Much of modern, civilized society’s views on sexual misconduct and assault remains in a devastating state of casualness. This once again came to head earlier this month when a former member and continual volunteer of one of Harvard University’s secret, exclusive clubs spoke to why he felt becoming a co-ed club would not help eliminate sexual misconduct on campus.
The 225-year-old Porcellian Club has made its voice heard perhaps a half a handful of times in its longstanding history but what was recently uttered by Class of ‘82 graduate Charles M. Storey was both shocking and appalling.
Harvard University, as an organization, is pushing for gender-select clubs to open their doors to those of both genders as a way to help reduce non-consensual sexual issues.
Storey spoke with the Harvard Crimson, stating forcing clubs to become gender inclusive would actually increase the opportunities for sexual misconduct, “After all, women can’t be sexually assaulted if they aren’t there.”
When done appropriately and with the right intentions there is still a place for single-gender clubs and other organizations in today’s society.
For hundreds of years men have been privy to various forms of gentlemen only clubs and activities — with much controversy in recent years — but now female-only gyms, chat forums, restaurants and book clubs are cropping up under the ideals of equality and feminism.
There’s nothing wrong with both men and women wanting their own space to relax as a gender in solidarity and camaraderie if it does not become a substitute and manipulate an over-reaching respect between base-humans.
Guardian columnist Zoe Williams says part of the new rise in gender-exclusive space centers around networking and comfortability. The Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI), servicing the Australian state of Victoria, defends the existence of single-sex clubs as a fundamental human right on the grounds of freedom of association.
With gender-segregation needs to come proper and consistent education of gender respect and equality.
Storey blatantly suggested it would be better for both genders if woman weren’t there and did not tempt men to act inappropriately with their mere existence. Rather than hold offenders or future offenders responsible for their actions he is placing that responsibility and blame on the victims.
While some will be offended, it isn’t the end of the world if the Porcellian Club want to retain their gender-exclusive status and traditions. But the club members, as human beings, should strive to have a natural respect and larger conscientiousness to the seriousness of sexual crimes.
After Storey’s words became national news he offered an apology to those he offended, saying he takes the issue of sexual misconduct seriously and he chose his words wrongly. Even if that is the case, and he’s not just backpedaling out of necessity, those words are still out there, insinuating to real victims the fault is theirs and leading deviants to believe their actions are condonable.
Storey also argued forcing men and women to interact within the same club will increase sexual misconduct. Along that same train of thought women then should not be allowed to enter grocery stores, theatres, libraries or any other place where men can see and talk to them.
What is most important is the responsibility for sexual misconduct is always placed on the offenders and those who do not condone it must take a very clear stance. Anything less is not acceptable.
Amelia Naismith is the new reporter for the Leduc/Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer. She writes a regular column for the paper.