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The Dartmouth
May 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

The Laurelled Sons and Daughters

In the late 18th century, Benjamin Franklin wrote anonymous letters to his own publishing company, disguising his identity so that people would pay more attention to what he was writing than to who was writing. Adopting a similar strategy, a mysterious group of individuals have posted a series of papers across campus which describe incidents of gender injustice, signing them "the Daughters of Dartmouth." I was first formally introduced to such spokeswomen in the women's bathroom nearest to Collis. The bold writing of the poster quoted from the recent Chi Gamma Epsilon fraternity pledge T-shirts, "come as you are because running won't fix your face." I later discovered that the front of these precious items of clothing pictures a girl running, with a not-so-subtle KKG imprinted upon her buttocks. At the bottom of the poster was a witty thank you to the brothers of Chi Gam, signed with much love, "the Daughters of Dartmouth."

I greatly appreciate the poster's recognition that the T-shirts are an attack against the entire female community here, using a highly negative stereotype of a particular sorority as a vehicle for such an attack. Although I have yet to discover a context whereby blatantly making fun of eating disorders is in any way humorous, this is unfortunately not the most disturbing implication of the T-shirts.

What troubles me more than anything is that of all the subjects that could have been chosen for depiction (or glorification, as the case may be), the designers of the T-shirts chose a slanderous image and caption about Dartmouth females. Although I would like to think that the T-shirts were not designed to consciously offend women, the irrelevance of the chosen subject of derision, in addition to the unprovoked nature of the attack, urges me towards a less pleasant conclusion. Once again we are reminded of the serious gender tensions that lie simmering beneath the surface of our social scene.

The prevalence of such public incidents of disrespect and ridicule, not to mention the many similar occurrences that manage to go undetected and therefore unmentioned, begs a question: How have we risen above the regressive and inexcusable treatment of the first few classes of women at Dartmouth? Is not omitting the presence of women by singing the old version of the alma mater harkening back to the radically anti-female sentiment of the 1970s?

That there even exists a discussion of whether or not people approve of "the Daughters of Dartmouth" shocks me. These enigmatic individuals should be praised and thanked for igniting a dialogue regarding some of the recent incidents of misogyny that would otherwise slip quietly beneath our detection radars. If the "Daughters of Dartmouth" are opposing the lack of respect shown towards women in the various cited incidents, then the "Sons of Dartmouth," in their retaliation efforts, are outwardly condoning such treatment of women, and rejecting the Daughters' fundamental ideology of equality and justice.

The other day, I attended a social event at Theta Delta Chi fraternity. To the surprise of the females in the basement, the brothers were dressed in button-down shirts, smart trousers, even jackets and ties. Furthermore, the rule of the evening demanded that pong teams be composed of one male and one female. Although the brothers' efforts were partially conducted in apologetic response to the abusive treatment of Kappa Kappa Gamma sisters this past summer, that evening they made a truly favorable impression upon their basement visitors.

By dressing up and including us in their pong games, they let us know that not only did they want us to be there, but that they wanted to include us in their social activities. While this manifestation of respect and equal cohabitation of a social space should not be an isolated, noteworthy incident, the brothers of Theta Delta taught me something that night. They taught me that there is room for gradual positive change within the fraternity system. They also taught me that it is not only the women here who are upset with this meaningless and seemingly unending battle between the sexes.

Perhaps one day, hopefully soon, enough evenings of respect and equal cohabitation of social spaces will occur so that we can stop thinking of ourselves as the "Sons" versus the "Daughters of Dartmouth," and start thinking of ourselves as "the Children of Dartmouth."