GROUP THINK is the DP’s round table section, where we throw a question at the columnists and see what answers stick. Read your favorite columnist, or read them all.
This week's question: Do you think that flyering campus was the best/right form of protest, and/or what's your opinion on the campus party culture?
Amy Chan | Chances Are
I believe that flyering campus was the best form of protest, but maybe not the most right form. That is to say, there were lots of other solutions that were more morally/politically correct, like maybe going to administration or confronting OZ quietly and directly, but those solutions would have got us nowhere. Part of the problem with Penn is that we use these "correct" forms of protest and prohibition that end up working with nobody (see: TAP). The problem with Penn party culture is the people involved and the people they target, and the only way to reach these people is to confront them directly. The huge amount of talk being generated now is due in part to the shock factor of flyering and the huge exposure all over campus. It's a conversation that everyone needs to have, that everyone knows about in some way, but no one will talk about unless drastic measures are taken.
As to the campus party culture, I believe that Penn's party culture, more so than anywhere else, is one that thrives on insecurity. Insecurity of women in regards to their looks, insecurity of men with their masculinity, and insecurity of people in their desire to belong. Oftentimes at Penn, when I hear talk of a party, it has nothing to do with how much one enjoyed the party or what happened, but rather who was there, who got in, the success of the party. I think that a lot of Penn students were kids who didn't have that party experience in high school, who want to overcompensate for it now. Even with the OZ email, the mention of "bankers flowing all night" — it's a very Penn specific thing; it's implicitly all about status. I think Penn often blows its party culture out of proportion because it's another way to reinforce status, elitism, and exclusivity.
Aaron Cooper | Aanarchy
The OZ flyering was an important start, but a lot of its impact is reliant on what sort of follow up we see from the community. I think that’s actually something about the campaign that’s worth talking about; The message was not just a condemnation of OZ but a literal warning that Penn’s feminists “are watching.” To me, the message is clear. It was a call to action for the whole Penn community to keep watch, that is, to take up the banner of activism against rape culture.
This puts the Penn community in an interesting situation. We actually get to decide on whether or not this flyering campaign was effective. There’s no doubt that the OZ flyers raised awareness and started a conversation. Now, it’s our job to follow through and take action. If we choose to educate and/or shun perpetrators of rape culture in our lives, then the campaign worked. If we continue to keep our heads down as passive bystanders, then it was a failure. Really, this is the fundamental paradox of protest activism: A protest doesn’t do anything. The power of a protest rests in every member of a community that didn’t attend.
James Lee | The Conversation
Honestly, the most surprising thing about the OZ incident to me was how surprised everyone was. The recent controversy over Penn Masala and the myth about the Locust compass are all things that reflect the prevalence of the misogynistic mindset portrayed in the email, and I’m sure anyone who has been to a frat party will recognize that it’s not exactly the safest environment. As for whether the flyering was the right way to protest this, I’m uncertain. Make no mistake — I do not approve or condone the objectification of women portrayed in the email, nor the idea that they need to objectify themselves in this way to be socially accepted. Yet, people need to remember that it is this general culture that needs to be criticized and discussed, not an email that most likely was a result of a lapse in judgement by one individual. In a weird way, I feel like the flyering put the focus on OZ itself, rather than the greater culture around the issue. Plus, it earned us moral condemnation by Ashton Kutcher, which, like, come on.
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