Recently, there was an article published about the Davidson college social environment. Especially in regards to gender and racial sensitive party themes. The article used anecdotal interviews from social chairs and prominent women on campus to illustrate the debate on campus. I was asked to share my insight on the issue. No not because I have this sweet blog, or that I am a prominent on campus alpha female. no. None of those things. In my spare time off the blog I have the illustrious responsibility of coordinating my eating house parties and social events as the Connor House Social Chair. I spent a lot of time answering the questions, but much to my disapointment, my ideas and thoughts were hardly mentioned in the article.
The good thing is, I have this excellent platform Confused By Confucius by which I can post my two cents on the PCC party theme debate. See below:
What is the process that you go through to choose a party theme?
When it comes to party themes, the co-chair and I go through a tried and true process of combined fieldwork and procrastination. Step one is procrastinating in the library and coming up with themes, then we move to the fieldwork element of coming up with party themes while simultaneously attending a party. With these results, we run our ideas by our illustrious president Caroline Dallas, and then finally the frat we are cohosting with. Posters are then approved by Meg, and we have ourselves a classic Davidson court party.
2. To what degree does tradition affect the choice to use a certain
Very much so. There are certain party themes, such as toga, that are a tradition. There is an expectation among our house as well as other PCC organizations that we will be in charge of hosting that party. Other party themes such as wild wild west have traditional cohosts. Traditional parties are great, not only does it make abroad juniors jealous they aren’t there during first semester, but it also gives students a reason to work for the weekend as they reminisce about Toga parties past.
3. In deciding on a new party theme, what are some characteristics you are looking for to make it appealing?
Witty pop culture references and potentially hilarious costumes rank highly in appealing party themes. Ultimately, party themes are supposed to be fun and an opportunity to dress absurdly. Consider it Davidson’s economic stimulis package for Value Village.
5. I have heard from some social chairs of PCC organizations that there has been an effort to assure that party themes will not offend anyone. Is this true?
Yes. We never plan a party with the intention to offend.
6.What is your perspective on the significance of such measures?
From a personal standpoint that does not reflect any official position from my house, I think that technically, any party theme has the potential to offend someone. Toga party could offend a Greek, Pharoah’s Ball could offend a Jew. I think Davidson is overly sensitive to the issue of offensive party themes, and it is definitely dampening the creative spirit on the part of our social chairs. As a community I think we should be able to trust one another to dress responsibly for party themes. Social chairs should always consider the consequences of certain themes, but that the Davidson community needs to tone down the war on insensitivity.
7. Do you think that such efforts are provoking meaningful discussion on cultural or gender insensitivity?
No, in fact I think that preventing certain parties from happening, for example South of the Border, only triggers negative sentiment towards PCC leaders and prevents open, honest and positive conversation. In terms of gender insensitivity, I think there is less of an outcry. Party themes do not necessarily encourage negative gender images, it is the women on Davidson’s campus who embrace the negative connotation and dress accordingly.
9. Some professors and staff members have expressed a desire to have students be able to justify why they chose their party themes by explaining how it contributes to the image your organization desires to portray
Honestly, parties should not be made political. They are supposed to be fun. Some party themes for example, middle skewl kewl, are just ridiculous. Sometimes the justification is just, why not?
12. What type of message do you think that party themes such as “Golf Bros and Tennis Respectable Women,” “6 Figures and Gold Diggers,” “Risque Ruskie,” and “Walk of Shame Party” send to women about how they should dress and/or behave at these parties and in social life in general at Davidson?
Court parties and social life on campus should be dictated and self policed by the student body. Do those party titles sexualize women? Yes. But is there any movement on the part of the female population to change this? No. Therefore, there is no reason women should be playing the victim to these party themes. There is freedom of choice and freedom of dress on Davidson’s campus, Women are smart enough determine for ourselves what is appropriate behavior and apparel for a party without being influenced by a theme’s sexual overtone.
Beyond the topic of Party Themes and their advertisement:
Do you think that behavior at court parties and parties in residence halls or apartment buildings sexualizes women and if so do you think that this sexualization is negative or harmful?
I think the men and women on Davidson’s campus are intelligent enough to make their own choices in regards to party behavior. I also think that most of us are single in college and we reflect an overall cultural tendency that is not unique to Davidson’s campus. Yale has nudist parties, that’s a cultural outlier, dance floor makeouts, on the other hand, happen on every college campus.
As a female do you feel as empowered in social life at Davidson as you do in your academic life?
Yes. I feel that the choices I make are of my own accord. I do not feel pressured to behave a certain way nor influenced by peer behaviors. Is every choice I make right? No. But that is the beauty of college, I am going to be that much more socially equipped to handle the real world.
Do you think that women are empowered by the hookup culture at Davidson?
There is no blanket answer to this question. Some women embrace the culture of random hook ups and feel sexually empowered by the idea that every weekend night could potentially end with a new person to make out with, but some women can be really hurt by that culture. The hook up culture has the potential to really damage self esteem. Additionally, it prevents college students from learning how to have a mature relationship.
I have heard, in my interviews, both men and women say that they have friends who base their worth on whether they go back with someone to their room or take someone to their own room at the end of a night out. Do you see this also? Do you think the sentiment is equal among men and women?
If someone is basing their worth on whether they can score in the bedroom, there is something more at play than the hook up culture. This is a self esteem issue. These people are exceptions to the rule, and perhaps this issue should be further addressed to our health advisors.
Could you envision any changes in social life at Davidson that would create a more equal atmosphere for all genders?
Changes must be determined and implemented through the will of the student community. The Davidson culture cannot be mandated by an exclusive minority.
Do terms like “slut, whore, bitch, & skank” offend you? Why or why not? Do you think it is acceptable to use these terms casually in today’s world? Why or why not?
Sure, the words are offensive, and they are certainly used casually in today’s world. I consider these words demeaning, and choose not to use them especially as a woman, because it validates their usage. However, I am not going to be militant or judgmental about other people’s verbiage.