In the day and age of outrage culture, sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s truly offensive and what only seems offensive because the right people complained about it loudly enough. I invite you to journey with me to Boston University where the administration is suspending Kappa Sigma for its promotion of a party — not for the actual party, just for the way they promoted it. The event, co-hosted by “Blackout University” was allegedly misogynistic and “sexually suggestive” in nature.
I didn’t see the video. But BU Today makes the following claims:
“[The promotional video is] a culture of abusive behavior that openly celebrates verbal sexual coercion, belittling women, grabbing, groping, forced kissing, and the badgering of women for sex,” Battaglino wrote. Promotion photos for the party showed close-ups of women kissing open-mouthed, women’s bare breasts, and women’s buttocks, among other images”
Let me repeat: I did not see the video. But a few things are at play here. First of all, these are a lot of persuasive words that automatically make you want to believe the writer on a subject (fraternities are rapey) that the public is already inclined to believe. Is it possible that the men in the video were grabbing women and forcing women to act in a manner against their will? Sure, it’s possible. Is it likely that that would look like a fun party? Or that a promoter would be interested in advertising their event by implying it’s a good way to get your women raped? In my opinion, no.
There’s a “my side,” “your side,” and “the truth” to every story. The truth here is likely that the video was very girls gone wild in nature, there were probably some men hooting and hollering at a girl-on-girl makeout or some boobs, and these images were probably objectifying in nature. It all comes down to the oldest marketing tool in the book: sex sells. Is it the best most women-friendly business model? No, of course not. Is it within the realm of free speech, provided all parties involved were willing participants? I believe it is.
Regardless, dean of students John Battaglino maintains that this is grounds for the fraternity’s suspension, meaning they will no longer be able to recruit new members, or host events. Kappa Sigma will not be recognized by the university until on or after July 9. Whether or not the suspension is warranted, I can’t answer, but to see a university taking women’s rights seriously is encouraging, and I’m confident we can find a middle ground that is fair to both women and men on campuses.
The fraternity’s president gave a sincere apology and was quoted saying, “while being suspended from campus is never a good thing, we’re confident that we will be able to find common ground with the school, and we welcome this opportunity to strengthen our chapter internally and our working relationship with the community.”.
[via BU Today]