Disclaimer: This is not an attack on Gameday itself or on college football, this is a commentary on sexist culture pervading Gameday festivities. Also trigger warning for conversations on sexual assault.
As many students were made aware by the six semi trucks parked on the quad Friday, College Gameday decided to return to JMU after debuting to this campus two years prior. Excitement and city wide festivities revolved around their return. I myself participated as I rolled out of bed at 4am to hit the quad with my best friend. However, there was also a deeper seated issue that arose. Mountains of sexist rhetoric and sexual harassment.
It is a tradition with Gameday to make signs supporting your team, bashing the other team, or using the opportunity to make jokes and popculture references. Signs ranged from funny and clever to very harmful.
Image screenshotted from snapchat by shoutout writer @girlboss
I find it important to start talking about why this isn’t okay because right now there are a lot of conversations about sexual assault going on. My problem is that most of these conversation fall on victims to come forward and bare their souls only for media to decide whether or not they’re credible. So instead of diving into #metoo (which our kickass writer Hell$Bell$ will get into next week), I want to shift the point to what in our culture perpetrates the condolence of heinous acts like sexual assault and harassment.
When talking about rape culture and the problems of toxic masculinity the first argument to come up is not all men and I would never rape someone. Cool, this is a good standard to have; please be aware that not raping someone is the bare minimum in the requirements for being a decent human being. I promise you that I understand that not only men sexually assault people. As someone who has been sexually assaulted on two separate occasions, once by a man and once by a woman, I understand this concept painfully well.
However, you say you’re against raping people but proceed to make signs that say “free Bill Cosby” or signs that insinuate the sexual assault of Villanova girls then you are still apart of the problem. You are contributing to a climate where survivors seeking justice is a cruel and demeaning process that has them constantly reliving their trauma and being held under a microscope because “she’s probably lying” (*cough* the statistics for false reports are no higher than any other crime). It insinuates only women are raped, and indicates a culture where men’s worth is decided by the length of their genitalia or their dominance. This on top of being moronic in itself, is also transphobic.
I want to highlight that on Gameday not only was there a lot of sexist rhetoric but actual harassment and assaults occurred. The campus editor for The Tab JMU Tabby Rose recounted her experience of being groped multiple times during the day and the experiences of several other individuals in this post.
My point to take away here is that as a society, we need to start holding one another accountable for the way conversations occur in our spaces. By changing your actions from high-fiving your friend for making a sexist sign or telling a rape joke to instead calling them out for their bullshit, you are helping the next person. You are helping assailants to understand their violence won’t be tolerated and you are telling the next survivor that they matter. I hope this sparks some conversations on how we should treat one another and think about how we act around our peers.
Until next time, stay furious!
Header image credit: snapchat screenshotted by @GirlBoss.