Words, Not Only Actions, Lend To Campus Sexual Assault

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Collegiate sports teams earn universities plenty of publicity and a lot of money. These athletic teams bring school spirit and give college students a way to spend a few hours of their time, if they choose.

They also bring debate over financial allocations and student preferential treatment. And if you are the Harvard soccer team this year, they bring about a very serious discussion of the sexualization of women in society.

Six members of the Harvard women’s soccer team recently joined together and published an op-ed in their school paper, exposing a men’s team tradition of writing a “scouting report” of new female recruits. The story holds that the men expressed their thoughts on the women in terms of physical appearance, and ranked the women against each other and against recruits from past years.

The women wrote in their letter that they know their own self-worth, and that this document could never define them. They wrote about how these men’s words and actions cannot simply be brushed aside under the name of “locker room talk,” because to them, the entire world has become this locker room.

This story is not the most recent, but in the last few weeks, I found the story circulating again on my Facebook newsfeed. It was condensed into a 2.5 minute-long Lifetime video, which has now been viewed over two million times.

The conversation about how men discuss women in public has made headlines this year; not only in this story, but also in the presidential election and many more forums. Some people try to separate words from actions, but the narrative regarding how women are discussed leads directly into a conversation, and furthermore a reality, of sexual assault.

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