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Party culture must embrace sexual respect Cecilia Azar and Caren Holmes

Let us preface this by mentioning that our purpose in writing a viewpoint is not to punish or shame specific groups, but rather to initiate a conversation and evoke critical reflection on aspects of our campus party culture.

In recent years, with the publicity stemming from movies such as Dear White People, colleges around the country have begun to call into question party themes that promote blatant racism and cultural appropriation. However, the conversation has ignored the prevalence of the sexist and misogynistic themes that consistently find their way into our Facebook newsfeeds. Over the last several years, our campus is guilty of throwing parties with themes including “CEOs and Corporate Hoes,” “Deans and Teens,” “Walk of Shame,” and “A Farmer and His Hoe.” While some seem less problematic, in practice they produce restrictive and oppressive standards of dress contingent upon gender expression.

Though some may disagree, as representatives of k(NO)w, we perceive these themes to be sexually disrespectful and representative of harmful ideology that permeates our campus sex culture. While we do not suspect that the hosts of these parties have intended to promote sexist or oppressive agendas within our student body, our attempts to shed light on the underlying nature of these events have been largely delegitimized. Statements like “Political correctness has gone too far,” “it’s just a joke” and “you’re taking it too seriously” exemplify recurring discursive tactics employed in these personal exchanges that have become tiresome.

We suggested trying an alternative to hosting a “Farmer and His Hoe” party, not because the term “hoe” is “politically incorrect,” but because language has power. We all send messages to others through our word choices and should consider their impact carefully in order to foster a supportive, respectful community. We ask that our campus take a moment to deconstruct the implications of a name such as “A Farmer and His Hoe.” The term “hoe” shames people, most commonly women, who choose to engage with their sexual agency. In addition, the term “hoe” objectifies women as a sexual object, while the farmer is privileged with the status of an occupation. This theme insinuates that a woman is first, inappropriately sexually promiscuous; second, an object; and third, the property of a man. It also enforces the gender binary paradigm that is not inclusive to those who express gender differently or identify as non-gender conforming. We consider this reflective deconstruction necessary to examine the ways in which Wooster party culture is misogynistic and demeaning to those who identify as female within our student population.

We ask that when choosing themes for parties, we take a minute to consider the messages we’re sending. In the end, the “hoe” pun may still seem too clever to pass by. We aren’t advocating for bans or censorship, but we encourage our campus to recognize that these choices are not isolated or without impact.

They influence the entire campus and perpetuate a culture of sexual disrespect within our student body. Question the reasons for choosing such a theme and why alternatives can’t be used. If you find that your themes digress into “hoe” puns and dichotomous-gender themes, it is not only your misogyny that should be brought into question, but also your creativity.

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