TITLE IX COMPLAINANTS: Exacerbating Yale’s rape culture

In seeking silence, the Undergraduates for a Better Yale College (UBYC) create a culture of violence.

We write in response to yesterday’s debate regarding the UBYC’s mission to stop sex and its discussion on our campus. Alex Chituc ’13 admirably tackled many problematic aspects of the organization’s work in a column for the News (“Yalies for minding your own business,” Sept. 20). But we, a group of Title IX complainants, feel it is important to note that judging personal sexuality and suppressing dialogue around intimacy are not only invasive, but also dangerous.

The UBYC leadership claims to shoulder this task in order to fight sexual harassment and assault (“Change the climate, end Sex Week,” Sept. 20). In fact, their efforts threaten the safety of our campus. Stigmatization and silence deprive women and men alike of their power to articulate what they would and would not like in bed. Denying our peers the ability to draw their own lines of comfort through communication puts them at risk of great violence.

UBYC assumes that sex itself is at the root of violence against women, and therefore, that female sexuality should be curtailed. This fallacy deprives women of autonomy in a manner eerily reminiscent of DKE’s chanting. Both groups’ language belies a belief that violence is inevitable and that women lack the ability to make their own decisions about their relationships and their bodies. This kind of denial of agency lies at the heart of Yale’s rape culture, which the UBYC is supposedly working to combat. Similarly, their insistence that “a culture of promiscuity has no right to be surprised by objectification [and] sexual disrespect,” reeks of the kind of victim-blaming that makes reform impossible and discourages public exposure of “private” violence. If such an ethos were to take over our campus, how could survivors of rape feel comfortable coming forward to seek justice and support? How would victims of domestic abuse — for sexual violence is no invention of the sexual revolution, and is not isolated to casual encounters — escape the cycle of emotional and physical trauma?

As signatories of last spring’s Title IX complaint, we resent how UBYC has disingenuously coopted our efforts to promote a safe sexual climate, twisting them to support their own mission to censor and shame. And while we appreciate Chituc’s opposition to the organization on free speech grounds, we also find his characterization of our complaint somewhat problematic. The fact that “in a student body of 5,000, some people are assholes,” as Chituc puts it, is not an adequate explanation for DKE’s chanting. Official and unofficial toleration of rampant misogyny is.

Sexual violence is not a symptom of promiscuity itself, as UBYC believes, nor is it simply an inevitable result of the existence of “assholes.” Rather, it is a direct result of a culture, not unique to Yale but firmly entrenched here, that sees women as objects who lack real sexual desire, who attempt to halt sexual activity until they can be convinced (or forced) to do otherwise, who are utterly without agency or pleasure in any sexual interaction. The only way to challenge that culture is to talk about it in class, in Sex Week, and most importantly, in bed. Silence encourages rape and allows it to go unremarked and unpunished. Surely that is not something we can tolerate in the name of a more “dignified” campus.

Joseph Breen, Alexandra Brodsky, Kate Orazem, and Hannah Zeavin are seniors in Saybrook, Davenport, Jonathan Edwards, and Berkeley Colleges, respectively. They and 12 others filed a Title IX complaint against Yale last spring, alleging a “hostile sexual environment.” Their views do not necessarily reflect those of all of the Title IX complainants.

Correction

An earlier version of this column misstated Joseph Breen’s residential college. It is Saybrook.

Comments

  • yayasisterhood

    More of the same nonsense from this crowd, again refusing to acknowledge the logical conclusions of their beliefs and actions. Here’s my question: if sex is so trivial, should be treated so casually, should be removed from any considerations of morality, then why is sexual violence worse than any other kind of violence?

    • alsoanon

      I don’t see where you’re getting “sex is trivial” from an article that argues that there should be MORE discussion about sex, not less. The idea that casual sex can be a consensual, empowered and valid act does not render it trivial — in my opinion, quite the opposite. More importantly, however, your comment seems to assume that sexual violence has some equivalency to sex — it doesn’t. It’s an act of violent aggression that is completely unrelated to consensual acts of casual sex.

      • alsoalsoanon

        yea!

      • River_Tam

        > The idea that casual sex can be a consensual, empowered and valid act does not render it trivial — in my opinion, quite the opposite.

        In my opinion, your opinion is wrong. Now look how much fun this is!

  • yayasisterhood

    ya!

  • The Anti-Yale

    *This kind of denial of agency*

    These were the words I was searching for. Women do not decline to use their power as I said yesterday, they decline to declare their agency.

    My hunch is, they have been indoctrinated subconsciously to believe that a strong, forceful woman will be perceived as a martinet, a virago, (clandestine code for “lesbian”) and that they will be stigmatized.

    “No man will want me.” (Fate worse than death. as the clock ticks during Nature’s reproductive “window of opportunity”: fertility)

    Thus the vicious cycle of sexist oppression grinds on.

    PK

    • River_Tam

      They have been indoctrinated to believe that a woman that abstains from casual sex will be seen as frigid, unapproachable, and undesirable.

      The authors of this column are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  • LtwLimulus90

    This article deliberately mischaracterizes UBYC’s argument.

  • River_Tam

    Lol.

    Wanting to treat sex as something more than a mere physical act exacerbates Yale’s rape culture?

    More nonsense from the Yale Women’s Center and their compadres. How are these people still relevant?

  • RexMottram08

    The authors unwittingly support the same policies and attitudes that create the problems they denounce.

    • SY

      Not unwittingly at all. The authors support the same policies and attitudes that create the problems they denounce. They have good legal counsel approving every statement.

      This group supports drunk, casual sex by women and men. Women have the right to bring administrative actions against men and Yale for sexual misconduct and rape, based soley on the best testimony and crying before three arbitrators. Men will have to stop having drunk, casual sex with women, or risk ruin. I can accept the asymmetry between men and women because I don’t favor drunk sex between men and women who don’t know or like each other. I don’t accept that Yale is responsibile for the sexual decisions of its (durnk) students.

      Vote 0

  • River_Tam

    This is a classic chilling effect at work here.

    Anyone who opposes these Title IX hacks is “creating a culture of violence” and should thus just STFU. We can’t afford to let them speak – letting them voice their opinions would create rapes!

  • eli1

    I am so sick of reading anything from Brodsky, Zeavin, and company. Obviously, they are looking for attention by repeatedly perpetuating this myth about there being a violent “rape culture,” at Yale. Ummmmmmm, I’m not sure how it is now but when I was at Yale I’m pretty sure there were 0 violent rapes and therefore no “rape culture.” In fact, I actually think the argument made by UBYC is a pretty good one. Bringing porn stars and sex toy instructors does nothing but cheapen the seriousness of having sex, instead promoting the hook up culture currently present at Yale. Indeed, it is this very hook up culture which the women’s center says leads to the proliferation of rapists (ie. fraternity members and athletes). I actually thought (wrongly) that the UBYC argument would promote some form of rational thought on the topic from the WC instead of condemning the practices which lead to the “hostile sexual environment” they are so strongly against. Anyway, I have now resigned myself to the fact that, while the faces change (olivarius->brodsky->zeavin) the feminazi garbage continually spewed by the women’s center will continue to grace the pages of the news.

    • yayasisterhood

      Amen. They’ve demagogued the discussion to the point that, if you disagree with a handful of privileged, politically liberal undergraduate students, you are actively promoting rape. How on earth did we get to this point?

  • River_Tam

    The YWC decries DKE’s objectification of women on the one hand while holding mixers with frats on the other. YWC members complain about objectification and sexual harassment while patronizing Toad’s three nights a week.

    Does no one else see the disconnect?

    Be the change you want to see.

    • rm13

      You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. But please, go ahead and make unsubstantiated claims about the social lives of Women’s Center board members.

      • River_Tam

        I have a very good idea about what I’m talking about, but then again – you don’t have a real response, do you?

  • thunderchickens4eva

    I think the authors pretty thuggishly misrepresented UBYC on this one.
    The authors basically spend the whole article yelling, “Be quiet or else, heretics!”

  • phantomllama

    The ‘Title IX Complainants’ seem to think that they’re now leading some sort of exclusive club. This is a third-rate hatchet job which basically suggests that anyone who dares disagree with them is evidently exacerbating Yale’s so-called ‘rape culture’.

    I wish Yale had the guts to file suit against them once their complaints have been comprehensively dismissed.

  • JohnnyE

    Leave.

  • cmv

    I am sickened by the abuse of the word “rape” and the very real consequences it has for those who are true victims.

    While harassment and assault are both equally real and important issues, please, Title IXers, stop using “rape” as a blanket term for all of Yale’s alleged problems with sexual violence. By inflaming the student body with terms like “Rape Culture”, you will only make it infinitely more difficult for real rape victims to ever seek help.

  • ldffly

    When I went to Yale, there was hardly any sex at all, forget the matter of random hookups. Students were nearly all too busy working. Now, the University has a hook up culture and a rate of rape approaching the 1 in 5/1 in 4 rate? What terrible changes time hath wrought! Well, I guess I have one question. What percentage of male Yale students participate in rape?

    This whole discussion is almost like a Grimm fairy tale or even worse, like the child abuse false accusation frenzy that took place in the 80s.

  • nmmp

    If this “debate” is ever to move beyond two partisan groups shouting past each other, it needs some serious thinking. In my opinion, the questions that needs to be asked are:

    -What is the relationship between the terms “hookup culture” and “rape culture”?
    -How did we decide that there is such thing as a unified sexual culture here?
    -What does the fact that we are always talking about how much sex we have tell us about ourselves?

    The most important one, though, is this one:

    -What do we do now that sexual revolution didn’t bring us paradise?

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