In October of last year the Delta Kappa Epsilon pledges and the members who were “tapping” them went out and marched by the Yale Women’s Center chanting “No means yes, yes means anal” and “My name is Jack, I am a necrophiliac, I f**k dead women”. All good fun and games by a bunch of guys right? Wrong.
There is this boys will be boys culture in this country, and especially in some fraternities that is appalling. I get accused of being a humorless liberal, but there is no humor in statements and acts like that which can only intimidate.
Think about the mind set that you would have to have to think something like this was funny. You’d have to think you were being bold to make a statement like that, somehow charmingly shocking to go the Women’s Center and be a sexist jackass. Then to bring a whole group of men and chant about forcible rape (after all what else could No means Yes, possibly mean).
Try to put yourself in the shoes of a 18 year old female Freshman from a smallish city in the Midwest. What would she think about this? That is just a prank and there is nothing threatening to her or indoctrinating to the boys chanting it? Does anyone really think that is going to be the take away?
Yesterday the Dean Mary Miller sent out an e-mail to the entire Yale community announcing that the Executive Committee (made up of faculty and students) had concluded that the DKE chapter and individuals in it had violated Undergraduate Regulations by their actions.
Yale has requested that the National DKE organization suspend the charter for the Yale chapter for five years. After that time they would be able to participate again, as long as they registered as a student organization (currently all Greek system houses are not recognized student organizations at Yale).
The Greek system at universities across the country is not for everyone. At the same time it is just as open to stereotypes as any other group, especially groups that make a point of members being on the inside and everyone else being on the outside. Back when I was haunting the U of Michigan campus the Dekes (as DKE were called there) were enormous assholes. They were bullies and punks, just about everyone who wasn’t a Deke hated their guts.
Then there was the Zeta Psi House. Full disclosure, many of these guys were my pals. They were not a bunch of rich, over privileged douche-bags. The Zeta house was rather old and down in the heels and the membership were, while still party guys, more the kind that worked at the local restaurants to make ends meet. It was not a giant deal to be invited to hang out at the house, they were pretty much your normal students in the LSA program (Liberal Arts and Sciences).
The point here is not to sing the praises of one group of Greeks over the others, but to point out that there does not have to be a sexist culture inside a fraternity. The issue of rape is far to important to have any group on campus treat it cavalierly A 2000 study of this issue found that 1 in 4 women attending college will be raped or sexually victimized before they graduate.
Think about that for a second. Think about four women college age women you know. The statistics say that one of them will be raped while at college.
Rape is devastating, life changing event for anyone. Some people never get over it, some get over it only after years and years of slow healing. This is not the kind of thing that should be allowed to be joked about.
The fact is the most of the rapists that will attack 1 in 4 women students will also be students. There might be alcohol or drugs involved, after all college kids do party, but that is not an excuse. There is no excuse for unwanted sex ever.
Maybe it is that I grew up in a matriarchal family or that we were really liberal and my parents talked about this kind of thing, but I can’t for the life of me imagine having sex with someone who was throwing up drunk or was less than enthusiastically into it. I like sex as much as the next guy and was, I will admit, a horny guy in my college years, but to force yourself on someone is anathema to me.
Still I get a glimmer how it might be considered acceptable when you having things like the DKE pledge initiation. Again put yourself in the shoes of a Freshman, this time a young man. You really want to get into this fraternity, maybe your Dad or Uncles or even Grandfather was a DKE and it is wrapped up in family history.
Here are these cool older guys and they are not only encouraging you to say this kind of thing over and over, they are going to reward you for that kind of behavior by making you one of the “in guys” “One of them”. That is some very powerful imprinting there, wouldn’t you say?
It will be reinforced in a culture in the house that obviously values “score keeping” in terms of women bedded and is a highly competitive social environment where you can lose status and become the whipping boy at the first misstep. What do you think that puts in the mind of a 18 year old?
It is to be devoutly hoped that there are absolute “no goes” in the minds of men, that some things should always be beyond rationalization or consideration. Unfortunately in the real world that is not the case very often. The idea of No means No is a powerful and simple one. That is why it is repeated so often. But to have it countered by an initiation ritual can wipe it out in the impressionable minds of late teenagers.
Personally I think that the five year ban is in not enough. There is clearly there is a culture of this thing in the Greek System at Yale it was only two years ago that Zeta Psi (yeah all fraternities vary widely from school to school) had their pledges stand outside the same Women’s Center wearing tee-shirts that said “We Love Yale Sluts”.
With the number of rapes and sexual assaults on college campus’s being 4 times the rate elsewhere for women of the same age, this is an epidemic that demand more attention and greater response. Personally I’d ban all Houses at Yale for a decade, then restart them with a more stringent set of rules.
Is that stepping on a beloved tradition? You bet your ass it is, when there are 350 rapes for every 10,000 students on campus per year, I am ready to end any tradition that enables that kind of damage and criminality.
The floor is yours.