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Carol Muske-Dukes Headshot

The Rules According to a Fraternity "Cocksman"

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Read and weep or laugh, shake your head -- but be warned. If you dismiss this frat email as a joke or more of the "acceptable" "just being guys" open season on women -- you are missing that drone in the sky. We remain so inured to this kind of jollied-up predator mentality that we stop seeing and hearing it. Whether the sound of loathing emanates from a club, fraternity, the washrooms of senates or courtrooms or corporate boardrooms or belief systems or in the media -- the rhetoric leads to one dark place, one dangerous zone: the denial of the dignity and rights of women, and the sanctioning of that denial. We've been talking about the War Against Women being waged by the Republican Party and the Tea Blogs and Right to Lifers here in the U.S. -- and by the shock troops of misogyny worldwide -- yet here in our backyard, or rather, on fraternity row at USC, my school, (as on other campuses) -- the war escalates in language designed to puff up a (obviously limp) "cocksman" and to shoot the "target" on sight.

This email was obviously meant only for the eyes of frat fellows, but was inadvertently leaked to other readers. The campus newspaper has run a rather lame accounting of the e-letter and its effect -- generating online boilerplate -- with some defending the letter, some isolating the writer as an aberration, others registering shock.
Jezebel has run the text of the letter -- and brave students and young women on campus have authenticated the source of the email -- name, rank and frat "number."

Young women, the self-styled cocksman says, are "targets," they are not "people." They are body parts. This deflated rubber-swordsman with his sniggering small-time imitation of a currently popular blabbing seducer is in the "delusions of power" business, not the sex advice business. Misogyny is about the desire to destroy and devalue what is most feared. If women are targets or "pie" or "gullet" -- this writer is a wad of wankery, tacky ejaculate, unwittingly revealing what makes him screech and wee wee. He's scared of the sisterhood, he's scared of Mommy, he's scared of the power of women and he just can't stop trying to pull himself up on nanny's knee making farting noises. Look at me, girls, I wet the bed again!

Too bad this pathetic rant is so sadly familiar that we look away, embarrassed. Because what should finally set off the alarms is this: There are young women on campuses everywhere, headed to frat parties where the difference between "sexual assault" and "consensual sex" is being parsed for "brothers" by clubroom minds as festering and obsessed as this one. Harm to these young women is being calculated -- how much dehumanizing damage can be inflicted and gotten away with -- cheered on by fellow "cocksmen"?

I love teaching at USC -- I teach young writers, students who are sensitive and enlightened, talented, wildly gifted. They seem the antidote to this creep chatter. Their writing, their insights are light years away from this chummy scum. Yet the big majority, the caring and decent students on campus would not be surprised by this letter -- because this is a sick missive sent round the world daily in all of its hate-mail forms. It is sanctioned by the offensive against women everywhere the war is being fought. Step beyond fraternity row, folks -- make that Planet Earth.

Read the email here.