There’s a newish blog at my university that’s gotten attention in the local press – all negative – and even got a mention from Courtney Martin at Feministing, though for all the wrong reasons. Courtney didn’t link to it, no doubt due to its nasty content, but I’m local, so I will, because I’m not likely to give it the national exposure it so dearly hasn’t earned. It’s called what’d yOU expect? and it’s run by a couple of local students. (One of the bloggers, “Pooch,” is clearly identifiable through the blog’s Facebook fan page as a female senior; I won’t print her name, but just want to note that this is not the work of douchey dudes. Whether women can be douche-tastic is a subject for another day. Or maybe for comments.)
The premise of the site is to expose the side of the university that’s at odds with the carefully groomed “Bobcat” identity that our leadership is promoting. Of course, anyone who walks uptown on a weekend night (which might come as early as Wednesday) will see that this school remains more about partying than about intercollegiate athletics, even if it was fun to see the team upset Georgetown in the first round of March Madness. What really needs to be exposed here are the many thoughtful, intelligent students who take their studies seriously (whatever their attitude toward drinking). We don’t need more discussion of Beer Pong, unless perhaps through an anthropological lens.
So I actually don’t mind the site’s mission of disrupting Ohio University’s spin machine. The attempt to craft an identity out of a trip to the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl was always doomed, anyway.
What I do mind is the rampant misogyny of the site. Take this post about the perils of hooking up:
This is a true story that has not ever before been told in its entirety. I was a freshman here at OU and wanted to take advantage of what every freshman boy wants to take advantage of their first semester of college… party sluts. I have this theory that freshmen girls are ready to fuck anything that walks their first semester of college because they are new to the environment and have the idea that it is okay to sleep around because everyone does it(not actually the case but it worked out well for me my first year). New to the college environment myself, I raised hell my first couple of weeks on campus. Getting shitfaced every night, fucking all kinds of girls, basically doing everything you are supposed to do during your college years. I was loving life for a good amount of time until one particular night when I met this grizzly bear of a girl.
I’m sure that all of this dude’s former partners would love to know he saw them as “party sluts.” I personally am delighted – just charmed! – to hear that “fucking all kinds of girls” appears to be a graduation requirement. Women’s and gender studies – I’m doin it rong! We should be facilitating hookups, so these dudes can graduate on time!
Oh, and yeah, we’ve never, ever heard a story like this one before. ‘Specially not one that’s true!
Our hero continues:
My good friend got shutout at the last minute by this tease of a girl he was with. (What a bitch right?) So just as I am ready to head home with my depressed and sexually frustrated friend, the fore mentioned grizzly bear grabbed me and pulled me into the dorm. Alright, I know if I had any kind of decency I would have left immediately and walked home with my friend, but fuck it right? I was drunk and gonna get laid, how can anyone be expected to turn that down? So I went in. I went into this “grizzly bear’s” quad and fucked her in front of all three of her either sleeping or pretending to be sleeping roommates. For reasons you can imagine the rest of the night is forgettable. It probably ended with me passed out, sweaty, and naked. Same for the grizzly bear. I woke up, still naked, being smothered by the bear. I think she was dreaming that I was the last cupcake on earth and she was guarding me from a pack of starving Africans.
Oooh, now we’re adding racism to the mix, along with fat-shaming and slut-shaming. Let’s throw in some public humiliation and double down on it – first have sex with a girl in front of the roommates, just like in one of those public-humiliation pornos, and then tell the tale on the intertubes. I guess we can be glad no one took any pictures, but geez! Is that all that’s stopping this encounter from appearing on Youporn? Oh, and the girl was ugly and fat (in case you missed that), but at least she wasn’t a cock-tease like his buddy’s intended target!
This would be a good time for us all to go wash our hands, gargle, and take a long hot shower, preferably with a loofah to scrub away the nastiness of this creep.
So can we extract any meaning from the existence of this blog? I agree with Courtney that there’s a need to talk about what’s going on with casual sex:
We are so hungry to talk out loud about hook up culture–both the sexually empowering parts and the totally sexist parts. We need a space where feminists can really delve into the complexity of this issue, without being labeled, writ large, traitors or female chauvinist pigs. The blog world serves some of that, but it seems like we’re still searching for a more nuanced conversation.
I doubt these juicy campus type blogs are the place to do it, but is there a way to structure such a space that would lead to a real conversation about hook-up culture?
Well, my classrooms often allow for that kind of space. Those conversations are a heck of a lot more nuanced than what I typically see on blogs, but I realize it’s a luxury to have ten weeks with forty people who are willing to explore new ideas in a sheltered space. Obviously there’s a need for more public discussions, too. Online? Hmm. I think feminist blogs can do this, but we only reach a small fraction of young women and an even smaller group of men.
Campus gossip blogs and websites are completely unsuited for this. I don’t think they even support Courtney’s contention that there’s a need for serious conversation on hookups, casual sex, and students’ desires. While I think such a need exists, this and similar blogs deny that need. They make absolutely no attempt to analyze or criticize people’s actions. They make no attempt at basic human decency. They’re all about letting one group of students feel superior to others. They use classic junior-high aggression tactics, being mean to someone who was unlucky enough to trust the post’s author. I enjoy a good snark or rant as much as any blogger, but where mockery and cruelty rule supreme, there’s no space for civil discourse.
In other words, blogs like this one are a symptom of the problems in hookup culture. It encapsulates the misogyny and disrespect for basic humanity that bothers most of my serious students. What’d yOU expect might serve as a cautionary tale, or as a place to start analyzing what’s fucked up about this scene. It’s certainly not going to be part of the solution. We can start conversations about this on feminist blogs, but real change will ultimately have to come through discussions and interactions in the meatworld (so to speak).