Sexist Slurs Permissible?May 06, 2008
AAUW is concerned about sexual harassment issues on campus, and in February we posted a blog entry about an incident at Yale University where pledge members of the Zeta Psi fraternity held a sign that said “We Love Yale Sluts” outside the university’s Women’s Center. This stunt was part of a scavenger hunt required to gain membership in the fraternity. The Women’s Center and a student who felt intimidated by the group and their sign demanded that the university address this incident, which they felt was representative of fraternity-driven, campus-wide misogyny.
This week, the Executive Committee of Yale College found the young men not guilty on a charge of intimidation and harassment. The Women’s Center and others are upset because neither the pledges nor the fraternity culture on campus are expected to be disciplined or changed. The silver lining is that the university administrators have agreed to some of the Women’s Center’s demands, including the evaluation of extant sexual harassment prevention policies.
While it may be hard to prove legally that harassment or intimidation occurred due to the circumstances, it makes me wonder why their use of “slut” outside a safe place for women, including survivors of sexual assault, did not prompt immediate disciplinary actions and an official condemnation of the actions by the university or fraternity.
I agree with the Yale Women’s Center board and think that had the pledges stood in front of a multicultural center and held up a sign with a racial slur, the outcry against them would be stronger, and they would probably face disciplinary actions. Instead, a sexist slur that reminds women that they historically have been the sexual property of men and that is often used to ruin a woman’s reputation does not warrant such action …
What’s your opinion on the incident and its outcome?