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Yale University and the Sexual Harrassment Case You Knew Was Coming

18 May 2011

For a number of years Yale has established itself as a university pushing the boundaries of sexual discourse and mores. In 2012 the school celebrates the ten year anniversary of Sex Week at Yale (SWAY), a conference devoted to exploration of all issues sexual. Past speakers have discussed everything from condom use to bisexuality to genital piercing to destigmatizing sex work (provided it is one’s “chosen” profession). The language of “mutuality” tends to lubricate the conversation, ethically speaking. But not entirely: a recent presentation at SWAY encouraged men to “Think of yourself as a hunter” in order to get into women’s pants.

The necessary counterpart to Yale’s licentious conference exerted itself this week as school officials banned a fraternity from campus for five years over a chant they deemed to be sexual harrassment. Delta Kappa Epsilon, the expelled organization, had included as part of October’s initiation rites the following chant in front of the Yale Women’s Center: “No means yes, yes means anal.” The misogynistic chant was followed by another about necrophilia. It was the first phrase, however, that was cited as the basis for expulsion of the fraternity from campus.  Sadomasochistic fun during SWAY week?: okay.  Sadomasochistic humor during hazing events?: not so okay.

Much as corporate capitalism requires an ever-expanding national government to stimulate and regulate it in equal measures, so Yale University’s sexual openness demands a political counterpart to baptize and chastize.  Sexual permissiveness requires increased policing, therefore it comes as no surprise that administrators orchestrated a crackdown on the first public transgression.  Delta Kappa Epsilon initiates, being libertines in the wrong way at the wrong time, will have to take the fall.

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