baltimoresun.com

« Belated joke | Main | Language Gestapo »

Boys will be louts

I don’t usually look at the Johns Hopkins News-Letter (which is probably a good thing), but someone at Jezebel.com does and has given its editors a well-deserved public caning.

One Greg Sgammato, the managing editor of the News-Letter, was moved to write an article, “Local Bison Bear All At Psi Kappa Psi’s Annual Lingerave.” It deplores the presence of fat chicks at fraternity lingerie parties. I don’t intend to go beyond this synopsis, but Jezebel.com quotes amply from the article.

The same issue contained an article by one of Mr. Sgammato’s colleagues, Javier Avitia, on the happy influence that liquor has in making young women sexually receptive.

Mr. Sgammato’s article, as most people with less intellectual horsepower than is required for admission to Hopkins would have expected, provoked an uproar on campus, and the News-Letter has been moved to publish an apology, also anatomized at Jezebel.com.

The follow-up will have to be filed with the rapidly expanding literature of the non-apology apology. You see, Mr. Sgammato was writing satirically, with the high intent of exposing the “depthless, flawed and real culture of thought that persists in the minds of many students.”

I don’t know whether Mr. Sgammato has ever passed any time hanging around the English department at Hopkins, but I am reasonably sure that there are people there who could explain that satirical writing, when performed competently, gives the reader little clues that the writer’s views are the opposite of those stated.

It’s possible that Mr. Sgammato has learned something from this experience, though I haven’t often seen the tone deaf become musical. The lesson to be learned is for Mr. Sgammato’s editors: he bears watching.

 

Posted by John McIntyre at 12:21 AM | | Comments (20)
        

Comments

"Local Bison Bear All"? Bear?

Were they carrying everything in sight?

Put up with a lot?

Yeah, I was all set to learn more about the crash blossom (never having seen a bison bear but wondering what it might look like; you never know about college mascots these days...).

John, thanks for posting this. As an alumna of Johns Hopkins, I'm disgusted at the immaturity of the author of that piece. I can see where he was having a lot of fun playing with words, finding clever new ways to describe his subject. He obviously thought that the Opinion page protected him. Well, wrap him up in the Constitution - that doesn't save him from being a jerk.
I met enough of them in my Hopkins days that I can ignore them in person or give them the eye, reminding them with one stare that I could sit on him and squash him into jelly (my fave reference from Tolkien).
God help him, he has a lot to learn before he gets out into the real world.

Just an brief addendum to indicate my profound distaste for "fraternity lingerie parties" as a phrase, a concept, and an event.

You are going to hear from the "Tone-Deaf Community." You may depend upon it.

Here's something to "bare" in mind. The JHU newsletter DOES NOT PUBLISH SATIRE; satire is reserved for the Black and Blue Jay. It wasn't satire--it was what he *actually thinks*. The claim that it was satire is an after-the-fact invention/lie.

I've re-written their apology here.

It has been decades since I've given any thought at all to frat boys and their parties. They've been good decades.

Young women - hotties or otherwise - party in their underwear?? Is JHU addressing this horrendous lack of self-esteem in its female population?

Many of the male Hopkins students that I have met fall into the "I hope he's a nice person, 'cause he ain't gonna make it on his looks" category. Just sayin'.

We have all been warned time and time again, that pictures posted on the internet will live to haunt (and, in the direst of warnings, ruin) our lives forever and a day. Through the absolute disgust that I felt while reading Mssrs Sgammato and Avitia's bunches of words, my heart smirked at the vision of either of them attempting to find employment upon leaving JHU. My observation is that candidate screening - background, credit and online - happens first and then the who-gets-the-interview decisions are made. My further observation is that Human Resources (aka: The First Hurdle) is almost always staffed by women. I believe in The Sisterhod.

Eve, if either of them do manage to land a job, I only hope they have a boss like you.

Oooh, Laura Lee--whoa! Watch out, boys!

This reminds me of a t-shirt one of my son's friends wore ages ago: "Party 'til she's cute."
I am afraid that I chewed him out royally for that.

Adolescent boys and girls.Illegal alcohol. Bad behavior ensues. Alert the press!

@Patricia: The idea that it's just "bad behavior" we should turn a blind eye to is precisely the reason there is such a high rate of date rape at Hopkins and so many other college campuses across the U.S. Keep commenting glibly about how it's a non-issue and young women will keep getting exploited by men.

@Eve: Why does a girl's willingness to go to a frat party in her underwear automatically mean "low self-esteem" to you? A big part of the reason I wouldn't go to those (besides my general distaste for JHU frat parties) is because of my LACK of confidence in my body. Your comment seems to imply that women don't like to run around semi-naked and would only do it to please men, and I think that's a rather huge (and very sexist) assumption to make.

If you found out about a party where the guys were the ones running around without clothes on, would you assume that the reason was the guys' "low self-esteem"? Think about that one.

My apologies for editing when not employed to do so, but I think you meant "ever" not "every." (Sixth paragraph.)
Sorry to be rude, but I noticed the error while quoting your piece for an open letter.
I agree with all you've said on the subject, having read the orginal quotes on Jezebel and getting riled up myself. This sort of sexism and fun-making at the expense of others will get my generation nowhere. Fast.

No one should ever have to apologize for noticing and politely correcting an error, and certainly to to a copy editor. I am grateful.

Female JHU Student: If I found out about a party where the guys were the ones running around without clothes on, I would shrug it off as they're (rude word for anal orifices). Assuming low self-esteem on the women's part was, indeed, sexism. I just hate to think of my own as (rude word for anal orifices)

I think it's time you stopped assuming that the female students have no responsibility for any of this. If you put yourself in harm's way, you can expect that something unfortunate may happen. This has nothing to do with rape - if you drink too much, regardless of where you are and with whom,you are vulnerable. I just do not accept the "woman as victim" when too often she willingly participates in the drink and the drugs. I doubt those girls have been raised to be so reckless, but any college campus in the world has its share of incidents like this: self-esteem seems to have little to do with it.

I think it's time you stopped assuming that the female students have no responsibility for any of this. If you put yourself in harm's way, you can expect that something unfortunate may happen. This has nothing to do with rape - if you drink too much, regardless of where you are and with whom,you are vulnerable. I just do not accept the "woman as victim" when too often she willingly participates in the drink and the drugs. I doubt those girls have been raised to be so reckless, but any college campus in the world has its share of incidents like this: self-esteem seems to have little to do with it.

Your argument simply doesn't make sense. For the victim to have "responsibility" for this, there has to be something about a drunk and/or passed-out girl that is forcing guys to rape her. Nope. It's still the perpetrator who makes the choice to do that. Nothing about the girl is screaming out "RAPE ME!" - as every day, reasonable men choose NOT to rape women who are past the point where they can consent.

Everybody should learn to drink responsibly. But not in order to "protect themselves from rape." There are plenty of girls and women who DON'T get drunk at the party and still get raped. There are plenty of girls and women who don't go to the party at all - they're raped at home by family members, or roommates, or other people who are part of their home lives. The idea that there are certain "precautions" women can take to avoid getting rape is fictional (Seriously - show me some studies that these "rape prevention" methods actually work, and maybe I'll say you have a point - but so far nearly everything I've read says it's hogwash.) All they do are allow women like yourself to point the finger at others, and act like it won't happen to you or someone you know.

Until it does. And believe me, regardless of whether you're drunk or sober, whether you're dressed in a miniskirt or in five layers of clothing, someone will find some way to place the blame on your shoulders.

I am in no way excusing the behavior of men who take advantage of girls who drink themselves silly and pass out. I am saying that drinking or drugging to excess puts them in a terrible position - and they do have a choice about that. I didn't mention wardrobe - you did If someone is determined to attack you, there little that can be done at that point. But far too many young women put themselves in harm's way: that can be avoided. I see you are JHU '13, which makes you about 18 or 19. Several years' perspective and experience may teach you that there are things women can do to protect themselves against some attacks. Excusing them for behaving foolishly isn't one of them. I've seen very young girls - 15-16 - wandering about the city after dark. You can tell by their attitude that they haven't a clue about their surroundings, and I assumed they were sober at the time. This does not give me hope about their safety as they grow older.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at john.mcintyre@baltsun.com.
Baltimore Sun Facebook page
-- ADVERTISEMENT --

Most Recent Comments
Sign up for FREE local news alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local news text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Stay connected