Last week I wrote a piece about Mark Zuckerberg’s motives in creating Facebook called Facebook: A Love Story. Aside from the fact that “The Social Network” depicted a touching story of a young man who lacked the necessary skills for fitting in with the popular crowds at Harvard, there was another part of the movie that disturbed me: the representation of girls as groupies and sexual objects for the purpose of servicing young men.
The opening scene of the movie offers us Zuckerberg’s fascination with Final Clubs at Harvard. They are his Achille’s heel, perhaps; the desire and obsession that he blindly pursues to no avail, and to his inevitable downfall. Even when his best friend Eduardo gets punched (invited) by one of the Final Clubs, Zuckerberg does his best to criticize and undermine his friend’s social success.
What is a Final Club? There are quite a few of these fraternities, but they are all-male exclusive and elitist clubs. They do not allow women to join at all, (unless they enter as sexually serviceable objects), and have only recently opened their doors to cultural diversity. These boys come from money and power and have trust funds that will carry them through life unencumbered. And because they have become independent entities no longer owned by Harvard University, they can do whatever they wish, including have sex parties, which have been known to result in sexual assaults.
The scene that really made me sick to my stomach reveals a Final Club fraternity awaiting a bus load of girls from another college to arrive for a party. A security guard leads the girls, all dolled up and pretty, into the club. And what’s inside the club? We see young men smoking cigars, loading up on the whiskey or port wine, in very glamorous and posh rooms with leather chairs and couches, flat screen TV’s, paintings, bars, and so on. The setting of this particular club reminds me of the decadence portrayed in the rich and morally decayed high society of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. In slow motion, the next scene shows us these young gentlemen lazily raising their glasses and smiling at the girls entering their private and exclusive club — the same club that refuses to allow their sex to become members. The very next clip reveals the degenerate nature of these clubs and the way these young girls offer themselves to these boys because they have money, status, and future prospects. Juxtaposed are various images of girls undressing, making out with one another in front of the hooting and hollering boys, playing strip poker in another room, and my least favorite, two girls stripped down to their panties and dancing on the table, encircled by crowded and lust-laden eyes.
There are so many problems with these scenes. One, this behavior takes place on College campus, not to mention Harvard, one of the top and elite Universities in the world. Because these final clubs have become independent of the University, they do not abide by the Student Code of Laws of the University. But I bet there are ways of nipping this on the butt. The problem is, no one wants to. What goes on in these clubs is common knowledge, but it’s “boys will be boys” mantra as usual. Which brings me to my next problem: these are young men between the ages of eighteen and twenty, and yet they already know that their power, money, and status — or at least their fathers’ money, status, and power — allow them a sense of privilege and entitlement. They can have bus loads of girls brought to their club on any given night and reduce them to strippers and prostitutes. They have no sense of moral code, no understanding of right and wrong, and while they are dressed as gentlemen, their behavior is just the opposite towards these girls. The young women will do anything for them just because they belong to a prestigious club, and they’re OK with it. The College board is OK with it. Their fathers are OK with it. And the girls are OK with it as well, which makes it even sadder for me.
These girls are College girls. Whether they are students of Harvard or from another local college, they are young women on the verge of womanhood attending college. They have aspirations, goals, ambition, and yet in one night, in four years, they are reduced to call girls whisked off to a male dominated brothel-like club in which they revert from college student to sexual object. They get drunk, take off their clothes, and have sex with boys who will not remember their faces the next day. Why? Because they’re rich? Because they’re Harvard boys? Because in the daytime, when they are all sober, these boys will never look at them or acknowledge them?
In contrast to these girls, Mark Zuckerberg wants to be popular; he wants what these girls want: to belong and be accepted by the elite members of the final club. It will make them popular and improve their self-esteem. Except Zuckerberg uses his brains and talents and creates a social network we are all using today. While the privileged gentlemen of Harvard did not know who he was, the entire world knows who Zuckerberg is. But girls use their sex – not their brains, not their talents, not their potential.
Who teaches girls that it is OK to sell themselves short in this way — to fall victim to men’s sexual desires? How do they learn these lessons in overt sexual behavior, and who tells them that this is how they have to behave to get a guy? In what High school class or College course is the instructor handing out rules for deviant sexual behavior as a means of rising above our places in society, of getting ahead, of getting A’s and promotions? Who is teaching feminism? Who is teaching empowerment and self-reliance? Who is telling girls that we live in a patriarchal world dominated by rules men created with which to bind us, control us, limit us to our biology? Who’s instructing them to keep their legs closed and their eyes and brains open? Who’s job is it to redefine the roles of women in our society — to advocate that we do not have to reduce ourselves to sexual objects to feel good about ourselves — to insist that if we use our intellect instead, our potential for growth and self-possession will drive us to the pinnacle of the kind of power that does not involve our bodies. When we use our brains and hard work to get ahead, we have what cannot be taken away from us — we have self-respect. And how can these girls look themselves in the mirror, years later when they are wives and mothers, lawyers and teachers, and say they have self-respect and self-possession, when they once got on a bus, were driven to a boys’ club, got drunk, gave lap dances to boys whose names they did not know of recall, and were gang-banged as if they were prostitutes on the corner of some bad neighborhood?
Is this what my daughter’s collegiate years will be like? What about yours?
Copyright© 2010 by Marina Delvecchio. All Rights Reserved.