Ann Arbor is a Whore

by Cat Cleary

One of my favorite parts about fall is that along with pumpkin spice lattes and ‘jeans and sweatshirt’ weather comes college football tailgating season. Forget the actual football games—I’m here for the food, friends, and school spirit. I was lucky enough to recently travel to South Bend, Indiana, to watch the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish play the University of Michigan Wolverines (go Irish!).

While I loved the food, friends, and school spirit that filled the weekend at my home away from home, I couldn’t help but be completely appalled by what many Notre Dame fans (and fans from other opposing teams) seem to think is an appropriate way to root against the Wolverines. T-shirts, signs, and cheers endorsed the phrases “Ann Arbor is a Whore” and the ever so clever “Muck Fichigan.” While some may find these phrases benign, I believe these sentiments are telling of a greater football culture that sometimes condones harassment, assault, and shame.  As my colleagues on the One Student Editorial Board have pointed out before, jokes and myths surrounding sexual assault and harassment do contribute to a culture of violence.

The negative effects of this culture on our society necessitate this discussion on language. The  truth is that college age women are 4 times more likely to be victims of sexual assault, 54% of sexual assaults are never reported to police, and approximately 2/3 of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim (RAINN). Using the degradation of women and the promotion of acts of violence as a way to rile up sports fans is not only insulting, it lacks a general sense of imagination.

Calling Ann Arbor a whore and then asking why she didn’t “get it in” isn’t clever, it’s shaming. Hearing an individual, whether male or female,  shout and endorse this sentiment doesn’t demonstrate greater pride in their sports team. Rather, this sentiment demonstrates  the amount of work still yet to be done to rid our culture of misogyny. So, opposing the University of Michigan by degrading women and promoting assault doesn’t remove gendered oppression, it ensures it. And, no, I am not taking this too seriously.

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