Lest you think that rape culture is confined to simply excellent institutions of higher education, Salon reports that Yale students pledging the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity were marched by women’s dorms marching “no means yes, yes means anal.” Salon’s Tracy Clark-Flory writes:
Now, DKE President Jordan Forney has been forced to apologize for this blatant sexual intimidation by calling it “a serious lapse in judgment by the fraternity and in very poor taste.” But this sort of hateful crap isn’t a “lapse in judgment.” It doesn’t innocently happen that you’re guiding male pledges by young women’s dorms in the dark of night chanting about anal rape. It isn’t a forehead-slapping slip-up, it’s a sign that you need major reprogramming as a human being.
UPDATE: Sociologist Michael Kimmel has a fantastic analysis of the second half of the chant:
This chant assumes that anal sex is not pleasurable for women; that if she says yes to intercourse, you have to go further to an activity that you experience as degrading to her, dominating to her, not pleasurable to her. This second chant is a necessary corollary to the first.
Thanks to feminism, women have claimed the ability to say both “no” and “yes.” Not only have women come to believe that “No Means No,” that they have a right to not be assaulted and raped, but also that they have a right to say “yes” to their own desires, their own sexual agency. Feminism enabled women to find their own sexual voice.
This is confusing to many men, who see sex not as mutual pleasuring, but about the “girl hunt,” a chase, a conquest. She says no, he breaks down her resistance. Sex is a zero-sum game. He wins if she puts out; she loses.
That women can like sex, and especially like good sex, and are capable of evaluating their partners changes the landscape. If women say “yes,” where’s the conquest, where’s the chase, where’s the pleasure? And where’s the feeling that your victory is her defeat? What if she is doing the scoring, not you?
Thus the “Yes Means Anal” part of the chant. Sex has become unsafe for men–women are agentic and evaluate our performances. So if “No Means Yes” attempts to make what is safe for women unsafe, then “Yes Means Anal” makes what is experienced as unsafe for men again safe–back in that comfort zone of conquest and victory. Back to something that is assumed could not possibly be pleasurable for her. It makes the unsafe safe–for men.
In this way, we can see the men of DKE at Yale not as a bunch of angry predators, asserting their dominance, but as a more pathetic bunch of guys who see themselves as powerless losers, trying to re-establish a sexual landscape which they feel has been thrown terribly off its axis.
For more indications that we live in a rape culture, see our posts on media coverage of a rape video game and the George Sodini murders, rapists as hyperconformists to ideal masculinity, the rape scene in Observe and Report, t-shirts endorsing sex with “drunk girls”, and, of course, the Purdue Exponent’s sex position of the week.Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Jeremiah — October 17, 2010
So I gotta wonder.... if a group of gay men were to stand outside this fraternity shouting about anal sex....
2nd thought: I'm reminded of a behavior modification meme from the 80's having to do with holding parents accountable for the actions of their children. Just thinking through the logistics of 'outing' these men via their parents: "So, Mr and Mrs Abuser, just where did you son's proclivity for anal sex come from? Family tradition?"
I'll go have my coffee now and regret this comment after my donut....
Rosemary — October 17, 2010
Ugh. That's just disgusting, and there's no justification for that level of crudeness.
conductress — October 17, 2010
I didn't realize that they were marching through the part of campus where the first year female students live. This is definitely not a lapse in judgment, and is more akin to a threat.
K — October 17, 2010
Hey ladies! Just wanted to let you know that we're the rape frat. Hope to see you all at our parties!
Jared — October 17, 2010
I attended one of the top universities in Canada up until last year, as an engineering student, and in the past it was common (and expected) for abuse like this to be done by the engineering students during orientation week. It was eventually stopped when the administration threatened to cancel engineering orientation week (including some events which had been held for decades+). Perhaps threatening to revoke their right to exist as a fraternity if they are compromising the safety of other students would knock some sense into these guys.
Dominika — October 17, 2010
Ah the elite of America....
dana — October 17, 2010
are you kidding me? did they have to face any consequences? this can't be real...what kind of men are this??? who thinks ever this is funny (or whatever it was supposed to be)? i'm completely out of my mind....they should be expelled!! at least!!! everyone of them...this just can't be true....devastating
kutsuwamushi — October 17, 2010
If we didn't live in a rape culture, this would be treated as the threat of violence that it is. The students that were involved would all be disciplined and the ringleaders would face expulsion. This is not a joke; women are raped on campuses at appalling rates.
Treating it like a poor joke just shows how far we have to go when taking rape seriously. An apology is not enough. If you go around threatening women on campus with rape--a very real threat, you shouldn't be on campus anymore, full stop.
A — October 17, 2010
It's interesting that you didn't mention something I've seen elsewhere, that this is an elite frat (Bush was a member) whose members will go on to positions of power and influence. They are spoiled and get away with shit and this is no different.
Also, it seems the university is not only ignoring the threat against the female students, it is ignoring the threat against its male students that is hazing. Hazing lands people in jail, the hospital, and the morgue and should not be ignored either.
More people need to talk about both of these issues. Don't shut up about it. Maybe some day these two cultures will die.
Megan — October 17, 2010
this is so horrifying.
T — October 17, 2010
I agree with everything above which expresses how disgusting this episode is... however, the term "rape culture" really bothers me. I mean that in a very specific way. It suggests something very black and white -- and the phrase seems to implicate *everyone* in it. This is a bit odd to me.
Now, I agree with folks above that these students (and their organization) were not met with an appropriate level of discipline by the college administration. HOWEVER, they weren't met with approbation and praise by anyone! From a cynical point of view, one can say that the fraternity was only forced to apologize begrudgingly. Yes, I'm sure that's true... But WHY were they required to apologize at all?!
If we truly lived in a "rape culture" then this episode wouldn't have even cause anyone to bat an eyelash. But it did. The surrounding culture reacted appropriately to these frat boys. The men should never have thought this was OK. And the official disciplinary actions should have been far more severe. But does this describe a "rape culture"?
OK -- so I'll clarify. I'm talking about the term "rape culture." It strikes me as unnecessarily provocative -- belying any social nuance. It's an all or nothing, binary description. It doesn't provide for the ability to improve... If X is allowed to occur, then it's because we are living in an "X Culture." In other words, at what point would we *not* live in a rape culture? Do we have to have no one that finds X acceptable? (Is that even possible? There are folks in this country that believe the earth is flat and human domesticated dinosaurs.)
David — October 17, 2010
You sound hysterical. If this is a "rape culture", what would South Africa be? Get a grip. Stridency is such a put off.
pg — October 17, 2010
I am surprised more people aren't twigging to how this is a direct mockery of "Take Back the Night" anti-rape/anti-male-on-female violence marches. These are organized by college women, they march around campus at night chanting slogans like "Yes mean yes/No means no/Whatever we wear/Wherever we go."
I have attended such marches where men stood on the sidewalks and watched, yelling comments about women marchers' bodies and other threats and insults. This incident at Yale is a direct backlash to the TBtN marches, meant to intimidate women and let them know they are not safe.
Wred — October 17, 2010
I kind of also wonder about what kind of guys these pledges were beforehand. Let's say that, for a thought experiment, at least some of these guys were anti-rape beforehand, or at least weren't pro-rape. What does it say about the culture of elite colleges, if not America entire, that some pledges would consider chanting pro-rape slogans worth it for the benefits of joining the frat? More evidence at people's willingness to sacrifice women's rights and bodies for male power, and forcing elite men into a hypermasculinist, misogynist mold.
At least Skull and Bones just pee on each other, amirite? (Citation: The Good Shepherd)
figleaf — October 17, 2010
There's also the little paradox that
a) regardless of actual biological horniness men are indoctrinated to believe that sex is a way of "scoring" self-worth, but also
b) in order for those scores to be "impartial" they have to be hard-won from women who are somewhere on a continuum that includes wary, exasperated, and outraged but never autonomously interested in sex for its own sake.
Inside that self-worth mentality "yes means yes" and women with autonomous interest in sex are catastrophes. Things like this stupid little parade of boys helps to make "conquests" difficult where they might have been more convivial but less "easy."
Pretty frustrating no matter how you look at it.
Nicola Stratford — October 17, 2010
Our future leaders? Heaven help us all. Lawyers, judges, senators ... fathers! Everyone of them should ask what they would really, truly, in the depths of their hearts, think and feel if their sisters, mothers, daughters, cousins, nieces were standing by that roadside, listening to that vitriol.
Time for everyone to realise that every woman who is sexually assaulted or raped (the act achieved by fear, force or fraud) is related to us all in some way.
Pauline — October 17, 2010
To be honest, if I had been one of those girls in those dorms I would have been terrified. A mob mentality is dangerous. A mob mentality shouting that they're going to rape you? Absolutely terrifying. I can't even listen to that video without being horrified.
I am so glad I do not live in the United States. What a horrible school for this to be brushed off as 'a bad joke'. Had I been at that school, I would have been gone by morning.
It's simply terrifying.
Anna-Lena — October 18, 2010
If anyone is interested in actually finding out more about the causes and the worrying effects of actions like these, then the work of the anthropologist Peggy Reeves Sanday is fascinating and scary, specifically 'Fraternity Gang Rape' written in the 80's but obviously still relevant. As to Ben who claimed that the US does not have a rape culture as there is no culture that does not have rape then he should check out Ms Sanday's more recent book 'Women at the centre' about such a culture, where rape is unthinkable. I'm so sickened that something like this can happen at a center of learning and a symbol of the future.
KH — October 18, 2010
it's kind of interesting to see that no one seems to remember what college frats are like. it's pledging season....meaning that right now pledges at colleges all over the country are being told to do things they might not want to do....it's clear in the video that some or most of those guys aren't doing it by choice when someone shouts out "louder." the fact that the pledges were shouting this means nothing. the fact that they were made to does. i'm not saying that it's right or even ok to go around shouting stuff like this...i'm just saying that it's not like a group of people got together and said, "what should we do tonight? oh, i know...we all like raping people, let's go scare the first year girls by shouting about it." once again, they shouldn't have been made to do it and they could've said no, but to a lot of people, getting into a frat is an important milestone in life..
Nicola Stratford — October 18, 2010
Here're the Peggy Reeve Sanday books mentioned earlier.
Fraternity Gang Rape: Sex, Brotherhood and Privilege on Campus -- http://www.amazon.com/Fraternity-Gang-Rape-Brotherhood-Privilege/dp/0814740383/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1287441309&sr=8-2
Women at the Centre: Life in a modern matriarchy -- http://www.amazon.com/Women-Center-Life-Modern-Matriarchy/dp/0801489067/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1287441309&sr=8-1
Captain Pasty — October 19, 2010
Last year at the Auckland Uni Drinking Horn, the dude with the microphone who was running the event pulled off the final round because he couldn't get the female students to show their breasts.
I wasn't at the event at the time since I didn't have lectures that day, but from what I heard there was an entire quad filled with semi-drunk dudes shouting at the girls to take their shirts off. And when they refused, the whole thing was cancelled.
chickadee — October 19, 2010
No means no, yes means yes, this chant means a face full of bear repellent.
Leah — October 19, 2010
Perhaps the girls should march by the fellows' dorms chanting 'no means no, and rape means prison'. >:|
SaintPeter — October 19, 2010
I'm not sure that this analysis takes into account the context of the activity. I am in no way excusing their behavior, but here are some key things that have not been mentioned:
1) Part of "pledging" to a frat is about building bonds between the potential new members and the rest of the frat. One common way to build these bonds is to undergo a shared, extreme experience. For example, street gangs will initiate new members by "jumping them in" or by forcing them to participate in the commission of a crime. This shared bad experience forms a common experience amongst members.
2) The act of forcing the pledges to use the chant is precisely because it is condemned by society. The leaders are asking their pledges to "break the rules of society", in public. Their intention is to be, in the original sense, outrageous - they deliberately force their pledges to take action that will cause outrage. This weeds out people who are unwilling to put the directives of the frat above their own sense of right and wrong.
3) They secondarily parody and/or mock the "Take Back the night" marchers. I see that as a mocking response to the (unstated) implication that all men are potentially rapists. As others have stated above, I seriously doubt that many of the pledges are intending or threatening to rape, nor would they commit or participate in a rape.
As I say, this doesn't excuse their behavior, and I do believe they should be punished for it, but it does explain it.
Links of Great Interest: WisCon Finally Makes Decision | The Hathor Legacy — October 22, 2010
[...] down the frat chant: No means YES, YES means [...]
KaiserSouzai — October 22, 2010
I find this article appalling.
The typical heteronormative presumption that these guys are talking about women is just as bad as the presumed advocacy for anal rape. Just because DKE are a bunch of proud gay guys doesn't mean they're evil.
John — October 26, 2010
I think its incredibly funny! Go Yale! You can do me up the nostril anytime!
Alice — November 1, 2010
I'm from the UK, so I don't really know much about US higher education or the fraternity system, but from what I understand the whole point of pledging to a fraternity is to be humiliated and/or have pain inflicted on you as the 'price' to join said fraternity, correct?
So these guys were blindfolded (looks like they're also partially naked in the video?) and marched through the streets chanting about rape and how much they love necrophilia. And if the point is to embarrass the pledges, wouldn't that therefore be a direct indictment of these statements on the part of the fraternity? "Right, we want to make these guys look like total dicks. What shall we have them yell?"
Not that what they did was anything but unacceptable, but I do think some of the responses here are way, way off the mark. It's like that thing a while back when kids were branded "racist" for not liking Indian food - they're not prejudiced, just stupid.
Jon Doe — November 3, 2010
Holy over-analysis of stupid frat pranks Batman!
Fraternity4lifentYaleDKE — January 10, 2011
I think that the entire situation has been grossly overblown. The only infringement is the fact that people were disturbed while trying to sleep. I know plenty of women that like anal sex, so the femminist that think its about men having power, your wrong. Remeber that next time you get curious.
grumio — January 12, 2011
Purposeless idiots looking for a demon that does not exist. The DEKE boys chanted funny slogans that scared fat chicks that aren't getting any voluntary or involuntary action. They are empowered to remove fun from the system by taking a boyish chant way way out of context. It is the DEKES getting raped here. By the bitter ones who are sad the chants will never be directed at them....
Wes — March 3, 2011
It is a prank by university students. It is not a call to arms, or arses for that matter.
Wut — March 28, 2011
I don't get it. They want it in the butt?
Reed — April 7, 2011
You know, I've made jokes about shit like that around guy friends before, but I didn't know there were people(in the western world at least) who actually would believe in this? This is childish barbarism. I wonder how in the hell those guys got into Yale... Hopefully, it was just a prank, but it doesn't seem to be, unfortunately.
About the "What if gay guys chanted that sort of thing?" Although I think most people weren't serious about that, but I do think that it may have been meant as something similar to show them empathy. This wouldn't matter if they were sexists though, because they believe they have special rights as men.
Otend — April 17, 2011
And all this time, nobody realizes that it's a joke from Madworld.
Girish — May 4, 2011
This is such an awful act by those students. Fraternities are a joke. I'm glad there aren't many fraternities in my country and they would never stoop to this level anyway. And the university ahould have expelled these shitheads, at the very least.
Imagine how horrifying it would have been for the girls who were in the dorm rooms. How can people be this cruel?!!
What if they were your sisters who were there! I'm a 21 year old guy & the only sibling I had died long ago. I hate the fact that girls are being objectified everywhere, in the movies, in the advertisements, in video games, etc.
How would these stupid guys who organized this, feel if in the future, the guys from their own fraternity (younger students) rape their child or wife?! Wouldn't it be devastating, would not their world crumble around them! Why do people not think about the implications it could have in the future, for their actions today!!
Pierre — May 17, 2011
I think your sociologist is reading far too deeply into the "yes means anal" part by ascribing far too much forethought to these dopes. They were just a bunch of idiot fratboys out to score some shock value points, in a world where shock value is increasingly hard to come by.
James Dicks — May 26, 2011
Who cares.. broads need to give up the anal from time to time (once a month).
Fighting rape culture at Yale makes women unworthy to be Navy SEALs, apparently | Talkin' Reckless — May 31, 2011
[...] by 16 Yale students and recent alumni arguing that the rape culture at Yale (as demonstrated by recent events) constitutes a violation of Title IX. But her attempt to use this example to demonstrate how women [...]
Hysteria as Blogging and Creating Feminist Theory | The Hysteria Blog — December 3, 2011
[...] This week, I’ve re-absorbed myself in Dora. Another kept figure Freud played mind games with. The thought I constantly return to: Dora’s case is a failed experiment. She never completed treatment, which made his findings inaccurate. How could Dora’s behavior be the definition of hysteria when the research is a failure? Dora’s repressed “No signified the desired yes,” writes Freud. She says no when she really means yes. Ah, yes. The phrase uttered by rapists everywhere. She said no, but she meant yes. [...]
Florian Enders — April 27, 2012
I was reading the comments here on how a culture that allows jokes about rape is a "rape culture" and why that is bad, when I realize the same culture thinks kneeing a guy in the nuts which is a sexual assault and can lead to infertility and death is also considered a joke. Even completely unprovoked attacks of that kind. There are even jokes about death. So why single out rape jokes as something awful and ignore the rest of black humor.
Because that is what those guys probably thought: "It is just black humor." Did society really became so oversensitive that things which are CLEARLY meant as jokes should be punished.
There are T-shirts imprinted with "Boys are stupid ... throw stones at them." Is that a threat? Or just poor taste? Or justified "revenge for bullying" as a faculty member of a university sees it?
Yes Means Anal | HONR 100C: Sexuality in Southern Literature — October 9, 2012
[...] Their chant took away from the seriousness of rape and the importance of consent for any action. This article includes analysis about the chant, discussing the demoralization of women, sex and insensitivity [...]
Yes Means Yes | End Rape Culture — November 15, 2012
[...] the tasteless fad of promoting “No Means Yes”, a phrase that was made public by the Yale fraternity chanting of “No Means Yes, Yes Means Anal”. Scary, [...]
“Women just need to learn to say no.” | Brute Reason — November 16, 2012
[...] told him many times that she’s not looking for one. Think of that Yale fraternity’s infamous chant, “No means yes, yes means anal.” Think of pickup artist (PUA) subculture, which [...]
bastet — July 14, 2013
The point seems to be lost on many commenters who are defending these guys under the labels 'fraternity', 'hazing', 'bonding ritual', 'they didnt mean it', 'theyre just kids discovering sex and booze' ...
The point is:
1 in 4 women and girls are raped
The listeners are girls discovering sex and booze
No amount of 'not meaning it' will stop survivors re-experiencing PTSD
Lack of safety whether real or implied teaches fear
Lack of safety whether real or implied hinders the girls ability to learn due to fear
Not expelling the boys for threats sends a message that rape doesnt matter
Not expelling the boys sends the message that girls safety doesnt matter
Threats of brutality and harm are NOT freedom of speech
Timothy Matias — December 6, 2013
This article could have been good, until it started BLATANTLY LYING. "It doesn’t innocently happen that you’re guiding male pledges by young
women’s dorms in the dark of night chanting about anal rape."
now, let's review what they said: "no means yes, yes means anal". So, they say it's ONLY anal if they say "yes", which is by definition NOT RAPE!
On Vine stars and rape culture | Randall Unfiltered — June 29, 2015
[…] the same generation to which Yale’s Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity belongs, those of the “No means yes, yes means anal!” […]