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Amherst College: “Roasting Fat Ones Since 1847”

(Dana Bolger)– Do you wonder what sexism and misogyny look like in 2012?

Imagine a drawing of a woman. She’s clad only in a bra and a thong. She’s got bruises on her side. There’s an apple jammed in her mouth. And she’s stretched out, tied up, suspended from a spit, and roasting over a fire.

You don’t have to imagine. Last April, a fraternity at Amherst designed this image, stuck it on a t-shirt, and sold the shirt to students in honor of the frat’s annual pig-roast party. By the way, there is a pig depicted on the shirt. It’s in the corner, smoking a cigar, and watching the woman roast. The words “Roasting Fat Ones Since 1847” appear above the image.

The administration opted not to punish the individual students responsible for the shirt but rather to hold an unadvertised, effectively closed-door discussion with a handful of students and frat members. According to a friend of mine who was present, the boys-will-be-boys type comments made prior to the meeting (“We were just a bunch of drunk guys sitting around on a Friday night designing the shirt”) were replaced by apology (“We didn’t mean to offend anyone”)—and then some confusion and discussion over the real impact of the offensive “joke.”

And that was that. The incident was never publicly discussed or even acknowledged in a school-wide email. Some people on campus still don’t know about it. If you Google “Amherst fraternity t-shirt,” an image of the shirt won’t pop up.

Amherst’s silence concerning the shirt shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. We’re all part of a larger culture, one that excuses (and often promotes) the objectification of female bodies, the glamorization of violence against women, and the normalization of rape. Our media and pop culture saturate us with misogynistic images, songs, and advertisements. Our politicians decide which victims of violence against women should be taken seriously and which “types” of rape are legitimate. Our society blames victims of sexual assault, rather than perpetrators, leaving them free to rape again.

If this t-shirt is any indication, Amherst is absolutely a product of this larger culture. The woman on the shirt is depicted as an animal—or rather, as inferior to an animal, since she has not only replaced the pig on the spit but is being roasted by it. She is objectified as a literal piece of meat, whose thoughts, feelings, and humanity are rendered nonexistent and her consent therefore irrelevant. The hypersexualization of her body links violence with sex, thus perpetuating the notion that violence is sexy and sexuality violent. While I am not suggesting that this image would ever directly cause the infliction of violence on any individual woman, dehumanization is always the first step toward justifying such violence.

The administration’s inadequate response to the t-shirt incident was not an anomaly and seems part of a larger pattern of forgiving instances of violence against women on campus. According to a Title IX committee meeting I attended last spring, Amherst has expelled only one student for rape in its entire history—and only after a criminal court sentenced him to time in jail. Meanwhile, our disciplinary committee has found other students guilty of sexual misconduct but ultimately permitted them to continue their Amherst educations. Faced with the non-choice of staying on campus with his/her rapist or leaving, many sexual assault survivors I know take time off, transfer, or drop out altogether. If the fundamental injustice of this doesn’t already make you cringe, consider this: Research has shown that rapists rape again and again; repeat offenders perpetrate nine out of ten campus rapes, and thus continue to pose a threat to students.

This is what sexism and misogyny look like at a so-called progressive, elite, liberal arts institution in 2012.

It’s too easy to blame the fraternity members and the administration. Obviously, I think the students who designed, approved, and sold the shirt were grossly out of line, and I believe the Amherst administrators who decided not to punish them were tolerating their blatant misogyny.

But many more of us are to blame. Everyone who knew about that shirt—regardless of if they bought it, wore it, praised it, or privately condemned it—is at fault. Hundreds of us saw or heard about it and did nothing. We didn’t speak up. We didn’t write about it. We didn’t demand justice or discussion. If we were outraged—and I’m sure many of us were—we didn’t voice it.

Had the t-shirt depicted a pig roasting an African American (or a Jew or a Native American), I believe the students responsible would have faced punishment. At the very least, there would have been public outrage. Articles would have flooded The Student and The Indicator. It might even have made national news.

How have we become so desensitized to violence against women?

When I saw the shirt last April, I was horrified—and I did nothing. I was foolish. I did nothing because I thought someone else would. I did nothing because I didn’t want to be called an “oversensitive” or “angry” woman. And ultimately I did nothing because I became convinced that I really was just oversensitive and angry. After all, no one else was saying anything.

I could have written this post last April. So could hundreds of others.

Why didn’t you?

159 comments on “Amherst College: “Roasting Fat Ones Since 1847”

  1. philocompo
    October 8, 2012

    Having never heard about this T-shirt affair, I’m just as much shocked by the offensive image printed on it. But I’m a bit nonplussed by your professed outrage that it condones violence towards women. I surely agree with you that violence against women is a terrible thing, and it mustn’t be encouraged in anyway. But how about violence against men? It’s pretty much commonplace, and has been accepted as normal for thousands of years, up to today. For example, the crimes of Lorena Bobbitt and her later imitators have been talked about more often with humor and ridicule rather than terror and concern. Kicking a man in the crotch is a common humorous gag. So is a female beating the hell out of a male (most iconic in Japanese manga). If we encounter a couple where the female is physically attacking the male, the reflex reaction is to think that “he must have deserved it”. Yet there seems to be no outrage over this. No proposed legislation to cover it, unlike violence against women, which still has things like VAWA. And don’t forget that there are numerous shelters for “battered women”, but very few for “battered men” – instead, men reporting domestic violence by their wives to their police are more likely to get arrested themselves, and be charged for the violence.

    My point isn’t that your outrage isn’t justified – it’s just that it smells of being lopsided, and ultimately driven by the familiar, old, patriarchal notion that women are not to be subjected to violence of any kind. That kind of Victorian impulse is I think what makes it possible for rallies against domestic violence against women to gain sympathy from many men. It stems from a fundamental desire to protect women – wives, sisters, and daughters, which doesn’t exist in equal measure to protect male members of society – instead, these people are expected to sacrifice their lives if necessary. In other words, we’ve taken up the cause to fight misogyny without discarding the misandry which came along with patriarchy as well. Yes, there clearly was misandry in patriarchal society. The imposition of the draft for men but not women is a blatant example of it.

    The irony is that the ridiculous and appalling behavior of many members of fraternities (especially with regards to sex and alcohol) is not something which would have been passed over as easily in the old patriarchal times. I doubt that such a shocking image would have been deemed appropriate in 1890, for example (although of course it would have been banned for other reasons than today). It certainly would not be acceptable in my home country, which is clearly still in a rather “patriarchal stage.” Instead, the “fratboy mentality” is a more or less a product of the sexual revolution of the mid-20th century, which was initially welcomed, if not also indirectly caused, by at least some feminists. Once you remove sexual repression and enforced monogamy, then gone are social mores and young, nubile college students return to their animalistic natures, which today is still suppressed in the classroom and “proper society” but let loose in alcohol-drenched fraternity parties (and ultimately manifested in the designing of this T-shirt).

    You said that “had the t-shirt depicted a pig roasting an African American (or a Jew or a Native American), I believe the students responsible would have faced punishment.” Still, would you have been similarly outraged had, say, the College Democrats produced a similar shirt “roasting” republicans or Southern “rednecks”? Or perhaps if Daniel Diner had created a similar shirt vilifying “ignorant Christians”?

    And I kind of know what a typical feminist response to my line of questioning is, although I’m not an expert on feminism. It’s simply to 1) portray and reduce my concerns to a “whataboutthemenz” problem, 2) Mock, caricature, invoke the questioner’s position of male privilege, 3) Drill into their heads the fact that “patriarchy hurts women more, and is fundamentally men oppressing women”, 4) Rinse and repeat. If you’re out here just to reply with that kind of response, then I have nothing more to say. I just would simply like to express my point that though violence against women is a terrible thing, portraying it as something nobody cares about is dishonest, since in comparison violence against men in general is so commonplace and accepted. And that I am not comfortable with other people laughing if someone kicks my balls and I have to hold on to my crotch.

    • passerby
      October 8, 2012

      I just wanted to let you know that your response misses very many things and is utterly stupid, although it does have one sort of okay point. Certainly there is violence against men. You got that one right.

      Predicting your response (because you up there on your high horse tried to predict mine), you’ll say that my response contributes nothing to the argument, but I’m not here to argue with you. There are far too many things wrong with your statement and I’ve got a paper, so please, let someone else write the reply I want to give but don’t have time for. I don’t even consider myself to be a feminist with a hard F, either, before we start that one.

      • philocompo
        October 8, 2012

        Thanks, “passerby”. I now know that a random Amherst student thinks that my response is “utterly stupid” and has a paper to do. That’s very enlightening. Have a nice day, and enjoy those good feelings believing that you’ve served your role as a keyboard warrior for feminist (okay, SMALL F) issues.

      • philocompo
        October 8, 2012

        Incidentally, I notice that whenever I argue against liberals on Amherst websites, it’s often the case that someone’s response will contain the sentence “There’s just so many things wrong about your statement and I don’t have the time to correct it”. Which makes me believe that many people don’t want dialogue, debate, and critical examination of arguments (i.e. two-way interaction), but instead “education”, “informing out of ignorance”, “correcting”, and basically saying that someone’s just wrong (i.e. one-way interactions). It’s a very disappointing and concerning fact.

    • passerby
      October 8, 2012

      yo phil i’m not even an amherst student i just stumbled across this because of facebook
      and your reply was exactly what i thought it was (btdubs i finished the paper woot woot)
      hope u have a nice day
      cheerz

    • Anonymous
      October 8, 2012

      Your response is really saddening. First, it’s a deflection. Second, that you feel the need to be defensive is odd, since feminism seeks to unearth the ways that patriarchy oppresses both men and women. Third, really? Lorena Bobbitt? Sure it comes across as a joke, and that’s wrong…but did you know she did it because her partner was raping her regularly? Let’s not need to take sides. Your response, in making oppression of men and women a BINARY instead of part of the SAME PROBLEM is just furthering misogyny and not helping your case much.

    • Anonymous
      October 8, 2012

      There a few gaps in your argument. To start, violence against men. Is it sexualised in the same way? That’s sort of the crux of it here. Almost every time you see violence against women in media, it (she) is sexual as well. (It’s also interesting that you bring up Japan because of the kidnapping/torture/rape of women that’s taken place there. Not that such images of extreme violence against men is laudable, but it’s part of a culture. The medium of manga/anime also has it’s, I would say, over whelming majority of sexual violence against women. With men, it is, as you say, a joke, a gag, something funny, but with women it’s sexy? We can both cite examples for own points, but the fact is that the situations are fundamentally different.)

      To tangent for a moment, you bring up the idea of a shirt where the shirt attacks a member of a “liberal” group- widely supported by most students. I first disagree that there would not be outrage- there would. Perhaps not of “poor redneck” stereotype, as a socio-economic group they’re not well represented at Amherst, nor well liked by others. However, you’re making a flaw by comparing an individual or a non-college endorsed group to a fraternity which is a nation wide organization that receives money and support from the college.

      It’s not that no one cares about violence towards women, that’s that it’s widely accepted and acknowledged- and no one particularly tries to stop it. Society has, for the most part said “No, no, this is wrong but…” and then continued to do it. Violence against men, either by men or by women IS a serious problem, but in a different way- we have not accepted that it happens. Men are the leading victims of rape in the US- not in colleges, or in towns like ours, but because of prevalence of prison-rape which is, again, played off as a joke.

      Maybe instead of arguing about which group has it worse, we just sort of generally decide to not hurt, or glorify the hurting of other people?

      (I have to say, your final paragraph is offensive. Maybe if you weren’t so antagonistic, you wouldn’t be straw-manned. If you want an actual discussion, don’t assume you know the other side and snidely comment on your superiority. I, as a women and a feminist, do think that if men are drafted women should be as well. Of course, I also don’t think that -anyone- should be drafted, but that’s not important. I think that men and women should receive equal, opportunities, benefits, etc. Although I have not met the feminists you know, from my perspective, they seem to not support equality of women, but superiority of them. That is their view point, not the view point of feminism itself.)

    • demosthenes
      October 8, 2012

      You managed to distill a great deal of the frustration I experience when dealing with feminism in my life. As a male college student the specter of feminism has tended to haunt my writing ever since my senior year of High-School. The zero sum nature of the debates I see in this thread, as well as outside of this discussion, are what worry me. As with this image ideas are always discussed in stark terms of pro-woman, anti-woman, feminist or misogynist. These zero sum arguments are one of the foundational problems with modern discourse (broadly) and debates over contentious social issues such as this shirt.

      Contextually I received a link to this article from my girlfriend who attends an all-girls college. The question I received along with the link was not ‘what do you think,’ but rather ‘this is hate speech.’ The discussion rapidly degraded into sweeping generalizations about the implications of the image, and further the role of censorship. The fact that our discourse about social issues has degraded to the point that my sweet girlfriend could be demanding the burning of all the things that offend her is symptomatic. Regardless of how righteous the cause is, violence should never beget violence, and the rhetoric I have heard on the feminist side of this question is frankly vitriolic.

      I can understand the outrage created by the image and I would like everyone to know that I do refer to myself as feminist. But the issues are being confused in this discussion. As Phil so aptly put, that violence against any person should be offensive, whether it be a woman, black, white, native american etc.. The society we have created is not a zero sum game. Often times I hear more radical feminists discussing feminist issues in terms of a ‘war againts patriarchy’ or likening themselves to the civil rights movement. Now I certainly wasn’t around for the Jim Crow south, but I’m certain we havn’t sicked dogs on feminist protests, or systematically suppressed the female vote. The point being that to pretend that women dont’t enjoy special privleges, or that their privleges are less meaningful is ludicrous. Both sexes share social mores that shape our futures, and our place within society. For certain men have held the reigns of power since time inmemorium, but to pretend (for convenience) that I have not faced obstacles in my life, simply because I am a man, is offensive.

      In short I believe that phil has summarized a great deal of the frustration liberally minded men have felt throughout the second and third wave. We feel as if our voices can, or even should, not be heard. That the notion of universal feminism feels more and more like lip service being paid to their own liberal notions of ‘inclusivity.’ Violence against any individual is unacceptable, not just women. If we as a society are going to move forward we need to understand that no person deserves discrimination, or privilege simply because they are born a certain way. Rather both men and women need to recognize that these victorian notions of female inviolability hold both genders back.

      • Woman from the class of 2011
        October 8, 2012

        An excellent and well thought out response. Thank you for being brave enough to tell people what they do not want to hear.

      • Anonymous
        October 11, 2012

        MEN are the ones DOING the violence! NOT women! THAT is fact, so how about some “inclusive” accountability and be an ally and not a fucklin troll!

      • Anonymous
        October 13, 2012

        Well I don’t think your girlfriend was very intersted in seeing other perspectives. It’s a bit silly to think that all feminists think that way. Some people are a bit more absolutist thinkers in general.

    • Alex
      October 9, 2012

      I think you missed the more important feminist argument 5) What place does a discussion of violence against men have in an article about a shirt that explicitly and exclusively portrays violence against women?

      For someone who doesn’t know much about feminism, you sound like a person who’s heard negative responses to your attitudes a lot. You might want to consider that this means you’re being a jerk, and try to listen a little instead of composing defensive lists of all the ways people have told you you’re wrong.

    • concernedamherststudent
      October 11, 2012

      Come on, philcompo. If you want to make a comment, make it relevant to the article. You’re so eager to critique feminism, that you’re not addressing the points in the article. This article is a response to a specific incident that happened on campus. It’s not a general statement about feminism. It’s a response. Violence (against women, men, children, animals) can be condemned. Violence is a bad thing. But, a shirt depicting violence against men was not made/sold. A shirt depicting violence, sexualized violence, against women was created. That is what the article is discussing. The author, as well as many students (women and men) on campus, believe that this shirt and the response to this shirt by the administration and the student body, was problematic. The author is arguing that is says something about Amherst College and society as a whole. Perhaps we (Amherst) need to reconsider the way we think about sexual assault on campus and the way we treat situtations that demean women (like this shirt). I don’t think the ideas in this article are that hard to understand. I don’t understand why you, philcompo, feel the need to be defensive about this subject. I would hope that you found this shirt to be disturbing like the rest of us. If not, then I guess I understand why you are failing to address the issue at hand.

  2. A feminist.
    October 8, 2012

    It’s not that violence experienced by men isn’t an issue, but it’s not the issue here, since clearly this shirt has nothing to do with violence against men.

    Still, it’s important to note that what you cite as “misandry,” the hatred of men by women, aren’t instances of misandry at all. Your example, the draft, was instated by MEN with political power–not women, who even today don’t have equal representation in United States government.

    So yes, patriarchy hurts men as well in certain ways, but that kind of violence is largely driven by men themselves, not women. That said, yes, men can also experience domestic violence at the hands of women and should have resources to help them with that, but the fact that men also face violence does NOT mean that violence against women is suddenly not an issue that should be addressed in its own right. You seem to argue that the issue of violence against women should receive the same as that against men currently receives, but don’t you think that maybe you should be advocating for increased attention toward violence against men, rather than decreased attention to violence against women?

    I would suggest that if this is an issue you’re passionate about, write an article expressing your opinions and try to make change, just like Dana Bolger did here. This article is about a blatant depiction of violence against a woman and thus, that’s what should be discussed here. It’s not that violence faced by men doesn’t exist or shouldn’t be discussed, but I haven’t seen any shirts that blatantly depict the type of violence you’re discussing floating around on the Amherst campus, and therefore that’s really not an issue right now.

    Let’s talk about why this shirt was seen as a funny joke or an okay thing to do. Because like it or not, this was the shirt that was made, and it features a woman–not a man. Wondering about hypothetical shirts featuring violence against men distracts from the issue here: that certain Amherst students thought this type of depiction of women was okay and that hardly anything was done to show that this isn’t okay. And it’s not. It’s really not.

    • philocompo
      October 8, 2012

      Still, it’s important to note that what you cite as “misandry,” the hatred of men by women, aren’t instances of misandry at all.

      Your definition of misandry is incorrect. Misandry is simply hatred of men, period. It doesn’t matter who’s doing the hating – women, men, or aliens. Just as it is perfectly possible for someone to hate their own race, nation, or ethnic background – it is perfectly possible for someone to hate their own sex. And as you pointed out, the fact that males hold more positions of power than females actually makes misandry by males more damaging.

      And the fact that the people sending off men to war will happen to have a penis, like I do, doesn’t alter the fact that it’s young males like me who will have to go, fight, and die to “prove my masculinity”. Not a single bit. There’s no magical connection that makes being sent off to war by a woman “more painful” than being sent off to war by George W. Bush.

      Your example, the draft, was instated by MEN with political power–not women, who even today don’t have equal representation in United States government.

      And indeed, the men with political power who instate the draft are most likely men who are sympathetic to the notion that boys and men have an innate duty to protect the “weaker sex”. On the other hand, I haven’t seen feminists calling for the draft to include women lately.

      You seem to argue that the issue of violence against women should receive the same as that against men currently receives, but don’t you think that maybe you should be advocating for increased attention toward violence against men, rather than decreased attention to violence against women?

      Even if it can be argued that violence against women is not given adequate attention, the amount of attention given to it vis-a-vis the amount of attention given to violence against males is like 100 to 1. It’s a non-issue. There’s barely any activist groups for that. Rush Limbaugh said some misogynistic comments, and he gets criticized by many people and pressured to apologize. Same goes for Todd Akin. He was criticized by both sides. The point is that there’s people who speak out and care. But don’t you think there’s something wrong when the hosts of the show “The Talk” laugh and joke about the case of a woman who castrates her husband, and it doesn’t show up anywhere on the media? How would you feel if a group of frat boys joked on national TV about cutting a woman’s breasts, and nobody spoke out against them?

      This article is about a blatant depiction of violence against a woman and thus, that’s what should be discussed here. It’s not that violence faced by men doesn’t exist or shouldn’t be discussed, but I haven’t seen any shirts that blatantly depict the type of violence you’re discussing floating around on the Amherst campus, and therefore that’s really not an issue right now.

      My point is that violence against men will probably never be discussed, because of the motivations I outlined above. And in a nutshell, it’s because any discussion of violence against women is likely to be covertly powered by the old notion that men should always protect women from violence of any kind. That’s why the phrase “wife-beater” and “battered woman” has so much psychological power. A “battered man”, on the other hand, is a nice dramatic touch.

      So Dana Bolger basically raised the issue that at Amherst, violence against women (as manifested in this T-shirt) isn’t adequately discussed. I’m saying, “Well yes, but you know, violence against men in general, at the national level, is much worse…” It isn’t a direct rebuttal of her argument, but I am just unimpressed by the attitude.

      • Barry Scott
        October 8, 2012

        Philocompo, do you realize that you’ve spoken over Dana’s concerns and turned this commentary section into an argument about your needs and male needs generally? Do you expect women, or men who support (a contrast to the notion of “saving”) them, to support your argument when you basically demand more and push aside the courage it took to speak out in the first place? Where were you before she wrote this piece?

      • philocompo
        October 8, 2012

        Barry Scott, if there’s anyone responsible for “turning this commentary section into an argument about my needs”, it’s people who have responded to my comment. Including you. I was indeed aware from the start that violence against males is a tangential issue to the original post. But it’s honestly something which I think deserves more attention than violence against women, which already has a fair share of supporters everywhere. If you think that’s off-topic, then there’s no need to whine about it – just ignore it. I’m just a commenter, not a moderator.

      • Barry Scott
        October 9, 2012

        Thanks for not responding to my questions Phil. “[Violence against males is] honestly something which I think deserves more attention than violence against women” – that’s great. Write YOUR OWN article about that. Your issue does not address the significance of the context or the facts at hand: there was a depiction of a WOMAN being burned at the stake for sale on the Amherst College campus. “But I’m just a commenter, not a moderator.” NO, your comment is off-topic, and you clearly take no responsibility for moderating yourself. You’re TROLLING.

      • Anonymous
        October 13, 2012

        Phil you are quite tiring because you seem really determined to not focus on the main points so many people keep telling you. Many commentors explain why your comment is so out of place and just not relavent at this moment yet you basically just want to ignore everything and keep bringing up that women are complaining too much even though their issues are addressed (in your eyes) a lot compared to violence against men.

        Well, media depicts violence against children as fun or justifiable when kids are annoying which is terrible too but we are not bringing that up here, are we? It’s natural for a dialogue to be sparked by a specific incident. This time it was sparked by this shirt in Amherst. So why not let people be appalled by the shirt and Amherst community being silent about it instead of bringing up tv shows to whose producers you should write letters to?

        If a sororiety sold a shirt depicting men as boy toys, kicking their balls to show who is boss in the relationship, I am sure no one in this forum would cheer for that and if they did, you could write about it after mustering up some courage like dana. I personally find any gender-based violence extremely appalling coming from a culture where many believe boys need to be beaten to be raised properly and that they are not proper men until they are finished with military service and tease if not bully those that have somehow avoided the draft and I do see this as a result of patriarchy. You may come from the same culture but seriously you need to lay down the anger against women who are currently focusing on women issues and find another place to make this the main topic of discussion.

  3. Anonymous
    October 8, 2012

    The following lines by the author seem like quite an exaggeration. They have the feel of propagandistic hyperbole: “We’re all part of a larger culture… that excuses (and often promotes)… the glamorization of violence against women, and the normalization of rape… Our politicians decide which victims of violence against women should be taken seriously and which “types” of rape are legitimate. Our society blames victims of sexual assault, rather than perpetrators, leaving them free to rape again.” There was only one politician recently who described different types of rape, and afterwards he was immediately criticized by virtually all sides. It is deceptive and poor argumentation to use that event as the basis for asserting “Our politicians decide which victims of violence against women should be taken seriously and which ‘types of rape are legitimate.”

    In addition, why doesn’t that shirt represent unpunishable, free speech in a private circle? Speech becomes un-free not only when the government jails or discriminates against the people uttering the speech. It also becomes un-free when private institutions punish the people. For in both cases, a cloud of fear is created and people are harmed for expressing themselves in speech.

    If the roasting woman on the shirt was the prophet Muhammad, the author’s line of argument could easily be that of an Islamic fundamentalist calling for institutional punishment of the creators of a cartoon offensive to Muslims.

    Formally punishing any form of speech on a t-shirt created (and let’s say, worn) in a private circle is dangerous because standards of what content should be punished can shift in the future. It could be that one day creating a shirt in college printed with the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” (a concept that mocks belief in god) is considered worthy of punishment? Those who created the shirt could be expelled by the College with ease if the author’s mindset became the norm.

    Then we may find our noble selves one day, when power shifts, on the receiving end of persecution. Therefore let us choose to embrace tolerance of speech in private circles, even those that appear offensive to our own cultural norms.

    • Anonymous
      October 8, 2012

      freedom of speech is not an infinite freedom–at a certain point, your freedom of speech impinges on someone elses. this shirt is not only a mechanism of speech for the wearer, but a violent silencing mechanism. speech is about more than expression–it’s about power dynamics, control, and fundamental violence.

      • philocompo
        October 8, 2012

        While I don’t necessary think that we have a duty to protect the free speech of someone making a violent T-shirt in this college, the belief that speech is a “silencing mechanism” or “power dynamics” is troubling for me. I am sick of people claiming that they are being “silenced” while they are actively trying to silence others. Paradoxically, your very expression that “speech is a silencing mechanism” is in my opinion also a silencing mechanism for people who think that freedom of speech should be upheld in all circumstances.

    • Josh Brechner
      October 8, 2012

      I agree that we have a right to protect free speech and I understand the peril of the slippery-slope argument you have outlined Anon but your argument is completely invalid in this context.

      Amherst College, a private school, is allowed to create its own rules that are supernumerary to those of the Constitution. Essentially, all students, by enrolling at Ahmerst, have agreed to play by these rules (outlined in the Student Honor Code) and in some cases actually forfeit certain constitutionally guaranteed rights. [Disclosure: I am a Northwestern Grad, '12, and all of this applies to my alma mater as well].

      Re: https://www.amherst.edu/campuslife/deanstudents/handbook/studentrights#Honor

      To unequivocally illustrate this point, the owning guns is protected by the 2nd amendement, but as the Honor Code points out in Section B10, “Possession or distribution of firearms, ammunitions or explosives or of other harmful weapons” is an example of a violation of the code, punishable by suspension, expulsion, etc.

      Similarly, there IS a reduction of 1st amendment rights. Students do have the “right to engage in the free exchange of ideas” but not when that comes into contradiction with students’ “right, when participating in any aspect of life of the college or traveling among the Five Colleges, to be free from harassment for reasons of one’s race, religion, national origin, ethnic identification, age, political affiliation and/or belief, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, economic status or physical or mental disability.”

      So whether these students should face more serious repercussions is something, I think, should be back on the table.

      One last example:

      After the RNC, there were instances of lynching of empty chairs in Texas and Virginia [http://www.columbian.com/news/2012/oct/03/chair-lynching-obama-racism/]. Although this would be and is protected under first amendement rights for the individuals that made the display, Anon, I ask you:

      Would this be acceptable student conduct at Amherst College? Would the College officials feel more pressed to take action if this were to occur?

      • demosthenes
        October 8, 2012

        The original comment never stated that anyone claimed a right to freedom of speech, but rather that it is a value that should be upheld in public, and private institutions. The argument wasn’t based in legal fact ,but rather philosophical concern.

    • Pullman'92
      October 9, 2012

      My reply: Give me a break.

      My longer reply courtesy of Mr. Mieville: “(Indeed, an astoundingly small proportion of arguments ‘for free speech’ & ‘against censorship’ or ‘banning’ are, in fact, about free speech, censorship or banning. It is depressing to have to point out, yet again, that there is a distinction between having the legal right to say something & having the moral right not to be held accountable for what you say. Being asked to apologise for saying something unconscionable is not the same as being stripped of the legal right to say it. It’s really not very fucking complicated. Cry Free Speech in such contexts, you are demanding the right to speak any bilge you wish without apology or fear of comeback. You are demanding not legal rights but an end to debate about & criticism of what you say. When did bigotry get so needy? This assertive & idiotic failure to understand that juridical permissibility backed up by the state is not the horizon of politics or morality is absurdly resilient.)”

    • owl
      October 10, 2012

      I actually find your comment far more exaggerated as you compare her concern to that of an Islamic extremist and missing the bigger concern for the Amherst and American culture she wanted to express.

      This private group decided to sell their “insider joke” to the larger community because it knows it’s a joke recognizable by most people living in America in 2012. If people are criticizing what the frat is eating I would accept your “tolerance for other cultural norms” argument. Obviously this cultural norm is wide-spread enough to make larger ties and that’s not a hyperbole.

      Now, on the freedom of speech issue which I find amusing as so many cultural controversies and expressions of repulsive ideas often become debates about freedom of expression and not the idea themselves. Whenever I see people confront and see subsequent apologies or people saying “I’m sorry I offended you.” it feels like those sitcom-style “I’m not sorry I cheated. I’m sorry I got caught.” apologies.

      The famous quote “I may not like what you say but will protect your right to say it,” is part of the deal and I personally would be against official punishment as you say.
      Plus, while punishments can make clear what the institution officially stands for, it will not have much impact on students who already know how to do the “Sorry I got caught” bit.

      However on a non-legal logistics level, I would not call this an issue of freedom of speech. This is abuse and exercise of license, not freedom.

      I would like to see freedom of speech defended more fiercely when it actually is in danger and when it requires courage and risks to exercise to begin with, not when the content of the speech is as disgusting as this. To add hyperbole of my own, people who established this philosophy and those who lost their lives to practice it for fellow humans would weep seeing the phrase “freedom of speech” tooted around to protect verbal and graphic assault.

      Some things are controlled by thousands of legislations and punishments according to each offense but some things we need to depend on our character.
      We want sincerity and respect for humans in our communities and culture, and people really believing that the ideas on the shirt are not okay. We don’t want people believing what they printed on the shirt but just not printing it because they know they will get in trouble.

  4. emalexander
    October 8, 2012

    Philocompo, why are violence against men and violence against women mutually exclusive? I completely agree that there is an enormous problem with the way that violence, especially sexual violence, against men is handled. That doesn’t change the fact that a group of students was allowed to virtually get away with creating this disgusting t-shirt, and it doesn’t change the problematic ways in which the Amherst administration deals with sexual violence across the board. That has nothing to do with me being a feminist, because I don’t identify with western feminism for a number of reasons, and it has nothing to do with you being male, because I don’t disagree that sexual violence against men exists and is overwhelmingly dismissed, and would not have assumed you were a man until you said it. None of these things change the facts that the writer pointed out–we live in a patriarchal society that teaches people that it is okay to objectify women. Arguably, patriarchy makes the dismissal of sexual violence against men worse, because society instructs us that men are supposed to be dominant, therefore men who are dominated or are the victims of some sort of violence are silenced. Responding to this t-shirt in the way that you did could have the power to open up the necessary conversation to include sexual violence against men on campus, because I’m sure it happens, but I have no idea because the way in which sexual violence on campus is handled is incredibly shady. First the conversation has to happen at the highest levels, and this incident could have inspired that, and it seems as though it did not.
    Its incredibly disappointing to attend a college that prides itself on being so liberal, teaching its students how to think critically and be “citizens of the world” and whatnot, and at the same time is effectively privileging certain students, through its acceptance/ignorance of discriminatory actions against certain other students, and in doing so telling us those actions are okay. I do agree with the author that it is even more disappointing, if not disheartening and scary, to not see/hear my fellow students speaking out against said actions, because to me that is a sign of acceptance of that message, and complacency with the status quo. I’m glad that these platforms are beginning to open up, because hopefully that is a sign that things are changing, but the fact that these kinds of incidents are occurring and going unnoticed tells me otherwise.

  5. Barry Scott
    October 8, 2012

    Thank you for speaking out and sharing this Dana. Sucks to see mansplaining pop up anonymously right from the start and from someone so proud of himself that he won’t take credit for his defense of… what? And in support of… whom? The macho culture at Amherst is repulsive. For men/boys to blame feminists and the sexual revolution for aggressive contemporary male behavior is a failure of their own personal responsibility and respect for others.

    • philocompo
      October 8, 2012

      For men/boys to blame feminists and the sexual revolution for aggressive contemporary male behavior is a failure of their own personal responsibility and respect for others.

      That’s where you utterly fail to understand the point being made, Barry. Outlining a cause for a certain problem doesn’t absolve the perpetrators of personal responsibility. For example, the reason someone becomes a drug dealer might be due to poverty, bad environment, lack of adequate support, etc…we all accept that kind of reasoning. But it doesn’t absolve the person of responsibility for doing something wrong.

      And patriarchy is not identical with aggressive male behavior and macho culture, or at least, frat boy culture. You know, all that stuff about “how to be a gentleman”? Yeah, it was sexist, but it did serve to repress the baser side of untamed male sexuality.

      • Barry Scott
        October 8, 2012

        Philocompo, I’m from the US. Having grown up around men of “the baser side” as you put it, this issue matters to me. Would you mind informing the rest of us where you’re from so that we might consider a different cultural perspective on the matter here?

        “Outlining a cause for a certain problem doesn’t absolve the perpetrators of personal responsibility.” – I partially agree, however ignoring unequal power relations and being reactive rather than proactive does not absolve you from addressing the wrong perpetrated here. You fail to condemn the specific person(s) responsible for the public incident of “ridiculous and appalling behavior” in favor of a diffuse generalization that you then leverage to make an entirely different point, and only then do you condemn specific examples. You blame the very person who you agree was rightfully offended without allocating any blame toward the specific perpetrator(s)! You do have important things to say, but again, as as a self-identified male-bodied individual living in this particular patriarchal society you take the liberty to question a woman for what they didn’t do before you show the common decency to appreciate what they did do. Your wolf’s tail is showing under that coat of wool. Your accusations make you suspect… not as a matter of fact, but as a matter of trust given the arguments you make and your suggested intentions.

        And your drug dealer analogy doesn’t apply because a) you make a value judgement about an issue I’m sure many will disagree with you on, and b) such an analogy again calls into question your judgement as to whether or not Dana was correct in speaking up to condemn the person(s) who produced the t-shirts in question. Is it wrong to be a pharmacist? Or a shaman? You mix two very different issues to make a point that neglects to address power relations.

        Please, do elaborate on how frat boy culture and aggressive male behavior is not “identical” to patriarchy considering the historic all-male cultural traditions of Amherst College. I’m not sure anybody claimed they were identical, but please, do explain how male chauvinism and intellectual misogyny, and for that matter “repression,” are effective methods for “taming” the baser side of male sexuality. The language you use throughout your posts here give me the sense that you’re more concerned about control, domestication, and being right than about illuminating or helping to resolve the serious problems between men/women (let alone those people who don’t identify as either).

  6. Anonymous
    October 8, 2012

    It seems that the administration’s soft and silent approach to this incident stems from the College’s contradictory policy towards fraternities. Officially banned on campus, they nonetheless exert considerable influence on the student body as reservoirs of distinct sub-cultures, regenerated each year by new members. When issues like this arise, they disabuse students and administrators alike of the notion that Amherst can truly divorce Greek life from the College’s culture while these groups continue to exist in their current form.

    To what do we owe this half-baked policy? I suspect the clash between the administration’s desire to definitively ban these organizations and the power of fraternity alumni produced the current equilibrium. Like many of the fraternities waiting in the wings outside Amherst’s campus, the fraternity responsible for this shirt counts many influential alumni and current trustees among its former members. While this may have played a role in the administration’s approach to this particular problem, the broader implications for college policy are the more salient to this discussion.

    As underground, semi-official entities, fraternities are difficult for the College to regulate. Dealing out judicious disciplinary action for fraternity offenses great and small would require much greater administration involvement in Greek life governance, a complete impossibility under current “see no evil, hear no evil” College policy. On the other hand, banning fraternities altogether to end this ambiguity would evince a firestorm of protest from prominent alumni. Thus, the College is stuck with an unsatisfactory middle course, attempting to discourage these actions without employing harsh sanctions or becoming overly involved in regulating the fraternity activity that officially does not occur on Amherst’s campus.

    The fraternity that made this shirt does not deserve a place in campus life. However, until the College’s policy is clarified, incidents like these will continue to occur and the resulting disciplinary action will continue to be unsatisfying. Under a well-regulated Greek-system, these incidents would be swiftly punished. At a campus without fraternities, these types of offenses may not occur at all. What is clear is that ultimately, Amherst must choose to bring Greek life back, or decisively consign fraternities to the College’s history.

  7. Concerned
    October 8, 2012

    Thank you for writing and sharing this article. Like you, I saw this shirt in April and was appalled, disgusted, and made uncomfortable by the enthusiasm with which both men and women on campus wore the shirt. The administration’s lackadaisical approach to dealing with this issue is similar to a slew of other botched and unconcerned attempts at handling the overwhelming problem of sexual violence and misconduct at Amherst. The current moves to limit drinking and ‘partying’ don’t really touch on the real problem, either. We need to start having real discussions on how sexual disrespect on this campus is a serious problem, and while student groups have done some great work recently in trying to get the message across, I doubt any real progress can be made until the administration starts to handle cases like this with stricter enforcement of sexual respect policies.

  8. Matt
    October 8, 2012

    Before I had read the article I assumed the *image* itself was put out by a women’s issues group on campus to call attention to misogyny and body fascism perpetuated by “pigs.” Context matters!

    • Barry Scott
      October 8, 2012

      Say more Matt. You assumed the image was a critique. You’re right that context matters, because it was a reinforcement of sexist attitudes not a critique. So what are you trying to tell us?

      • BHC
        October 8, 2012

        “It” is a t-shirt. The context was him viewing it. There is no mention of the fraternity or Amherst on the shirt (per Amherst’s rules on fraternities), so he would have to be informed of that additional context. Furthermore, your assertion that it was a reinforcement of sexist attitudes represents your reaction, based on your knowledge of the situation, and it is presumptuous to claim that others will feel the same way. Matt has a point. If we take it at face value, the shirt criticizes the men of the fraternity.

      • Barry Scott
        October 9, 2012

        Thank you BHC, though I understand “the image” is a photograph of “a tee shirt”. The context that matters is not Matt’s viewing a photograph of the t-shirt, but where he is in his thinking when he interprets the image, alone, of the t-shirt, as being one created in his own mind by a “woman’s issues group on campus to call attention to misogyny and body fascism perpetuated by ‘pigs’.” Pigs, really? I’m not laughing. Was he trying to lighten the mood of the dialogue? I like humor. That’s why I asked him to say more. I wanted to understand what he was thinking, not what you were thinking. Thanks though.

        I also understand the basis from which we learn of the “additional context” about the shirt – the article that accompanies it (like the original context, minus Matt reading it. Which happens. No harm there). Matt was informed, he just made a judgement based on the photo first. Again, that’s not the context I understand to matter here, unless he helps me understand what he’s talking about.

        I’m not much interested in the fraternity aspect of this story at this point, though it is interesting. But you’re right BHC, in that my assertion – “it was a reinforcement of sexist attitudes” – represents my reaction to the image. I read the image of the t-shirt, the t-shirt itself (presumably), and made an interpretation of “it” and judged the t-shirt (not the image) to be sexist (no one has disputed its existence). That was reinforced by the rest of the context because otherwise I wouldn’t have know about it (thanks again Dana). You’re right, it is presumptuous to claim that others will feel the same way, but I’m confident others will if they care at all about the ways in which women continue to be affected negatively by such imagery. Though others who agree with her may also critique Dana for falling into the narrow frame of ‘who is more oppressed’ to aid her point.

        Call it a first world problem as others have if you wish, but perceptions matter. Fictional representations of potentially real threats didn’t stop the US from invading Iraq. Its effects spread quicker than many people think. Perceptions and language are not criminal, nor should they be. But hate speech shouldn’t be acceptable socially. We can debate what is or isn’t hate speech, but calling it out has to happen first. Isn’t trying to understand why people think what they do, and respond to such imagery as many on this thread have, kind of key to minimizing any offense? Especially if no offense was intended?

        How does the shirt criticize the men of the fraternity?

      • Anon
        October 11, 2012

        Hey Barry,

        The shirt portrays men as pigs because the man in the image is a giant pig. Not sure how they could make it more obvious.

        That is the point, it is a satirization of men being piggish women eaters. Since men made the shirt, that means it is laughing at the stereotype which apparently means it’s offensive. If women had made the shirt, it could be interpreted seriously as depicting men as evil, which of course we would all laugh at.

        Hope that helps,
        The Internet

  9. cherry
    October 8, 2012

    I applaud your post and agree with your sentiments, but I think the idea of punishment of the ‘perpetrators’ of this act should be re-considered.

    The people directly involved/who are at ‘fault’ are, as you say, a product of a bigger culture. I hate to say this, but it is not their fault, there is no fault, no harm was done. They shouldn’t be punished because they will tell you that they have female friends, respect the women in their lives, etc, and they will not be lying.

    But you are right, dehumanization is the first step towards something much more serious, larger in scale, and inhumane. Do I really need to make references? Instead of punishment, I think doing the right thing is talking about it like you have in this post, point it out and talk about how these jokes are funny and harmless, but acknowledge that these things have led to something bigger, and that maybe we should try to be more mindful when making these jokes into a public affair thereby making it always ‘ok’. To attack the frat doesn’t do anything but create more division between huge segments of the school. The bigger concern here I think is dealing with the reaction along the lines of ‘whats the big deal’, because disasters that have followed the emergence of jokes against jews, blacks, asians, etc, are inconceivable to us and so these jokes are, in our reality, actually no big deal. I have no suggestions on how to combat that but to be louder about its problem, which only seems to incite arguments like ^ (ie what about men?) that don’t really take the conversation (not accusation!) anywhere.

    sorry if my response is redundant, I couldn’t finish earlier but now I see 10 people have posted and I don’t have time to read them all just yet.

  10. sesmith524
    October 8, 2012

    Reblogged this on rantsbyafeminist and commented:
    “…dehumanization is always the first step toward justifying such violence” An interesting instance of sexism involving a college in the pioneer valley.

  11. Anonymous
    October 8, 2012

    This is an absolute disgrace. The frat should be put on probation.

    • Anonymous
      October 9, 2012

      Double secret probation!

  12. Anonymous
    October 8, 2012

    Thanks for writing this post and bringing attention to the issue.

  13. 2000 alum
    October 8, 2012

    Thanks for writing this and bringing attention to the issue. While dumb ideas happen, turning it into an open conversation and learning opportunity is the only way that we all get to be smarter and nicer people. You’d think the college administration as a prestigious liberal arts college would have figured this out.

  14. Ali
    October 8, 2012

    Fuck these commenters. Write on, Dana.

    • Anonymous
      October 9, 2012

      Yah I hate those fucking haters!

  15. 2012 Outraged Male Alum
    October 8, 2012

    Thank you for writing this Dana. I didn’t see this shirt before I graduated but many others have and have done nothing. I can’t believe that no one else picked this up earlier and I applaud you for it. No matter what anyone says in this comment section that denies the harm or messages of the shirt, you know that they wouldn’t and couldn’t say the same things in a live, public forum because they would know that their words are wrong and shameful. I don’t know anyone who could walk up to their mom or sister and say, “Hey, this shirt makes frat bros look like pigs but it doesn’t ridicule women as powerless sex objects or suggest that it’s ok to treat them as such.” We as a community shouldn’t stand for this.

    Be proud. Be strong. And don’t ever let a man tell you that you shouldn’t speak your mind just because they think that they’re under “the burden of feminism”. That exists no more so than the “White Man’s Burden” does and any guy who denies that is just being a privileged bigot.

  16. Anonymous
    October 8, 2012

    Tobacco use amongst swine needs to be addressed, as well, as it has the same effect on students’ actual behavior as the shirt does.

  17. Anonymous
    October 8, 2012

    This is a joke. Anyone who believes that by looking at this shirt someone is going to find violence against women ok needs to get back in touch with reality. A shirt that is simply showing “frat life”(beer and women) ideals while cleverly using using the theme of the Bavaria party in no way championing beating of women or raping women or assaulting women. Was the shirt in bad taste? Probably. But to kick anyone out of school for something that 1) in no way singles anybody out 2) can be interpreted in multiple ways (see: Matt) and 3) was done with the intention of humorous and clever, is ridiculous. The author of this piece is stretching and is doing a diservice to real issues that women face

    • Woman from the class of 2011
      October 8, 2012

      Agreed. Thank you for leaving a sensible comment that everyone else has, of course, chosen to ignore. I’m sure one t-shirt made in one small school is going to roll back the progress made in women’s rights in America over the past couple centuries. Dana, next time, why don’t you write about child brides, genital mutilation, silencing of women in the Middle East or any one of the number of actually grave issues that women face today? #firstworldproblems

      • Andre
        October 9, 2012

        (The) Woman from the class of 2011, I strongly disagree with what you said. By writing on an issue that she feels is important, Dana is in no way implying that other grave issues that women face today are not important, as your response suggests. To attack her because she chose to focus on one issue is ridiculous and utterly irresponsible. Furthermore, Dana is not arguing that such incident “roll back” the progress: she is rather pointing out the still long path we need to go toward gender equality. As she has demonstrated, this incident represents a grave problem. You are of course entitled to believe that it is not a problem at all, or that it is a minor issue that does not level up to the ones you listed, but it is not appropriate to accuse someone simply because she does not write about the issues you care about. I for one look forward to your opinions on any of those, since you seem to have set a pretty high standard for yourself through this comment.

      • Anonymous
        October 9, 2012

        If you actually cared to investigate and study women’s issues, you’d understand how shirts like this (and their messages) contribute to ideas about a woman’s “place” in society or the world. Admittedly, one t-shirt is not going to roll back progress, but one t-shirt DOES highlight the ongoing opinions about gender, sexuality and more that continue to permeate even one of America’s most elite educational institutions. I can only imagine that nuances like that would not be easily understood by someone who undoubtedly had some link about Kony2012 as their Facebook status for six weeks… Keep changing the world, girl. #missedthepoint

      • Anonymous
        October 13, 2012

        Writing about a cultural context one knows about and addressing issues close to home are so much better than generalizing about a culture one is inexperienced in just imposing western definitions to view issues abroad. To an American woman who wants to feel safe and respected at her own campus, this is a real issue.

      • Woman from the class of 2011
        October 17, 2012

        I cannot respond to the comments below directly (the comment formatting won’t let me) so I hope this reaches you.

        The fact that this appears to be such a large issue to the author smacks to me of her lack of perspective. Only in a first world country, in an elite college, would this shirt garner this sort of attention, which I think is part of the problem. Many Amherst students would like to think of themselves as global citizens, and as someone who has lived in other parts of the world, I think it is highly irresponsible to rage over this when women in other countries are killed simply for not bringing enough dowry to their in-laws. Dana doesn’t have a real problem – as another commenter said, the makers of this shirt made a joke in poor taste, they aren’t going to personally attack her. Having some perspective about what really matters is very important in subjective discussions like this.

        The reason I chose to sign this post as a “woman from the class of 2011″ is because we should not view women as some monolithic entity with the same views and experiences as each other. At Amherst, I always felt safe, respected and valued as a member of the community. Calling attention to my gender over and over doesn’t help address persisting gender inequalities – it only makes men like philocompo and demosthenes defensive and reluctant to engage with women that they think are going to berate them.

        And Anonymous who posted below Andre, please do not make assumptions about me. You don’t know me.

      • Woman from the class of 2011
        October 17, 2012

        Andre, I think I should also add, that the fact that Dana took this shirt so seriously and that you took the article and the shirt so seriously, helps reinforce my point. I am not attempting to belittle either of you, and my first comment might have sounded more mocking than I intended because I was angry. But it really does seem silly to me to put this on par with actually serious issues. To me, it’s symptomatic of a larger problem of Americans being very limited by their own local and national issues and not viewing how our experiences fit into the rest of the world. All I’m asking for is some perspective. In a naive way, I would like to hope this is why the campus didn’t mobilize the moment this shirt was put out there – perhaps they realized there are more important things to worry about, even within our own country if you want to forget about the rest of the world.

  18. Daniel Freije '11
    October 8, 2012

    Dana–

    Thank you for writing this. It takes a lot of courage, more than I think I have, to open yourself up to the scrutiny and sarcasm that (unjustly) follows sincere, serious, good work like this. I am inspired by your writing. Just wanted to let you know.

    Thank you again,
    Dan

    • Julie
      October 8, 2012

      What Dan said.

    • David Temin '10
      October 9, 2012

      I second Dan. Thank you for your brave remarks, Dana. It is unfortunate that the comments section went downhill so quickly, though I can’t say I’m surprised.

    • Anonymous '12
      October 9, 2012

      I fourth Dan. Dana, thank you for your tremendous strength and incredible work.

    • Anonymous
      October 10, 2012

      More than I think I have:

    • Oscar the Grouch
      October 10, 2012

      Every saint has a past; every sinner has a future.

  19. RobbieO
    October 8, 2012

    What draft? President Nixon ended it. Men and women, all volunteers, are assigned hazardous missions with our US Forces. Many other nations do the same.

  20. Alison
    October 8, 2012

    I wanted to correct something in an otherwise well written article. My understanding is that the administration did not take any action. In fact, an amazing activist student on campus, Jareb Gleckel, organized and hosted a facilitated discussion between the frat members and offended students, including myself. I think he did an amazing job. That the administration failed to take action is not surprising, given the irresponsible lack of involvement in campus life. As it stands, Amherst College continues to display weakness when it comes to dealing with sexual violence and racial differences on campus. From what I hear, recent swastika graffiti speaks to a general problem. The town of Amherst as a whole seems to face antisemitic and religious disrespect on campus.

  21. Daniel Diner
    October 8, 2012

    Philocompo,

    If you are find that the most common response to your points is “There’s just so many things wrong about your statement and I don’t have the time to correct it” then perhaps you might like to rethink your points.

  22. Alison
    October 8, 2012

    I need to make more comments. Fraternity members who post defense of the tshirt are irrelevant to the conversation. No administrator would publicly approve of these tshirts and most people outside who were and are aware of this incident the college community agree is sexist and sexually disrespectful.

    At graduation, some senior pictures will show students in cap and gown with teal and purple ribbons. These ribbons were a student initiated effort to draw attention to sexual violence and gender disrespect on campus. Though this peaceful protest was in direct response to the tshirt incident, it was admittedly ineffective in the wake of administrative silence.

  23. Alison
    October 8, 2012

    My final comment. I am glad to see the tshirts contextualized in a broad discussion of gender differences. However, I think administration at Amherst uses the structural roots of this violence to skirt responsibility to the student body. Too many women on campus fall victim to rape. Gender and sexual disrespect occur on a daily basis. Whether or not the tshirt incident is relevant to sexual and gender differences in American culture is interesting. What is urgent is Amherst College administrators responsibility to create the inclusive environment it claims to on its websites. Otherwise, prospective students have a right to know what they are getting themselves into.

  24. A Bitch Who Likes Sensitive Men
    October 8, 2012

    Thank you for writing this article. It’s a shame that people like Philocompo completely miss the point–the point was not to say that men aren’t ever victimized or hurt. Men are human too (when they’re not serial rapists). But it still stands that men (for the large majority) are in charge, and therefore they should reconsider their society if they hate the consequences of it so badly. Where are the MEN rallying to provide safety to male victims of domestic violence? Where are the MEN protesting patriarchy? Oh, right, (for the majority) they’re not.

    • WesleyanGrad93
      October 9, 2012

      Exactly right. If there were widespread instances of men being raped on the Amherst campus and a T-shirt like this was circulated with a man on the spit instead of a woman, you’d better believe there’d be an outcry. All the little frat boys strutting around proud of their joke would be cringing in fear. Rape is an awful, horrible crime, one that many men don’t understand except from the perspective of the rapist. It’s always gross to see a bunch of spoiled, privileged, mostly-white boys going to college on Daddy’s dime stand up for the poor, oppressed white man who’s not allowed to make sexist, racist, and homophobic jokes because someone might be offended. The sad part is, when you leave college, you’ll find plenty of pigs out there in the world who will join you in your jokes. Then you can join the Tea Party, make as many jokes as you want, and have missed the entire point of your liberal arts education for which your parents paid $100K+. Truly a shame.

      • JJ
        October 9, 2012

        amen

  25. JT
    October 8, 2012

    Thank you Dana! I admire your piece, and your bravery in standing up to write it. It’s been a long time coming!

  26. Anonymous
    October 8, 2012

    Dana – thank you so much for writing this.

  27. Anonymous
    October 8, 2012

    boy do I not miss this bullshit. So glad to have graduated and realized that none of this is important in the slightest. Cheers kids.

    • Anonymous
      October 9, 2012

      god, yes

  28. Anonymous
    October 8, 2012

    Fatties gonna fat.

  29. alineweber
    October 9, 2012

    This is a great piece, I’m so glad it’s been published. I graduated from Smith a couple of years ago so I know the Valley and Amherst as well.

    I just wanted to make one point about what you said here: it’s not hypersexualization of a woman’s body that links sex with violence. Instead, it’s that hypersexuality and violence both require the same kind of thought, that is to say, the same ‘arrested thought’ or lack-of-thought. Really it’s this stupidity that links the two.

    I’m sorry that people have been leaving disparaging comments on this post, and some anonymously at that. I think people are unaware that subconscious misogyny continues to affect all of us, and what seem like first world problems also exist in our backyards. It may seem like one harmless drawing, one little joke, but it means that a bunch of guys at one of the best colleges in the world think it’s alright to trivialize violence against women. That worries me.

  30. Ivane Gamkrelidze
    October 9, 2012

    There are two kinds of evil people in this world: those who do evil stuff and those who see evil stuff being done and don’t try to stop it. It’s inspiring to see your courage in standing up to write what was on the minds of many.

  31. The dad
    October 9, 2012

    The problem isnt “larger society”, no, he problem is AC’s top managemen tha had a teacheable moment and missed it.

    So what to do? Here’s what youdo, any of you with courage: print a series of T-shirts with offending pictures (dare to draw the prophet Mohammed?) and GIVE them to top administrators.

    If anyone as much as mentions sanctioning you for this deed, call them on their bluff by calling in the press,media , and of course an attorney or two..

  32. '12 female graduate
    October 9, 2012

    Dana,
    Thank you for writing this. As a ’12 graduate who was present at the “closed-door” discussion, it was really a pretty appalling experience. As women (and some allied men) confronting the fraternity, we did not ask for punishment, or retribution. Rather, we asked for a discussion, and further action steps, including education for fraternity members (ie, mandatory WAGS classes, or meetings with SHEs or PAs) and while the administration nodded approvingly at our call to action, absolutely NOTHING has been done or reinforced. This is not an issue, as some commenters have mentioned, of “people being directly harmed.” Of course nobody sexually assaulted a women because he saw this shirt and decided Amherst condoned this activity. But, it does feed into the larger system in which I, and other women, felt unsafe on our own campus. I was sexually assaulted at Amherst and never reported it…because I was able to rebuff the advances of the male in question, “nothing happened.” I wasn’t raped, or physically injured in any way. But you know what? I never felt safe at Amherst again. I all but stopped consuming alcohol (and was too embarrassed to admit the real reason to my friends), and I lost all appetite for going out in the socials on weekends. And seeing a shirt like this, produced by a fraternity (many of whose members, incidentally, I consider to be my friends), reminds me that I am in an environment where I am CONSTANTLY aware of my gender (is my shirt too low-cut? Am I flirting too much? Should I not smile at these men? What’s my escape route from this dance party in the socials when some creep inevitably pushes me up against a wall to dance?), vulnerable, and do not feel safe or empowered enough to speak up when these issues do arise. The point is, the lack of public, meaningful response reinforces the idea that feeling safe, for women, is not a right…but that feeling empowered to treat women poorly, for men, is. Every person should feel empowered and safe, especially at a college campus that allegedly champions liberalism, regardless of gender, and respect as HUMANS, not as men or women, needs to be the norm.
    Of course this tshirt did not cause my, or any other woman’s, sexual assault. But it does send us a message that we should expect such treatment, and also not feel comfortable talking about it.

    • Anonymous
      October 9, 2012

      “It does send us a message that we should expect such treatment, and also not feel comfortable talking about it.”

      Please expand on this statement. Although offensive, I’m not sure how this image creates an expectation of violence.

      • '12 female graduate
        October 9, 2012

        Sorry for the unclear antecedents. My meaning is that the lack of response/outrage from the administration, and from the general population as a whole, indicates almost a lack of surprise; that we should expect these opinions to be held by college-aged men/fraternities, that we should expect offensive imagery and other forms of sexist treatment (I’m thinking more along the lines of verbal harassment, lack of respect, etc. than actual violence-but perhaps that is down the road as a result of the normalization of these other sexist behaviors), and that to take action against them is somehow not necessary. This is the norm, and in refusing to address it head-on, the administration is refusing to acknowledge rampant misogynistic mindsets as a problem, rather, and sees it just as some sort of unchangeable, acceptable reality.

  33. Whats the big deal?
    October 9, 2012

    I’d rather we all discuss an actual act of violence against women than a tshirt that was made by drunk frat guys. Was any girl roasted by a pig? I bet all the women enjoyed the bavaria as much as everyone else did.

    • Anonymous
      October 9, 2012

      its funny cause i saw women wearing the shirt at bavaria…..

      • anon
        October 9, 2012

        So because a few women were okay with the shirt, no one else’s outrage should be respected? Come on. It’s not funny at all. That’s the problem.

    • A Bitch Who Likes Sensitive Men
      October 11, 2012

      The “big deal” isn’t actually about the shirt, although the shirt brings a context to the article that is used to further the writer’s argument. The “big deal” is that our society condones rape and silences victims.

  34. Pingback: When College Humor Just Isn’t Funny : Ms. Magazine Blog

  35. the dog walker
    October 9, 2012

    re: concerned saying: “… uncomfortable by the enthusiasm with which both men and women on campus wore the shirt”: you mean to tell me that people with an intact sense of humor were, in fact, NOT offended by the shirt? horrors! and what IF the cartoonist drew it to pointedly offend? free speech says i get the right to say it once, and then to be lauded, or censored or ignored. and why hasn’t anyone pointed out that it’s a slam against fat chicks?

  36. Anonymous
    October 9, 2012

    What a silly discussion. Clearly, the entire point was to be offensive, and to play with the tropes of disgusting frat boys and offended feminists, which you’ve obliged in spades. Do people honestly think the frat didn’t realize that the image/sentiment was offensive? For goodness sake, they depict THEMSELVES as pigs!

    In bad taste? Probably. But there are lots of things in bad taste happening off campus, at organizations completely unassociated with the college, which is what this frat is, let’s remember, and which the writer forgot to mention.

  37. Anonymous
    October 9, 2012

    I thought Amherst students weren’t allowed to be part of frats. Why weren’t the kids who made this shirt kicked out for that alone? Is it because mommy and daddy donated a nice chunk of change?

    • Anonymous
      October 9, 2012

      Amherst students are allowed to be in frats.

      • Anonymous
        October 9, 2012

        I see. Apparently only one frat was banned outright (Psi Upsilon) and the rest are just restricted from operating on campus or getting any school resources. I was under the impression that joining any frat was completely illegal and subject to disciplinary action. Interesting gray area you have going on there.

  38. Merkinworld
    October 9, 2012

    I thought the tee shirt was funny. When I saw it, I laughed.

  39. Anonymous
    October 9, 2012

    The world is a market-place for ideas. I respect the original poster for running her idea up the flag pole. I happen to agree with the hundreds of others — men and women alike — who laughed when they saw the shirt. The shirt is hilarious.

    The rest of this thread is a self-indulgent exercise in feminist blather. I hope nobody thinks that being able to prattle on about “power imbalances” and “the structural violence of patriarchy” makes you smart. It makes you effete, over-educated, and silly. See, e.g., Chris Hays. Long, gummed-together strips of words do not an argument make. There is one Judith Butler. She wrote one book in nearly incomprehensible prose that caught on. Your odds of writing like her and succeeding are vanishingly small.

    MSNBC can only hand-out so many jobs. That means you will all have to grow up. Your first job interview will not include the words “Foucault” or “continental philosophy.” The 60′s came and went. The country survived. Then Reagan won twice. TFM.

    P.S.

    Did anyone catch that debate last week??

    • Rick
      October 9, 2012

      My first job interview actually included the name Foucault. Your mother’s grave is hilarious to me. “You” “are” “so” “above” “all” “this” blathering. If the world was run by people like you, it might actually be a good place.

  40. the dog walker
    October 9, 2012

    this last post by a nonny mouse gets it just right! effete! overeducated! and silly!

  41. Anonymous
    October 9, 2012

    As a 5 college studente I can say Amherst has the least socially critical student body of the entire consortium.

    • Former Amherst Student
      October 10, 2012

      this is stone-cold true.

    • Anonymous
      October 10, 2012

      Which is why its the most desirable to attend

  42. Anonymous
    October 10, 2012

    it’s a t shirt

  43. Anonymous
    October 10, 2012

    First off, “Roasting fat ones” is a reference to smoking weed; to think that it is a reference to slow-cooking women is legitimately absurd. Secondly, notice that the pic is smoking a cigar, has a tattoo, and is standing on its hind-legs; it’s a cartoon, it’s not intended to portray reality. This cartoon promotes violence against women no more than Wiley Coyote promotes dropping anvils on roadrunners, or for a more pertinent example, no more than Peppy Lepew promotes rape. Maybe I’m not sensitive enough, but I have absolutely no idea how someone could be offended by a cartoon on a t-shirt, regardless of what the cartoon is of.

  44. Anonymous
    October 10, 2012

    First off, “Roasting fat ones” is a reference to smoking weed; to think that it is a reference to slow-cooking women is legitimately absurd. Secondly, notice that the pic is smoking a cigar, has a tattoo, and is standing on its hind-legs; it’s a cartoon, it’s not intended to portray reality. This cartoon promotes violence against women no more than Wiley Coyote promotes dropping anvils on roadrunners, or for a more pertinent example, no more than Peppy Lepew promotes rape. Maybe I’m not sensitive enough, but I have absolutely no idea how someone could be offended by a cartoon on a t-shirt, regardless of what the cartoon is of.

    • Former Amherst Student
      October 10, 2012

      Nah you can’t “roast” a fat one, you could burn a fat one or spark a fat one but no one says “roast.” Given the context of the picture, there’s really only one possible referent for fat one (the woman on the roaster).

      Fuck does it being a cartoon have to do with anything, those shits have been racist and sexist from like the beginning of cartoons (WWII Donald Duck Propaganda, Song of the South, like innumerable helpless Disney Princesses, the list is enormous). And as the Mohammed cartoon shitstorm saw, drawn images have just much potency to offend as something ‘real.’

      Even if you’re not offended: have some compassion and sympathize with those who do feel threatened by misogyny at this school.

    • Give a Hoot
      October 10, 2012

      Seriously?… why don’t you google “offensive cartoons” or “racist cartoons.” Let me know how you feel about those.

  45. Pingback: Amherst College: “Roasting Fat Ones Since 1847″

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  48. Hoot
    October 10, 2012

    Thanks for writing this.
    I honestly don’t understand how anyone can say that this is not offensive.. I only needed to look at it for 2 seconds to know that there was something seriously wrong with this image. And to anyone (male or female) who tries to excuse this kind of behavior, well SHAME ON YOU.

  49. Montana Fats
    October 11, 2012

    Here’s a good test for that Philo-dough bro and other man-power trolls.
    If you wouldn’t wear it around any one of the following — your mother, your grandmother, your big sister, your little sister, your daughter, or some attractive woman whose politics and level of feminist enlightenment you are unsure of…… Maybe it’s just stupid, obnoxious and childish. Oh yeah, and it’s sexist and degrading, but that’s probably a bit over your head.

    How did these assholes even get into Amherst?

    • A Bitch Who Likes Sensitive Men
      October 11, 2012

      Seconded.

  50. Pingback: Amherst College: “Roasting Fat Ones Since 1847” | Fem2pt0

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