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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Brandeis Hookups: When guilty pleasures spin out of control

Published: March 7, 2013
Section: Opinions

“Post your raunchiest, craziest Brandeis hookup story anonymously in the link below and it will be posted on this Facebook page.” That’s the description of the latest Brandeis “community” Facebook page, “Brandeis Hookups.”

I saw the page when it first came out and paid little attention to it—it featured primarily stories of odd places where Brandeis students had hooked up. Interesting enough, but not something I personally wanted showing up on my newsfeed. To me, it was just the latest development in the Brandeis page trends, following Brandeis Compliments, Brandeis Crushes and Deis Confesh.

However, a friend of mine recently brought the page up in conversation, talking about how it has recent posts promoting sexism, body-shaming and rape culture. Interested, I again looked at the page, and was shocked to find that my friend was right.

On March 2, Brandeis Hookups made a post about a person responding to a sexual act that their partner explicitly did not enjoy. “The fact that you got sick from it and then posted on here makes me lol,” he wrote, continuing, “Hope you’re not a regular on here cuz Ima convince you to do it again. Sincerely, Not sorry in the slightest.”

Again, on March 2, a Brandeis Hookups contributor published a post criticizing a former partner’s body and encouraged her to “douche” in order to correct these perceived imperfections. The pattern recurred again on March 3: a self-described, “horny 20-year-old male,” said of women’s breasts in general, “Go big or go home.”

While I give credit to the Brandeis community for calling out many harmful posts, these were the three that stood out to me the most and none of them got very much attention. The first one talks about “convincing” a girl to do something she clearly didn’t like and was even harmful to her health (she stated in a previous post that it made her sick); not only is this disrespectful and hurtful to the girl, but many (including myself) would call it rape.

The second post is body-shaming and insulting to the female who hooked up with this person. It also advises douching, which is not only unnecessary but usually potentially dangerous and unsafe. The third post shames females who don’t have large breasts and implies that females with other body shapes shouldn’t waste their time trying to hook up with males.

On March 7, two more body-shaming stories were posted, finally eliciting criticism: “Why do they call it a WonderBra?” asked a disparaging commentator, sarcastically adding, “Thanks, For wasting my time.” And just hours later another offensive post was published: “Dear girl walking across the SCC. If you’re going to dress like a slut can you at least be somewhat attractive?” Both posts received comments from students saying the posts were disgusting or mean.

Finally, a student sent a message to Brandeis Hookups, asking, “Can we put a lid on the slut-shaming, people?”

Brandeis Hookups responded, saying the person had a “valid point.” They continued to say in a comment on the post, “We have been careful to filter posts and have been proud to say that we have prevented potentially harmful posts that could do more damage than just hurt feelings … We neither endorse nor disavow any post, merely screen it for potential negative effects and bring it to the public.”

And yet, the people who run this page approved the above posts—and let it be said, the posts mentioned above don’t even begin to cover all the problems with this page. Many of the posts address a person as a part of a group (“To the KBG girl,” “Dear Sammy Brothers,” etc.), making it easier to guess the victim. Other stories shame men as well as women, and one insulted a male for not fitting his racial stereotype.

Since Brandeis Hookups let all these posts through, it’s safe to assume they don’t consider them “harmful.” In my opinion, however, they most definitely are, and they do, in fact, have “potential negative effects.”

Regardless of whether or not these posts and stories are all real– as it is very likely at least some of them aren’t– these things are being posted on a public page for amusement and entertainment. People who have been raped are reading disgusting stories about someone being “convinced” again to perform a sexual act that causes them pain. Women with low self-esteem see the likes on a comment about how a girl has to have a certain body type, and their own negative body image is reinforced. People start to wonder things like if they should douche, or if they themselves are just like the girl who tries to dress confidently and then is shut down for not having an “attractive” body.

The effects of these kinds of posts are real, and the people running the page are doing a poor job of preventing harmful stories from getting through. I’m all for sex-positivity and having open dialogue about sexual experiences, but Brandeis Hookups is doing too much harm. Fun is fun, and fun stories are fun, but fun at the expense of others is cruel. It’s my opinion that this page should be removed from Facebook.