Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Student Council co-hosted a campus discussion with the Genderfuck planning committee about how to make this year’s Genderfuck more successful and safe than in past years. Students voiced numerous concerns about the event, but also expressed their resolve to make this year’s Genderfuck more accurately reflect its original goals of sex-positivity and gender-bending.
StuCo Co-President Matt Lamb ’12 said the meeting was called because it “doesn’t feel like Genderfuck is fulfilling the purpose it was supposed to fulfill.” He hopes encouraging student dialogue can help get the party back on track.
Administration planning criticized
Members of the Genderfuck planning committee, MC Mazzocchi ’12, Kenneson Chen ‘14, Tania Doles ‘12 and Callie Feingold ’12 were all in attendance to answer questions about planning this year’s party.
Chen started off the meeting by responding to student questions about what structures the administration had in place for large-scale parties like Genderfuck. He said he himself was surprised to find that there were none.
“I’m fairly disgusted and fairly shocked about how Swarthmore doesn’t have those policies in place,” he said. “The administration tends to deal with these issues ad hoc.”
Feingold echoed Chen’s sentiments. She said that it was a struggle to get members of the administration to be proactive about planning Genderfuck.
“We had to drag Paury and Myrt to these meetings to say ‘look, we’re serious,’” she said. “I felt like I was going through this pleading process, which I found inappropriate and condescending.”
But Mazzocchi said a larger issue is the administration’s neglect to address sexual misconduct on campus, alleging that the administration’s tardy response to a recent incident of queer-bashing exemplified its chronic mishandling of these issues.
Students expressed frustration that Genderfuck was expected to bear the burden of educating the Swarthmore community about sexual misconduct in the absence of college-led initiatives.
“It seems a little bit absurd that one party is responsible for taking on that burden,” said Amanda Klaus ’12.
At the same time, Mazzocchi said that the administration was finally conducting rigorous staff training about sexual misconduct, and that impending changes in Title IX legislation will force the administration to take further steps to confront this issue.
But StuCo Appointments Chair Will Lawrence ’13 said that, ultimately, changing the attitude of the campus community towards sexual misconduct must involve more than administration initiatives.
“What’s really going to create a culture not amenable to sexual misconduct is a broad cultural change, irrelevant of how the administration deals with things,” he said.
“Genderfucking can be for anybody”
Despite these concerns, members of the planning committee said they were enthusiastic about the opportunity to re-brand Genderfuck as a safe, inclusive and sex-positive party. They said that they are just beginning to ramp up promotion of the event.
One student, Benjamin Schwartz ’12, asked whether the committee has come up with a replacement slogan for the party. The unofficial slogan of past years’ Genderfuck parties, “guys wear a dress, girls wear less,” has been sharply criticized for misrepresenting the core values of the party.
Chen said the committee plans to propose a new slogan in the coming weeks, and promised that “it will blow your motherboard.”
Brennan Klein ’13 suggested that the committee post a video on Facebook the week of to promote the event, a suggestion that met with wide approval.
Committee members were also excited about the broad cross-campus support that has been solicited for the event.
“DU has pledged 12 men to help with escort slash ground control, NYS has pledged not-yet-sisters and women’s rugby and women’s frisbee are contributing people as well. DART will be donating waterbottles,” Mazzocchi said, ticking off the student groups who have volunteered to assist the planning committee and PAs on the night of the party, “and we’re taking anybody,” they added.
In addition to these new helpers, Mazzocchi said there will be other important changes on the night of the event as compared with past Genderfuck parties. For example, bartenders at this year’s party will be sober, and will take a more active role in monitoring their fellow students.
“Bartenders: you have the power to tell someone to stop drinking,” said Mazzocchi. “We want to treat people like adults, but sometimes adults make big mistakes.”
There will also be a dry space in Sharples for students who prefer not to drink, and a room with a door where SMART team members can deal with emergencies. Last year, committee members said, SMART team members and PAs found it difficult to perform their jobs because they felt overwhelmed, highlighting the importance of having more people on the lookout this year.
Mazzocchi also emphasized that students who prefer not to drink should feel welcome at Genderfuck.
“You can come to Genderfuck sober and have a great time,” they said. “Because guess what, we spent a TON of money on this party. There will be awesome decorations, awesome music… this party is so much more.”
Jonah Wacholder ’13 said that he was heartened to hear that Genderfuck was reaching out to students, who, like himself, don’t drink.
“I often go to parties sober and I often feel very lonely doing so,” he said, “so I hope you take this seriously. I’m very glad, I really support that.”
Most of all, Mazzocchi stressed that this year’s Genderfuck will be about providing a safe, fun space “to see bodies you don’t normally see, or don’t know how to see.”
Despite the challenges this event may present, Mazzocchi wants and expects Swatties to live up to them.
“This is a community that says it looks out for one another,” they said. “Let’s live it.”