From the Harvard Crimson and the letter published by the women’s soccer team representative:
“In all, we do not pity ourselves, nor do we ache most because of the personal nature of this attack. More than anything, we are frustrated that this is a reality that all women have faced in the past and will continue to face throughout their lives. We feel hopeless because men who are supposed to be our brothers degrade us like this. We are appalled that female athletes who are told to feel empowered and proud of their abilities are so regularly reduced to a physical appearance. We are distraught that mothers having daughters almost a half century after getting equal rights have to worry about men’s entitlement to bodies that aren’t theirs. We are concerned for the future, because we know that the only way we can truly move past this culture is for the very men who perpetrate it to stop it in its tracks.
“Having considered members of this team our close friends for the past four years, we are beyond hurt to realize these individuals could encourage, silently observe, or participate in this kind of behavior, and for more than four years have neglected to apologize until this week.
“We have seen the “scouting report” in its entirety. We know the fullest extent of its contents: the descriptions of our bodies, the numbers we were each assigned, and the comparison to each other and recruits in classes before us. This document attempts to pit us against one another, as if the judgment of a few men is sufficient to determine our worth. But, men, we know better than that. Eighteen years of soccer taught us that. Eighteen years—as successful, powerful, and undeniably brilliant female athletes – taught us that.
“We know what it’s like to get knocked down. To lose a few battles. To sweat, to cry, to bleed. To fight so hard, yet no matter what we do, the game is still out of our hands. And, even still, we keep fighting; for ourselves, yes, but above all for our teammates. This document might have stung any other group of women you chose to target, but not us. We know as teammates that we rise to the occasion, that we are stronger together, and that we will not tolerate anything less than respect for women that we care for more than ourselves.”
There is something so creepy in this that has to be located and exposed.
I believe it is connected with the American woman’s movement and with its original Puritanism. Here, in highfaluting tones, these women in an almost ridiculous seriousness, and with such stone-set faces, take and occupy a moralizing position, and transforming what is a normal activity among men, and one that women also engage in (assessing looks essentially), into a moral evil. Through this ridiculous *tone* they establish themselves as Judges of men in history, and they place themselves above them, employing a moral power. This is a very developed shaming game. It is not that what these women are saying is *wrong*, because it IS best if men respect women and avoid lewdness, which does debase all concerned. But I suggest that this letter and the animus behind it conceals a more raw issue of power and the use of power, and I especially sense that this is a tactic — widespread — by which the Lefty-Progressive-Liberal Righteous camp asserts its power as cultural monitors.
I also feel that there is a good deal of hypocricy in these Righteous Declarations by these Righteous Women. But because they take and occupy what is recognized as a ‘high ground’ and in this overdone seriousness link the assessments of these men of their physical selves with a historical and terrestrial oppression, I think that one can clearly hear two different *notes*. One is that of the puritanical ‘mojigata’ (excessive moral attitude) which seems connected to Christian or post-Christian moralism; but the other seems to me connected to a pervasive application of Marxian principles. This attitude and way of seeing things, and framing things, comes out of the Academy and the Universities and has been *installed* in our perceptions and for this reason it is hard to see it as such. The reason it seems to become so attached to our perceptions is because, at its core, it is sentimental. Notice the way the whole *statement* is framed.
They say they do not want pity, that may be true, but they very much DO want to play on the emotional strings. These guys who catalogued some fellow students in private communication did not just offend these self-righteous women, no indeed! They participated in and perpetuated the horrors of what women have to live as women in this frightening and terrible world! And it is men who (now) must pay. And pay they will. The Marxian element here is real. The purpose of Marxian class-warfare praxis is to locate and establish class-conflicts and to make them worse, to bring to crisis, and when crisis is attained to enact different power-relations, or in any case to topple or to undermine some *oppressive* structure. In my view, though I have a whole discourse against the sexualization (pornographization) of women, I am much more concerned of the tricks, sophistires and chicanery of these women, but also of women and men today who seem to me to ride in on the coat tails of contentious issues for power-purposes.
I believe that it is not hard to see how these power-plays are carried out in a general way in the various media. More especially, and perhaps because it seems to have established itself as America’s Political and Cultural Dissemintation Organ, I notice it every day in the NYTs. But it is carried out with such sophistication, in such a practiced manner, that unless one can pick it all apart with the tools of a Media Studies research unit, one reads and absorbs in such a way that successful Public Relations campaigns best function: that you are influenced and convinced invisibly, in such a way that you don’t even know how it happened. You are ‘eviscerated’ dialectically, to borrow Beth’s telling term.
The problem is, as I see it, that like in the Cultural Revolution in Maoist China, a sense of *mission* has been installed in women. It comes from many different sources and angles. I notice it in sports advertising. I notice it in some advertising designed for girls and teenagers. It certainly comes from the *higher* cultural end and from more sophisticated journals of opinion. I am very suspicious when I notice advertising, government, and cultural enforcers *working these angles* in concerted fashion and patrolling and policing and collaring and punishing malfeasors.
But how can you attack them? How can you resist? The only way is to disassemble the entire *combine* (to borrow a term from Big Chief), and this means dismantling structures of ideas which have been somewhat indelibly *installed* in us that it is a painful undertaking.