Most interesting comment on EphBlog in the last week? This one from a female ’07. (Since it is comment 156 (!) in that thread, I think a few readers may have missed it).

I think hwc has a good point in his comments on this page. Specifically:

Are you arguing that a few specific individuals finding offensive language acceptable give them the right to impose such offensive language in a common area on ALL female members of an entryway?

Do you argue that this would never pressure women in the entry to just “shut up and go along” with somebody else’s “context”, even though they are deeply offended?

That’s exactly what happened in my entry, and I graduated last year. I was one of a few women who found a lot of the loud male humor in the entry offensive, both on quote boards and out loud, but yes, we all did “shut up and go along” with it without even being asked. Because when you’re a freshman in college and you’re told these people will be your best friends, and it takes a few months to find likeminded people and make solid friendships outside your entry, you don’t want to make people mad at you. In fact, you try to just get used to it and find it funny instead of offensive.

I’m not saying this damaged me or that I hold a grudge. In fact, I stayed friends with most of the guys and continued to live with them after freshman year, as did the other women who found some things offensive. Also, I do understand people in a group making jokes about that group ironically. But the fact that none of us women ever said, “Could you please stop calling people c*nts?” because we didn’t want to bother anyone, while none of the men ever thought “Hmm, maybe the three girls in the room who aren’t joining in to our jokes are bothered by us calling people c*nts”…do you really think it’s that unlikely, that ridiculous, that this entry-specific type of interaction is rooted in the fact that sexism DOES exist in American society?

Read the whole thing. Comments:

1) I, like Whitney Wilson ’90, was shocked by this description of a (typical?) quote board. I never saw anything like that during my era at Williams. Has the world really changed so much?

2) I think that any JA who allows, much less encourages, such displays is not doing his job. You can be fairly certain that there is at least one first year in your entry who doesn’t like such crudity, even if he does not tell you. Simple guide: If your quote board is so crude that you feel the need to take it down when parents visit, your quote board is too crude for regular display. If you wouldn’t show something to your Mom, don’t show it to your entry, and don’t let your freshmen show/inflict such crudity on each other.

3) There is a world of difference between what you put up in your own room (i.e., anything you (and your roommate) want) and what you put up on your door, which your whole entry has little choice but to see. Is it a hassle for JAs to police this? Yes! But consider it a teaching opportunity.

4) All those who claim that hwc is out of touch should consider this a data point in his favor.

5) I am not sure if I see this as an example of “sexism” so much as boorishness. The problem is not that these boys think that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote. The problem is that no one has taught them how to behave in civilized society, especially when women are in the vicinity. Is it too much to hope that Williams might turn such youngsters into gentleman?

6) I wrote to a member of the Women’s Collective, suggesting that they consider taking photos of quote boards and posting them. She did not have the common courtesy to even reply. Perhaps someone else will take on this project. It is hard to have a productive discussion without concrete and current examples.

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