Yesterday, students from across Yale’s campus, both men and women, gathered in the Women’s Center to Take Back the Night. For two hours, students shared their personal narratives of sexual violence in an effort to build solidarity and draw attention to its persistence in our society.
Tomorrow, the Ying Yang Twins will perform at Spring Fling, in a jubilant spectacle, radiant with themes of patriarchy, submission and sexual violence. Tomorrow, the band will be on our campus. They’re coming because we courted them. We’re paying them. Their performance, authorized by the Yale College Council and subsidized by the student activities fee, President’s Office and the Yale College Dean’s Office will demonstrate our acceptance — we will have legitimized their product.
Last week, the Spring Fling Committee Executive Board defended their decision to bring the artists to Spring Fling saying that their decision was an appropriate choice because the Ying Yang Twins “do not advocate the commission of specific criminal acts, the standard that we have generally used for disqualifying acts” (“Picking the Ying Yang Twins,” April 19). But I am curious to know what the Committee considers criminal. Acts of sexual violence? What category of criminality does the action encouraged by “F— you ’til you cry” fall under?
It is true that I am angry. It should come as no surprise. Often violation provokes anger, and tomorrow, the “clit” possessors, “bitches” and the “pussies,” in the words of the Ying Yang Twins, will be violated. We don’t really want to hear about how the Ying Yang Twins “love to f— what’s up her dress” or about how they find it difficult when “A woman play’ the role of a man,” but we will. I anticipate it will be difficult to stomach. But there will be nothing we can do.
I have been told that if I do not approve of the Ying Yang Twins, then I should protest by not going to Spring Fling or that I should “apply to join the Committee next year.” Both suggestions are ridiculous. The event will go on without me. And I should not have to be on the Committee to prevent hate speech on Old Campus, nor should I have to abstain from going to one of the best events at Yale to avoid a verbal assault of my gender. I am going to Spring Fling.
I am going because I am curious about how we will react to them. I am not predicting that Old Campus will turn into a sexist and violent swamp, a carnal morass within which the behavior espoused by the Ying Yang Twins is acted upon — though that is possible. I don’t think Yale students will rape one another because the Ying Yang Twins tell them to. But I wonder what we will be doing when “You shouldn’t be saying nothing at all, cause it’s hard to talk with a mouth full of dick and balls” blasts loudly over our campus. Will we smile at them? Will we drunkenly sway to the throbbing beat underneath the words as if they have no meaning?
Their lyrics, even if “too ridiculous to be taken at face value,” as the Spring Fling Executive Committee asserts, have meaning because we asked for them — of course, they are valued. Tomorrow, the Ying Yang Twins will not be not our adversaries; they will be our guests. Though they will stand 25 feet from the Women’s Center, when their lyrics glorifying sexual violence float over the revelry at Spring Fling, they will be authorized to do so and legitimized by the Yale community.
The decision to bring the Ying Yang Twins in their pulsating patriarchal show to Old Campus is unacceptable, terrifying. I am disgusted. But my “pussy” and I will resiliently go tomorrow because there’s nothing else we can do. So here’s to Spring Flinging, terrifying post-feminist decisions and the long life of the Student Activities Fee.
Kathleen Powers is a sophomore in Branford College and the Political Action Coordinator of the Yale Women’s Center.