Gordon: The battle is far from over

You’ve already heard about DKE. We all know that a group of pledges stained our community with disturbing, painful language. I, along with the vast majority of the Yale student body, believe that this was wrong; the Women’s Center believes that this was wrong; the brothers of DKE know that this was wrong.

You’ve probably also read the Yale Daily News editorial published Monday. In “The right kind of feminism” (Oct. 18), the News chose to disparage seven students ­— the Women’s Center board — for the outraged tone of their initial response. I will not add my name to the list of those instructing women how to be feminists, nor should the editors of the News.

Instead, I want to broaden the conversation and enlist Yale men in support of Yale women. I believe the News shared this goal but failed to achieve it through mistaken dismissal of feminist battles as “already won.” This is simply not the case. The very subject of Wednesday’s chanting mocked one of the scariest battles of all.

Rape is not alien at Yale. Perhaps the unfamiliar, repellent phrase, “sexual violence,” with its connotations of armed strangers in the dark, has distracted us from the familiar stories we hear friends whisper on Sunday mornings. About a woman who wanted to go home, but not be rude; who wanted to hook up, but not have sex; who can’t remember what happened after the party; who, according to a guy, “wasn’t that into it.” You don’t have to remember freshman orientation to know: these are the masks often worn by rape at Yale.

When we refuse to talk honestly and openly about acquaintance rape; and when a group of male students follow my friend across Old Campus, shouting out sexual claims on her body; and when the “Preseason Scouting Report” earns multiple panlists’ approval before raising any red flags, I don’t think we can claim that the battles against sexism are won. Honestly, of all the avenues of insensitivity available to us these days, we at Yale have worn the path of misogyny most publicly in recent years. From co-education’s delayed arrival to “We Love Yale Sluts,” we have struggled to build a community in partnership between men and women.

And in regard to the many battles feminists have won, I suggest that the last thing women should do is rest on those victories and lower their voices. I trust the Women’s Center and other women on campus to keep talking about persistent inequality — what we need is for the men of Yale to join in.

I am not writing as President of the Yale College Council, which I am, nor as a radical or a woman, which I am not. I’m writing as a pretty average Yale man ­— or, perhaps, a Yale guy trying to earn that loftier title. I’m proud of how I’ve treated many of the women I’ve known here, ashamed of how I’ve treated others, and determined to do better in the future. I respect people who stand up for themselves and who dare to use unequivocal language in times of crisis. Yale feminists, including the current Women’s Center board, are some of the people I respect most. Moreover, I know that only when I join their chorus in sincere commitment to gender equality do I respect myself.

No one’s asking you to parrot the Women’s Center — use your own voice and actions. Stop saying “slut.” Ask someone to dance before grabbing her hips. Give and receive enthusiastic consent. In these gestures, large and small, you can do your part in reforming our sexual culture. At Yale, feminism is still worth fighting for. If we care about the united strength of our community, men should join the cause. It’s our battle, too.

Jeff Gordon is a junior in Saybrook College and the president of the Yale College Council.

Comments

  • WoobieTuesday

    Thank you.

  • SY10

    I second WoobieTuesday. Right on point, and much less hostile and angry than I would have been writing the same piece.

  • EveryWomanAtYale

    Are you single?

  • MC13

    Yes! Exactly! Finally, someone gets it right!

  • FailBoat

    This is one of the stupidest half-paragraphs I’ve seen:

    > No one’s asking you to parrot the Women’s Center — use your own voice and actions. Stop saying “slut.” Ask someone to dance before grabbing her hips. Give and receive enthusiastic consent.

    There’s only one person parroting in the Women’s Center, and that’s Jeff Gordon.

  • RexMottram08

    Empty head. Empty words.

    > No one’s asking you to parrot the
    > Women’s Center — use your own voice
    > and actions. Stop saying “slut.” Ask
    > someone to dance before grabbing her
    > hips. Give and receive enthusiastic
    > consent.

    Who says chivalry is dead? Yes, please ask for her hand prior to grinding your crotch into her behind.

    Yale Women’s Center (and Jeff Gordon) don’t get it. The hook-up culture is directly responsible for the DKE boys’ chants. The Women’s Center, wedded to “choice”, refuses to look at the toxic fruits of their sexual ideology.

  • pablum

    RexMottram08 raises a good point. Before the 1960s sexual liberation movement, which led to modern hook-up culture, women were always treated with respect, and this kind of thing never happened. This is a fact that the radical leftist establishment tries to hide, but before the moral decline of U.S. society, women often held leadership positions, and could even vote; sexual aggression was largely confined to Bolshevism.

  • FailBoat

    > Before the 1960s sexual liberation movement, which led to modern hook-up culture, women were always treated with respect, and this kind of thing never happened.

    pablum’s sarcastic comments are right. Before the sixties, Yale men walked around campus chanting obscenities about rape and necrophilia.

  • pablum

    >pablum’s sarcastic comments are right. Before the sixties, Yale men walked around campus chanting obscenities about rape and necrophilia.

    Considering that women weren’t allowed the privilege of attending Yale at the time, they wouldn’t have had the displeasure of hearing it. Perhaps you’re on to something…

  • RexMottram08

    Must they be mutually exclusive, @pablum?

    Can’t we have a decent, civil society, including full participation for women, without a toxic sexual culture?

  • pablum

    @RexMottram08, I do find it odd that a certain understanding of female sexual freedom is in agreement with a certain kind of male sexual desire.

  • Leah

    Excellent job, Jeff. And extremely appreciated.

  • mpl

    Thank you for this.

  • d11

    thanks jeff. well done.

  • PA3

    Yes, thank you. And thanks for bringing both genders in on the conversation without polarizing sides.
    Beautifully done.

  • y09

    I can’t even believe commenters are turning this into a “in MYYYY day, when ladies were kept in our cellars, they were respected!” This has nothing to do about your generation, liberals, or chivalry. The time is NOW.
    And nowhere did Jeff say you must ask for a lady’s hand before dancing with her! And asking isn’t chivalrous – it’s common courtesy. It’s not that hard to ask, “Wanna dance?”

    THANK YOU, JEFF.

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    156 points behind Jimmie Johnson!

  • YaleMom

    Mr. Freddy knows what it’s all about! Race Cars!! Mr. Gordon is a hero!!

  • RexMottram08

    y09, you missed the point. completely

  • domlawton

    Bravo. Bravo. Bravo.

  • lauragottesdiener2010

    Thank you Jeff. Much appreciated from recent grad.

  • kathryn

    Well stated Jeff. I am proud to see this kind of response. Desperately needed and well written.

    Thank you
    Kathryn

  • pc11

    This is spot on. Thank you. Reading this piece made me glad to have you as YCC President. And, because you’re straight, white and male, maybe people will actually listen to you instead of disregarding your opinion as “histrionics.” Here’s hoping.

  • BK98

    Bravo.

  • sy09

    Saybrook College, still the best college.

  • BR11

    @ anyone who wants Yale or DKE HQ to take serious action besides a slap on the wrist against DKE:
    It won’t happen. First, some of Yale’s most important alums are DKEs (e.g. Bush). And it’s the Alpha (founding) chapter of DKE – it has too much sentimental value to the international organization to be shut down.

    But good job, Jeff Gordon.

  • Jezebelian

    Thank you Jeff.

  • formerstudent

    Thank you.

  • JuliaMottram10

    @ RexMottram08: I entirely agree with your first post. This is why I was so upset about Brenda Champion.