Re: “Vulgar e-mail targets freshmen” (Sept. 3). Pretty much everyone who’s heard about the “Preseason Scouting Report” is outraged by it. Outrage is a good starting point, but it’s not enough.
It’s hard to figure out how to think about it, though; how not to shut down and retreat into thinking about the world in stark blacks and whites: “Football boys are awful,” “Girls are perpetually endangered objects,” etc. People are much more complicated than that.
One thing we can do is to step back from the extremity of this particular instance of hatefulness and objectification and think about how it fits on a continuum with the rest of Yale sexual culture. If our impulse is to say to the freshman women on this list, “Yale isn’t really like this,” well, then, what is it like? And what do we want it to be like?
The “Preseason Scouting Report” is not all there is to Yale sexual culture (and thank goodness), and it does not even represent a majority strain. It does, however, reveal a dangerous element within.
Casual sex can be great, and it often is, but it cannot be without a ground level of respect for others. This may be elementary, but it bears saying: Basic respect involves recognizing that every other person exists to the same extent as you do, with the same fullness. It involves protecting the wellbeing of others, as long as it doesn’t jeopardize your own.
When hooking up becomes about social status, or impressing your friends, or just about your need to get off, or being willing to publicly humiliate others, it gets very ugly very quickly. We need to broaden our conception of intimacy and how it can reside, and even thrive, within the “hook-up” culture.
We need to think about the obligations we have together as classmates, and as people.
How can we establish a community in which women and men are free to explore their sexuality in ways that are meaningful and even (yes) fun?
I’m pretty sure a “Preseason Scouting Report” is the opposite of what we need. The task now is to figure out what we do need, and how we can make it happen.
Emily Hoffman and Blair Lanier
The writers are the outgoing Rossborough Fellowship Coordinator and the Business Coordinator of the Yale Women’s Center, respectively. They are a senior in Branford College and a junior in Pierson College.