Shame on you, Stanford administration.
First, you impose a hard alcohol ban on campus — seemingly as a response to Brock Turner’s assertion that Men don’t rape people! Alcohol rapes people! (By the way, almost every expert who has written about this ban agrees that it will not reduce sexual assault.)
Now, you’ve “postponed” one of the most outrageously fun, silly, and uniquely Stanford traditions ever: Full Moon on the Quad.
As a freshman at Stanford in 2005, I was thrilled to experience FMOTQ — even though I was a sweet Christian girl from Iowa who had no intention of kissing anyone. Was I slightly sad that the tradition had gone from highly romantic (a rose and a kiss) to somewhat raunchy (naked people snogging as many faces as they could)? Sure.
But I also loved the experience of seeing so many different communities, each with their own set of “social norms,” gathered in one place, doing their own thing in their own way.
I loved that the event was totally inclusive — from the section that was marked as LGBTQ to the one that was marked “Hugs Only.” I loved how, both before and during the event, consent was an inextricable part of the experience.
Aside from tapping me softly on the shoulder to get my attention, no one touched me without my permission. When guys asked if they could kiss me and I said “No” or “Sure, but only on the cheek,” it was not a problem at all.
But now, you’ve “postponed” FMOTQ because, in your own words, freshmen need “time to familiarize themselves with campus social norms, to feel more confident and comfortable in social situations, and to understand what a culture of consent is all about.”
In other words, you need to protect these 18-year-old students, who have been at college for almost a month, who are old enough to smoke, vote and serve in the military… from themselves?
You need to figure out how to create a “culture of consent”… at the one Stanford event that has consent as its cornerstone?
I did some research, trying to understand what the problem could possibly be — were there reports of sexual assault and alcohol poisoning related to FMOTQ? Could the event have changed so dramatically in the six years since I graduated that FMOTQ somehow got dangerous?
Well, according to an email Greg Boardman sent to ASSU last spring,“The event has become a highly sexualized experience that has alienated as much as it has welcomed. [The administration] heard from participants who have felt apprehensive, unwelcome and even unsafe. Students feel pressured into certain kinds of behavior and to overcome anxiety, drink to excess. This regularly results in incidents of non-consensual behavior.”
FMOTQ made people feel “apprehensive, unwelcome, and even unsafe?” In what way?
Or is the issue really that some people drink alcohol before or during the event? Maybe the issue is about “female bodies and alcohol.” (You didn’t think I’d forget about that condescending, victim-blaming website you removed this summer, did you?) If that’s the problem… why not just ban all parties? People drink at those, too, you know.
Or, perhaps, you’ve bought into the anti-feminist feminist idea that women have no sexual agency because of… “power imbalances?” That women are such fragile, delicate little butterflies, that they must be protected from kissing and alcohol? That if someone asks, “Can I kiss you?” at a public event, they’re going to feel obligated to say yes because… they feel “pressured”?
But Stanford — don’t you think that’s the opposite of what you should be telling women? Shouldn’t you be telling them that it’s their body, and they are quite capable of setting personal boundaries? That if they want to attend a kissing party where they might see a rogue penis or a pair of painted boobs, they absolutely should — and that if they don’t want to, that’s fine, too?
Stanford, you have the best psychology department in the world. So you should know that people rise (and fall) to meet the expectations you set for them. If you preemptively treat them like helpless, traumatized victims, that is exactly what they will be.
I’ve discussed the news about Full Moon with feminists across the globe, sparking outrage at this patronizing and disempowering decision. As feminists, scholars, and alumni with fond memories of this cherished tradition, we say: Let women be warriors.
— Eva Glasrud, B.A. ’09, M.A. ’10
Contact Eva Glasrud at eglasrud ‘at’ gmail.com.