Douchebag Decree: Johns Hopkins University News-Letter
Once, twice, three times a douchebag for Johns Hopkins University's student newspaper The News-Letter, which hit the student body with a double-whammy of sexist, rape-apologetic articles in the last two weeks. This in addition to last year's defense of Tucker Max (no stranger to the D-bag Decree) after Max's student-funded visit to JHU, and we've got ourselves a veritable Triumvirate of Douche.
First up, the September 16th issue of the News-Letter offered a gem of a rape-apologist piece called "Banging Under the Influence: The Ups and Downs." Because there are apparently some "ups" to having non-consensual sex with an intoxicated partner. And JHU wants us to know about them. Namely, "...girls become more submissive when intoxicated while men conversely become more emboldened. So score one for the men."
Yeah. Score. Big win for humankind. Let's teach that in college.
The author to the "Banging" piece claims in his last sentence that "this in no way reflects how I actually feel." But here's the thing: It does. It was written for publication in the News and Feature section, right next to "Aramark workers to Hold Union Elections." And when the JHU Feminist Alliance spoke out against it, the article was not removed. That's an awful lot of defense for a make-believe opinion. How about NOT WRITING articles about sexual stereotypes that obviously exist in real life, and feed the college-age party-going psyche, at all? Even to be funny? Even if you promise you don't actually feel that way? Because there are those who do feel that way (Word up, T. Max), and they're making a business out of it.
The second half of the News-Letter's double-header o' shame came in the same issue, and has since been removed from the site. The article, written by Greg Sgammato, was entitled "Local Bison Bear All at Phi Kappa Psi’s Annual Lingerave," and opened thusly:
"Last Thursday, September 9th, Phi Kappa Psi hosted their annual Lingerave party, a celebration of scantily clad women and booming techno music. The event was by many accounts a success, but unfortunately featured a disproportionate amount of fat chicks.
Under normal circumstances, fat chicks at a Hopkins party are neither a novelty nor a major problem. The student body has become accustomed to seeing the occasional bison at Pike; as long as direct interaction isn't necessitated, most Blue Jays are content with simply letting the livestock graze."
Now, I started to bold out the most egregious of ideas here, and gave up. There is no choosing. Someone wrote this pile of shit, and somebody else published it. Oh no, wait. It WASN'T somebody else; it was the MANAGING EDITOR of the paper that wrote it! So no one in that one-person chain of command thought, even in the name of satire, that women/livestock jokes were over the line. The editorial board (including Managing Editor?) of the paper issued this apology-looking statement when the piece was pulled from the site.
The editorial argument is particularly noteworthy here:
"In our attempt to allow this article to make a difference and address a major student issue, we failed to fully realize that the article could itself inflict the sort of harm it was intended to chastise. Narrowly, we thought that the obscenely grandiose writing style would clearly convey satire. As a result, we did not fully consider the harm that the article might do."
So, we do have some acknowledgment that horrifying depictions of women's bodies are "a major student issue." (We also have some really bad, repetitive writing, but that's neither here nor there.) And we see that it's possible that this "grandiose writing style" can be misconstrued, because there are douchebags out there who would write about "buffalo," the article's euphemism of choice for fat women, unironically. Fine. Except hang on. At my last count, dear News-Letter, you were at TWO misogynistic articles in the September 16th issue, both of which you have been asked to account for, and you only seem to be sort-of-not-really-apologizing for one. No one is applying this logic to "Banging Under the Influence," which ALSO addresses a major student issue and might ALSO do a great deal of harm in its writing. And...oh...wait... you're not even letting people comment on that article anymore! Or read anyone else's comments! A pretty sucky way to "make a difference," I think.
To Lily Newman and Sarah Tan, the editors-in-chief of the JHU News-Letter: grow up. Date rape jokes and women=buffalo jokes are never funny, and to present one of those as "News and Feature," was irresponsible at best, and at worst downright dangerous.
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