The last year and a half (or so) have been marked by some uncharacteristic interpersonal drama, mostly in the form of internet harassment and (at least) half in response to columns that I’ve written. My Greek life column was met with the most serious antagonism, but I can’t deny that basically any piece of writing that I’ve put out in the world has resulted in angry emails, internet comments and some uncomfortable conversations. Recently, I’ve resorted to less controversial subjects, sinking my teeth into the heart-warming and uplifting spectrum of opinion writing. A few weeks ago, I read Mary Beard’s essay “The Public Voice of Women,” and there was a special type of familiarity in the pages. Beard details a history of women being told to stop talking.
I already know how this will go. I’m standing up to deliver a speech in front of an organization’s executive board, my name adorning the title of president, but my face screaming something else to the panel that eyes me with raised eyebrows. I’m petitioning a policy yet again — I’m angry, I’m invigorated, I’m explosive. I get a few eye rolls. Someone clears their throat.
ByJackson Weber, Krystin Chiellini, Marshall Peters, Miles Norris, Grace Tucker, Kaitlin Doering, Jeff Kubiak, Ellie Crowell |
To the Editor:
Over the past few weeks, several of our fellow Ivy League athletics teams made headlines for engaging in some appalling actions. The Harvard Men’s Soccer and Men’s Cross Country teams both created spreadsheets to assess the physical attractiveness and sexual appeal of their female student-athlete counterparts and freshmen recruits. These “scouting reports” contained degrading, sexually explicit language about these women, many of whom were their friends. At Columbia, the Men’s Wrestling team is currently under investigation for racially and sexually explicit group messages. As captains and leaders of varsity athletics teams at Cornell, we are deeply disappointed by these acts.
Chandler’s boss made a joke in a Friends episode referencing a possibility that many Americans have been waiting to witness for quite some time: Hillary Clinton as President of the United States, becoming the first woman to wield the title ‘leader of the free world.’ He said “I strongly believe that we should all support President Clinton — and her husband Bill.” It was based on the premise that Hillary was overstepping her role as First Lady, to the point of essentially doing her husband’s job. She was out of her place. Although the tasteless joke was made by a schmuck and Chandler only laughed to avoid any conflict, it did touch on how sexism can affect a powerful woman. Pundits have speculated over the multitude of reasons for the election outcome in the past few weeks. Conservative commentators have been quick to argue that any effects of sexism were cancelled out by Hillary’s status as an elite.
Earlier this week, Katy Habr, another Opinion columnist, wrote a column on rape culture and the way that it is so deeply embedded in our society, even within groups that supposedly denounce all forms of oppression and acts of violence. Her column emphasized ideas I already had and made me think even more about the idea of rape apologists. I want to clarify at this point that this column is going to be discussing rape apologists and sexual assault/rape in general. I’ve been considering this issue for a while now as another scarily unique way that rape culture functions. Any issues or discussions around the topic of sexual assault can be uncomfortable, but rape apologists create a different kind of discomfort, at least for me.
Two weeks ago, a leaked tape released audio of Donald Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women, turning away a substantial amount of his voters and government supporters. The next week, I was with a friend and looked over his shoulder to see messages from his fraternity’s group chat referring to women with the sentiment: “if you’re not going to fuck them, what’s the point?” When I expressed my concern, someone else replied, “I didn’t say you should look.” My friend looked away and smiled awkwardly, uncomfortable enough for me to assume he knew something was wrong, but not uncomfortable enough to do anything about it. “Just locker room talk, right?” I wanted to ask sarcastically, but I held my tongue. What I saw was just a small incident, though one of many; but this article isn’t about frats. We all know the statistics, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men will be sexually assaulted in college.
Although I’ve never had the slightest interest in being white, I’ve sometimes wondered what it might be like to exist amongst white people under the same cover of racial subterfuge. Then again, I suppose I don’t really need to wonder. The implications of whiteness remain a secret only to the white people who would bristle or sneer at such a notion — and, perhaps more importantly, have long since ceased to be a secret for any person of color who has traversed the cavernous, perilous chambers of an overwhelmingly white world. Yet, beyond this, I realize that — in a way — I already have an intimate, almost intuitive understanding of being white. After all, I am a man.
What I have to say isn’t novel or unique, but it is incredibly important: we need need to stop tolerating sexism in computer science and technology related fields. Like I said before, other people have written this (and have done a better job), but it’s time I stepped off the sidelines about something I see everyday that I find unequivocally wrong. Computer science is unapologetically misogynistic. Some 70 to 80 percent of the field is men. That number has gone up over time, not down.
Some forms of sexism are easier to detect than others. For instance, we automatically know that when a child is told that they “throw like a girl,” he or she is being insulted. Despite the fact that none of those words alone are negatively charged, we can draw from societal context that “throwing like a girl” is bad, and, at the very least, not as good as “throwing like a boy.” This kind of sexism is pretty black-and-white: it points to misogynistic residue that exists today, with entire campaigns dedicated to combatting it. However, when sexist language directed towards females comes from females, the issue becomes more nuanced; particularly when the sexism is largely implicit. The irony of insular misogyny is both sad and abundant: girls condemning girls for being girls.