Naughty schoolgirl and Dirty Professor.
CEO’s and Hoes.
Police officers and the cheap prostitutes they pick up off the street.
Sound familiar? Maybe not the last one (which I made up), but at Middlebury (and colleges in general), parties in which women are encouraged to dress like sluts (whores, hoes, harlots, whathaveyou) for the sake of a theme in which the men are given roles of power (as doctors or teachers or business leaders) are so entrenched in the social cultural tradition that most people don’t bat an eye at them anymore. Some might feel uncomfortable or awkward about these kinds of parties, but they’ll usually just opt not to attend said party, walking by gaggles of barely-dressed women and the men who are feeding them alcohol without so much as a second glance. Nobody says anything.
But I refuse to believe that we as a campus of smart, driven, progressive students are comfortable with this culture. How are we allowing this to happen to our female peers? How is it possible that we celebrate situations in which women are reduced to nothing more than sex objects? You can tell me that it’s pretend or that it’s just for fun or that it’s a feminist reclamation of abusive terms, but there is absolutely nothing fun about a drunk 18-year-old girl in a bra screaming at the top of her lungs that she’s a whore. You can’t tell me that she enjoys that because I can’t believe that it’s true.
We have to do better. All of us. There is nothing safe and nothing normal about these kinds of parties. It’s shocking to me that the same people with whom I’ve had conversations about sexual assault and rape (the same people who not two days ago read the harrowing account of a survivor of rape from Amherst) seem to forget all about the statistics and the education as soon as the sun sets. They put on their suits or their mini-skirts and get blackout drunk and think that that makes it okay. But it’s not and it will never be.
If it’s true that we are the leaders of the future, leaders of companies and schools and families, it shames me to see how poorly we treat one another and ourselves. If women are told time and time again to come to parties wearing as little clothing as possible while supporting negative gender roles that generations of women have fought to reverse, we are doing nothing but letting down this community.
Tell me I’ve got a stick up my ass or that I’m taking things too seriously, but I’m done saying nothing. I will not pretend to be proud of a school where these kinds of parties are allowed to happen. How can we be role models if we can’t even recognize the disgusting perverseness of our nightlife? It’s time to break the silence, time to change a culture, time to learn respect and take pride in the intelligent, strong, forward-thinking students that we are.
I’d love to hear your opinions on this matter – let’s get the discussion started..