Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Harvard Soccer Team’s ‘Locker Room Talk'”

Men are pigs, and how dare they stereotype us?

Men are pigs, and how dare they stereotype us?

Alizia Tyler, the provocative arch-conservative Ethics Alarms iconoclast whose comments here are frequently far longer than the posts she comments on, delivers the Comment of the Day.  It involves the controversy regarding the Harvard soccer team’s cruel “scouting report” on the sexual attributes of their female counterparts, and the college’s punishment it brought down on the team’s members.

Alizia’s particular focus is the response by the members of the women’s team, which was not the primary focus of the Quiz. Indeed, Alizia’s post is what first brought all of it to my attention. My reaction was, simply, that it is pure, indefensible bigotry. This isn’t about “men,” this is about jerks, and the letter tells us that these women think the two are one and the same. They are not. This is the same as blacks asserting that all whites are racists. It is a bigotry double standard. When women posture in public forums about their innate superiority, the reaction should be exactly as indignant and condemning as when a man says that women should be kept barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. It never is, however. Misogyny is disgusting. Misandry is cool.

If Harvard president Drew Faust had integrity and was not a biased, feminist social justice warrior, she would end the women’s soccer season too. It is, however, a useful microcosm of what men can look forward to under President Hillary.

Alizia has more to say. Here is her analysis of the letter, a Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Quiz: The Harvard Soccer Team’s “Locker Room Talk”:

 

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.

 

34 Comments

Filed under U.S. Society

34 responses to “Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Harvard Soccer Team’s ‘Locker Room Talk'”

  1. Other Bill

    Congratulations, AT. Well deserved.

  2. Great job Alizia!

    Keep on writing like this and this first won’t be your last.

  3. Steve

    Well done, I still think you can condense your thoughts more but keep at it.

    • Other Bill

      I disagree, Steve. I think for a non-native speaker, AT has made remarkable and very commendable progress on her writing. Given where she’s come from, I think this piece is impeccable. I doubt I’ll ever get a COD. Of course no one ships anything without the freight having been paid in advance these days anyway.

  4. Wayne

    Oh I’m sure that these women will get exactly what they want: A craven administrator will force the men to shout “Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa” and they they will be pariahs on campus if they are allowed to stay. Alicia is absolutely right that this letter is about asserting the moral superiority of these women and their right to judge and inflict punishment on these men.

  5. Neil A. Dorr

    Mediocre at best. She rambles, speaks in abstraction, and puts words in asterisk quotes for no reason.

  6. It was nice that something I wrote was selected. I am thankful for that.

    I was going to say *Pepe Be Praised* and *I Owe It All To Pepe* and though hilarious to me it might not be for others . . .

    I write in abstraction because I relate to many questions abstractly. I can’t seem to solve a specific ethical problem until I have clarified the larger questions standing behind. (Another abstract statement). This blog has posed me problems that will take years to get through.

    I do not at all mind criticism. Style or form is one thing, but idea-criticism interests me most.

    Asterisks are just emphasis. Formatting with code has never worked for me though the posts look better.

  7. Chris

    Jack:

    My reaction was, simply, that it is pure, indefensible bigotry. This isn’t about “men,” this is about jerks, and the letter tells us that these women think the two are one and the same. They are not. This is the same as blacks asserting that all whites are racists. It is a bigotry double standard. When women posture in public forums about their innate superiority, the reaction should be exactly as indignant and condemning as when a man says that women should be kept barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. It never is, however. Misogyny is disgusting. Misandry is cool.

    Your description of the letter bears no relation to its contents. Nowhere did the women assert “innate superiority,” nor did they say all men are jerks. They are describing their own experiences with bigotry and sexism; to you, doing so constitutes bigotry against men.

    As for Alizia’s comment, it’s the same bullshit as always–women and other traditionally oppressed groups shouldn’t have power, and any attempts to gain it are inherently nefarious–only slightly better expressed than usual, and still too lengthy–she could have expressed the same meaning with half the words if she had any actual writing talent.

    • “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 whites have faced in the past and will continue to face throughout their lives. We feel hopeless because blacks who are supposed to be our brothers degrade us like this. We are appalled that whites are so regularly reduced to a physical appearance… We are concerned for the future, because we know that the only way we can truly move past this culture is for the very blacks who perpetrate it to stop it in its tracks.”

      Would that be considered a bigoted statement? Sure it would, because it is. How can you say the letter didn’t tar all men (the conduct under discussion was no more nor less than being vulgar, sophomoric, jerks.)? Word have meaning. It didn’t talk about the members of the soccer team only and identify them as such. It impugned all men by casting the incident in broad, general, sweeping terms. Did you read the linked post, were Amanpour sat around with a panel of women explaining why “they” would be better leaders than “men”—not specific men, but “men.”

      I cannot imagine how you could read Alizia’s COTD’s arguments…which, as with all COTD’s, are the author’s and not necessarily that of the management…to say “women should not have power.”

      • Chris

        “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 whites have faced in the past and will continue to face throughout their lives. We feel hopeless because blacks who are supposed to be our brothers degrade us like this. We are appalled that whites are so regularly reduced to a physical appearance… We are concerned for the future, because we know that the only way we can truly move past this culture is for the very blacks who perpetrate it to stop it in its tracks.”

        Would that be considered a bigoted statement?

        I’m not sure, because it literally doesn’t make any sense. It describes a parallel universe where whites, as a class, are “regularly reduced to a physical appearance” by blacks.

        That’s not a real phenomenon.

        The one described by the women in the letter is a real phenomenon. So you’re asking me to compare real experiences by real women to imaginary experiences faced by zero whites, and to declare both statements bigoted. That’s absurd.

        I cannot imagine how you could read Alizia’s COTD’s arguments…which, as with all COTD’s, are the author’s and not necessarily that of the management…to say “women should not have power.”

        She’s upset that a group of women are daring to judge a group of men, and that the women’s voices are gaining in social power. It isn’t even subtext; it’s text.

        • Evasion. Pure evasion. Come on, you can say it.

          • Chris

            Say what? That the passage, as amended, was bigoted? Thinking over it again: sure. But that’s at least partially because it isn’t true. On a paralell world, where blacks are in charge, and part of the way they keep domination over whites is by reducing them to their body parts? On that world, the statement isn’t bigoted at all, because there it’s true.

            Just like in this world, the women’s soccer team’s statement isn’t bigoted, because it’s true.

            • Hypotheticals are never true. Neither is it true that “men” are guilty of what the women’s team said they are. A finite group of men were, and they have no justification to impugn you or me. That’s bigotry. Now, you are NOT going to make the ridiculous defining away the problem claim that blacks can’t be racists. I’ll have to put my fingers in my ears and hum, and be very disappointed in you.

              • Chris

                That’s bigotry. Now, you are NOT going to make the ridiculous defining away the problem claim that blacks can’t be racists.

                No, I’m not, because I don’t believe that.

        • Chris writes: “She’s upset that a group of women are daring to judge a group of men, and that the women’s voices are gaining in social power. It isn’t even subtext; it’s text.”

          If you were to have read what I have written here and in other places on this blog, you’d have a better idea of what I am critiquing. My critical position is significantly different, for example, from Jack’s.

          I am trying to better understand Critical Theory and neo-Marxism in its form as Cultural Marxism of the Frankfurt School. To gain more understanding and though it is a painful mental endeavor I have to understand better the Frankfurt School of Social Research and the writings and doings of the men of that Institute. To that end I am reading ‘The Dialectical Imagination’ by Martin Jay which analyzes the Frankfurt School (1973).

          In my view, to understand what those girls of Harvard are up to, and what motivates them both conceptually and emotionally, one has to understand the background of radical feminism. To understand radical feminism one has to understand the Frankfurt School. To understand the Frankfurt School one has to understand, if superficially, Marxian theory and critical dialectics. But one has especially to understand the neo-Marxianism of this Institute and their Herculean mental efforts to form and distribute and establish a powerful critical analysis. There are a number of major aspects or points that have to be understood about these men. One is that by definition they are uprooted people. Critical analysis at that level can only occur in people who are abstracted from their environment. These men were all immensely bourgeois and yet they repudiated their own structure of formation and critiqued it with a Marxian intensity which is, almost literally, Herculean. The second element is that though their Marxism became thwarted when the horrors of Soviet Marxism were realized, they did not ever turn a critical eye on Soviet Communism nor did they analyse it with the full force of critical theory. So what did they do? They modified their Marxism and turned it into a cultural criticism of fantastic power and intensity and turned it against the surrounding culture When they were rejected as it were from Europe by the fascist events, they fled Germany and Europe and took up a position in the US, in New York (Columbia University). And there they began to refine their critical arguments, their critical project.

          Their critical theory, their psychological analytical methods, underpinned by their neo-Marxianism, got itself established within Academia in the US. Their ideas, and its foundational structure within a former strict Marxian analysis which was then modified into neo-Marxianism and cultural Marxist critique, has so penetrated our thinking because of the penetration of Marxian ideas through the university. Why? How?

          I will give you a clue but yet I will confess that I am myself rather baffled. When you read Critical Theory, especially the psychological-Marxian texts, these men take their analysis right down to the most basic level, the most fundamental level: they critique the very structure on which the personality and the ‘self’ has established itself. These men of devilishly intense intellect so dominate ideas that (it seems to me) they overpower people. That is how Marxism works. It attacks the very structures of things and causes them to wobble and then to fall. It destabilizes and demoralizes and, when it has weakened the structure and the ‘self’, it interposes itself and its intentions through *dialectic*. It reminds me of a spider which stuns its victim and renders it incapable of motor response. It attacks and immobilizes at a nerve level. Marxism attacks the very ‘nerves’ at a material level. But when Marxian expansion in Europe was thwarted by the obvious failures of Soviet Communism, neo-Marxianism turned to the *iiner realms* of the human being and applied its Marxian Acid to the ‘self’ itself.

          Now, the Critique offered by the Harvard Soccer Team may seem unconnected but it is not. It is DEEPLY CONNECTED and this connection can be traced, located and described. Thus my issue is not so much with their sexual objectivication of those girls (and yet in Porno-Culture America, and porno-culture penetration of such overt vulgarity into all levels of cultural communication, this objectivication is normalcy!), which I have quite a few things to say about, but that their critical position is in essence a Marxian one. Their *declaration* against those boyish boys resounds in relation to many other such *declarations* that are being broadcast today, in our present. One other notable one is the general discourse of the BLM Movement which, in my view, is Marxian praxis in operation. Praxis is idea combined with action. The idea behind praxisis that you can act in certain ways that will destabilize and thus produce conditions of crisis and confusion within which you can then further act to see your poilitical will enacted.

          With BLM it does not matter what is *true* or not. What matters is the praxis which destabilizes, distorts, and then produces the crisis conditions which are required for more political distortion and activism to go forward.

          The declarations of the Harvard girls, I suggest, is similar in structure. It is not that there is no truth in what they say (about objectivication, et cetera) it is that (IMO) it disjoins, divides, through what I have describes as ‘lies’. Its purposes, in my view, are nefarious.

    • Chris said, “As for Alizia’s comment, it’s the same bullshit as always–women and other traditionally oppressed groups shouldn’t have power, and any attempts to gain it are inherently nefarious–only slightly better expressed than usual, and still too lengthy–she could have expressed the same meaning with half the words if she had any actual writing talent.”

      There is likely no single person around here that has outspokenly chastised Alizia for her writing style and content more than I have (at least since I’ve been here); in this case I believe you are just simply wrong. It’s as if Alizia has penetrated your industrial-strength weapons-grade thickened ideological blinders (#Cornelius_Gotchberg @ madison.com) and invaded your safe haven with what appears to be some inconvenient truth triggers.

      Just shut the up Chris before you make yourself look any more like a partisan sexist baiting fool.

      Zoltar has Spoken!

  8. Chris wrote: “As for Alizia’s comment, it’s the same bullshit as always–women and other traditionally oppressed groups shouldn’t have power, and any attempts to gain it are inherently nefarious–only slightly better expressed than usual, and still too lengthy–she could have expressed the same meaning with half the words if she had any actual writing talent.”
    __________________________

    OK. Back to posts of Heroic Length! Heh heh. (And please note the simmering italics! and one leaden bold).

    I said in a post above that it will take me some years to *solve* the many different problems that this blog confronts me with. One part of that is that I do not see how it is possible to have a coherent ethical system and to say ‘This is ethical’ and ‘This is not ethical’ until one has worked out many different pre-ethical issues. The ‘pre-ethical decisions’ have to do with philosophical, spiritual, metaphysical and existential questions.

    What I notice is that this blog, and Jack generally because it is his blog and it represents his life-work in this area, represents what I see as ‘American ethics’. That is, this ethics is very closely tied with the founding of the Republic, with the understandings and declarations of the Founders (who come from more or less specific philosophical, spiritual and political schools of thought), with the precedents of American jurisprudence, and then with the specific historical evolution of the Republic and its people in cultural, ethical, economic and political senses.

    In order for me, as a reader and as a thinker, to understand what I have just named requires going back over those *texts* and understanding them. Some of this I had done prior to showing up here. But I don’t think that the avenue I traveled is of much interest either to Jack and possible to anyone here. One large influence has been Harold Bloom and his work ‘The American Religion: The Emergence of a Pot-Christian Nation’. The reason I had to come through this sort of channel (religious studies or the philosophy of religion) is certainly because of my background in a strict religious observance. So, and with this, I would make one basic statement: One cannot understand America nor American ethics unless and until one has understood the American religious impulse. You cannot understand the ‘Yankee’ mind without that background.

    *You* are such forceful people! You have formed certain ideas and structured them into the foundations of your very selves, and as the most powerful material and economic nation in the world’s history, whose very history and evolution was as one door and then another door opening with no interference or hinderment, extend yourselves into that world with a conviction that should in my view be seen as *religious*. I call this American Zealotry. It is still so alive. Yet I do not have the impression that *you-plural* can step out of it and examine it from an outside position. You are in it and moved by it in so many ways but unconscious of how it dominates and determines.

    That in itself is an ‘abstraction’, I admit, but it is I would say one of the main things I have gotten from my time here. It is not what I was *supposed* to get though. And that describes my relationship to many things but certainly to ‘America’.

    Jack described me in the OP as ‘arch-conservative’. I would amend that. What I am is anti-Marxist. Marx began to have influence on American ideas right about the time of the Civil War. You can access many articles just through a Google search ‘Marx and the American Civil War’. You can also get a wider sense of the philosophical turmoil going on at that time with Eugene Genovese’s ‘The Mind of the Master Class’.

    So, Marxian dialectics has had considerable influence in American affairs and this can be historically traced back to those times. But as you likely know that influence (Marxism, Communism, and their *destructive projects*) accelerated in the early 20th century. In the interwar period especially, just as was the same in Europe. In the Sixties and post-Sixties, I would say, a Marxian perspective through a ‘cultural Marxism’ got a very significant foothold among powerful and influential intellectuals and through different machinations got *installed* in people’s thinking.

    You would not think that this explains a great deal, do you? Yet it explains you. Yet you cannot see and understand how this is so. It very much explains Deery, who is, I gather, an older Sixties-style activist. There are other people, even some of the so-called Conservatives who have been deeply influenced (I use the dramatic term *infected* sometimes) by acidic dialectics too.

    Whatever is your worldview — the zealousness of your particular American stance — is something that can be examined, thought about, discussed and evaluated. Except that you cannot partake in the discussion! Because you seem ignorant of what informs you.

    It is with this background — far more information than you ever would have wished for and more that you have any idea what to do with — that I come at the Statement by the ladies of the Harvard Soccer Team.

    I have done my best to keep this as short as I possibly can. But it takes a certain amount of preamble to establish a perspective.

    “Finally, to the men of Harvard Soccer and any future men who may lay claim to our bodies and choose to objectify us as sexual objects, in the words of one of us, we say together: “I can offer you my forgiveness, which is—and forever will be—the only part of me that you can ever claim as yours.”

    I know that you will not now and may not ever understand what I say about this, but how can I allow that to stop me in my forward movement in the analysis of ideas? It can’t. This paragraph is a poisonous paragraph. It is, in fact, metaphysically unsound. There is certainly some truth in it and that is why it can get inside us in some way. But at the same time it brings along with it an insidious mis-truth which connects to the ‘disease of thinking’ that is often expressed in Marxian praxis. There are many many different statements which informs this parapgraph, and in order to understand them it takes energy and time.

    I accept that few seem interested in my relationship to these questions and problems, and a certain percentage simply do not understand at all where I am coming from, but this gives you, though I don’t imagine you will appreciate it, some idea of what I oppose and why.

    I will over time construct a political conservatism — I will have to because the blog itself, in essence, asks this of me — but I admit that it is now inchoate and not very well-formed.

    • Other Bill

      Another very interesting and lucid comment, AT. Probably even better than your recently decorated COTD. Just the discussion of Marx’s influence in the U.S. dating to the 1860s made the piece really worthwhile. I had always assumed Marx only came in with the labor movement in the Theodor Dreiser era, or maybe the inter-War era (with the help of the Soviets).

      I found it interesting that Jack called you an “arch-conservative.” I suppose it’s not inaccurate but it is telling. You remind me of the Cuban refugees (parents and children) I grew up around in Miami in the 1960s. I suppose having to flee the Castro brothers and Che Guevara made them arch-conservatives. I wonder whether being a thoughtful person in a Marxist country makes anyone an arch-conservative.

      I will say living in today’s America is probably turning me into an arch-conservative.

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