body, movement, & dance

All Dressed Up and Nowhere Safe to Party


Dear Eve,
I know what you mean. I know, and it breaks my heart. I know because I once studied, slept and partied on a college campus, and I know because I have read about other college campuses. I know that college can be a time of extreme empowerment and extreme disempowerment.
I know because this morning I got an email from my university with news that a sexual assault taking place in a fraternity house was reported this weekend.
The Golf Pros/ Tennis Hos party theme is clearly sexist and objectifying of women. However, when the fraternity advertises a party by saying, “Everyone makes mistakes, but not all mistakes are bad,” that is evidence of rape culture. That is part of a culture in which unwanted sex is actively expected of girls and then dismissed as a “mistake” and promoted as “good.”
I know that evidence of rape culture is ubiquitous on college campuses.
What I don’t know is how, why, and what can we do about it?
I apologize for my silence since you posted on my blog one month ago. Your post upset me and moved me from the moment I read it, and I have thought about you and your words regularly since then. i am sorry that I have been silent. We cannot be silent.
How did you feel when you saw the advertisement for that party? What do you think went through the minds of girls who had friends in that fraternity, who were looking forward to that party, who talked for hours with their friends about what tennis ho outfits they could wear, but who noticed their friends made no comments about whether or not mistakes would be made that night, and what makes a mistake good or bad, and how to choose for yourself what mistakes to make.
It’s hard to be a woman on a college campus these days. It’s hard to find sexual agency and to feel safe. I don’t feel we are safe when I see those posters. I don’t feel safe, and I don’t feel that any woman who attends that party is safe. At the same time, that doesn’t mean that woman should not attend those parties. Because we should dance and drink with the best of them, and make great friends and great memories. But we should be able to go to parties and still have our bodies and decisions respected…
we should, but that is not yet the case for most women at most parties.
Eve- what can I do for you and your friends? What can the health services staff and the women’s center staff and other people on campus who want to help you feel safe and help you access empowerment–what can they do for you? What can I do for the girls at fraternity parties at my own university, to help them?
Furthermore, what can we say to the frat boys who made those posters and hosted that party?
Thank you, Eve, for sharing. I encourage you to share more.

Published by Mimi Arbeit

applied developmental scientist, antifascist community organizer, sexuality educator