September 10, 2012

A Response to “Betches Love This College: Cornell University”

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There is nothing wrong with being a female Cornell student who enjoys high fashion and partying.

Reconciling both academics and fashion doesn’t make women “betches.” Drop the “e” and replace it with an “i”. Do you know what that spells? And do you know how violent that word is? Do you know how many women are called that bad word when they are being violently raped?

In light of the recent attacks against Cornell women, I found this opinion article very offensive. I’m not alone in that thinking. Implicit in the idea that “GDIs … are boring” is the notion that sorority sisters need to be exciting, wild and entertaining. Women feel that pressure — not just from some men at Cornell but also from broader society. It’s perpetuated by Hollywood and reality TV shows, and it’s even evidenced in politics. Sexism showed it’s ugly face when we obsessed over what designers Sarah Palin wore at the RNC convention back in 2008. It is common at Cornell frat parties, where there are often male to female ratios that need to be met. Because, you know, the more women there are at a party, the better chances that a brother might “get lucky.” And when men call us bitches, they are attempting to undermine our potential as women. They are attempting to dismiss us.

Last week’s article said that “betches” are a “great source of entertainment,” and that one time “a betch was so drunk she literally staring peeing on the floor without realizing it.” Come on, bro. He later admits that this experience made his semester. Something is fundamentally wrong with your college experience if that type of experience is the highlight of your semester.

I read the blog post that circulated on Facebook over the summer titled “Betches Love This College: Cornell University” and to be honest I found it really dumb. The blog post was filled with tired sexist stereotypes and joked about women stumbling over their 5-inch heels in Collegetown after a formal. Is that funny? I’ve seen those women too, and I always wondered, “How are they getting home?” “How did they get so drunk?” I know a lot of people criticize women for being scantily clad, but that’s not the issue here. Forget about our short skirts and mini-dresses, and stop obsessing over what we are (or aren’t) wearing. Ladies, flaunt whatever you want to flaunt and enjoy your youth. Our male counterparts can wear anything they want — and you don’t see anybody criticizing them. At the end of the day, we should be able to wear anything we want without fear of attack. Right?

Except … we are always looking over our shoulder at the strange man in a grey hoodie and jeans walking behind us, attempting to speed up so that we can lose him. We always try walking in groups so that we won’t be left with a group of unfamiliar men at a party. We are always extra cautious with our drinks, because we don’t really trust the cute guy at the bar.

It’s undisputed: Women, in general, need to play it safer than our male counterparts because we are often victims of violent sexual attacks. Men need to respect us, our bodies and our sovereignty. We need to end the rape culture that normalizes the widespread objectification of women. I’m sure calling women “betches” gets a couple of laughs, but it capitalizes on our experiences as women and perpetuates a rape culture that normalizes anti-woman behavior. We are not bitches. Last week a fellow Cornell student was raped, and another was forcibly touched. Let’s raise awareness about rape and sexual assault, and let’s leave the name-calling behind.

Next time you see a drunken woman at CTB, don’t laugh and call her a bitch. Put her safety first and call a taxi for her to get home. Look for her friends and make sure she is in good hands. Nobody enjoys reading those crime alerts on Sunday mornings.

Cristina Lara is a junior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She may be reached at cal255@cornell.edu. Guest Room appears periodically this semester.

Original Author: Cristina Lara