Mistakes are bigger in Texas too

ALEXIS PRICE | adprice1@butler.edu | Opinion Columnist

The Phi Delta Theta fraternity at Texas Tech University displayed a “No Means Yes, Yes Means Anal” banner at an unauthorized social event.

News of the banner quickly spread via social media. As a result, the Texas Tech chapter of the fraternity was put in escrow last week by the fraternity’s national office.

The “No Means Yes” banner was placed near a display of a woman’s genitals around a sprinkler, according to the Huffington Post.

The national office investigated the incident after photos leaked online, and it announced that the Texas Tech chapter would remove members involved in the incident.

The fraternity is now required to “perform 10,000 hours of community service to organizations dedicated to rape crisis and sexual assault prevention,” according to the article.

The banner and accompanying posters makes us question the line between good humor and poor taste. The line is often thin and obscure, located between morals and ethics.

Let’s face it: Society, particularly the younger demographic, frequently makes derogatory sex jokes. For example, some consider “That’s what she said” to be a demeaning phrase, similar to the banner at Texas Tech.

I think these sorts of jokes will continue to be humorous within the context of our own groups of friends or family.

What the fraternity did in this situation, however, crossed the fine line.

I’ve heard a “No Means Yes” joke before. I laughed. I’ll admit it. But displayed across a banner for the public, accompanied by a “vagina sprinkler,” as one student called it, is a joke taken too far.

As a woman, I am not necessarily offended by the poster. But I am offended by the use of the image and sprinkler, especially since it was on display for a large audience.

Freshman Caysi Johnson said sexual misconduct is never OK. However, she also said assessing humorous language depends on who it is addressed to and the context behind the words.

“The bigger the audience, the more offensive it is,” Johnson said. “I don’t want to sound insensitive—But honestly, almost everybody jokes about (sex)—it is our time period. We make light of things that people usually don’t like talking about.”

I agree with Johnson. Personally, I do not take much offense to, or really take into consideration at all, derogatory jokes. Among my friends—both male and female—statements such as “yes means anal” and “that’s what she said” are common. But amongst ourselves, we know that it is not to be taken seriously.

Tyler Bayly, a senior in Phi Delta Theta at Butler, said he heard of the incident at Texas Tech through a brother. The news had also been posted on the fraternity’s Facebook page.

The message was clear: The organization needs to be smart about what they display for the public to see.

“Regardless of what frat you are in, you join thinking that your brothers are going to hold you to a higher standard,” Bayly said. “I don’t think they did it with malicious intent; they probably thought it was a harmless joke. But you have to hold people accountable, and it surprised me that no one stepped in to say something sooner.”

The actions of a few can make an entire group look awful. I believe that is what happened here. A few members of a group crossed a fine line and others failed to protest.

Bayly also said the fraternity, in this case, crossed the line with the banner.

“In terms of sexual jokes, no sexual jokes should be displayed publicly,” he said. “It is unrealistic to think those jokes aren’t going to be made male to male, between brothers. But the way I see it, if it can offend even just one person, it shouldn’t be displayed publicly.”

I do not think the fraternity meant to cause any harm. I believe the banner was made to earn a few laughs. Still, the banner took things too far because it involved a public audience that, in the end, negatively associated the fraternity with abusive speech.

Hopefully, the fraternity learned its lesson and other groups will not make the same mistake either. A few giggles in the present are not worth future backlash.