Editorial: Knockout Barstool

When college humor goes too far

By TNH Editorial Staff
On February 13, 2012

The UNH social media sphere is buzzing with surveys and event invites about a possible Barstool Blackout party at UNH. The university has not historically been particularly cooperative with Barstool, a satirical blog which recently wrote that some women "kind of deserve to be raped." We hope it remains that way.

The UNH community shouldn't give space or money to an openly sexist rape apologist in the name of a good party.  

Barstool is run by Dave "El Presidente" Portnoy, who has a consistent record of excusing rape in the name of comedy. And he's laughing all the way to the bank, putting away a small fortune from the Blackout Tour alone.

Setting aside the milder sexism of Barstool — "Guess That Ass" and "Smokeshow of the Day," for starters — Barstool is one of the Internet's worst offenders when it comes to condoning campus rape. Portnoy makes cracks like "we don't condone rape of any kind at our Blackout Parties ... however if a chick passes out that's a gray area" and "if you're a size 6 and wearing skinny jeans, you're kind of asking to get raped … I mean this guy had no choice but to teach her a lesson."

No one asks to be raped. Freshmen girls don't sit around in Stoke, doing their makeup, taking shots and talking about how they hope they get raped that night. Wearing trashy clothes, getting drunk and being generally irresponsible is not "asking for it." There's no gray area. There's no excuse.

Barstool consistently claims that this is all satire, not meant to hurt anyone — but it does. Promoting a culture of victim blaming is detrimental to both men and women. First of all, it excuses rape — portraying college rapists not as felons but as victims of animal instinct and sluttily-dressed coeds. Secondly, victim blaming makes many women internalize the idea of "asking for it."

Many women (85 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) choose to keep silent about being raped. Rapists are frequently repeat offenders; a study in the Boston area found that of 120 rapists, 63 percent were serial rapists. All those unreported rapes mean that the rapists can go on to rape again. Hilarious, right?

On the Northeastern and Boston College campuses, groups of students have gathered under the name Knockout Barstool to protest the Blackout Tour.

Boston College's student newspaper, The Heights, wrote in an editorial: "Although the First Amendment grants creeps like El Presidente the right to say that women deserve to be raped as a form of fashion advice, BC students should know better than to finance it." UNH students should know better as well.

Portnoy responded to these attacks by calling the campus protesters "lunatics'' and "ugly dykes." Aside from being offensive, that's just pretty weak sauce coming from someone who claims he's running a comedy site. Comedians' stock and trade is pushing boundaries — race, class, and yes, sex. The thing is, rape isn't about sex. It's about violence. It's about taking away a person's power over his or her own body. And it's not funny - ever.

Barstool has become a juggernaut of a certain kind of college humor and it's not going away. But we urge UNH to continue to be clear and unequivocal in not allowing any Barstool event on any university property, and we encourage students to vote with their ticket dollars and think carefully before supporting any Barstool sponsored event.

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