In my previous post I talked about a New York Times Style section article by Alex Miller where Miller bemoaned the fact that a woman heavy gender imbalance at many universities has lead to a “man’s world” of dating, i.e. more hookups rather than relationships and more attractive women dating less attractive men. The article focused on the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, one of the most prestigious public universities in the country. There’s been a semi-large hullaballo about the article in campus and feminist communities, so UNC’s newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel ran an article after they began covering the buzz surrounding the article on the day it came out, collecting comments from readers and twitter. A brief selection:
“I’m embarrassed by the things in that article. It’s dis-empowering, to say the least. It
reduces dating to numbers.”- John Reitz, Senior, English and drama double major
“That’s not the image we need to be portraying. Those quotes are really demeaning to women.” – Jordan Swain, Senior, communications studies major
And from Twitter (as collected by The Tar Heel):
CInscoe: I am kinda annoyed by the NYT article about girls at UNC. Makes them look kinda desperate and makes guys look like shallow pigs. No true
emilykennard: I am not desperate for a boyfriend. I would never let my boyfriend cheat on me. LEAVE ME ALONE
Quote: Emily Kennard is quoted in the New York Times article. She is also a senior writer for The Daily Tar Heel.
This comments section is a strange mix of school pride and slut shaming with a lot of people expressing sexist and sex-negative positions on the text of the article:
For a moderately but not extremely attractive girl, the dating scene at UNC has got to be painful — all the guys they might have had a shot with at other places are suddenly much harder to snag.
I think it is ridiculous that some “girls feel pressured to do more than they’re comfortable with” just to have a boyfriend. If you are willing to whore yourself out then no, you probably won’t end up with a very nice guy. Girls shouldn’t be so desperate to have a boyfriend that they lose all self respect.
Just a reminder to the comments section of The Daily Tar Heel, the official newspaper of a school that is the foremost training ground for the acclaimed US Women’s Soccer Team (which still wins more games than the men): Women (and men) are not all the same, and they can (and should) have sex whenever and (with whoever) they want. Physical beauty is not all men’s biggest thing, and sometimes you have sex on the first date because you both feel a spark, have protection, and are consenting adults.
The majority of the comments at UNC and on the Times‘ own site question the report’s journalistic validity, especially Miller’s depictions of college age men and women. One commenter on Feministing voiced the concerns of a lot of people:
It’s kind of a journalistic ethics FAIL to interview people when they’re drunk.
The Tar Heel got an interview with Miller, and asked the question that was knocking around in our heads.
Q: Some have said that they were interviewed while being intoxicated. What is your response to them, and do you think there’s anything wrong with reporter’s interviewing people in bars?
A: Even though this story is not a “bar” story, per se, there is an inevitable nightlife component to it, and if you’re reporting about nightlife, you have to go to where the nightlife happens. This is not unusual for a reporter like me who does a lot of stories involving dating, socializing, and nightlife. I talk to a lot of people at bars and clubs for a lot of different stories. To accurately reflect the dating culture of any university, it helps to see what’s going on at bars popular with students and frat parties. Reporters are not going to be admitted into private frat parties, but bars are public places which, by definition, are filled with people at least 21 years old who are old enough to make their own decisions about what they want to say, and to whom, and if they don’t want to talk, no problem. Some of the people I spoke to were having beers and enjoying their night out with friends, which is what you do at a bar, but they were all articulate and were making points clearly. And they all seemed to have thought, and talked, a lot about the issue of “the ratio,” which is what you’re looking for as a journalist—people who have clear opinions on the topic at hand.
Let me translate for you. “Yes, Officer, I knew she was drunk, but I very clearly heard her say ‘yes.’ Take my word for it.” In the legal system, that kind of defense puts you on thin ice. As UNC student Austin Ivey [who is quoted in the article] told me in a comment from my first post,
The quotes in this article were grossly mishandled, misquoted, and taken out of context, as was the portrayal of each person. For example, I am not a lingering alumni —- I am, as was stated at the interview, a full time professional student at UNC. Hardly just “hanging out for the weekend” to relive old times. I also mentioned that men overshoot themselves, but my particular discussion was about people drawing out relationships here — that was a single aspect listed with several as reasons. I never specifically related it to myself, but mentioned I was young and naive, and it “probably contributed” when asked if I could relate my overshooting comment to my own personal relationship.
Emily’s quote about cheating was the most grossly mishandled. She said she knew women who had led single instances of cheating slide — she never related this comment to herself or any relationship she had.
This was clearly a “journalist” who came here with an agenda and an article he already intended to write — he crawled bars at 12- 1 a.m for drunk impaired students, misrepresenting them and what they said in order to fit an article he wanted to write.
Now this situation is complicated and we’re getting a situation of “he said, they said.” It just seems unlikely to me that a large chunk of the students he interviewed would have organized a lie so well.
It basically comes down to if you want it be true, it makes sense to you, and the objectors are just “defensive.” All I can say is that I dearly hope this depiction of UNC isn’t accurate, because I’d like to think that a school filled with as many smart and talented individuals as that wouldn’t be that shallow or sexist.
Do you recognize this Tar Heel to the right?
She said this:
“Take your victories, whatever they may be, cherish them, use them, but don’t settle for them.”
She becomes this Champion and Gatorade spokesperson:
We don’t recognize her for her husband or her boyfriend.
Dating isn’t the center of her life because she has an innate sense of self.
Lots of people do.