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An Open Letter To College Boys: Grow A Pair*

2010 October 20

Last week, a group of Yale frat men boys dickwads marched around the campus chanting about the joys of rape. Obviously, they were “joking.” But since their stunt was no joke, I would like to address them personally:

Dear Members of the Yale Chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon,

Recently, I was made aware of your attitudes toward women, thanks to the amazing tool that is the feminist blogosphere. Though many of you may claim to be “good guys” who would never, ever hurt a defenseless lady, you belong to an organization that asked, no, required pledges to walk around the freshman dorms at night chanting this awful song:

My name is Jack
I’m a necrophiliac
I fuck dead women
and fill them with my semen

No means yes
Yes means anal

Fuck Al Qaeda
Fuck Al Qaeda
(repeating)

Fucking sluts
Fucking sluts
(repeating)

USA
USA
(repeating)

While some think your stunt is unworthy of our anger, I can’t say I agree. While your purpose was clearly to garner attention through shock and outrage (I mean, god knows you need it, since it’s not like the kind of guys who go to Yale, of all places, and join a fraternity, of all organizations, are ever acknowledged by our society as worthy individuals or leaders or anything important like that, right?), I don’t think this alone is reason enough to dismiss your actions. Because while you may defend your language as “just a joke,” I’m not buying it. It’s not a joke. It’s terrorism.

Terrorism! you’re probably thinking, what a hilarious way to describe our hilarious shenanigans! Just because we don’t listen to the PC Police doesn’t mean we don’t know what a word like terrorism means! But yes, rounding up a group of men to shout about violence against women, at night and in the dark, outside the building where many young women reside, is terrorism. “No means yes and yes means anal” isn’t just a funny sentence with nice symmetry–it’s a way to emphasize how little we value enthusiastic consent.

Look at it this way: Would you ever consider walking up to a group of Black students and singing to them about the joys of lynching? (In case you need help, the answer here should be fuck, no, and not just because you’re scared of the repercussions).  Or would you think it was acceptable to jokingly threaten members of the gay-straight alliance with hate crimes?  Though the group in question here is gender-based and not defined by race or sexual orientation, the connotations are similar.  You are members of the group in power.  The majority of your fraternity brothers are upper-class white men, men who attend one of the nation’s most prestigious universities, men who may very well go on to lead our country or handle vast amounts of wealth.  You are powerful.  And by walking around, trivializing rape, you are exploiting your undeserved social power. You are reminding every female student on your campus that you are capable of assaulting them, capable of taking away their power. And, whether you realize it or not, rape is often considered a hate crime against women.

It is not funny to joke about committing a hate crime. It doesn’t matter that the oppressed group here is actually the majority. It doesn’t matter if some women laugh at your rape jokes. It doesn’t matter that you’re really a nice guy at heart, who would never hurt a woman. Your callous disregard for sexual violence is indicative of a much larger problem, one that hurts women every day.

I could say think how you would feel if your sister were raped–or your mother! or something similar. Many feminists use this line to try and reach sexist men, to try and force some empathy into their jaded world view. However, I don’t think this fully captures the reality of sexual violence. While the Yale frat bros were clearly targeting females with their ranty-chant (hence the “sluts” line), rape isn’t something limited to women. The statement “yes means anal” could just as easily be applied to any one of those men. If they believe–because I think many of them do believe it, even half way, even jokingly, even a little unconsciously–what they were saying, than they should realize: Rape can happen to anyone. It is not actually something reserved for women or sissies.

* I don’t mean a pair of balls, necessarily, though those could come in handy. No, I would like you to grow a pair of eyeballs, so you can see what damage you’re inflicting on rape survivors. Or grow a pair of ears, so you can hear how inhuman you sound. Maybe you should grow a pair of tits–or any other biological signifier we read as “woman”–so that you, too, can experience what it’s like to be afraid, on a daily basis, of having your personhood violated and your agency stripped away.

13 Responses
  1. October 20, 2010

    been reading about this all week, but this post made my day. awesome stuff, katy, thanks.

  2. Brent permalink
    November 7, 2010

    I never joined a fraternity since I thought they were useless waste of time, especially the ‘pledge’ antics. That only proves the desperation to have someone “accept” them for reasons I never quite grasped. I was nothing more or less than an individual in college and didn’t need a fraternity of anyone, anything to find friends, parties, activities or young women for me. I can’t begin to describe how stupid this song is to me. It’s the sort of stupidity I find hard to believe anyone can describe as humor. I have known girls and women who have been raped and there’s not a whit of humor to it. I never knew how many women had been raped until I had aged a few decades and women trusted me to be able to tell me they had been raped when we were all young and friends and were too scared and ashamed to tell anyone. I realize how being ashamed could be a reaction but it’s the misplaced reaction of people who are too young to realize that others would never see them as anyone who should be ashamed. It sickens me to also use the words Al Quaeda, USA with Fucking Sluts in between. People like this deserve to be shunned at the very least. Other young men hearing this could not be blamed for simply beating them senseless, well, more senseless. I don’t condone violence but that’s probably as good a time in a young man’s life to find out that violence is very real and have them get a good dose of it, enough to stop this sort of behavior. The Law says it’s never right to use violence unless you wear a badge where it’s become the answer to everything for most of our new thugs with badges. The Law is not only not always right but these days, seldom correct. To put it simply, these guys deserve what anyone would have wished to inflict on them. You can know a woman for decades or a lifetime and never know the secret they hold because they are “ashamed”. Those “boys” are very lucky my old comrades from college weren’t around to hear their “singing”. They’d be singing out the other side of their mouths…..wherever they might be afterwards.

  3. skl002 permalink
    December 7, 2010

    This post is amazing. You are an excellent writer and I’m glad someone has the guts to speak out against these guys.

  4. Mike Nomad permalink
    December 7, 2010

    Higher Education. Right. Good post.

  5. December 7, 2010

    This is very interesting! I’m so sick of people thinking it’s okay to make disgusting, cruel, degrading jokes and comments about women (or men, although I rarely see that) because it’s “all in good fun” or “just joking.” I’m not the type to get all riled up about sexist jokes (e.g., “The Female XBox: the Oven!”) and I can appreciate humor when I see it. But there’s a difference between making harmless jokes and using humor as mask for cruel, sick language. You proved your point perfectly in saying that if they were making racial or anti-gay jokes, everyone would be up in arms, but since it’s women, it’s just “boys being boys.” How about the boys try acting like men sometime? :P
    Long story short, great post! I will definitely be a continuing reader.

    • December 7, 2010

      Hey,
      I’m really glad you enjoyed it.
      The funny thing is, I don’t mind sexist jokes either, but for something to be a joke it has to be funny. When the entire punchline is “women are bitches!” or “then I raped her!” I’m probably not going to laugh. Humor should be used for good, not to disguise sexism/racism/ableism, etc.

  6. December 7, 2010

    Wow what are frats coming to? Thanks for writing this, it was very enlightening.

  7. December 8, 2010

    Yeah, Yale fraternities are some weird shit, huh?

    George Bush and John Kerry went to Yale, and were both in the “Skull and Bones” fraternity (which only allows 18 members a year, so it’s a pretty wild coincidence that both presidential candidates just happened to go there), and these people all get naked together, then put on black robes, and take turns masturbating in a coffin, while describing every sexual experience they’ve ever had. There is a documentary about it where they filmed one of the rituals somewhere in the tubes, but I don’t recall the name. Some chick wrote a book about it too, but I never read it all the way through.

    I think it would be a step in the right direction if the fraternal system was abolished from universities. It really only fuels nepotism and bizarreness. It’s hard to defend.

  8. kat permalink
    December 15, 2010

    I truly believe the ironic part of all of this is the fact that these individuals are most likely going to become Lawyers, or Corporate Exec, or Publishers, or some Blue Collar Wage earner, and this is what we have to look forward to out of their mentality!

  9. January 9, 2011

    I have just been browsing and came across your post. In South Africa (where I live) it is estimated that 33% women have been raped, so I don’t find this chant funny at all. I agree that these songs are thinly disguised misogynistic rants. The problem is that they can be easily dismissed as a joke, and if ever brought to the authorities will be dismissed as such. This is most likely because the authorities are predominantly white males who were themselves members of these frats.

    Just for your interest in South Africa there is a song which translates roughly as “kill the farmer” which was sung by extremists. This song was sung recently at a youth political gathering and there was a subsequent spike in farm killings. The song has since been banned as hate-speech. I know that our free-speech policies are not as liberal as USAs but surely if it can be classed as hate speech then action can be taken?

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