The Crimson, Harvard’s daily newspaper, reported that the 2016 men’s soccer team has been suspended for the remainder of the season. This verdict comes after documents were uncovered, revealing a tradition of ranking the school’s female soccer players based on their looks and sexual appeal.
One such document entitled, “The Scouting Report,” was originally created by the men of the 2012 soccer team. In it, female soccer recruits were rated numerically and each were assigned a hypothetical sexual position.
Though this sexist tradition was thought to be an isolated 2012 incident, further investigation has revealed that this practice not only continued into the 2016 season, but was widespread amongst the members of the current team.
Perhaps most troubling, aside from the fact that this document exists, is that not one member of the team has been willing to come forward and be forthright with their involvement with the report. Perhaps men are unwilling to come forward when such language as, “She seems relatively simple and probably inexperienced sexually, so I decided missionary would be her preferred position,” exist in the document.
It seems that Harvard’s Athletics Director, Robert Scalise, also shares the team’s desire for privacy. In an attempt to sweep the issue under the rug, Scalise said, “Any reaction to the document, though, should be an internal Harvard matter. This is not a media thing.” Though Scalise chose to suspend and punish the team, by not furthering the discourse, calling for a public apology, or the taking of responsibility for wrongdoings, we all are punished.
It is this same lack of responsibility, after all, that has enabled misogynistic rhetoric to be so pervasive in society. It is this same misogynistic rhetoric that Donald Trump passes off as merely, “locker-room talk.” It is the same misogynistic rhetoric that forces me to put my head down as I walk, in hopes of not being looked at or spoken to in a way that makes me feel objectified.
Some of the women described in the 2012 document came forward and wrote an op-ed piece for The Crimson, saying they were “beyond hurt” to learn that men they considered close friends treated them in such a way — but, ultimately, not surprised.” They added, “The sad reality is that we have come to expect this kind of behavior from so many men, that it is so ‘normal’ to us we often decide it is not worth our time or effort to dwell on.” I get it.
We’re used to being sexualized, and I understand why these women do not wish to dwell on such things, but at the same time, when we don’t talk about this behavior, it’s not giving it the gravity it deserves. Sexism and the sexualization of women’s bodies has become all too normalized in our society. In order to fully move forward, I believe full responsibility must be taken.
A document that began four years ago and never lost its fire due to the continued judgement of women is finally being brought to light, at a time of particularly tense gender relations. It is a time in which sexism and misogyny has been thrust into the ultimate spotlight, the Presidential Race.
Though the teammates responsible for the hateful report won’t come forward and the women refuse to dwell on it, the fact that this story has been publicized is a step in the right direction.