Harvard Women's Soccer: These 5 Solutions To The "Scouting Report" Are WAY More Empowering Than Letting the Administration Take Care of It
Let me start by saying: what the men's team did was disgusting, and if any of those dudes were my friend, I would be furious at them. I mean, it's one thing when someone you don't know objectifies you. It's quite another when someone who's supposed to care about and respect you makes public, gross, sexual comments about you.
That said, I'm less than thrilled that the administration is stepping in and "handling" this for you.
Because here's the thing: if you ever want to be something -- a blogger, a politician, an actor, a CEO, or even a professional athlete -- people are going to say mean things about you. It might be online. It might be in a locker room or a bar. When you're a big girl, are you still going to rely on Harvard administrators to make sure no one offends you?
Isn't there a South Park about that?
No, but seriously. I asked myself today, if someone did that to me, what would I want to happen next? Here are 5 ideas, just off the top of my head:
1. Contact Jimmy Kimmel -- ASAP.
Do you want to help men understand why you're offended? Call Jimmy Kimmel, stat. You can put a very human face on this scandal by filming a "Celebrities Read Mean Tweets About Themselves"-style video... of you.
Not only is this a chance for you to turn your misfortune into an opportunity -- to promote your team, to promote your message -- but you could also have a very real impact. You can show the world that you will hold your head high, no matter what people say about you.
2. Demean the men's team the way they demeaned you.
Want them to understand why what they did was wrong? In exchange for not having their season ended preemptively, tell them that they can dress up in sexy maid costumes and scrub your locker room clean. Mow your playing field. Wash your cars, do your dishes -- anything.
Whether you want to catcall, mock and deride them while they fulfill their end of the deal is up to you. The point is, you're benefitting from their labor while teaching them a lesson about empathy and respect.
3. Boycott their games and other joint parties and events.
If I found out the guys on the soccer team had written such filth about me, I would absolutely not attend any of their games again. I wouldn't participate in joint parties. I would request that they be banned from pep rallies, and that friends, classmates and teachers boycott their games.
This would (hopefully) show them that they have lost the support of their community. I would love it if they ended up playing in front of completely or mostly bleachers, with only opponents watching from the sidelines.
4. Sell T-shirts.
It's easier than ever to design a t-shirt. I just made one -- it took three minutes. I'll bet with a little effort, it would be even cooler.
You could sell these in the dining halls. You could have someone sell them at your games. You could set up an online order form. People will keep wearing this shirt -- even when the news cycle is over, and even after this soccer season.
Now the only question is -- what are you going to do with all the money you make? You're probably not allowed to keep it, since you're NCAA athletes, and the NCAA is exploitative and wants your lives to suck. But maybe you could use it to bring in an assertiveness coach. A career counselor. You could have dinner with one of your role models. You could print out posters that promote your games, or your message. Or... something else?
5. Personally confront men who said lewd things about you.
I said in the beginning of this post that, whoever you are, if you want to be someone, you have to expect that strangers will say mean things about you.
But what I would find shocking about this "scouting report" isn't that strangers said these things about me. It would be that people I considered friends did.
When I was a DI athlete, I wasn't exactly "tight" with the men's team. Honestly, I couldn't name a single male rower who rowed when I was at Stanford. After getting up at 5:30am to row and spending four hours per day at practice, talking about crew was the last thing I wanted to do in my spare time.
So if I found out now, after graduating, that some dudes from the men's team thought I was a 4... I wouldn't give a shit. If some dudes I didn't know surmised that my "position" is Triple Lindy (I looked that up today -- it looks quite adventurous)... so what?
BUT. If I found out my friend said that about me, I'd be mad.
And I would directly confront him to tell him so.
I would come prepared to ask him questions like:
Why did you think it was okay to say that about me?
Are we actually friends?
Do you have any respect for me?
Didn't it bother you when guys started saying that?
Are you just, like, a total beta male that you're too afraid to stand up for yourself?
What if someone said that about your mother or your sister?
Would you have talked that way about me if we were coworkers?
And, honestly, I wouldn't hesitate to shit talk him to our mutual friends. They deserve to know what kind of guy he is, and how his actions affected me.
I have to admit: this is an issue that's uncomfortable for me. Do I hate that the men's soccer team talked about the women's soccer team that way? Yes. I already said -- it's disgusting.
But do I support their right to talk that way?
I support free speech. This was not sexual harassment, as it wasn't targeted at the women, but was meant to be kept private. It's not the same as making sexual comments about a coworker, because these people weren't on the same team. The men's team and the women's team are two different teams. It's not like the women's team was vying for a promotion against the men's team, and the people who were deciding the promotion were making lewd sexual comments about the women.
And. This is not Donald Trump's version of "locker room talk." To my knowledge, the Harvard men's team wasn't bragging about sexually assaulting women. If they were, they would deserve a lot worse than having their season ended.
"Locker room talk" is a difficult issue. I support people's right to have single-gender spaces to talk about their bodies, their sexuality, and other personal issues.
But, personally, I've always struggled with the idea of "guy time." I've always wanted to be seen as a person first, and then a gender. Because I am a person first. Do men think they're going to shock me by being candid? Trust me -- they can't. I'm sad that many men feel they can't "be themselves" around women...
But then again, I don't typically rate my friends' physical attractiveness or make assumptions about their sex lives in a derogatory manner.
I want to approach this issue in a logical, consistent way, whatever my gut feelings may tell me. I understand why people are upset. But I'm having trouble imagining a world where people are afraid to have discussions with their friends and teammates. Where do you draw the line? Is this kind of talk never okay? Is it okay, but only among people with no official affiliation?
Before you criticize, before you support Harvard's decision to end men's soccer... try to answer these questions. Think about your own behavior, too -- both towards men and women -- and try not to be a hypocrite.
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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