If you attend Georgetown, and you enjoy spending your Saturday evenings downing six shots of Cherry Burnetts and half a Natty Lite whilst surrounded by your favorite Jesulittys, then chances are you have encountered bouncers at parties. These figures — almost universally male — determine who gets to enter the humid Henle, and, when it comes to deciding which pack of dizzy first years they allow to enter their domicile, make their judgments based almost entirely on gender. If you pass as male, you know the urgency with which you gather female students outside of parties, hoping to pad your own masculinity with their feminine wiles. If you pass as female, you know how it feels to be begged by Sperry-wearing men to accompany them to the party. You also know how it feels when the bouncer too easily opens the door after a brief glance at your beat face.
Although gender ratios ostensibly benefit women — perhaps what Reddit-dwelling men’s rights activists might even term “female privilege” — in reality, the logic behind them reflects patriarchal conceptions of women as sex objects. I will admit — it feels glamorous to glide into an exclusive party with no objection from the host, as a protesting line of men don’t make the cut. Meanwhile, I can imagine that for those who are denied entrance to such functions, it is easy to feel that in this situation, it is women who benefit.
Before feeling empowered or embittered by gender ratios, however, consider the logic justifying them. The appeal of women at these parties derives exclusively from their sex appeal; men hosting parties want women at parties because they want to hook up with them. Therefore, gender ratios privilege the heterosexual male experience by prioritizing their desires. The preferencing of heterosexual cis male needs is a key element to the maintenance of the patriarchy.
Additionally, gender ratios reduce women to society’s perception of their sexual value. With gender ratios, women are collected, their individuality is disregarded, and the objective of toxic masculinity — to capture women in order to have sex with them — is universalized.
Gender ratios are pervasive at Georgetown; in fact, they are so pervasive that I recently attended a party celebrating the victory of our newly elected GUSA President and Vice-President, Kamar Mack and Jessica Andino, that enforced a gender ratio at the door.
I do not know the details of how their party was organized; for all I know, Mack and Andino were entirely unaware that a bouncer was only admitting girls at the door of the party. I will also clarify that the party was not hosted at Mack or Andino’s own residence, and I did hear discussion inside the party that the bouncer was acting waywardly.
An objective fact remains, however: gender ratios at parties are so ubiquitous at Georgetown, even a party for the executives of the student body government enforces them.
In order to transform this issue, we need to address systemic issues, primarily the way that the patriarchy encourages heterosexual men to view their sexual exploits as conquests, a logic that disregards consent and pleasure, the two most important aspects of sex. On Georgetown’s campus, we need to foster an open dialogue to unpack why we accept and expect gender ratios. Hopefully, then we can create an environment where we can turn up without turning women into currency to be exchanged.
Rachel Biggio (COL ’20) is a member of H*yas for Choice’s leadership team.