On Monday, February 5, the Martini published an incendiary piece that can only be qualified as an Op-Ed –although there was no real purpose, opinion, or point to the piece as a whole. By the late afternoon, one particular paragraph from that piece was circulating around campus, from the @BossBitchTheory Instagram account to messaging chains. To say it provoked a response would be a gross understatement. The piece and its underlying message prompted a wide campus discussion on the nature of sexual harassment and questionable behavior from the men on campus.
As Editor of the Herald, I understand that I am in a unique position to discuss this piece and promote a conversation. The Herald is here to engage the student community in a discussion of topics on campus, which is why we switched around the articles at the last minute to accommodate coverage of the Martini and the piece it published. However, it is not my place to question the editorial integrity of the Martini in publishing this piece or continuing to defend it; instead, we will use this space to begin a conversation on campus about what it means to be a man and a woman in this particular climate, especially when a Hobart student believes that things like wearing “yoga pants every other day” and “flaunting your boobs on the weekend” are unnecessary and lead to harassment and assault.
I do believe that it is important at this point to note that the author of the piece has publicly apologized on his personal Instagram account to the “Women of HWS.”
But I am not concerned with the author of the piece. I hope he understands the problems with what he wrote, and he seems to be taking the appropriate steps to making amends. However, as a junior on this campus and the editor of the campus newspaper, I believe it is important that we hold both our publications to higher standards. The Martini should be satirical and funny as an alternative to the Herald, but by wading into Op-Ed territory and discussing sexual harassment from one point of view, but they are not starting a conversation but defending an ingrained misogynistic point-of-view. It is disappointing to see and I hope that one of the changes instituted from this conversation is a rebranding of the Martini and an understanding of the proper way to address the values of our campus and initiate a discussion.
It should be noted that it is not that the author of the Martini piece is necessarily misogynistic, it’s the way the article was written and published in the Martini that promotes misogynistic ideas. Ideas are more powerful than any one person, and the ideas about women in the piece – to single out that one particular paragraph – are dangerous. As a society, we are beginning to recognize and rectify the injustices caused by sexual harassment and misconduct, and yet it seems that our campus is moving backwards. This article is sexual harassment. The words and ideas, transmitted through the Martini, amount to sexual harassment. It is plain and simple. We can do better. We should do better. We will do better.
The Herald reached out to students on campus and asked for their responses to the piece in the Martini. These are selected Responses, which have been edited and checked by our Editorial Team before publication in these pages. Any questions or comments please email email@example.com
A serious question for AJ McFarlane: If I’m sexually harassed in jeans, was it my fault? Your article wasn’t clear on that issue.
When a speeding car drove past me, threw a beer can at me, and yelled that my friend and I were whores, was it because I was wearing a tank top?
No, and no. I really thought that by 2018 I’d be done having the conversation that clothing does not grant permission to any form of harassment. A “creepy” message, as he puts it, is the responsibility of the sender, not the recipient.
I truly hope that McFarlane will listen to his peers and seek to understand our perspective and how his words cause real damage to people. The combination of his words and their careless presentation of them have brought back traumatizing memories for countess survivors on this campus. I take great issue with the manner in which the Martini chose to publish this piece.
I want to be perfectly clear, we absolutely should be having conversations about controversial topics. Publishing a piece on such a topic is one way to incite those discussions. But I didn’t realize that my right to not be harassed was “controversial” or in some way up for debate, but I guess that’s where we are on this campus.
However, the critical mistake of the Martini in this instance is that their publication in no way took the well-being of survivors of sexual assault into account. There is a balance to be struck between the presentation of a controversial opinion and the sensitivity to those who have been victimized by the viewpoint. The Martini strikes no such balance. There are countless ways that the presentation of this conversation could have been handled with more thoughtfulness towards survivors.
For instance, they could have included an editor’s note to preface that the purpose of presenting this piece was to start a conversation. They could have not featured this piece directly on the front page, which reads as an endorsement of this viewpoint. Had its publication not been a last-minute, unilateral decision by a single editor, they could have solicited another staff writer to present a counterargument alongside it.
The piece was not even copy edited to fix the basic grammar and technical flaws. If the Martini really, truly wanted to have a conversation and do so with the utmost journalistic integrity, it should have at least been subject to editing.
It was not a nuanced, thoughtful presentation of a controversial opinion. Let’s be real here: it was ramblings with a heavy hand of (barely) well- thought-out misogyny. The majority of what was circulated was a singular paragraph of a larger piece, and upon reading the piece in full, it is clear that this paragraph about women’s bodies serves no real purpose. There is no transition and no introduction to the discussion of what women wear in an article that covers a wide range of topics, including academic achievement and the likelihood of alien life.
Beyond the problems of the piece at the time it was published, I also feel it’s important to address some of the ways that the conversation has since unfolded. Many students have suggested that critics of the piece address the author and those who agree with him with compassion and empathy. They have suggested that we engage in a conversation with respect. That is certainly something we should strive for, but after the lack of respect that was shown to survivors of sexual violence on this campus, this suggestion can have a negative effect on pushing the conversation forward.
Suggesting that women on this campus sit down with someone who has expressed that their bodily autonomy is dependent on how they dress is inconsiderate to the experiences of many students. Harassment and victim blaming are realities for so many women on this campus, and I don’t speak for all of them. I can tell you that so many of us are exhausted of having to confront these realities every day. Everyone reacts differently, but I personally don’t feel comfortable engaging in a dialogue with someone who has written words that echo and validate the instances of sexual harassment that I and many other women on this campus have experienced.
We are a liberal arts college that should encourage robust discussion, but in this instance, the Martini gets it wrong. They are falling into the national trend of calling what is blatantly offensive “controversial” or “uncensored,” while taking no accountability for the harm that occurs when such views are validated and amplified by their publication.
We absolutely need to have more discussions about these issues as a campus, as sexual assaults have more than doubled in the past year. However, this must not come at the expense of the safety and well-being of women on this campus. It needs to be done with thought, sensitivity, and an acknowledgement that some thoughts are best left in the gutter.
A Call for Decent Men
On John Henry Hobart Day every fall, Dean Mapstone waxes poetic about the value in being a Statesman. In his idealistic world a Statesman is better than a normal man, he is an example of what a man should be, he is the epitome of a scholar and a gentleman. Hobart has an ideal Statesman, but too frequently we fail to live up to the ideal Statesman and exist merely as “statesmen,” who follow the despicable stereotype of the Ho-bro who buys into and encourages a rape culture and systems of oppression.
The headline article of the Martini’s most recent edition, “polarization” reminds us of the pervasive flaws in “statesman” culture. As “statesmen” continue to add to the rising number of sexual assaults and plague of sexual harassment on our campus, “statesmen” also continue to remain as passive bystanders.
The Martini piece openly blames the way women dress for cases of sexual assault and harassment. It does nothing to critique the way “statesmen” perpetrate sexual harassment and assault, rather it decides to blame the innocent victims of these “statesmen.”
The problem of sexual assault and harassment on our campus does not lie in those who experience it, instead it is the “statesmen” who continue to assault and harass and equally important the “statesmen” who stand idly by as their friends, brothers, and teammates perform these acts.
For every “statesman” who harasses and assaults there is another “statesman” watching his friend do this wrong. The bystander “statesman” may object to the actions of his friend, brother or teammate, but this “statesman” stands idly by and does nothing. This “statesman” is too much of a coward to call out a friend when he knows they are doing something wrong. This “statesman” is more interested in how people view his friends, fraternity, or team than they are in ending sexual violence on our campus.
To avoid fault, “statesmen” are more interested in blaming woman for being assaulted and harassed, than they are interested in blaming their “statesmen” peers. Under this logic it is not the fault of the “statesman” who rapes, it is not the fault of the “statesman” who sends an unsolicited dick pic, and it sure as hell is not the fault of the “statesman” who lets his friend, brother, or teammate continue the culture of sexual violence we have on this campus.
We need to make sexual assault and harassment an issue for the people who commit it and allow their friends, brothers, and teammates to commit it. Sexual misconduct is relegated by our society to be an issue for women, but we give a free pass to the people most capable of stopping it. Sexual misconduct is a men’s issue. The acts of men may affect women more, but that does not free us from liability. Men must, obviously, stop perpetrating it, but we must also stop giving a free pass to our friends, brothers, and teammates when we notice their actions.
I want to believe in Mapstone’s vision of a Statesman, and I believe the culture at Hobart can change to a point where men active in trying end sexual assault and harassment on our campus. However, that is not the campus we live on today. While sentiments are held by men where they hold women more responsible for being victims, than we hold our friends, brothers, and teammates for being rapists we will continue to fail to be true Statesmen.
“Statesmen” need to care less about how women act and dress, and care how they encourage sexual assault and harassment. “Statesmen” need to care about how they allow their friends, brothers, and teammates assault and harass women. Hobart men need to step up and fight to end the reign of sexual assault and harassment that “statesmen” are imposing on this campus. Frankly we do not need “statesmen” on this campus, we need to start at least having decent men.