All-male Harvard club says gender-exclusivity prevents sexual assault

While “It’s On Us” and other campaigns fill college campuses this Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the oldest all-male club at Harvard is stirring controversy. The group, the Porcellian Club – founded in 1791 – says that it is gender-exclusive to men because it helps prevent women from being raped.

The Porcellian Club’s graduate board president, Charles M. Storey’s, statement to The Harvard Crimson said, “Forcing single-gender organizations to accept members of the opposite sex could potentially increase, not decrease the potential for sexual misconduct,” and that the absence of female members “greatly reduce[s] the potential for sexual assault.”

These controversial comments came as a response to a satire article called “Club of Wealthy White Men Comes Out in Support of Status Quo.” People took to social media to rebuke the PC, calling them out for victim blaming.

Democratic Massachusetts Representative Katherine Clark took to Twitter, writing:

A screenshot of Mass. Democratic Representative Katherine Clark's Twitter account.
A screenshot of Mass. Democratic Representative Katherine Clark’s Twitter account.

Others took to Facebook in disbelief. “Did they really just say ‘we have rapists in our group so women aren’t safe here,’ or did I misread that?” read one comment on the New York Times’ post. Another saying, “If all female clubs are ok [sic] then so should this be. But his reasoning doesn’t say much about the men it admits.”

Readers leave comments on the New York Times’ Facebook post criticizing the Porcellian Club comments.
Readers’ comments on the New York Times’ Facebook post criticizing the Porcellian Club comments.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) reports that one in five women are raped while in college and that less than 10 percent of on-campus sexual assaults are reported. Reasons for not reporting include the inability of the victim to accept what has happened to them, fear of being judged and lack of clarity of whether or not harm was intended, according to Cosmopolitan.

Storey has since released an apology, saying “I chose my words poorly and it came out all wrong … I am truly sorry to those I have offended.” However, this is a lesson for everyone to further their education on how to handle situations regarding sexual assault.

April is known as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The NSVRC uses this time and campaign a platform to promote “comprehensive prevention of sexual violence through research, resources and collaboration.”

It’s On Us is another popular campaign to educate people about sexual assault. It encourages all to pledge to “recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault. To identify situations in which sexual assault may occur. To intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given. To create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.”

Lastly, those who are victims of sexual assault of any kind can find information at Not Alone, a website dedicated to providing resources for those who need it. Their services include a map to find local help and is targeted for college students.