Harvard women’s soccer team responds to the men’s “report” on their appearance

Just because someone is educated doesn’t mean they won’t be a total asshole. The Harvard women’s soccer team responded to the “scouting report” created by 2012 male soccer players ranking the incoming freshmen that year with a numerical score based on their appearance. The list included notes, a picture, and an assigned sexual position for each female player. The scouting report was discovered last week by The Harvard Crimson, the school’s paper, on a Google listserv leftover from 2012. There’s reference in the report to previous years’ “scouting reports,” but they weren’t recoverable.

On some level, it’s almost sad that a bunch of Harvard bros couldn’t figure out how to lockdown a Google listserv, but that’s not the point here. It’s just gross that the women were ranked by the men as sexual objects and the pervy barely-adults swapped notes about how to have sex with them instead of seeing them as peers who could play soccer as well as them.

The men’s analysis included lines like, “She seems to be very strong, tall and manly so, I gave her a 3 because I felt bad. Not much needs to be said on this one folks.” There’s an entry that praises the report from the year before for being correct that one girl was the hottest and the most STD ridden. Another concludes that a female player “wants cock.”

I’d like to say that this kind of thing never happens, but it happens all the time. Sometimes, like in the case of James Madison University’s Kyle Surehan, someone’s expelled. Sometimes they’re never exposed. Do you hear that? It’s the sound of frats and athletic teams adding two step verification to their own “reports” across college campuses.

Although the 2012 men’s team wouldn’t comment on the listserv to The Crimson, the women from that year stepped up to acknowledge it in an op-ed co-authored by Brooke Dickens, Kelsey Clayman, Alika Keene, Emily Mosbacher, Lauren Varela, and Haley Washburn. Instead of staying anonymous, they decided to speak for themselves, saying they’ve seen the report in full and its existence pretty much sums up what all women have to face.

There’s the “locker room” talk aspect of it, but the idea that women’s bodies are objects for men goes far beyond athletic teams. They write that they aren’t embarrassed or pitying themselves, but say, “More than anything, we are frustrated that this is a reality that all women have faced in the past and will continue to face throughout their lives. We feel hopeless because men who are supposed to be our brothers degrade us like this.” The op-ed continues:

“We are appalled that female athletes who are told to feel empowered and proud of their abilities are so regularly reduced to a physical appearance. We are distraught that mothers having daughters almost a half century after getting equal rights have to worry about men’s entitlement to bodies that aren’t theirs. We are concerned for the future, because we know that the only way we can truly move past this culture is for the very men who perpetrate it to stop it in its tracks. Having considered members of this team our close friends for the past four years, we are beyond hurt to realize these individuals could encourage, silently observe, or participate in this kind of behavior, and for more than four years have neglected to apologize until this week.”

The women wrote that when it first came out they shrugged it off like it was a “normal” thing, and sadly it is. The headline is “Stronger Together,” and while it’s not political, they do write that they hope the report will “catalyze the cultivation of an environment and a culture that strives to lift up all of its members,” so there’s a mini nod to Hillary Clinton.

They also call on not just women, but also men to help change things. They write:

“To the men of Harvard soccer and to the men of the world, we invite you to join us, because ultimately we are all members of the same team. We are human beings and we should be treated with dignity. We want your help in combatting this. We need your help in preventing this. We cannot change the past, but we are asking you to help us now and in the future.”

So the next time some asshole sends out a link to a Google Doc to rate women based on their looks, hopefully it doesn’t get made because too many men know that’s a bullshit thing to do. That means actually standing up for women though, and apparently you can be smart and talented and still be too scared to say something. It takes guts. You can learn from the 2012 women’s soccer team about how it’s done.