Thursday, May 2, 2013

Stop TotalFratMove.com from Perpetuating Rape Culture


Yesterday, Total Frat Move (TFM) decided to publish an article that comments on the slut shaming endured by activists in Plattsburgh, NY during their annual Take Back the Night. A local fraternity publicly harassed the survivors, victims, and allies. The author’s response was to reprimand these men for their “poor form,” which when you consider the men’s insensitivity, is a failed criticism.  Interestingly, the author also recommends possible posters for further protests against sexual assault, such as “You Blew it! We Won’t Put Out For You Anymore!” 

The author’s response to the fraternity’s blatant disrespect of women is completely within the character of the website and it’s online community. TFM is responsible for creating a viral platform for misogyny and rape culture under the guise of "fraternity satire.” An online community for privileged white men in college fraternities, these men enjoy congratulating each other on their social superiority while belittling women and anyone who doesn’t own several golf courses. TFM is particularly popular for their collection of one liners submitted by fraternity men on their interactions with college women: “The instant pass out after ejaculation,” “The dilemma between sitting next to a hot girl or a smart girl during your final,” and “Willing your slam to a new member once you graduate” (Willing refers to the practice of passing down a sentimental fraternity object to a younger member, and a slam is short for a “slam piece,” who is a young woman that he is having sex with).    

The author of this most recent example of online sexism fails to recognize the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses or the role that Greek organizations play in its continuation. He is writing for an audience that views survivors of sexual assault as sluts who were asking for what they got. He reinforces this mentality by refusing to describe the actions of the Plattsburgh fraternity for what they are: sexual harassment.   

My friend Elizabeth and I decided to confront the sexism in this article and remind TFM that women are not sluts, but humans who will no longer stand for ignorance on issues of sexual violence. Facebook became our battleground. Here’s what happened:  


 

TFM responds to Elizabeth’s anger caused by the author’s casual slut shaming, by arguing that they are a “satirical website” and it isn’t their responsibility to take a “moral stance,” especially because they provide “funny commentary” on the college experience. 

No TFM, sexual assault is not funny. 

One in four women will experience rape or attempted rape by the time they complete their college education. The first three months of freshman year are called the “Red Zone,” because young women are most likely to become victims of sexual violence during this time. One in twelve college men say that they forced a woman to have sex against their will. 

This website ignores the role that fraternities play in committing sexual assault. Nicholas Syrett’s recent study shows that fraternity men may perpetuate 70-80% of college gang rapes. In 2011, Yale suspended the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity for their public chant “No Means Yes, and Yes Means Anal!”  This is example is just one of the more public demonstrations of the horrible sexism that characterizes many of today’s fraternities. 

Recently, national news has begun to recognize the severity of sexual assault on college campuses. Survivors at Amherst College, Swarthmore College, the University of North Carolina, and others have decided to confront their administrations and demand action. Websites like TFM do not help college activists as they work to create safer campuses, more often than not they cripple causes and distance college men from being able to empathize and support Survivors. 

Our Facebook debate concluded with TFM deleting our comments and our demands for an apology. We were also blocked from further posting on the thread. We are asking the online community to help us pressure Total Frat Move.com into not only issuing an apology for their callous article, but to also publically acknowledge the role that their website’s misogynist culture plays in harming the efforts of college activists.  We demand that TFM educates their users on the prevalence of sexual assault. 

Once TFM deleted our comments, this is what the final thread looks like. And yes, we’re mad.

 

If you're mad too, please consider signing our Change.org petition!!

https://www.change.org/petitions/total-frat-move-com-stop-perpetuating-rape-culture 

-Michelle Carroll


8 comments:

  1. While I do sympathize with and support the goal to end "rape culture," and I concur that TFM has a shameful history of promoting misogynist material, I'm not sure that this article in particular should be singled out as one that is especially repugnant. Throughout the article, the author's word choice reveals that he, in fact, supports these "strong women" and regards the behavior of the fraternity as "egregious"- a rather powerful adjective. This runs contrary to the assertion that the author is unaware of the seriousness of sexual assault. Overall, the article is critical of the behavior of the fraternity, and the analogy of "bombs" and "grenades" reinforces the author's position against the actions of the fraternity, equating these to harmful, physical attacks. Did the author take a revolutionary oppositional view here? Absolutely not, but consider the source- he's not writing for Jezebel here. I don't think it's fair to say that this is a failed criticism. On the other hand, the comments made by some of these pigs are deplorable, I'm sorry you ladies had to put up with them.

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  2. While I do appreciate your feminist views and again your support to end "rape culture" I would have to say that this article was not necessarily a good article to go after with all this vengeance. After reading the article several times, I would have to say that the author is trying to be critical of the fraternity's behavior. The author is against slut shaming and tells the men of the fraternity "poor form, guys" As said before, this guys is writing for TFM and the cite is funny and usually makes people laugh. The author of this story tried to get an important message across but had to do it in a way that the cite would allow. The author of the article should not be wronged because of this article. However the men of that fraternity should have to learn a little something about rape culture.

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  3. Elizabeth MurrayMay 3, 2013 at 12:25 AM

    Another quote from the article, "On Tuesday afternoon, a group of about 50 students, allies, and non-sluts..." and "'You Were Conceived On Top Of A Beer Pong Table' 'You Blew It! We Won’t Put Out For You Anymore!'". Language like this perpetuates campus rape cultures and only solidifies the mindset that women are sexual objects and should be treated as such. TFM's belittling of the importance of Take Back The Night in this way tells TFM viewers and followers that it is acceptable to treat women in this way, and that sure, what the frat did was wrong, but they only deserve to be heard to a certain extent (and, as they say, as sexual objects). This is especially harmful since TFM is not generally filled with the most feminist-minded or aware individuals, many of whom see this and use it as a way for them to confirm their sexist and violent behavior. These words therefore serve as a source of perpetuation in a culture where rape, sexual assault and harassment are not only accepted, but encouraged.

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    1. The people who wrote those signs saying "You Were Conceived On Top Of A Beer Pong Table' 'You Blew It! We Won’t Put Out For You Anymore!'", were the people who attended Take Back the Night. It is them who "perpetuated rape culture" even though they were the ones trying to support change in the first place. That has nothing to with the article or TFM and everything to do with the people on that campus.

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    2. Thank you for your comment! However, I feel it is necessary to point out that the TBTN activists did not have signs with those slogans. The author of the TFM article was suggesting that it would have been more effective if the protesters had used that type of language on their signs.

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  4. While I understand why some people are arguing that TFM didn't publish a blatantly anti-feminist article, I think that Michelle's overall point is an important one that needs to be discussed. This article is one of MANY instances where the tone of the website degrades women and their status as human beings who deserve respect.

    People keep referring to the "poor form, guys" quote as setting the article in a more positive light but that is not how I understand that phrase. Telling the fraternity men that they had "poor form" is not condemning their comments; it is merely telling them that it was the execution of their actions that was in poor taste. Does this mean that if they had structured their insults in a different, more humorous fashion that they would have been praised?

    Another questionable wording can be seen when the author describes the Take Back The Night activists as "students, allies and non-sluts." Is he saying that the students and allies are sluts and they are lucky enough to be joined by non-sluts, thereby legitimizing their claims? Even if that isn't what he's saying, describing women based on their sluttiness is definitely perpetuating rape culture.

    Further, while the author may have intended his article to be supportive of the female activists, that is not necessarily how the readers of TFM see it. Some of the comments on the article embody the very definition of a misogynist pig. One of the most popular comments has a thread with these wonderfully sexist words:
    - “As long as you’re violent, we won’t be silent” is the best sign by far.
    - Ah, so she’s a screamer?
    - I see what you did there, well played sir, well played.
    - ^^ I enjoyed that
    - “As long as your violent, we won’t be silent”…Really? Not shutting up seems like a pretty good precursor to a good ol’ fashioned '5Os tough love session.

    Other comments include "Where can I get some of these 'slut grenades' you speak of?" and "They are really just upset that they didn’t get a shirt/lax shorts for the walk the next morning. Typical female bs."

    Although the author's purpose in writing the article may not have been distinctly anti-feminist in nature, the language he uses perpetuates rape culture and promotes a forum for readers to comment on the "Classy. As. Fuck." actions of members of the Greek community.

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  5. While we're at it, let's demand apologies from The Onion.

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    1. Actually, the readers of The Onion have demanded retractions and apologies when they feel that their "satire" moves beyond the realm of poignant criticism into cruelty.

      As readers of these internet sources, it is our responsibility to ensure that these social critiques stay relevant, useful, and fair.

      The Onion also welcomes its social responsibility as a commentary of news. TFM constructs "satires" that represent the patriarchy of the 1%.

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