Harvard’s Rank and File
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Two men sit in the dining hall, leaning over trays filled with stacks of pancakes and glasses of blue Gatorade.
“She’s a solid 10. I’m banging her.”
“Hey! I called her.”
“We can flip a coin.”
Between them, a flier lists resources available for students who have experienced sexual assault. The men, of course, do not notice the flier. Nor do they notice me, sitting a few seats away.
When The Harvard Crimson reported that Harvard’s men’s soccer team circulated a sexually explicit “scouting report” evaluating female recruits, my friends and I were appalled, but not surprised. Nor were we surprised when the paper reported that the men’s cross-country team produced a similar document. We’d heard it before — in the dining hall, on the street, in the back of lecture halls — Harvard men rating and degrading Harvard women. After all, before he created Facebook in his Harvard dorm, Mark Zuckerberg made “facemash” — a site where Harvard students could deem their peers hot, or not.
《绯红报》(The Harvard Crimson)曝出哈佛男子足球队在传看一份语言露骨的“星探报告”，给新招募的女性成员打分，我和朋友们感到愤怒，但并不意外。报纸还曝出校男子越野队也有一份类似的报告，我们也不惊讶。之前我们在餐厅里、街上和报告厅里听说过哈佛男生评价并贬低哈佛女生的事。毕竟，马克·扎克伯格(Mark Zuckerberg)在哈佛大学的宿舍里创建Facebook之前，做过一个名为“facemash”的网站，哈佛学子们可以在这个网站上评价自己的同学的美丑。
It may seem shocking that students at one of America’s most elite universities, in one of its most progressive states, would behave so crudely. But in fact those publicly shared scouting reports show Harvard students engaging in an activity at which we excel: rating and categorizing one another.
Like most adolescents, we’re eager to define our identities, and determine our place on campus and in the world. In high school, many of us were known as “the kid who got into Harvard.” Here, we can all claim that title, so we sort ourselves into groups even more exclusive than the roughly 5 percent of applicants our school admits.
By the time my family dropped me off in Harvard Square, I had already submitted applications for limited-enrollment freshman seminars and pre-orientation programs for students interested in the arts and social justice. At convocation, as Harvard’s president delivered a speech about the importance of forming a community, I worried that everyone had already found their friends for the next four years.
I soon found that the students who competed for academic honors and leadership positions during the day staged different contests at night. On Friday and Saturday evenings, young women dressed in bandage skirts and heels line up outside the clubhouses on Mt. Auburn Street. Shivering in the cold, they wait for the nod of a bouncer. On Sunday mornings, young men brag about their conquests.
我很快发现，白天为学术荣誉和领导职位竞争的学生们，晚上在进行不同的竞赛。周五和周六晚上，穿着绷带裙和高跟鞋的少女在奥本山街(Mt. Auburn Street)的俱乐部外排队。她们在寒风中颤抖，等待保镖点头。周日早上，小伙子们吹嘘着自己的战果。
Sometimes, the line between academic and sexual competition blurs. Many campus extracurricular organizations choose members through a process called “the comp,” which may include cocktail parties as well as work requirements. During my freshman year, I attended the introductory meeting for a campus literary magazine. Members, dressed in black, stood behind a big wooden table and smoked cigarettes. Empty wine bottles served as candlesticks. The magazine’s editors promised that applicants would be judged only on the basis of their literary merits, but I still felt pressure to dress carefully for every meeting. Was I cool enough to join? Witty enough? Pretty enough?
Now, as a senior, I stand behind the tables. While my friends and I don’t evaluate the appearance of female “compers” or candidates for leadership positions, we toss out superficial judgments about our fellow students all too easily:
“He really dropped the ball on that project.”
“She never smiles.”
“She just doesn’t seem committed.”
We gossip under the guise of meritocracy.
Harvard’s competitiveness does not cause men to degrade women. Men — even, apparently, presidents — need no excuse to do that. Yet when we regularly evaluate one another’s fitness to join our organizations, attend our parties and become our friends, we give misogyny a vocabulary. We give it a place on our campus, and in our culture.
It’s not just Harvard, either. We are the generation of the Buzzfeed listicle, the Yelp rating, the Tinder swipe and the Facebook like. Surely, the Paleolithic man ranked women on the walls of his cave, but the 21st-century man makes his lists for all the world to see.
Each entry in the soccer team’s 2012 scouting report included, in addition to a nickname and a numerical value, a paragraphs-long assessment and a photograph culled from social media. The cross-country team designed spreadsheets, some of which allowed individual men to add comments about the women’s physical appearance. This “locker room talk” was not idle chatter, but a project that required time, effort and a certain kind of skill.
We’ve honed that skill for years.