Letter: The opposite of what we need

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

Sept. 3

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.

Comments

  • a local resident

    oh, geeze, grow a pair. Life is hard. Life has lots of rude people in it. I’m sorry you feel ‘objectified.’ I can probably guess you guys are not on the list, which means you have had your egos affected by not being judged for your attractiveness. Humans are vain bunch, and not being thought of as attractive causes all sorts of emotional problems. For example, the womens liberation movement started with the ugly girls on campus – did you see how Betty Freidan looked when she started the movement. In a hook up culture she’d get a ‘passed out with someone else’s equipment’ rating.

    Can’t ANYONE find a little bit of humor in anything anymore without someone somewhere getting insulted? It’s reached the point where you need a notarized contract to complement a woman these days, and be fully lawyered up before you propose a date, and bring on the national guard before you actually have intercourse, and perhaps armed with nuclear weapons to ask someone to marry you.

    Can you folks just take it for what it is, smile, or frown, and move on?

  • ES

    This is an excellent assessment of the broader implications of this incident and what we can learn from them. Nice job.

  • froshgal

    I love the Women’s Center.

  • alum

    As someone who’s been very critical of the people running the Women’s Center in the past, let me just say, bravo! This is a very thoughtful, reasonable, and even insightful response to an incident that nearly everyone agrees (raving, incoherent sexists like #1 notwithstanding) was pretty bad. Instead of the path the WC followed after the infamous picture incident a while back – blanket denouncements coupled with hopelessly vague demands – this article explicitly rejects that path and calls for greater respect and understanding among ALL students when it comes to sex. Hopefully students will take its message to heart. Well done!

  • k

    “I can probably guess you guys are not on the list, which means you have had your egos affected by not being judged for your attractiveness.”

    VERY ORIGINAL…haven’t heard that one before.

  • Goldie ’08

    Commentor #1 has a point: if you think this is bad, wait until you get into the real world. We’re spoiled while we are at Yale. Outside the bubble, people are mean, jealous and nasty for no reason. People hook up. Both women AND men are objectified. For example, I now live in Los Angeles and the number of women that objectify wealthy men is quite high. What if a sorority, let’s say…Theta, came out with a list of freshmen boys with trust funds (something not outside the realm of possibility) to seek out.

    I feel objectified every time I go out to a bar. I happen to own a nice watch (graduation gift) and within minutes of meeting a new girl, they notice the watch and invariably ask what I do for a living and how much I make. Yes, many girls think it is acceptable to ask someone what they make in order to decide whether or not they’re worth bringing home that night. Imagine a guy walking up to a girl asking her cup size.

    In the end, though, this is just a classic example of “we’re not gonna protest.” Yale needs to screen the jeremy piven classic “PCU”

  • ROFLCOPTER

    Casual sex leads to objectification. You can have both, or neither. The modern feminist movement has not learned this fact about society.

  • @7

    Amen, brother.

  • rofljet

    I’m pretty sure men were objectifying women long before casual sex was considered socially acceptable.

  • ROFLCOPTER

    Were they? They certainly weren’t letting us vote and expected us to clean and cook for them, but I can’t say for certain that they were ‘objectifying’ women. Objectification consists of a perspective which views my entire gender as sex objects.

    Whether or not men considered women inferior in the past is irrelevant to my point – if we’re complaining about objectification, it’s the result of the so-called sexual revolution. Can you imagine such a ‘scouting report’ emerging in any time period but modern society?

  • @ ROFLCOPTER

    Excuse me, but I don’t think that the issue with the “preseason scouting report” is the actual objectification containing therein as much as how disgusting it is that those boys actually preyed on freshmen girls, printed their pictures and contact information without their consent, and circulated things about them that they lacked the balls to say to their faces but could say when hidden by the cloak of anonymity.

    Men and women will always objectify each other. Looks, money, status. This happens with or without casual sex.

    But to actually circulate such an e-mail, about people who just arrived on campus? What a way to make them feel welcome. To the fratboys and circulated this, you are disgusting.

  • RecentAlum

    With blatant sexism such as this, this is not a place I would ever send my child or donate money to.