WOMEN
10/31/2016 05:22 pm ET Updated Oct 31, 2016

Read The Powerful Letter Harvard Soccer Players Wrote To Their Sexist Classmates

"We will not tolerate anything less than respect for women."
Harvard Business School commencement ceremonies on May 29, 2014. 
Rick Friedman via Getty Images
Harvard Business School commencement ceremonies on May 29, 2014. 

Last week The Harvard Crimson published an unsettling article, which revealed that the 2012 Harvard men’s soccer team had created a sexually explicit “scouting report” of the women’s team. On Saturday, the 2016 women’s soccer team responded to the sexist “report” with a powerful letter. 

The nine-page “scouting report” included individual assessments of each player on the 2012 women’s soccer team ― solely based on the women’s looks. The “scouting report” featured images of each player and numerical scores for every woman based on her physical appearance. 

Choice excerpts from the report, as reported by The Harvard Crimson, include:

“She seems to be very strong, tall and manly so, I gave her a 3 because I felt bad.”

“She seems relatively simple and probably inexperienced sexually, so I decided missionary would be her preferred position.”

The response, also published by The Harvard Crimson, was written by six players from the Harvard Women’s soccer recruiting class of 2012. 

“When first notified of this ‘scouting report’ each of us responded with surprise and confusion, but ultimately brushed off the news as if it didn’t really matter,” the players wrote. “As if we weren’t surprised men had spoken of us inappropriately. As if this kind of thing was just, ‘normal.’”

The six players ― Brooke Dickens, Kelsey Clayman, Alika Keene, Emily Mosbacher, Lauren Varela and Haley Washburn ― denounced the “scouting report” as “careless, disgusting, and appalling,” describing it as “an aberrant display of misogyny” that deeply offended and hurt the women’s team. 

“We feel hopeless because men who are supposed to be our brothers degrade us like this,” they wrote. “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.”

This document attempts to pit us against one another, as if the judgment of a few men is sufficient to determine our worth. -Six players from the Harvard Women's soccer 2012 recruiting class

The teammates also spoke out against the idea that women should be pitted against each other for male attention. As the six players powerfully pointed out, a woman’s value cannot be determined by an evaluation of her looks:

We have seen the “scouting report” in its entirety. We know the fullest extent of its contents: the descriptions of our bodies, the numbers we were each assigned, and the comparison to each other and recruits in classes before us. This document attempts to pit us against one another, as if the judgment of a few men is sufficient to determine our worth. But, men, we know better than that. Eighteen years of soccer taught us that. Eighteen years ― as successful, powerful, and undeniably brilliant female athletes ― taught us that.

We know what it’s like to get knocked down. To lose a few battles. To sweat, to cry, to bleed. To fight so hard, yet no matter what we do, the game is still out of our hands. And, even still, we keep fighting; for ourselves, yes, but above all for our teammates. This document might have stung any other group of women you chose to target, but not us. We know as teammates that we rise to the occasion, that we are stronger together, and that we will not tolerate anything less than respect for women that we care for more than ourselves. 

In a powerful summation at the end of their letter, the six women addressed the 2012 men’s soccer team directly, writing: “In the words of one of us, we say together: ‘I can offer you my forgiveness, which is ― and forever will be ― the only part of me that you can ever claim as yours.’”  

Head over to The Harvard Crimson to read the rest of the powerful letter. 

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