz Khalifa's sexist lyrics, and noting that it is a part of the larger problem that we are trying to tackle. In any case, Wiggy explaining that certain language used in this thread can be silencing is not necessarily silencing to you, in my opinion. That is simply expressing an opinion, and honestly, the commenters haven't simply been shouting at people that they are silencing women, we have been explaining why those opinions or comments might be problematic. If you'd like to discuss or debate that, I'm quite open to it.

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