“Do our students become tramps to more effectively enjoy the weather, or do they use the weather as an excuse to more effectively become tramps?” and other deep philosophical questions from the University of Chicago


Trampy indeed.

Fuckwit college columnist of the day: Luke Dumas.

Mr. Dumas, a University of Chicago student, is very, very offended that in warm weather, women decide to wear — wait for it — shorts. He penned an op/ed calling his fellow students “tramps” for switching from their winter uniform of sweats into shorts and camisoles as soon as the weather changes. After all, it’s only 80 degrees today in Chicago — what are those whores thinking? The above-linked article is groan-worthy enough, but check out the original (thank you, Google cache). It turns out that the reason Luke Dumas dislikes springtime is because he can see women’s bodies, and that somehow prevents him from getting “participation points” in class. The column sparked a backlash on campus, and the editor of the paper pulled the controversial piece and replaced it online with a toned-down version. But apparently Mr. Dumas is a regular complaint machine — if it’s not slutty chicks that disgust him, it’s late students, or pride events that aren’t gay enough, or the music kids these days listen to, or the shocking revelation that dining hall food is not good.

I would suggest that Mr. Dumas try some deep-breathing exercises, or maybe a little yoga. Life is far too short to devote so much time and energy into being upset over the sight of a nipple outline.

Thanks to ginjoint for the link.


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86 comments for ““Do our students become tramps to more effectively enjoy the weather, or do they use the weather as an excuse to more effectively become tramps?” and other deep philosophical questions from the University of Chicago

  1. mk
    May 20, 2009 at 9:32 am

    At least this guy writes under his own name, so that reasonable people know to avoid him. It’s more than I can say for some college cartoonists with more or less the same thesis.

  2. FashionablyEvil
    May 20, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Oh, the Maroon.

    So while preparing for a day in the springtime sun, and selecting the perfect outfit to win over that special someone, ask yourself the difficult question: Do I look like I’m dressed for success, or not really dressed at all? Because when your answer is the wrong one, neither of us wins, and when your answer is the right one…at least I can get my participation points for the day.

    Yes, because my thoughts in getting dressed each day should always be “Will some random boy approve and not be distracted??”

  3. May 20, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Ah, you have to love the “satire” excuse appended to the current version. Reading the original, it’s really quite clear that the douche really means everything he’s saying, but is trying to use over-the-top language in a way that he hopes others will find “funny,” thus absolving him of responsibility for what he writes.

  4. The Opoponax
    May 20, 2009 at 10:43 am

    This post is hilariously apt considering I’m in the middle of packing to go to my high school reunion. In high school I was somewhat known for dressing like one of Mr. Dumas’ “tramps”. Mainly because I didn’t really go through puberty till I was 17 and had no real idea that the tank tops and shorts I was wearing were “trampy”, as I didn’t think of my body as a sexual thing, like, at all. Which totally freaked out the Christian Fundamentalist modesty police. Add in a lot of baggage about “barely legal” women and the ideal female body being that of a 12 year old boy, and it was a lose-lose situation.

    Standing over my suitcase, I’m torn between totally slutting it up on purpose this time or trying to prove that I’m a grownup now and know how to dress appropriately. Thus bringing about all sorts of existential dilemmas about What Is Modesty, maybe I’m just a sartorial slut and that’s OK, etc. This is one of those times I actively wish I was a guy or a very butch lesbian who didn’t have to deal with all this garbage.

  5. Linoleum Blownaparte
    May 20, 2009 at 10:58 am

    “I can’t wait till it’s spring,” an undercover skank once told me …

    Aaaaaaaaand that’s all I can take.

  6. May 20, 2009 at 11:24 am

    “hidden behind her baggy U of C sweatshirt and too-long jeans, she was, as far as I could tell, perfectly respectable. A little slovenly, perhaps, but modest nonetheless.”

    “Now that the weather’s nice, the girl can’t be persuaded by any amount of money to wear a pair of shorts longer than her pinky, or a cami less sheer than an old condom.”

    “I don’t want to look at the nipple, but for some reason I must. In fact, I’m offended and made a little bit queasy by the sight of it, but at that moment it’s more important than my education could ever be”

    Note how sexuality is disgusting, “queasy,” and yet he can’t look away–combined with distaste at “slovenly” girls who don’t sufficently act proper “modest” feminimite to his satisfaction at all time.

    How, HOW, does this shit get published? How can you possibly read this as an editor and this “sure, satirical! no prob!”

  7. Nicholas
    May 20, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Poor Luke,

    The young man clearly has body image issues as his column drips of envy for those whose physiques are more toned than the norm. As someone who grew up at the beach, I remember the awkwardness of not having the right muscles to look good in trunks alone. I feel more pity than I do outrage. He mocks to cover his own insecurity.

    Doesn’t make him any less of a jerk, though.

  8. May 20, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    I’m particularly confused because, as one of the commenters on the article mentioned, Luke is gay (according to one of his previous columns).

    I’m not trying to say that gay men are incapable of misogyny, or anything, but as a fellow gay, I’ve never been distracted by a scantily clad woman, because…I’m not into women. Sexual desire doesn’t enter the equation when I look at women. I’m not usually looking at their breasts or ass, no matter how much of these parts are visible. (Unless there are tattoos… I tend to notice tattoos.)

    Maybe Luke was just pretending to be gay in order to have something else to whine about (the amount of gay in Pride)?? The “queasy” thing really strikes me as a heterosexual male thing to say (all that women’s sexuality shaming and whatnot… I like to think us queers are better about that, not necessarily in principal but just because we don’t have any reason to be concerned with women’s sexuality).

    Agreeing with Chava — Luke should be fired, but so should whoever is letting this shit be published!

  9. May 20, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    It’s not letting me edit my comment to add this, but Jill, the photo illustration on this is perfect. Who wants to bet Luke is a nevernude?

  10. May 20, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    oh, luke? showing of the tranny classic Hedwig and the Angry Inch

    how about i leave you with a pathetic inch and grind the rest up in a meat grinder?

    also, julian? sexual orientation and misogyny are orthogonal to each other. being gay/bi does not inoculate one to misogyny. i know this from experience.

  11. Bitter Scribe
    May 20, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    This guy better never go to Fort Lauderdale or Cancun on spring break. He’d probably melt into a puddle.

  12. Maureen
    May 20, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Did the Criterion die? Because this article would have been *perfect* for it.

  13. Ben
    May 20, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Some thoughts:
    1) The people who personally attacked Dumas in the column’s online comments (and those who put stickers on the Maroon that read, “This Insults Women”) were WAY out of line, and clearly don’t understand the purpose of free speech unless that speech is in accord with their own opinions. Instead of making personal attacks and vandalizing the Maroon, they should have, um, engaged in actual debate.
    2) Are people really saying that a call for modest dress for BOTH men and women (READ THE COLUMN, PEOPLE) is inherently misogynistic? Come on. Get real. There are good reasons why women, for their own sake and for the sake of others, might want to cover up a bit.
    3) That being said, Dumas’s column was in poor taste, undeniably.

  14. JessSnark
    May 20, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    GallingGalla, I think Julian clearly said “i’m not trying to say that gay men are incapable of misogyny.” He was saying that what he thought was weird for a gay male was that Dumas was not only sexist but also argued that the “skanks” were distracting him with their visible sexiness.

    I was actually just back on campus on Monday visiting (I’m a U of C alum) and apparently there was a huge backlash on campus. The editor printed a long apology in the next issue of the Maroon taking responsibility for bad judgment in allowing the piece into print.

  15. Level Best
    May 20, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Holy, cats! This sort of language is so off my grid that when I read the snippet about tramps and the weather, I thought it was going to be about ill-dressed HIKERS. For shame, Luke.

  16. Olivia
    May 20, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    There are good reasons why women, for their own sake and for the sake of others, might want to cover up a bit.

    And what might those reasons be?

  17. plunky
    May 20, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    LOL Maureen. The first thing I thought when I read the blurb was “I bet it was the Criterion!” Then I mouse-over the link and see it was not so.

    I’m having a hard time deciding if I think this guy was for real or just screwing around with satire like he claimed. There were definitely some creepy dudes at U of C that would have been fine with this article at face value, but they were the minority. Paragraph 4 ending with the guy under the tree definitely seemed tongue in cheek.

  18. May 20, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    I love the whole “ugh why is the trans stuff the only stuff going on in our gay club” column too. Classic. Throw your own party, idiot.

    I assume that Mr. Dumas isn’t sexually attracted to the women he’s complaining about, but he’s still distracted by their “inappropriate semi-nudity” in some sort of car-wreck way. I mean, I can relate to that to some degree when it comes to poor clothing choices — but complaining publicly about it and not realizing that you are engaging in some seriously ass-headed SLUT-SHAMING over people’s short-shorts? I’m not sure he even realizes he sounds like a moral majority goon. But then, college opinion columnists, never the brightest bunch.

  19. May 20, 2009 at 3:25 pm


    Some thoughts:
    1) The people who personally attacked Dumas in the column’s online comments (and those who put stickers on the Maroon that read, “This Insults Women”) were WAY out of line, and clearly don’t understand the purpose of free speech unless that speech is in accord with their own opinions. Instead of making personal attacks and vandalizing the Maroon, they should have, um, engaged in actual debate.
    2) Are people really saying that a call for modest dress for BOTH men and women (READ THE COLUMN, PEOPLE) is inherently misogynistic? Come on. Get real. There are good reasons why women, for their own sake and for the sake of others, might want to cover up a bit.
    3) That being said, Dumas’s column was in poor taste, undeniably.

    Really? I would engage more, yet I have the flu and less energy than usual to smack people upside the head with the Feminism 101 stick.

    1) I think it might in fact be YOU who doth not understand this sacred cow “free speech” of which you speak.

    2) Yep. We totally are. Go read the article again, maybe it will sink into your brain why.

    3) Yeah..good observation there. Although I must say, the response from their editor in chief was less than optimal:

    “The retracted parts of the article describe women using excessively harsh language and a contemptuous tone. Prior to the retraction, the article’s imagery and exaggeration implied a resemblance between female students and prostitutes,” Sinhababu wrote.”

    ….Oh NOES! We wouldn’t want college educated rich girls to be mistaken for TEH WHORES!

  20. umami
    May 20, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Are people really saying that a call for modest dress for BOTH men and women (READ THE COLUMN, PEOPLE) is inherently misogynistic? Come on. Get real. There are good reasons why women, for their own sake and for the sake of others, might want to cover up a bit.

    Uh, Ben? Your ass-covering fell off just there… no, there too… no, sorry, the whole thing’s showing.

  21. May 20, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    And yet, queasy though I may be, I cannot help but stare at the exposed cheek….!

  22. Ali
    May 20, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    Oh umami & chava, how you make me giggle! Hope I don’t accidently pull a Tara Reid from laughing so hard.

    But yeah, how does saying (er sticking?) “This Insults Women”) constitute anti free speech? My tini lady brain can’t comprehend it.

  23. SK
    May 20, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    free speech != right to be free of criticism when you speak.

  24. May 20, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Wow, if you take out the “Come on. Get real.” in that paragraph, you have a rhetorical question and a completely self-defeating answer right next to each other! Now that is a real feat of pretzel logic; it’s like he took careful aim with a rifle and shot himself in the butt.

  25. May 20, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    even though in the original article he does briefly mention that men where almost see-through shirts, if any shirt at all, he reserves the harshest descriptive language for the women, which makes it sexist. it is 80 degrees here (i’m in wisconsin) and you can bet i am now running around my house and yard in a miniskirt and tank top. sure, my bra is peaking out, but fuck you, it’s hot outside.

  26. Mort
    May 20, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    How is the backlash to this column ‘anti-free speech’? Well, many of the responses on the paper’s website were deeply personal, and they ran the gamut from crude to offensive to outright threatening. And, just in case all that didn’t suffice, we have this blog to hold the author up to yet further public ridicule, and the reputation the he has gained through all of this will no doubt follow him for some time.

    You don’t have to forcibly suppress a person’s words; you can simply pile on the insults and the mockery and the threats until you’ve cowed him into silence.

    Which, incidentally, is all that will result from this post and the work of the sticker-police at UChicago. While you might find it therapeutic to vent at the author, you know and I know and everyone else knows that this sort of reaction—the stickers, the blog posts, the name calling—is no way to affect change, and is probably counterproductive.

    Like so many others, I was shocked when I read the column the day it came out. Now I’m just embarrassed by the behavior of those who sided with me.

  27. Liz L
    May 20, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    Does anyone think his resentment is directed not so much at all those nudie girls (the horror!), but the fact that in the winter, all these women are bundled up rather than dolled up? It’s definitely true that in winter quarter no one really bothers much- Hyde Park is freaking cold and the work will kill your soul (really).

    I guess he thinks a skank should look like a skank all the time, except (gasp!) at UofC these supposed skanks sometimes put on clothes and argue about epistemic responsibility or Karl Marx. And then you can’t separate the trashy from the sweater and pearl set…. they’re all just a bunch of intense women who are all *smarter and better writers than you, Luke.*

  28. William
    May 20, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    What does it say about me that when I read the headline I was thinking “tramp” was meant to mean vagabond?

    Also, I’m somewhat less than shocked that this is coming from UofC. The college pretty much only bothers with undergrads because someone has to fund their incredibly long graduate programs. What a shock, some rich kid has a stupid idea.

  29. grapeshot
    May 20, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Ugh, yeah. I have a friend who’s been pissed off about this for two weeks, he pointed it out to me. I can’t believe anyone is even PRETENDING it’s a joke. Least funny joke ever. I’m on the campus queer group listserv, and people have been brainstorming some pretty cutting rebuttals to the pride week article. A lot of community spirit. It’s encouraging.

    We wouldn’t want college educated rich girls to be mistaken for TEH WHORES!

    It’s true that the retraction was pretty weak, but for the record, female UofC students =/= rich. The point is good, though.

    Also, I’m somewhat less than shocked that this is coming from UofC. The college pretty much only bothers with undergrads because someone has to fund their incredibly long graduate programs.

    What does that have to do with anything whatsoever? As an undergrad at the UofC, I can attest that they do a pretty fantastic job with us, at least as good as any other top 10 US university. Thanks for your unrelated elitism-elitism (elitism squared!), though.

  30. grapeshot
    May 20, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Ugh, yeah. I have a friend who’s been pissed off about this for two weeks, he pointed it out to me. I can’t believe anyone is even PRETENDING it’s a joke. Least funny joke ever. I’m on the campus queer group listserv, and people have been brainstorming some pretty cutting rebuttals to the pride week article. A lot of community spirit. It’s encouraging.

    We wouldn’t want college educated rich girls to be mistaken for TEH WHORES!

    It’s true that the retraction was pretty weak, but for the record, female UofC students =/= rich. It’s a good point though.

    Also, I’m somewhat less than shocked that this is coming from UofC. The college pretty much only bothers with undergrads because someone has to fund their incredibly long graduate programs.

    What does that have to do with anything whatsoever? As an undergrad at the UofC, I can attest that they do a pretty fantastic job with us, at least as good as any other top 10 US university. Thanks for your unrelated elitism-elitism (elitism squared!), though.

  31. grapeshot
    May 20, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Nipple-related shame has become a pretty awesome campus in-joke, however.

    (Oops, double post!)

  32. Ginjoint
    May 20, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Ben, Ben, oh Ben. Shut the everlovin’ FUCK up, Ben. To begin:

    The people who personally attacked Dumas were out of line? Uh, Ben, I felt personally attacked by Dumas. As a woman, I mean. Yanno, with the use of words such as “skank” and “tramp” (tramp?) being used to describe women who wear the same kinds of clothes I do. Instead of attacking women, maybe Dumas should have, um, written a worthwhile editorial on a topic befitting the twenty-first century.

    Also, Dumas may have also called for more modest dress for men as well as women, but 1.) he sure as hell concentrated on women, and 2.) NOwhere did he use terms for men anywhere near the level of “skank.” And I echo Olivia’s request for your reasons why women should “cover up.” So that assholes like Dumas aren’t “distracted” by the horror of a woman’s leg or arm? Is that really where you’re going with this? Dumas’ issues with women obviously run deep, but here you are, defending him. Hm.

  33. Roy
    May 20, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    I just started reading the dining commons complaint one, too.
    I know it’s small potatoes (a food pun!) compared to the most recent article, but is anyone else sort of surprised by his food phobia? I don’t like peaches, but even I know that peaches + chicken = a perfectly reasonable dish. People mix meat and fruit all the time. And what’s wrong with wild rice with apples, or chicken breast with pecan sauce? Both of those are delicious in theory, and frequently so in practice.

    I know that they don’t have the classic appeal of PB&J or complaining about how women need to dress more modestly, but they’re still pretty tasty dishes.

    If he’s already this curmudgeonly during his first year, I’d hate to see him at the end of his fourth.

  34. Becca
    May 20, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    Oh gosh. We definitely had columnists like that at my school.

    But this reminded me of a more hilarious story, which was actually from high school. We used to have a “no spaghetti-straps” dress code, and one (male) columnist wrote a satirical piece in the newspaper about women’s shoulders (basically satirizing the idea that girls can’t show they’re shoulders because they are somehow a huge sexual distraction). This post reminded me of that, except the guy at my school was smart and funny, and this guy is not.

  35. May 20, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    Man, I go to UChicago, and as far as I can tell the Maroon just always kind of sucks when it comes to opinion pieces. They’re always basically whining about something.

    I was a bit surprised when I heard about this piece because I think of our campus as a place that is particularly supportive of women’s presenting ourselves however we choose–in that alternate gender presentations, short hair, shaved heads, bizarre sartorial choices, glasses frames that eat your face, unwashed hair, etc–are considered pretty unremarkable. Guess that’s not so for everyone.

  36. Falyne
    May 20, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Roy, I was thrown off by the anti-foodie vibe, too. I mean, I have no doubt that the caf’s food is crap, and maybe they’d be better off not being creative, but to mock the very idea of mole sauce is uncalled for. Similarly, while I do not LIKE my meat to be defiled by yicky slimy fruit, it shouldn’t be that strange of an idea to a budding intellectual. Unless, of course, they’re just a wannabe intellectual, and a successful douche.

  37. Maria
    May 20, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    As a UChi law school alum who worked with the undergrads in mock trial, I would just like to note that at least the undergrads I worked with were refreshingly low on the misogyny scale…especially compared to *my* undergrad of engineering nerds. So…hope springs eternal that the rest off campus is unlikely to be as deluded as this columnist…

  38. May 20, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    @ grapeshot–

    Well, I certainly don’t think they (you?) are all literally “rich.” I went to Penn as one of the “poor” students there, and it used to piss me off when people assumed that as well. I think there was still a certain level of private-school class/economic privilege in the comment though.

    UofC costs 54k a year, and 610 students in 2006-2007 received some amount of financial aid (according to the school FinAid site) out of a class of around 1200-1300. Of the 28 students whose family income was 17,9k a year, their average aid amount was 42k. Now, that means they still had to come up with 12k/year. I was one of the kids in that income group, and had to come up with 5k a year, and THAT sometimes felt like an impossible task.

    Assuming about a 50/50 gender split, that means 300 or so women got aid in total, including families who are very well off but have a few kids in school, etc.

    So no, ain’t everybody rich, but somebody sure is. And in this economic climate, it’s going to be more and more of the latter and less of the former.

  39. tobecontinued
    May 21, 2009 at 1:55 am

    Hey, I’ve been reading awhile here but this is my first comment, but while I was reading this I was reminded of this asshat who has wrote a regular column for my college newspaper for the past year. Basically his last article of the year are a list of the things that he wrote that were cut out of the first printing of his articles, and then how he doesn’t care about what people think about him blah blah.

    He wrote such gems that the California legislators “pass a state budget on time as regularly as young homosexual men use condoms.” And that that the only thing deep about Jane Fonda is her “cavernous vagina”.

    Yeah, I’m definitely glad the guy is finally going. Too bad he didn’t have the guts to print these lines out until finals week otherwise there could have been some action when it comes to his offensive and stupid opinion pieces.

  40. tobecontinued
    May 21, 2009 at 1:56 am
  41. Aleisha
    May 21, 2009 at 10:04 am

    @ Mort –

    Free speech/the First Amendment in the US legal sense protects individuals from government infringement on expression. It does not mean that anything anyone says is sacrosanct and free from critique and action (I am not from the US, so correct me if I am wrong). Disagreement is not suppression, and even if the paper pulled the article completely it wouldn’t be a free speech issue, because it’s still a private endeavor. The government did not step in and keep this kid from writing more poorly conceived and executed opinion pieces. As often happens with these sorts of things, the tendency for people to rush to claim first amendment infringement seems a tad melodramatic and a bit disingenuous to me.

    While I completely support the legal enshrinement of free speech (obviously, I’m one of those lefty social justice types they warn you about on Fox News), free speech is not a guarantee that all ideas are equal and should not be critiqued on merit. The right to “what I believe” is often used similarly, and, sure, I agree everyone has the right to believe what they believe, but that does not mean that some beliefs are not ridiculous, offensive, or factually wrong, and they shouldn’t be critiqued as such.

    In general, this guy comes across like a first year student writer who is trying to appear bold and challenging, but is instead tedious and immature, and as often happens with the talent-deficient, he is making the mistake of trying to gain attention by being louder and offensive instead of being better. Despite college media generally being pretty cringeworthy (but, hey, it is the place to be crap and learn your chops) I have read some really great student journalism, and often I eventually see those writers with bylines in professional media. Luke – I have forgotten his last name already – I do not imagine I will be seeing much of him once his college career is over.

    Well, unless Fox is hiring.

  42. Crimson '05 --> Maroon '11
    May 21, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Olivia:

    There are good reasons why women, for their own sake and for the sake of others, might want to cover up a bit.

    And what might those reasons be?

    Er … UV exposure, I guess?

    (I don’t know, that’s pretty much the best reason I can come up with.)

  43. Alara Rogers
    May 21, 2009 at 11:14 am

    You don’t have to forcibly suppress a person’s words; you can simply pile on the insults and the mockery and the threats until you’ve cowed him into silence.

    Which, incidentally, is all that will result from this post and the work of the sticker-police at UChicago. While you might find it therapeutic to vent at the author, you know and I know and everyone else knows that this sort of reaction—the stickers, the blog posts, the name calling—is no way to affect change, and is probably counterproductive.

    You know, it’s a *good* thing when a guy fears being ridiculed for expressing the belief that women should cover up their bodies in 80 degree weather just to avoid distracting *him*. I am firmly of the belief that clothing’s primary purpose, the reason we hairless monkeys invented it, is to protect one from weather, and only secondarily for ornamentation or limiting sexual display. Humans who mistakenly believe that other humans should suffer physical discomfort in order to avoid making them see something they don’t want to see are idiots in general; men who believe this of women… are the Taliban, and I fucking do want anyone who wants to take away my freedom to be comfortable in my clothes because *he* doesn’t want to see me dressed like that to be shamed and humiliated. If no one dares to say it because everyone understands it is an asshat thing to say that you will be mocked for, then most people will understand that it is an asshat thing to *think.*

    This isn’t a harmless belief. In Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, women die for this belief. In America, women are raped for this belief. *No* one has the right to have their desire to look at me trump my right to be comfortable; that’s making women objects, prioritizing our value as a thing to look at over our subjective experiences, and it is wrong. I do not approve of the government censoring any kind of speech, but if someone says an asshole thing in public I totally do approve of everyone who thinks it was an asshole thing to say piling on him to tell him what an asshole he is.

    When your speech is intended to threaten and cow other people, expect them to try to threaten and cow you back with speech. As long as speech is met with speech, it’s all good. Government force, actual threats of harm, *actual* harm — no, not good at all. But “you are an asshole for saying that”? Boycotting advertisers? Sending angry letters to the publisher? That’s speech, and the appropriate response to offensive speech is speech that says “you are offensive.” Only people who truly treasure the right to be offensive without being called on it think that that is censorship.

  44. May 21, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    And what might those reasons be?

    Er … UV exposure, I guess?

    (I don’t know, that’s pretty much the best reason I can come up with.)

    Shoot. I was going to make this exact joe (except with “avoid sunburn?”). Oh well.

  45. grapeshot
    May 21, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    chava, agreed!

  46. evil_fizz
    May 21, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    The sexual frustration of the entire year, it seems, is being vented in the course of a few sunny days; by shedding the excess fabric and all discernible moral inhibitions, our students are showing that they’re not only tolerable to look at, but veritably doable.

    So let me get this straight: nice weather is an excuse to demonstrate that someone should want to fuck you, but if someone actually does want to fuck you then you’ve crossed the line, are now a skank, and have distracted Mr. Dumas to the point where he cannot concentrate. My head hurts.

  47. Alara Rogers
    May 21, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    by shedding the excess fabric and all discernible moral inhibitions, our students are showing that they’re not only tolerable to look at, but veritably doable.

    Plus, this is a fallacy.

    My entire life, including college, I have dressed in t-shirts and shorts as soon as the weather allows. I was a virgin until I was 23 and have had only two male sex partners in my life. So no, shedding the excess fabric says *nothing* about doability.

  48. umami
    May 21, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    The sexual frustration of the entire year, it seems, is being vented in the course of a few sunny days; by shedding the excess fabric and all discernible moral inhibitions, our students are showing that they’re not only tolerable to look at, but veritably doable.

    You know what bugs me about that paragraph? It’s the implicit assumption that women vent sexual frustration by “shedding excess fabric” and not by, say, masturbating. I see this a lot, this idea that female sexuality=”being sexy”. Ugh. It’s just such a failure to understand that women are human beings; obviously, if a man is turned on by her, she gets off on that! It’s not like she has a separate identity outside of his wank fantasies or anything.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to rant, that’s just a bugbear of mine.

  49. May 22, 2009 at 12:24 am

    The article on Pride Week went beyond infuriating to me. Seriously? He used the term transvestites? Really? He complains that there is not enough lip synching because too much time is spent discussing issues relevant to lives of LGBTQ people. This to me, stinks of ubber priveledge. The kind of priveledge experianced by someone who doesn’t worry about being kicked out of their home, disowned, navigating the world as an LGBTQ Person of Color, being Transgender and/or Transsexual, etc. I don’t know him and won’t pretend to but their is something really off-putting about that article. I went to the University of Florida for undergrad and the LGBTQ Office and Pride were the same way. There were defiantly some fun, campy type events but the focus was on support and discussing political and sensitive topics as well as awareness raising. I think it is great to have a day set aside for watching musicals and movies (like where I am now), but I don’t think that should be the main focus.
    And undercover skank? What the Hell? That article I will not even comment on.

  50. May 22, 2009 at 8:59 am

    wow! I cant believe this is getting attention on the internet!!! and at feministe!

    I wish any of the publicity had discovered that the day after the article was published, almost 1,000 copies of the newspaper had a sticker on the front warning “THIS INSULTS WOMEN” and we stenciled t-shirts that said “undercover skank” and had a skank parade/dance party of sorts on Friday. On Thursday a few hundred copies had a reply sticker “‘This paper can do better. We’ll make that happen. –CM”

    a LOT of people were pissed and a LOT of people were talking about it…this campus never cares about anything that much.
    now if only we could get people to care about divesting from sudan or something…

    (i don’t know why it bolded that paragraph)

  51. marilove
    May 22, 2009 at 11:02 am

    It was 107 degrees and sunny as hell in Phoenix the other day. Hell yeah I’m going to wear shorts! AND TANK TOPS!

  52. Mort
    May 23, 2009 at 11:52 am

    You know, it’s a *good* thing when a guy fears being ridiculed for expressing the belief that women should cover up their bodies…

    Whether that’s true or not, it’s surely far better if he simply doesn’t hold that sort of belief, and maybe he wouldn’t if the commenters rebutted him in a measured, reasonable way. Mostly, they didn’t do that; they went with insults and attacks which, often as not, will just make someone dig his heels in. Insults certainly aren’t going to win anyone over, and they reflect poorly on our side of the argument, to boot.

    As for this being a free speech issue, it isn’t in the sense that anyone’s first ammendment rights have been violated. But the right to speak freely is included in the constitution because we, as a people, value that right. When our speech and actions might make another afraid to express himself, that should give us pause, even if what we’re doing isn’t unconstitutional.

    In the end, it’s difficult to root out this sort of bias when people aren’t open about it, and it remains latent, and it can’t be confronted head on. This article–and others like it–should be treated as opportunities to exhibit the best that our ideological position has to offer: that it is reasonable, equitable, magnanimous, right, etc. When groups like UChicago’s femmaj respond with the vitriol we saw here, then in the eyes of others, all of us lose the moral and ethical high ground–and that’s a terrible blow to anyone advocating a special interest.

  53. sophonisba
    May 23, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Insults certainly aren’t going to win anyone over, and they reflect poorly on our side of the argument, to boot.

    Yeah, feminists have got to stop calling women “skanks” every time we feel threatened.

  54. B
    May 23, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    haha
    As a UC grad student, I had three thoughts:

    1. poor undergrad girls, in their search for the elusive socially competent undergrad male to date, they can’t even use the line “all the good ones are gay” :)

    2. poor deluded undergrad boys, whose misogyny is so unhip and dorky that they still use “tramp” to insult women. What’s up next? Tart? Trollop? Time to move into the 20th century, guys.

    3. If this dude can’t handle the level of skin on the UC campus, he’s going to have a heart attack in the real world (or might have to move to a country that requires burqas). My classmates and I were noticing the other day at how decidedly little skin was revealed by undergrads on campus, even in the heat.

  55. May 23, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Mort, you’re coming at this as though there is something to debate in the first place. Something even worthy of logical, thoughtful discussion. Alara (and I) don’t think it deserves that level of interaction. This is about creating a culture where yes, certain issues are not “issues,” they are absurdities and stating them in a public forum puts one is a position of public ridicule.

  56. JessSnark
    May 23, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    I agree, Chava, and you said it better than I was going to. I was going to tell Mort that his concerns about “tone” just scored me some bingo squares.

    See http://derailingfordummies.com/#angry

  57. james
    May 23, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    I’m surprised by your dismissal of some of his concerns. The classroom isn’t a public place, and if as he says people are exposing themselves and their underwear to him in it, then that’s a problem and action should be taken. He may be a jerk, but if those actions are creating a hostile environment for him then it’s sexual harrassment – however inadvertent. I suprised you lot, of all people, missed this.

  58. Mort
    May 23, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    I should mention that I work at the U of C and am involved with several advocacy groups on campus, so I’ve heard this article discussed a bunch of times. And I can tell you (though I’m sure I don’t need to) that almost every time I’ve talked to a group of people about it, at least one person’s reaction, having read the article and the comments, has been something along the lines of, “Oh, feminist/lgbtq folks get bent out of shape over everything hahaha.”

    Maybe I’m alone, but I don’t think that those sorts of dismissive reactions are inevitable. In fact, I think it is easy to avoid giving the impression that we’re too dramatic, too unreasonable, too whatever else to be taken seriously. And I find it incredible frustrating when people who are basically on my side respond poorly to these situations, and then the anger and drama of “our” response becomes the story—which frustration is only compounded by the fact that their responses are entirely unproductive to begin with.

  59. ali
    May 23, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    in response to mort and others–what would constitute a productive response in your mind? stickers that say “this insults women” are not “vitriolic” in my definition. nor were they “dramatic” or “unreasonable.” they get right to the point. unlike much of the other criticism, these stickers didn’t directly attack luke dumas, nor were they “over the top.” they were a highly visible response to the maroon’s choice to publish dumas’ piece (which is why they were placed on the cover, over “the chicago maroon.”)

    i’m curious what kind of response would be better. letters to the maroon? i think the stickers were much more effective in letting the maroon know that a response–a shift in their editorial policies–is required and desired by a lot of people who picked up that issue…not just the people who composed letters, many of which were never published.

    as to the idea the stickering response to dumas’ article “reflects poorly” on you and other feminists/queer people…i don’t think the stickers or responses are about egalitarian representation of everyone’s views. that wouldn’t fit on a sticker. how about dumas’ article reflecting poorly on uchicago?

    as a note, the stickers were not put up by femmaj, nor by q&a (queers & associates, uchicago’s queer group). they were not officially sanctioned in any way, though many people were excited to see their frustration and anger reflected so publicly.

    the implicit recommendation that the “best response” would have gone through official channels and been polite and courteous leaves the power in the hands of the people who have the choice to publish the article in the first place. why give more power to an organization i don’t believe in? or trust them to create a safe, tolerant, respectful space for debate? the stickers were a far more effective warning–to the maroon and to everyone who picked up the paper–that at least some people expect and demand more and won’t settle for sanctioned displays of misogyny.

    the irony of dumas’ article is that it uses academic language to frame this as a legit question. but the question delegitimizes certain voices…how must his “undercover skank” friend feel? i don’t want to write a letter to the maroon as an insulted, angry “feminist” or “woman” or “student” or “skank.” lots of other people who don’t identify with these categories found this article insulting, offensive, and harmful to creating a tolerant environment for real debate to occur.

    if you don’t like something, do something about it. this i have learned at uchicago, though not necessarily from my classes.

  60. May 23, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    James, if women dressing according to the college-age norm was a problem for him, he should have gone to a school with a dress code. Your comment entirely misses the cultural context around women and dress/modesty that his article is built on, where men are “preyed on” and “harassed” by women who just won’t cover. This is the same excuse fanatical religious extremists give for why women must dress in a certain fashion, be it the prayer caps and braids of the Amish, the burka of Afganistan, the abaya of Saudi, or the wigs and ankle length skirts of Orthodox Jewish women. You know what the next step in that line of thinking is? Well, she harassed me so much with her immodest clothing that I could not help but rape her.

    A man has a right to feel comfortable and be free from sexual harassment, yes. So if the “skank” were to, say, touch him with her nipples, that would be harrassment. Forgive us if we’re hesitant to accept your argument that clothing choice can constitute it when the evidence for where those claims lead is so blatantly obvious.

  61. May 23, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Mort…I refer you back to JessSnark’s squares.

  62. Donna
    May 23, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    I thought Dumas’ column was asinine, and as horribly offensive as a previous column in which he complained that the meetings of the campus LGBT organizationa and events during the campus Pride Week weren’t “gay” enough — apparently because they were supposedly dominated by lesbians, devoted too much time to discussion of “transvestite” issues, and devoted insufficient time to discussion of Cher.

    As it happens, I’m a trans woman with a gay son at the U. of Chicago who knows Mr. Dumas personally. I have it on good authority that the gentleman is nothing but a bitter asshole who revels in all the negative attention he gets for his offensive columns. What a tool.

    Donna

  63. Ginjoint
    May 23, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    Jeez, I’m sorry, Mort. Next time, I won’t be so “dramatic.” I’ll be properly polite and invite the little prick over for tea and discussion in the parlour. Heaven forfend should my anger upset anyone.

    Check out JessSnark’s link. Really.

  64. Sheelzebub
    May 23, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    Um, Mort, he called women skanks and tramps, and you lecture the posters here about tone?

    Oh, that’s rich, cupcake.

  65. Addie
    May 23, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    almost every time I’ve talked to a group of people about it, at least one person’s reaction, having read the article and the comments, has been something along the lines of, “Oh, feminist/lgbtq folks get bent out of shape over everything hahaha.”

    Maybe I’m alone, but I don’t think that those sorts of dismissive reactions are inevitable

    Sorry to disillusion you, Mort, but as you get some more experience in the world, you’ll find that dismissive reactions *are* inevitable if you take on an oppressive -ism in public.

    If you speak up loudly enough to be heard outside the little circle of people who already agree those -isms exist, are oppressive, and should be challenged, you’re going to get pushback from people who don’t want to change–or even have to think about–the status quo. And that’ll be true no matter how demurely or officially you speak.

    If you don’t want to deal with that, you should really just leave the activism to others, without getting in their way by lecturing them about their tone.

  66. Willliam
    May 25, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Whether that’s true or not, it’s surely far better if he simply doesn’t hold that sort of belief, and maybe he wouldn’t if the commenters rebutted him in a measured, reasonable way.

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the world isn’t staffed by logical people who have happen to take a different, well reasoned stance on a variety of issues based upon personal values or experience. The world is instead staffed by herds of vicious, petty, insightless people who have developed idiosyncratic views of the world to defend themselves from fears and desires of which they are only dimly aware. Sure, it would be better if the author didn’t hold this view, but that isn’t an option. A nice, civil, well reasoned discussion isn’t going to sway him because his view likely aren’t based in logic. Even if they were, it isn’t the responsibility of anyone to persuade him to not display such incredible narcissism as to criticize women for distracting him. If he wants to learn he can ask a question or read a book rather than make demands and cast accusations, until that time he can say what he pleases and the rest of us can tell him to shut the fuck up in whatever manner we can get away with.

  67. Ben
    May 26, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Hey, when I mentioned that there are good reasons women would want to cover up–how about for the reason Dumas mentioned, i.e., that men tend to notice only your body and not what you’re saying? Why is that unreasonable? Now, some will say…well, men just shouldn’t do that. Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try. But since we live on Earth and not in a utopia, I think there are good reasons women might want men looking at their faces and listening to their words.

  68. Ben
    May 26, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    In case you guys that the reason I just gave was too passively responsive to male behavior, some women–and this is a big shocker, I know–seem to want their bodies to be private, and not on public view. Regardless of the “male gaze”. Victims of the patriarchy? Or just people who disagree with you guys about what they want the outside world, men and women alike, to see?

  69. May 26, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Yanno—

    You give men like Ben an inch of hemline, and they take an abaya. And I’ve been sexually harassed–I have been groped, followed for blocks by multiple men, and verbally harrassed– in an ankle length skirt, wearing fucking hijab and long sleeves, WHILE WITH MY MOTHER, so don’t tell me men will magically pay more attention if I cover up.

  70. May 26, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    And I happen to be one of “those women” who dresses modestly, Ben. I wear a bloody headscarf to shul, for G-d’s sake. But I don’t presume to tell other women what to do with THEIR BODIES or that it is their fault when men harass them.

    You know the only way to keep your body out of “public view”? Stay home. And that, my idiotic friend, is something I am not willing to do.

    I don’t know why I’m even bothering to argue the point. Sigh.

  71. May 27, 2009 at 3:00 am

    Chava’s right. In Jordan, even women in niqab (full face-veil) get harassed. Basically, to some men, it boils down to: woman has no right to be in public space. If she has the temerity to go outside while female, she must face the consequences. Enough said.

  72. preying mantis
    May 27, 2009 at 6:28 am

    “You know the only way to keep your body out of “public view”? Stay home. And that, my idiotic friend, is something I am not willing to do.”

    It is, however, the end-game. So, uh, I guess we should get a move on with losing the next couple of rounds by modifying our behavior to comply with “reasonable demands” that we think of the poor, harassed-by-having-to-see-women men.

    “Why is that unreasonable?”

    Because there is fuck-all you can do to change someone else’s behavior? Because men who view women as an interference with their access to vagina are already extremely disinclined to pay the slightest bit of positive attention to women as people? Because harassing and dismissive behavior has jackshit to do with genuine sexual desire and is consequently not a function of how tarted-up a woman is or is not?

  73. Kristen J.
    May 27, 2009 at 6:34 am

    that men tend to notice only your body and not what you’re saying?

    Men will do what ever the hell they want. How a woman dresses does not change male behavior. The “male gaze” is about men exerting their power over women not about sex, sexuality or desire….it lacks the most important component…mutuality.

  74. Sheelzebub
    May 27, 2009 at 7:50 am

    What Chava said. I dress pretty modestly (no short skirts, nothing revealing) and I have still gotten harassed and groped. Oddly enough, I detect no moral panic about men walking around shirtless or in their speedos. Could you boys cover that up, please? It’s VERY DISTRACTING.

    And Ben, honey? If men can’t control themselves, I have a solution for them. Mainly, the guys can stay home and put on blindfolds when they do leave the house.

    Sheesh.

  75. May 27, 2009 at 8:38 am

    I’m just going to ignore Mort’s whole Clothing Police bit for a minute and go back to what James said in comment 57.

    Let’s say a girl is in a class environment that’s split about fifty-fifty between men and women, and it’s springtime. And let’s say the men are dressing in a highly sexualised way, exposing their nipples and all the rest.

    And let’s just say the girl calls sexual harassment.

    Something tells me the Luke Dumas brigade would be the first to respond with an article about how feminists think everything is sexual harassment these days and what gives her the right to dictate how men dress.

    Dumas is demonstrably using his male privilege to oppress the undercover skanks of Chicago, and anyone denying it needs to think long and hard.

  76. Ben
    May 27, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    It doesn’t seem to be so much the content of the standard that matters, as how it is actually adopted and promulgated in society. Perhaps women and men can agree to adopt a standard that entails more modesty for womens’ clothing; but what makes that sexist or not sexist is not the content of the standard, but whether or not women have some sort of say in how that standard is adopted. Of course, then we get into the problem of whether there really IS a choice. But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that different alternatives are politically possible. If that’s the case, then women can be said to have autonomously chosen a standard that does demand more modest clothing for themselves over men, but, because they’ve chosen autonomously, they have not been constrained to do so. Therefore, i see nothing inherently sexist in virtually any standard–rather, what’s sexist is the way in which those standards are adopted and promulgated through education etc.

    Going back to Dumas’s column, if men aren’t allowed to even begin a discussion about standards without being attacked personally (although I agree with many who have commented here that his column was an attack, and did use vicious language; i’m not denying that, but some here seem to think ANY man bringing up the possibility of a change in clothing standards is a priori wrong) then we’re in trouble.

  77. May 27, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    That paragraph is so remarkably involuted that it should win an award. And your assertion that women are immune from their own internalized sexism is….naive, at best.

    Ben, you clearly have no interest in even trying to listen to what we have to say, or to understand our viewpoint on the issue. So why, I beg of you, are you here?

  78. Ben
    May 27, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    “Of course, then we get into the problem of whether there really IS a choice. But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that different alternatives are politically possible.”

    Chava, that is the sentence that addresses internalized sexism. It would be helpful for this discussion for you to read what I write before commenting.

    What I’m trying to point out is that a range of attitudes is possible without being sexist. We all agree that Dumas’s column shouldn’t have been run and was offensively worded. The question is, was it just the wording, or is an discussion about having different standards for male and female modesty in clothing inherently sexist?

  79. Kristen J.
    May 27, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Perhaps women and men can agree to adopt a standard that entails more modesty for womens’ clothing

    Ben, women can be sexist too. The problem is setting any standard for non-harmful behavior. What a woman wears is no ones business but her own. Other women cannot force their “standards” onto a woman just because they share a gender identification. And your view of internalized sexism is incorrect in this context for this reason.

    “What I’m trying to point out is that a range of attitudes is possible without being sexist.”

    No, it’s not. No range of attitudes imposing a view on a woman’s behavior because of her perceived sexuality can ever be not sexist no matter who the view is imposed by.

  80. Sheelzebub
    May 27, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Um, Ben? Any “discussion” about modesty standards for men? Or do you boys all have special privilege?

    Again, if you can’t control yourselves around women in shorts and tank tops (while you lot get to roam around shirtless and in speedos to boot), I suggest you stay in the house, and only leave if wearing a blindfold and accompanied by your mother, wife, or girlfriend.

  81. Sheelzebub
    May 27, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    And yes, Ben, when men start talking about imposing standards of modesty on women and don’t open themselves up to the same sort of standards for themselves (discussed by women), it comes off as terribly entitled. And you will be raked over the coals for it.

    Jeez. I’m sick to the teeth of whinybaby boys snivelling about the way women dress. I’m not seeing any modesty on the part of men, in either dress or behavior, yet there isn’t nearly the same number of filthy, sexualized epithets flung at men. Skank, whore, slut, tramp, whatever–it’s all about women. And I don’t see nearly the same energy spent on controlling men’s behavior, nor do I see nearly the same amount of hand-wringing on the way men dress and present themselves.

    You want to have a discussion, Ben? Start discussing the rank sexism of this with other men. You want to have a discussion about imposing modesty standards on women with nary a peep about MEN’s behavior and the standards (or lack thereof) for men? Don’t go there without expecting a vitriolic response. A lot of us are sick of the double-standards and entitlement from men.

  82. May 27, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Actually, I did read your comment, Ben. And I note with amusement that not only is it my responsibility to dress so as to help you out, it is also apparently my responsibility to decode your bad writing. Nice.

  83. JessSnark
    May 27, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    What Kristen J. said. If Dumas was a woman calling other women skanks, that wouldn’t make it ok. If Dumas wrote as the representative of an assembly of all women who had gotten together to vote on acceptable clothing standards and declared any woman who don’t meet those standards to be a skank, that wouldn’t make it ok.

    Any judgment of a woman’s dress that is based on calling her a skank and demeaning her sexually is not ok.

  84. Alara Rogers
    May 27, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    The thing is that on nudist beaches, so I hear, men don’t have any trouble not staring at women’s gazongas. Whereas some Muslim men have argued that women’s *eyeballs* are too sexy and distracting.

    The more women tend to expose as a matter of course, the more men get used to it. If all women went around totally naked, men would probably start getting hot and bothered when they saw a woman wearing *clothes*. So “cover up or men won’t pay attention to your words, only your body” is actually exactly the opposite of a winning strategy.

  85. evil_fizz
    May 28, 2009 at 2:02 am

    Perhaps women and men can agree to adopt a standard that entails more modesty for womens’ clothing;

    So what are these laws about public indecency I hear so much about?

Comments are closed.