Students Fired Up About Reforming Genderfuck

Student Council co-hosted a campus discussion with the Genderfuck planning committee about how to make this year’s Genderfuck more successful and safe than in past years. Students voiced numerous concerns about the event, but also expressed their resolve to make this year’s Genderfuck more accurately reflect its original goals of sex-positivity and gender-bending.

StuCo Co-President Matt Lamb ’12 said the meeting was called because it “doesn’t feel like Genderfuck is fulfilling the purpose it was supposed to fulfill.” He hopes encouraging student dialogue can help get the party back on track.

Administration planning criticized

Members of the Genderfuck planning committee, MC Mazzocchi ’12, Kenneson Chen ‘14, Tania Doles ‘12 and Callie Feingold ’12 were all in attendance to answer questions about planning this year’s party.

Chen started off the meeting by responding to student questions about what structures the administration had in place for large-scale parties like Genderfuck. He said he himself was surprised to find that there were none.

“I’m fairly disgusted and fairly shocked about how Swarthmore doesn’t have those policies in place,” he said. “The administration tends to deal with these issues ad hoc.”

Feingold echoed Chen’s sentiments. She said that it was a struggle to get members of the administration to be proactive about planning Genderfuck.

“We had to drag Paury and Myrt to these meetings to say ‘look, we’re serious,’” she said. “I felt like I was going through this pleading process, which I found inappropriate and condescending.”

But Mazzocchi said a larger issue is the administration’s neglect to address sexual misconduct on campus, alleging that the administration’s tardy response to a recent incident of queer-bashing exemplified its chronic mishandling of these issues.

Students expressed frustration that Genderfuck was expected to bear the burden of educating the Swarthmore community about sexual misconduct in the absence of college-led initiatives.

“It seems a little bit absurd that one party is responsible for taking on that burden,” said Amanda Klaus ’12.

At the same time, Mazzocchi said that the administration was finally conducting rigorous staff training about sexual misconduct, and that impending changes in Title IX legislation will force the administration to take further steps to confront this issue.

But StuCo Appointments Chair Will Lawrence ’13 said that, ultimately, changing the attitude of the campus community towards sexual misconduct must involve more than administration initiatives.

“What’s really going to create a culture not amenable to sexual misconduct is a broad cultural change, irrelevant of how the administration deals with things,” he said.

“Genderfucking can be for anybody”

Despite these concerns, members of the planning committee said they were enthusiastic about the opportunity to re-brand Genderfuck as a safe, inclusive and sex-positive party. They said that they are just beginning to ramp up promotion of the event.

One student, Benjamin Schwartz ’12, asked whether the committee has come up with a replacement slogan for the party. The unofficial slogan of past years’ Genderfuck parties, “guys wear a dress, girls wear less,” has been sharply criticized for misrepresenting the core values of the party.

Chen said the committee plans to propose a new slogan in the coming weeks, and promised that “it will blow your motherboard.”

Brennan Klein ’13 suggested that the committee post a video on Facebook the week of to promote the event, a suggestion that met with wide approval.

Committee members were also excited about the broad cross-campus support that has been solicited for the event.

“DU has pledged 12 men to help with escort slash ground control, NYS has pledged not-yet-sisters and women’s rugby and women’s frisbee are contributing people as well. DART will be donating waterbottles,” Mazzocchi said, ticking off the student groups who have volunteered to assist the planning committee and PAs on the night of the party, “and we’re taking anybody,” they added.

In addition to these new helpers, Mazzocchi said there will be other important changes on the night of the event as compared with past Genderfuck parties. For example, bartenders at this year’s party will be sober, and will take a more active role in monitoring their fellow students.

“Bartenders: you have the power to tell someone to stop drinking,” said Mazzocchi. “We want to treat people like adults, but sometimes adults make big mistakes.”

There will also be a dry space in Sharples for students who prefer not to drink, and a room with a door where SMART team members can deal with emergencies. Last year, committee members said, SMART team members and PAs found it difficult to perform their jobs because they felt overwhelmed, highlighting the importance of having more people on the lookout this year.

Mazzocchi also emphasized that students who prefer not to drink should feel welcome at Genderfuck.

“You can come to Genderfuck sober and have a great time,” they said. “Because guess what, we spent a TON of money on this party. There will be awesome decorations, awesome music… this party is so much more.”

Jonah Wacholder ’13 said that he was heartened to hear that Genderfuck was reaching out to students, who, like himself, don’t drink.

“I often go to parties sober and I often feel very lonely doing so,” he said, “so I hope you take this seriously. I’m very glad, I really support that.”

Most of all, Mazzocchi stressed that this year’s Genderfuck will be about providing a safe, fun space “to see bodies you don’t normally see, or don’t know how to see.”

Despite the challenges this event may present, Mazzocchi wants and expects Swatties to live up to them.

“This is a community that says it looks out for one another,” they said. “Let’s live it.”


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19 comments

  1. 0
    Harry Apostoleris says:

    Dear ‘Al Bloom,’

    I have no reason to think you’re a rapist. But I do think you’re wrong.

    I think you’re justified in being irritated with the intellectualized, workshops-for-everything approach that we have to sensitive issues around here. But you’re wrong to pick this issue to complain about. We’re not talking about requiring workshops or making the party dry: we’re talking about letting bartenders refuse to serve people who are already extremely drunk and having observers who can step in if they see someone being assaulted. If that much restriction cramps your style, maybe it’s time to rethink your style.

    We do have a problem with rape and sexual assault on this campus. It may not be happening everywhere, all the time, but even one rape is one rape too many (as Vienna pointed out), and the student community at large has been pretty bad at standing up against it. That has to change.

    So, ‘Al Bloom,’ here’s some food for thought. I’m assuming that you’re a man. So am I. Men are the ones who do most of the raping in this world. That gives the rest of us, who aren’t rapists, that much more responsibility to oppose it. The fact is, whining about the “fun police” stopping you from “getting horny” with women who are “supposed to wear lingerie” (that’s not the dress code, anyway) does make you sound just a little bit like a rapist. So instead of treating it like an inconvenience for you, try considering the bigger picture and taking a minute to speak out against rape. That’s what real men do.

  2. 0
    Recent Alum says:

    To Al Bloom: My sophomore year, two of my close friends were sexually assaulted by a Swattie at Swat. Nobody saw it coming. I wish with all my heart that I was still as naive as you obviously are.

    To MC: Thank you for treating such a disrespectful comment with so much grace. I loved my time at Swarthmore, but the administration’s policy for dealing with both victims and accused perpetrators of sexual assault is unacceptable. I hope you continue working to help them come up with a better solution. (Posting Cleary reports in a way that is easily visible would be a great step.)

    1. 0
      semantics says:

      Rape apologism is shitty and horrible and makes people feel unsafe, but it’s not rape. Please don’t call a rape apologist a rapist. It’s not true and it’s not productive.

      I do completely agree that “Al Bloom” said really hurtful and unacceptable and scary things, but words are not rape.

  3. 0
    Huzilla says:

    “We had to drag Paury and Myrt to these meetings to say ‘look, we’re serious,’” she said. “I felt like I was going through this pleading process, which I found inappropriate and condescending.”

    Just my opinion, but Paury and Myrt don’t strike me as people who would need to be dragged to these meetings. I think we can be nicer or provide some more concrete information.

    1. 0
      in attendance says:

      as someone who attended last week’s meeting, i believe it is important to clarify that this article misrepresented the genderfuck planning committee’s sentiment toward the administration, specifically toward paury flowers and myrt westphal. the committee has a strong working relationship with both administrators, and feels grateful for the support they have provided. at the meeting, frustrations were expressed regarding the lack of institutional memory for social events and student-led functions on this campus. all students who attended the meeting with myrt and paury would agree that neither administrator seemed like she had been “dragged” into the conversation: this comment was made in reference to the fact that administrators have been unnecessarily involved (and have sacrificed their personal time on week nights to attend meetings with students) in the early stages of planning due to the fact that there is no “model” or “protocol” or “designated amount of money” for organizing this event.

  4. 0
    Vienna says:

    “Al Bloom”-

    I’m not sure why you feel the need to be so dismissive of the measures that are being taken to address the sexual misconduct and unsafe behavior that have occurred at this and other Swat parties in the past. I think that the planning committee should be commended for its responsibility rather than derided as “fun police”. I’m interested in hearing what you want done about the problems that have occurred in the past (see: DG articles, earlier this semester).

    “I hope everyone’s happy because sooner or later we’re all probably going to have to go through “consent workshops” in order to combat the clearly vast, horrendous amounts of sexual harrasment and rape happening on this campus.”

    I also don’t understand what’s so ludicrous with “consent workshops.” I think that enthusiastic, active consent is absolutely essential, and I would hope that most people feel the same way. If we need to have facilitated discussions to get on the same page and to make it clear that getting consent is important, then we should be having them.

    Just because you (presumably) don’t see sexual harassment and rape around doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen, and ANY amount of rape is a horrendous amount. As much as I’d like to believe that everyone at Swat is always behaving well, that’s just not the case, and as MC discussed, repercussions for misconduct have been slow and pretty mild.

    I hope that you’re willing to engage in a conversation about your perspective on this issue. To quote Will Lawrence (from this article): “What’s really going to create a culture not amenable to sexual misconduct is a broad cultural change, irrelevant of how the administration deals with things.”

  5. 0
    Al Bloom says:

    Seriously guys? Only at Swarthmore would we have students “fired-up” about the school needing more people to cut off party-goer’s alcohol supply and post “trained” workers around the room to make sure that no one gets too horny during a party where people are supposed to wear lingerie. MC has been fighting to have the mic on this issue for four years and somehow, someone finally gave it to her. I hope everyone’s happy because sooner or later we’re all probably going to have to go through “consent workshops” in order to combat the clearly vast, horrendous amounts of sexual harrasment and rape happening on this campus. I mean, seriously though, its like ever time you walk into either Phi Psi or DU all you see are girls fending off sexual attacks from out-of-control males. Am I right or am I right? Thanks for making your job as Swarthmore College Fun Police even more powerful, MC, ’cause god knows we need it.

    1. 0
      Scorn Larson says:

      Can I just say that it’s kind of ridiculous that this (hateful) comment has, at the moment, 43 thumbs down and 4 thumbs up and it still says “Hot debate” on the bottom? I think we can pretty confidently claim public censure here.

    2. 0
      Shame on you. says:

      This is a hateful attack. I would suggest this comment be taken down as a clear diatribe against one individual, but as MC graciously pointed out, this comment is useful in that it illustrates just how far we still have to come at this school.

    3. 0
      MC says:

      I just want to let you know that I’m actually really sincerely appreciative you left this comment.

      This deeply insightful analysis is the greatest rebuttal to everyone who thinks, willfully or simply through ignorance, that Swat is a safe place for survivors.

      Thanks for turning up the volume on my mic.

      xoxoxoxoxo

      PS: You might want to work on the misgendering thing.

      1. 0
        untrue says:

        in terms of rebutting false senses of security, i dont think that comment in any way means that survivors are unsafe at swarthmore. if anything, i think it just means youre unsafe at swarthmore. al bloom doesn’t seem to like red tape between him and his party.

        1. 0
          Scorn Larson says:

          @Untrue
          Actively/sarcastically denying that there are problems with sexual assault on campus is participation/enabling of a rape apologist culture. The most common form of rape apologism is not “hey, I think rape is okay sometimes,” but is when rape (or fears of rape) are trivialized much in the way that Bloom did. This makes people feel unsafe for obvious reasons. I am not going to get into the debate of whether this is the same as rape (as Less Than Generous claims), but this is probably what MC meant.

        2. 0
          untrue says:

          exactly my point. all this person has done is COMPLAINED about these different party measures. how can you possibly accuse a fellow student of being a rapist/rape apologist solely from a single comment? that is crazy. just because someone doesn’t like the idea of going to more workshops does NOT mean that they are a rapist or rape apologist. just because someone disagrees with you on this topic does not mean that they automatically trying to make you feel unsafe. its a douchey comment by al bloom, but you can’t just make things up (such as claiming that al bloom’s comment proves our campus is unsafe, or even more crazily that that person is a rapist/rape apologist) just to support your narrative. i know for me personally i have never experienced any sort of rape culture at swarthmore so i think the tone of al’s comment seems to imply that this person also hasn’t experienced any of this and feels like the school (and MC) are encroaching on his/her social life.

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