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Today Harvard University canceled the rest of the men’s soccer season and denied them an all-but certain NCAA tournament berth, citing the players’ annual ‘tradition’ of rating recruits for the Harvard women’s soccer team based on appearance and imagined sexual proclivities. Of course conservatives think this is political correctness run amok, but Harvard men’s soccer coach Pieter Lehrer disagreed:

“We are beyond disappointed that our season has ended in this way, but we respect the decision made by our administration,” wrote Lehrer. “Actions have consequences, and character counts. We accept responsibility for our actions, and I know that we will use the experience of this terribly unfortunate situation to be better.”

Several members of the Harvard women’s team wrote a Harvard Crimson op-ed that is worth reading in full, but these passages are especially moving:

In all, we do not pity ourselves, nor do we ache most because of the personal nature of this attack. More than anything, we are frustrated that this is a reality that all women have faced in the past and will continue to face throughout their lives. We feel hopeless because men who are supposed to be our brothers degrade us like this. We are appalled that female athletes who are told to feel empowered and proud of their abilities are so regularly reduced to a physical appearance. We are distraught that mothers having daughters almost a half century after getting equal rights have to worry about men’s entitlement to bodies that aren’t theirs. We are concerned for the future, because we know that the only way we can truly move past this culture is for the very men who perpetrate it to stop it in its tracks.
We know what it’s like to get knocked down. To lose a few battles. To sweat, to cry, to bleed. To fight so hard, yet no matter what we do, the game is still out of our hands. And, even still, we keep fighting; for ourselves, yes, but above all for our teammates. This document might have stung any other group of women you chose to target, but not us. We know as teammates that we rise to the occasion, that we are stronger together, and that we will not tolerate anything less than respect for women that we care for more than ourselves.
“Locker room talk” is not an excuse because this is not limited to athletic teams. The whole world is the locker room. Yet in it we feel blessed to know many men who do not and would never participate in this behavior out of respect for us – out of respect for women. To them we are grateful, and with them we strive to share a mutual respect through our own actions and words.

Is it coincidence that the women’s op-ed was headlined “Stronger Together?”


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