Debaters Against Sexism: Taking a Stand

To the debate community:

We begin by deciding to write a pledge. We need a beginning, a stepping stone. This pledge is meant to provide a concrete platform for the community to demonstrate our readiness to confront the issue of gender discrimination in debate, and to fight back. We will use this as a springboard to demand change in the community. There is so much we can do, and we’ve decided to stop waiting to do it. Of course, it doesn’t end with the pledge. But it starts with a commitment—and every signature counts.

A Pledge to Fight Gender Discrimination

Preface:

We are tired of online discussions about gender disparities in debate dying out without resulting in any concrete changes. We are tired of sexism becoming the talk of the day, and then fading away as people settle back into their normal routines of cutting cards and trying to win tournaments. We are tired of waiting for someone else to do something, so we are taking a stand now.

The biggest problem is not that tournament rules are written to disadvantage women, or that workshop and institute policies don’t account for sexual harassment (although policies lacking enforcement are meaningless). The biggest problem is the way that we as a community behave. Gender discrimination is prevalent because we fail to embrace mature dialogue, underestimate the power of disparaging remarks, and stigmatize victims.

We need to examine the way we think and behave as a community. No real change can occur until we do.

To that end, we have written a pledge for debaters to take as a stand against discrimination of gender identity and expression in debate:

I believe that all debaters, judges, and coaches, regardless of gender identity and expression deserve to feel safe and supported at tournaments, at workshops and institutes, and within their teams. By signing this pledge, I promise to:

  • Avoid using discriminatory language or slurs when speaking about other debaters, judges, and coaches.
  • Be willing to a) point out problematic language when I hear it and b) accept responsibility if I say something harmful out of ignorance or privilege.
  • Support efforts to end gender discrimination, bullying, and sexual harassment, and encourage others to take a stand.
  • Intervene, if I safely can, or tell an adult about situations where members of the community are being sexually harassed or bullied.
  • Respect and empower victims to have confidence in themselves.

I will not be a bystander. I will take a stand against gender discrimination in debate.

*We modeled the pledge on the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network’s Ally Week pledge, and thank them for the inspiration.

Please visit http://www.debatersagainstsexism.org/ to join us in signing the pledge. This website will also be the host of our future efforts to create change. By introducing this into the community dialogue, we hope to call attention to the words and actions we take. Sexism is often subtle, but ignoring the subtleties will only perpetuate the problem. We have signed this pledge as a reminder to ourselves to be aware of and sensitive to gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and bullying whenever it occurs. We hope you will, too.

Pledge Signatories:

1. Elana Leone, The Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, MD

2. Annie Kors, Harvard Westlake School, CA

3. Karlyn Gorski, University of Chicago, IL

4. Shania Hunt, Northland Christian School, TX

5. Catherine Tarsney, University of Chicago, IL

6. Megan N. Nubel, West Des Moines Valley High School, IA

7. Bekah Boyer,Colleyville Heritage ‘09, Southern Methodist University ‘13, Greenhill School TX

8. Rebecca Kuang, Greenhill School, TX

9. Jessica Levy, Walt Whitman High School, MD

10. Cindi Timmons, Greenhill School, TX

11. Allie Woodhouse, Winston Churchill High School, TX

12. Lucy Korsakov, West Des Moines Valley High School, IA

  • I have not signed the pledge yet, though I agree that sexual harassment is a problem in debate. My only concern is that the pledge that contains phrases like “support efforts to end gender discrimination” and “I will not be a bystander, I will take a stand.” I worry that debaters will argue that a judge who signs the pledge is compelled to vote for narratives and micro-political positions tying into gender discrimination, no matter how minuscule the impact or weak the ballot story would otherwise be.

    • sjadler

      And then the opponent will argue that the judge is NOT compelled to vote for those arguments.

      I’m not sure what the problem is here: If you can win an argument that the judge should stand out against real issues, then presumably, in the debate round, the judge should stand out against real issues. This is in the same way that if you win the judge should vote down NIBs or people who curse, then the judge should do so.

      Let the debaters argue that point if they want, and let the opponents respond accordingly. I see no problem with the argument being made (particularly because it doesn’t strike me as a very strong one). If there is little impact or ballot story, then a sentence in some pledge won’t matter much.

      • Rebar Niemi

        sjadler killin it as usuaalll.

  • Lone.Wolf

    I find it unsettling that the biggest problem in the recent weeks that has sparked controversy is the topic of sexism. I find it wholly counter-productive to talk about sexism since its really not a problem. There are plenty of women who can compete in debate and do very well. Just because there are more males in the game does not mean there is sexism. It just is that way, not because men have forced it. The argument from anti-sexism advocates is concerned with camps and individuals.

    First off, a camp is not sexist at all. The individuals MIGHT be. But the camp is not. However, the incidents about sexual harassment in camps talk about administrators who don’t do anything about it. But there is clearly a lack of proof for not only who committed the sexual assault but also who the administrator is. But also, this may be one occurrence out of the many non-sexist moments in debate. For anyone to consider taking the argument that camps are sexist seriously there needs to be no doubt and there needs to be specific details.

    Second, individuals who act in a sexist manner should obviously not be tolerated. But again these people are few among many. Sexist people reside in all walks of life, debate is not safe from it. That does not mean there needs to be pledges and groups forming for fighting sexism when it is a minute problem. We also cannot change individuals. It seems as if the formation of groups and pledges further exacerbates the problem you aim to stop by emphasizing it and potentially causing sexist persons to make it an even bigger issue. Again i agree sexism is bad, but making it all hyped up does not solve the root cause of it, it just shows people that it gets under your skin

    But i think this brings an even bigger issue to the stage that is a much more deadly problem. The issue of the size of school or debate programs. One of the things that became a potential problem for anti-sexism people was the matter of sexism making girls not want to debate anymore and cause further oppression but i find this inaccurate and untrue, as stated before, since girls can and are encouraged to compete in debate all the time, they even win major tournaments. There are so many skilled girls this year that its not even funny. But there is not a lot of skilled debaters coming from small schools. Sure, there may be a few, but the number of small school debaters debating and even doing well is minimal. The number one thing that deters debaters from continuing debate is whether or not they can have a chance to win. Small school kids have really no chance versus someone from a big school.The amount of prep, the coaching, the debate practice, the pure knowledge one can gain from an established program are all invaluable to new debaters. Being a single debater from a small school can be the number one off-putter from debate since you simply cannot win. But even those who get past that still have a big disadvantage.

    Let me walk you through the story of a small school debater who even stays in debate for a long time. Then they will come back, get a decent score because they persevered and worked hard. They continue on their own and have to sacrifice alot to get to a good score. No sleep, hurts their grades, tons of stress. It puts a large toll on a singular debater without a team or coach. But eventually this debater can start to compete with good debaters from big schools. However this new competition comes with a new challenge. If they break they can get prepped out by another one of the big school debaters teammates and they can break a new case which the solo debater cannot do since he simply cannot prep that much to break new cases whenever. Then the big school debater asks the small school debater to disclose sites. Now this debater may have one really good position that could do well. But by disclosing it they are put at a huge disadvantage going in to later rounds. And even if they manage to break and beat all the prep outs, they have put so much on the line to get where they are. But the big school kid has not. They can get coaches to help them write cases, even write them entirely, so that they can break new cases in out-rounds.

    Put it into perspective the hardships that a girl may have if they possible are harassed, which happens everywhere and is so small in comparison to other problems. Small school debaters have an extremely difficult time staying in debate and for that matter doing well. Girls can win in the debate community since they predominantly come from larger schools.

    Sincerely, Lone Wolf

    Ps- Don’t nitpick, look at what I’m trying to tell the debate community and what the big problem is not the minute details that i bring up.

    • Haha who called the Contest of the Least Advantaged? There’s no reason we can’t try to stop sexism AND make debate more fair for lone wolfs. True, you say sexism isn’t a real problem in debate at all, but you’re obviously wrong about that, as has been hashed out time and again on NSDUpdate and in camp forums.

      P.S. These discussions don’t usually accomplish much, so I wouldn’t be too jealous.

      • mcgin029

        Wolves.

    • *Sigh* I really didn’t want to answer anything in length, but your comment is quite bothersome.’

      First, for someone whining about nitpicking, you’re doing a bit yourself with your first comment…It’s just an issue with the specific words used, the others obviously meant the individuals at/running the camps, not the camps themselves.

      Second, a “minute problem?” Really? Is this some sort of joke? This sort of issue can ruin people’s lives for extended periods of time. Maybe the reason you have such a hard time with large schools and prepouts is that you can’t understand weighing. Being sexually harassed/assaulted is significantly worse than being prepped out by another team (that’s magnitude, by the way). Also, even if it were only a small problem, which it isn’t, forming a group to stop it is a perfectly fine thing to do. This isn’t just about “getting hyped up,” it’s about working together to change things. I don’t even agree entirely with what they’re all doing, but my god you’re dense if you think that working together to overcome sexism and discrimination will exacerbate the problem. Even if we can’t change individuals, we can ostracize them, which works just as well.

      On your “bigger issue” –

      A: No, that isn’t more deadly. The comparisons your making are really damn offensive, and coming from me, that’s saying something.

      B: The fact that some girls are skilled doesn’t disprove anything you’re talking about.

      C: What makes you think that’s due to the schools being large? It’s more about finances. I was one of only two LDers from my school to go to ToC and it didn’t seem like a massive disadvantage being in a smaller school.

      D:

      Prep – You can easily complete more prep than some larger schools. Before ToC my senior year I rewrote a ton of the cases of people going to ToC for practice/understanding. Also, not being an imbecile works well here too. Write something new, and run it well – then prepouts don’t matter as much.

      In addition, you could put together a team of friends, presuming you have any (though I’m not sure, given your comment). My junior year we had a team consisting a two kids from New York, three from Maryland, one from Alabama, and one from Washington, all of whom were successful on the circuit. We had practice rounds, shared prep, and discussed cases/ideas.

      Coaching – Coach yourself, there are a ton of resources available to anyone with which you can do that. Also, message good debaters on Facebook if you have questions about what they did/how they did it. I know I still get those messages and did all the time as a debater. Also coaches don’t do that much in my experience. It’s more at camp that you learn stuff (finances, not small schools).

      “you simply cannot win” – This is one of the most unintelligent things I’ve ever seen posted here. There are plenty of successful debaters who could easily win without using any prep just by virtue of knowing what they’re doing. I got 4 bids in LD having cut only about 5-10 cards until after the Harvard tournament my senior year.

      About your little story:

      A: Maybe just a mediocre debater. Some people don’t have a high skill cap.

      B: Who cares about prepouts? Be good and beat them or be bad and don’t.

      C: If you feel like you’re justified in not disclosing then don’t. If you lose to disclosure theory it’s because you aren’t good, not because you’ve got this massive disadvantage. I tried to bait disclosure theory whenever I could because I thought it was a free win. Either that, or I’d just disclose because I didn’t care about prepouts so much.

      D: No sleep/Poor grade/Stress isn’t because you’re from a small school…I did the vast majority of the work that I used at ToC, but went swimming the night before the tournament and the night before outrounds. It’s your choice to stress and refrain from sleeping (Also those two/poor grades might be related).
      E: Most coaches don’t write a ton of stuff. Even of those that do, the debaters who are successful with those cases are generally good. If you give a really great case to someone who isn’t good/doesn’t understand the case, they’ll lose to someone who really is good.

      “Girls can win in the debate community since they predominantly come from larger schools.”

      How stupid can you be? This, even if you are completely right, proves everyone else’s point. It means that the ONLY way that a girl can be successful is if they have a massive advantage, which would be why there aren’t girls from small schools that are as successful. Maybe you should try thinking things through a bit before spewing nonsense.

      Sincerely, Another Lone Wolf – One who decided to build a pack.

      Ps – Your “big problem” is small in comparison, and your post is generally unintelligent. Saying not to point out specific things you say is like asking someone to drop the warrants in your case but talk about the general idea of it. Maybe that’s why you’re having so much trouble as a lone wolf.

      Pps – Perhaps I came off as a bit too mean here. I care about people, and so I’m someone emotionally invested in this discussion. I’m not sorry.

      • Guest

        I also recommend going to Waffle House the night before outrounds in Kentucky.

      • The long thing is a response to someone named Lone.Wolf, who now shows up as “Guest.”

    • Girls do NOT predominately come from bigger schools. They’re just more likely to leave the activity if they don’t, which is why you haven’t seen them. As a debater who was both from a small school and a female, I can assure you that the negative effects of the former pale in comparison to the latter.

      Thanks for your posts, Tom and Emily.

    • Thelonelywolf

      I don’t know how relevant you may find this to be, but Jessica is a lone-wolf debater as well.

    • As someone who was a lone wolf debater back in the day, and who has coached exclusively lone wolf debaters, some of whom are female, I feel qualified to say that you’re full of crap and should shut up.

      Seriously, when I debated I couldn’t afford to hire a coach, attend camp, or travel outside of California. I was not, however, made to feel like I wasn’t welcome in the activity. I was not sexually harassed. People did not say terrible, derogatory things to me on a constant basis. In fact, I enjoyed my stay in debate so much that I decided to stick around and coach for a few more years. That’s probably because I’m a dude. And white.

    • You Are Not Alone
    • As canine-related labels go, “lone wolf” is way cooler than “bitch”.

  • Wolfgang Mittermeyer

    This is so Norquistian. I don’t know why anyone would this sign this pledge. I would hope that before they signed it they already stood for the things that it mandates. I wont sign this because quite frankly I think the people who sign this just don’t understand the root problem. I guarantee you, that all of the girls who have signed this (who are still in high school) upon graduating will just leave the community. As long as the community is male dominated this shit will continue to happen. A better “pledge” would be to stay in debate when you go to college if you are female, or coach a debate debate team preferably. Unless the actual shapers and movers of the community are predominantly female this just wont happen.

    I have an enormous respect for those women who do remain by the way, and I almost resent how few stay despite their success.

    • Rebar Niemi

      I don’t resent girls who don’t stay, but I resent as a group people who are enormously successful in debate and then just drop it and move on like it’s some childish affectation that wasn’t instrumental in shaping who they are.

    • This post is awful. I have no idea how you got 9 upvotes. The only sense in which this pledge is “Norquistian” is that it is a pledge. There is nothing in this pledge that should be controversial. More importantly, your post is just wrong about the root cause. The *reason* many women will leave the community is because of the lack of *outward* commitment to gender equality, especially on the part of males. Your argument that women, rather than men, should bear the burden of addressing this problem (so much so, in fact, that you “resent” those who don’t) by pledging to stay in an activity with a bunch of men who evidently don’t think it’s their burden to improve gender equality is backwards and regessive. Strong female role models don’t grow on trees, and women leave the activity largely because they get discouraged from participating by men. It’s time for the men to act in a way that doesn’t run young women out of the activity. Not a difficult concept.

      • “women leave the activity largely because they get discouraged from participating by men…they find that it’s a hostile environment”

        Obviously I can’t speak for every female in the activity, but in my experience I don’t think this is true across the board. I think that for the majority of girls who are deeply affected by discrimination (enough to not want to stay in the activity) usually leave before their senior year. For most girls (or at least the ones I’ve interacted with) who continue to be actively involved their senior year, I don’t think this is as big of a reason as people claim it to be. In my opinion, a major reason why girls don’t stay to coach or judge (at least on the national circuit) is because they aren’t hired at big schools/lone wolves who are more involved on the circuit/have better financial compensation. This is inevitable, since less girls are successful (I don’t have a problem with this – debaters should hire coaches who they think will help them improve). Why girls are less successful is another question, and it’s probably related to sexism issues to some degree.

        Another reason is the stigma with staying in the activity – I agree with Rebar that there is definitely a mentality of not wanting to stay past your senior year for social/personal reasons. Some people also just want to move on. I think that the aggressive nature of the activity definitely factors into the decision, but I don’t think it is by any means the major one.

        That being said, I know plenty of first year outs who have judged at tournaments and work for a couple of schools this year, and I think in the future it will only improve.

        P.S. sorry if this seems like a generalization; I’m sure people disagree with this/have their own reasons for leaving but it’s just the impression I’ve gotten.

      • Wolfgang Mittermeyer

        I am deeply offended and unsettled by your post. I want to adress a few things individually, because my mind is completely boggled by some of the things you have written. Literally some of the sentences you have written are beyond the realm of comprehendible things in my mind.

        First you write “women leave the activity largely because they get discouraged from participating by men…they find that it’s a hostile environment.” How do you know this. No seriously, how do you know this? Sure some women do. I’d name names but I’ll just get censored by the corporate elite. I think we all know who they are though. But is that really the majority? Idk Smitty, do you survey every woman who leaves and ask them why they do so? Obviously issues of sexism are a contributing factor, but how can you just dismiss my entire post as awful when you are just making up facts. All of you who upvoted his post should be ashamed. Annie is 100% correct.

        Second, you say the reason women “will leave the community is because of the lack of *outward* commitment to gender equality, especially on the part of males.” I take personal offense to this for a number of reasons. Firstly, I am a male who works for a team and all I do is try to get women to join debate. When you say males are not outward about inclusion you just come across as ignorant to me. What does it mean to be “outwardly committed.” Some of you might think I am nitpicking, but what does that really mean? Remember, when you are dealing with young female debaters (who are 13-14), and they are on the fritz about leaving debate (for whatever reason), what are you as a coach supposed to tell them? Seriously, do you know how creepy it is to say something like “the LD community needs more girls.” Its fucking off putting dude. So Smitty, I humbly ask how do coaches act “outwardly inclusive” without being creepy as fuck.

        Thirdly, I can’t speak for other teams, but in my experience at general meetings at the beginning of the year the ratio of women who sign up for LD is actually skewed more towards men (before they know anything about debate). Girls at my team generally sign up for PF and CX. I have found actually, that most do because they are nervous about debating alone and want a partner (they usually pick a friend aswell). Most females on my team quit though before they go to camp, even if they are wildly successful, so idk why most of the time. If I had to guess, it would be that they get overwhelmed by the complexities of debate. It usually happens right after I teach them theory actually (its been pretty consistent the last few years). I just lost 2 female novices this month even though they both were clearing consistently at locals. To say women leave because of sexism is just a patent assertion

        Fourthly, it frustrates me that you just dont know your history. There are plenty of girls who are hired by schools who just leave for some reason. And I mean completely disappear. Obviously a lot of women have over the years have left due to age (Liz Scoggin, Amanda Liverzani, Katie Poulos etc), but at least they judged consistently in college. But the overwhelming majority just get up and leave even when they were successful (ie look at Hockaday). This is just true if you know your history.

        Fifth, I find it offensive that you call me a victim blamer. This whole flamewar started because a debater named Jessica ran a microplotics case in an attempt to change the community. The best way to change the community would be for her to stay and judge (and maybe coach). Sure you could say she has reason to leave because she feels as if she was abused, but then as always, this will just be forgotten and sexism will continue I guess. So I formally challenger her, and the other debating signatories of this pledge to remain.

        Idk Alex, your post just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I feel like you don’t know what you are talking about and you are just making shit up as you go along. Go actually try and put your money where your mouth is and stop accusing the rest of us for being sexist.

        • Did you really just say you’d be censored by the corporate elite?

          • Rebar Niemi

            OCCUPY DIS RIGHT NOW.

        • “If I had to guess, it would be that they get overwhelmed by the complexities of debate. It usually happens right after I teach them theory actually (its been pretty consistent the last few years).”

          OMG, I know! When I try to think about all the complexities of debate, my head starts to hurt. Stupid female brain 🙁

          • WOAH WOAH WOAH

            Careful, he might not get sarcasm. Oh wait but his brain is a male brain so of course he will because he is brilliant.

            Wolfgang, have you ever considered that maybe you just suck at teaching theory?

        • Concerned Citizen

          I’m going to say something really, really unpopular here. Feel free to downvote me, or as the double-tongued wolfgang said “censored by the corporate elite.” Trigger warning, check your privilege, buzzwords etc

          The whole thing about females being “overwhelmed” is non-unique. I’ve seen so many people leave LD simply because it requires a lot more effort than the other forms of debate (not including CX because that doesn’t exist around here).

          The reason there are fewer females in debate is because of social pressures from other females that debate is not something that a female, even an intellectual one, does. There, I said it.

          I see it all the time. In novice classes, when a female is shown that they clearly have talent in an event, I hear a very familiar response. “I don’t know, it just seems like a lot of work, and I have other things you know?”, while males are usually enthusiastic to be dominant in yet another activity. I know for a fact that females are not uncommitted or lazy, the top 15 of the senior class are ALL females. That is why coaches should be outwardly committed to recruiting clearly talented females into doing debate, because there are other forces, mostly social, telling them that they are not talented in such an activity.

          • I don’t think this is offensive or shocking. There are a lot of points at which female debaters choose to leave the activity, and some of the reasons they do so are rooted in pressures or circumstances that come from outside the debate community or from other females. I want to clarify something that I said in my response to “Wolfgang”: when I say that it’s important for men to take a stand against sexism and in favor of increasing female participation, I don’t mean to suggest that male sexism is the exclusive cause of women leaving the activity (although it is a large and serious one). There are a lot of causes of female attrition, and I think all of us (including me, probably) are guilty of being reductive and myopic when we talk about root causes. As you mention, though, this post highlights the importance of coaches – male and female alike – and their committment to increase female participation in the activity (and I do think that coaches who “run off” their own female debaters are a significant cause of attrition, and one that doesn’t get nearly enough attention).

          • Concerned Citizen

            I was saying it would be controversial because I was implying that there isn’t some super secret invisible patriarchal organization of male debaters structurally oppressing women at camps and tournements in order to keep women out of debate, but rather female debaters are making the decision not to participate themselves.

        • Well, my four girl novices love theory and I’m pretty sure next year they’ll be winning half their rounds on NIBs bad. I don’t know how you teach theory but reading your comments I think quitting your team may be more attributed to trying to get the hell away from you than the this mind boggling theory debate.

          • “I’m pretty sure next year they’ll be winning half their rounds on NIBs bad.”

            amen

        • “Remember, when you are dealing with young female debaters (who are 13-14), and they are on the fritz about leaving debate”

          Whoa.

    • LDoutsider

      I agree with Alex. There’s no right for any community to have any group (women, minorities, etc.) stay…especially when those people are dehumanized and ostracized. People come back to communities when they were made to feel welcome, FULLY accepted and recognized for the people they are. It’s a romantic notion when oppressive communities say that people at the bottom of the social hierarchy have a duty to stay (even if its for other oppressed people there) but its an entitled and stupid notion. If you want people to stay, treat them well. But that would mean equal treatment, not MJPing them out of the judging pool (like which happens to minorities and women), etc.

  • AnonD10922

    It’s unfortunate that we’ve decided to settle for rallying around some empty platitudes about sexism. Sexism isn’t going to go away as long as there are camp administrators out there who think that these problems are solved with pledges rather than by creating and enforcing rules that apply equally to everyone. The hypocrisy here is ridiculous, especially given that not so long ago, many of the same people who dismissed Jessica’s accusations didn’t hesitate to demonize a staff member based on unverified allegations (from a member of top lab, of course) of sexual harassment. I’m sure creating a pledge like this makes you feel good, but come on, you’re no hero for girls in debate when you let your choices be dictated by blatant favoritism like that.

    Note: I don’t know the facts of either case, so I’m not saying the person in question should lose his jobs for this summer. But I thought someone should point out the double standard here.

    • Why are we settling? It seems like the complete opposite.. we’re no longer settling, but trying to do something about it. Just as Annie said- the pledge is about bringing awareness, not solving for every wrong that happens or could happen. It’s been 24 hours and we’re at over 500 signatures… That says a lot about how ready the community is about making a change. Every signature is a step in the right direction.

      Also, the issues about how the community deals with accusations of sexual harassment aren’t reasons for why the pledge is bad- if anything, they are reasons for why we need the pledge. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion in these situations, but the point of the pledge is to make people aware that their opinions and actions have consequences.

      This pledge does make us feel good, and I’m sure it makes everyone else feel better knowing that people in the community care and are coming together in order to create a safer environment.

      • AnonD10923

        I sincerely hope this pledge makes debate better for girls. My argument is not that the pledge is on balance bad but that certain camp administrators are behaving hypocritically here, to the detriment of anti-sexism efforts. You don’t solve sexism by playing favorites in responding to different allegations of sexual harassment and then, when you’re called out on it, making a big fuss about some pledge you’ve helped create. You do it by running your camp like grown-ups.

        • Oh, right ok.. my fault. I thought you had an issue with the pledge itself.

        • One great thing that the pledge is that we can use it as a lobbying mechanism to boycott camps/tournaments when they are found to be sexist and to hold them accountable. First we need solidarity — that requires a solid platform.

          • And who is it that gets to make the grand decision of when a camp/tournament is sexist?

          • It’s obviously a personal decision 1st, Tom.

          • By this, do you mean to say that the pledge is a mechanism for the distribution of information to allow people to make their own decision about it? That’s how I’ve interpreted your response, though I may be mistaken.

          • Concerned Citizen

            “Camps/tournaments when they are found to be sexist ”

            I…what?

            What in the world does that mean?

        • Look, I don’t know what happened when but a “certain camp administrator” you’re referring to is a good guy who does a lot for his students and the activity. I get that anonymity can be important but I am sick to death of seeing cowards use it as cover to take pot shots at good people. And their jean shorts.

          • sjadler

            I have no idea who this camp administrator is, so I feel like I can weigh in pretty impartially.

            If someone is in fact committing sexual harassment and/or assault, his being a generally good guy or doing a lot for his students is irrelevant. End of story. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt that you didn’t mean the comment that way, but it shouldn’t be implied that other good deeds cancel out serious crimes.

            With regard to the anonymity, I’m with you about off-topic insults, but I do think it has a place for important posts when politics would otherwise intervene.

          • What I’m objecting to is the facility with which people (anonymously) hurl accusations and the equal facility with which they are accepted as gospel truth. We should all know better. Sexual harassment is wrong but baseless accusations and insinuations are also wrong. If there is a problem with a camp’s policies or an administrator’s behavior, there are appropriate ways to deal with that. Anonymously accusing people on a message board is not one of them.

          • sjadler

            Sure, I mostly agree with that. I just think that if an accusation does arise, the appropriate response is “no, that isn’t true” (a la Drew Hammond’s post), not a defense of the accused’s contributions to the community.

            Again, I’m assuming you didn’t mean to give off that implication. I just think it’s important to touch upon for how people handle these heated issues.

          • That’s the POINT. No such accusation had arisen until YOU mentioned it. This isn’t just unfair to the people involved it is a distraction from the good ideas being presented here. If we had fewer irresponsible people posting whatever the heck they want cloaked in anonymity, it would serve better all of our ends.

          • sjadler

            Are you serious?
            “Look, I don’t know what happened when but a “certain camp administrator” you’re referring to is a good guy who does a lot for his students and the activity.”

            This sounds an awful lot like you know who the person is and like you’re defending him for being a good guy. That’s the accusation that I was discussing. Maybe (as I’ve noted repeatedly) that isn’t what you were doing, but it sure sounded like it.

          • Rebar Niemi

            wait… someone seriously thought it was acceptable for top lab to receive different curfew privileges than the rest of the camp? LOL

          • Lin

            Well, apparently a camp did do just that.

      • Oskar

        Most people aren’t aware of the rampant sexism in debate because the victims choose not to talk about it. I am obviously not blaming them but I can’t tell you how many cases I can think of of women being sexually harassed who dont want to talk about it (ones that are not public knowledge). I hate to say it, but the higherups in the community already know about sexism. We are past the point of raising “awareness.” Someone has to come forward eventually. It might be hard for them, but it is just how our CJS works. You need to accuse someone and then have a trial.

        There have been cases where prosecution has worked and it didn’t ruin the life of the female debater involved. I wont say the name but I’m pretty sure most people remember who it was.

  • anondebater523

    Sexism is a very important issue in debate, but I think the question that needs to be asked is whether there is any uniqueness? It doesn’t seem that any of the sexism issues are specific to debate rather than outside of debate.

    Also, while sexual harassment and bullying seem to be issues, is discrimination/stereotyping really that big of an issue? Never have I heard somebody look at a pairing and say “oh she’s a girl, you can beat her easy” rather than assess the merit of the opponent. On the contrary, I believe that debate is a great activity in that it allows girls to compete on an even level with boys due to it’s intellectual nature. Maybe other people do it, but I’ve never heard a determination made of a girl’s ability as a debater made due to her being a girl- it’s too competitive activity for a competitor to discount another competitor’s merit based on something dumb like that. I think that the huge amounts of success that girls such as Rebecca have had on the circuit on the last several years is a testament to the fact that guys wouldn’t discount a threat a girl poses as a competitor based upon her gender because girls have been winning tournaments consistently.

    • You’re right – this pledge is not going to turn into a law that will be enforced if 1000 people sign it. But what it does do is bring awareness to an important issue and spread that awareness. When you sign the pledge, you’re essentially affirming the importance of preventing things like sexism, gender discrimination, etc in debate. This pledge has brought this issue back on the radar for many people; more than 400 people have signed it within a day, many of who probably don’t read NSDUpdate frequently or post comments. Is sexism just going to disappear? No. But I don’t think that was ever the intention.

      I don’t think bullying due to gender-related issues is very different than discrimination/stereotyping, but I might be wrong. I also don’t think it’s very appropriate for you to gloss over something like “sexual harrassment” – if it’s an issue, then why does your second paragraph even exist? That in itself should be enough for the community to do something about gender disparity. But also, even if you haven’t seen or heard it doesn’t mean sexism in debate isn’t an issue. You seem doubtful this actually is a problem, so let me give you some references: http://nsdupdate.com/2011/gender-disparity-in-debate/. Specifically the posts from Karlyn, Chris, Catherine, Jane, and the group of senior debaters (there’s probably more but I just skimmed). I can also personally attest to the fact that, when I was debating, discriminatory comments and sexist jokes were made to me all the time, and I’d be lying if I said they weren’t discouraging. Unless the debate community has dramatically shifted in the last year, I doubt much has changed. All of this is external to success – even if girls are doing equally well as guys (they’re not) it doesn’t mean that what’s happening isn’t happening. But also, naming one girl who wins alot of tournaments doesn’t discount the fact that overall, females in the activity are still much less successful than males.