Yale has been a hot seat for debating sexual culture and gender roles amidst an ongoing investigation into whether the University violated Title IX, and that debate grew more heated on Tuesday.
Jill Filipovic, editor of the feminism blog “Feministe,” joined the Yale Political Union Tuesday night to argue that Americans need to challenge traditional gender roles and sexual norms that she believes are dangerous toward college women. Students said the debate — “Resolved: College Sexual Culture Endangers Women” — seemed particularly relevant on a campus that has struggled with accusations of harboring a hostile sexual environment since March.
Throughout the debate, Filipovic never deviated from her position that today’s college dating culture favors heterosexual men at the expense of everyone else.
“College sexual culture centers on men having sex with women, and everyone else is erased,” Filipovic said. “American culture is bad for women, and college campuses are not safe places for women.”
Filipovic said that Americans need to transition from the “no means yes” model of sexual consent to an “enthusiastic consent” model whereby both parties articulate what they want in a sexual relationship. Her comments hit home among a student audience of more than 100 students, many of whom were on campus when Delta Kappa Epsilon pledges infamously chanted the phrase “No means yes, yes means anal” on Old Campus in fall 2010.
The contentious discussion drew both cheers and hisses from attendees as Filipovic condemned the way “men learn to be men” as “awful.”
Several students gave speeches in support and opposition of Filipovic’s stance. Though Filipovic advocated for eliminating gender norms, some students argued that college life and American culture cannot be used interchangeably when discussing sexual roles and relations.
“College sexual culture does not endanger women,” Briana Pigott ’13 said. “Just because American culture seeps into college campuses doesn’t mean that collegiate culture is necessarily bad for women.”
Sixteen individuals filed a Title IX complaint against Yale last spring, alleging the University had a “hostile sexual environment.” Four out of five students interviewed said they found the debate to be a constructive discussion in light of the DKE incident and ongoing Title IX lawsuit.
“I think it was productive, especially talking about the paradigm of sexual relationships and gender roles, Ella Wood ’15 said. “But at the same time, I wish they had spent less time looking at assigning fault to individuals.”
The YPU is Yale’s largest undergraduate organization.