Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A look at how women are portrayed on ‘ZooMass’

Women shouldn’t be the butt of the joke

%28Courtesy+of+Barstool+Sports+official+Facebook+page%29
(Courtesy of Barstool Sports official Facebook page)

(Courtesy of Barstool Sports official Facebook page)

(Courtesy of Barstool Sports official Facebook page)

By Emma Garber, Collegian Columnist

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Editor’s Note: The Collegian decided not to link to the posts described as not to directly bring more traffic to these images of women in vulnerable situations.

The woman is passed out in the corner of the elevator, her long blonde hair covering her face. She’s curled up in a ball with her tube top riding down, a thin black “censored” box covering her exposed chest.

That is the image I saw when I opened Instagram on Oct. 14, 2018. It’s a post from the infamous “ZooMass” account, an affiliate of Barstool Sports. The caption reads “Definition of Sunday scaries @chicks.” The account is meant for comedic purposes, creating “relatable” content centered around the University of Massachusetts party scene. Though ZooMass has no direct affiliation with the school, many students follow the page, as it only posts UMass-related content.

My immediate thought when I saw this post: “What’s the joke here?” Call me a buzzkill, but I struggled to find the comedy in a woman passed out drunk in a public elevator. Instead, I sympathized for this woman whose terrifying experience was now broadcast for the whole world to see. It felt like I was intruding on someone’s personal business: some deeply personal, and somewhat embarrassing, moment was now being turned into the cruel punchline of a joke.

This is a reoccurring plot on the ZooMass page: the joke about women getting so drunk that they pass out, often unclothed or exposed. If they aren’t passed out naked, they are falling off of tables or stumbling around, conveniently in as little clothing as possible. I scrolled through the last few months of ZooMass’ feed, curious to see if there was any similar content concerning men. There are a few posts here and there showing men attempting ridiculous stunts, a couple of guys getting handcuffed, but nothing downright humiliatingThe tone is clearly different; instead of laughing at the men, it feels more like we are laughing with them. In fact, most of the time men are shown chugging or “shotgunning” cans of beer, having a great time, being the heroes and champions of the party. Meanwhile, women are shown as the “trainwrecks” who cannot hold their alcohol, stumbling home in the dark, waking up the next morning almost naked, exposed for anyone scrolling by to laugh at.

This is not the women’s fault. Countless college students, no matter their gender, are going out with their friends and getting drunk, some of them ending up in less than ideal situations. Obviously, this is nothing to celebrate, but to act as if it is only young women who look stupid at the end of the night is as condescending as it is misogynistic. It is unclear who submits these posts, but they always feel overly invasive, as if the entire campus is walking in on these young women in their most vulnerable states. Furthermore, they perpetuate the stereotype that women are lightweights, unable to drink as much as their male counterparts.

Barstool Sports and ZooMass have always challenged the ideas of “political correctness,” but this does not have to be content that we, as a community, condone. There can be comedic content that does not come at the cost of a young woman’s reputation. Obviously, people will do stupid and hilarious stuff when they have had too much to drink. It is alright to laugh at that kid who tried to do a backflip and fell, or the group dancing ridiculously to “Mo Bamba.” But it is time that we acknowledge once and for all the unfair portrayal of women and ask ourselves, “What’s the joke here?”

Emma Garber is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

8 Comments

8 Responses to “A look at how women are portrayed on ‘ZooMass’”

  1. NITZAKHON on October 30th, 2018 6:33 am

    First, it’s clearly dishonorable to take advantage of someone when they’re drunk or, worse, passed out. But then, society has dispensed with honor as “old fashioned”.

    Second, it’s clearly stupid for the average woman to match, drink for drink, men who outweigh them, sometimes by significant margins…

    Third, it’s reckless to think that in today’s sex-saturated culture, in youth where hormones rage, where people sometimes “hook up” without even knowing last names, and where cameras are ubiquitous, to think that such things (or worse) won’t happen.

    There’s blame on both sides. Shame on men for taking such pictures. Shame on women for getting so blind-stinking-drunk that you become fodder for such pictures.

    Restraint used to be something people learned. Now, the restraint is outsourced to others. People, again both sexes, seem to feel free to engage in risky behaviors that in prior generations would not just be frowned on, but shamed.

    Ultimately, if you are not responsible for yourself, who will be?

  2. Burt on October 30th, 2018 6:57 am

    I suppose the question is this: what drives ANYONE to get so blind stinking drunk among total strangers that they lose consciousness and become a possible victim?

    Yes, I’ve been there. But my Navy shipmates always made sure that I got back to the ship in one piece and without being assaulted (as I did for them as well). But I *KNEW* that I was among those who would protect me.

    When you are not among those who you know and who will protect you, getting “falling down drunk” is an invitation to physical assault, robbery, and – if a female – rape… or worse.

    No, this isn’t a “failure of aociety” – unless you want to go all the way back to the ancient Greeks, who understood the effects of alcohol, and the ancient Romans, who understood the power of alcohol so well they coined the expression “in vino, veritas”.

    Gitls, protect each other. Or don’t. But don’t blame society when you drink so much that you become a victim. Because then, you have become a victim of your own behavior.

  3. Shahen Melkonian on October 30th, 2018 3:19 pm

    Despite my very hard-left perspective on almost all of my philsophy, I simply cannot agree with your perspective and think that it’s not particularly well thought out. Your thesis is that we should not codone the humilliation of women on social media by hard-line comedy pages like Barstool because it victimizes women, but I think you miss the reality that women, at times, can victimize themselves. Firstly, you address the idea that you think photos taken of vulnerable women aren’t funny, and as you state, you kind of are a “buzzkill”. Personally I don’t think this sort of thing just doesn’t titilate me in any way, but I can see why people making fools of themselves because they can’t handle their alcohol could be funny to some people. Why it matters that they are men and women seems oddly arbitrary to me, at least initially, but then you pose a support of this notion by saying that outlets like Barstool are purposely humiliating women in a sexualized way which is mysgonistic. The problem here is that you think that necessarily that the difference between the way Barstool shows both piss-drunk men and women is due to their own mysgonistic tendencies when its actually the tendencies of the women and the men that result in them doing different things to humiliate themselves.

    Take a good look at frat row on the weekend or on Thirsty Thursday. How many men do you see dressed in extremely skimpy clothing that leaves them freezing as the Massachusetts nights become colder and colder? Almost none. How about women? A signficant portion of them, if not a vast majority of them. When women are on college campuses they absolutely jump at the opportunity to sexualize themselves because college has a kind of initial freedom that many American women have not experienced before due to the sometimes harshly puritanical perspectives on female sexuality instilled by their parents. This is why you see women on Barstool half naked and past out. Its possible that Barstool selectively only picks men acting aggressively for their drunk photos, and women being vulnerable and not able to handle their liquor while half naked for women’s photos, but that’s a pretty far-fetched claim which you can’t back up. What’s entirely more likely is that women who get way too drunk for their own good find themselves in such sexually humiliating positions because they are the ones dressing in this manner and because they don’t act in the same way where they would be caught on camera doing the same thing as men. How often do you see women shotgunning cans vs. men? Getting arrested by the cops for starting a fight? Once you start asking these questions about how men and women are behaving differently on campus then you get the answer to your imperative of whether we should be ok with this humiliation or not.

    As it stands, Barstool really isn’t doing anything unique or portraying women in some way that people already don’t see them. It’s not an astroturf or a purposeful attempt to sexually humilate women as part of either unconscious or conscious misygony, its just comedy at the expense of drunk idiots who can’t even be responsible for themselves. Women, unfortunately, are also drunk idiots like men are, and because of the behaviors they exhibt they are caught being piss-drunk in different circumstances than men. If young women don’t want to get their reputation ruined they can choose to:
    1) Not get piss-drunk
    2) Not dress half naked
    3) Not dress half naked while piss-drunk

    The idea that society should selectively shield women by ostracizing comedy pages for simply taking photos in public places of people doing public things is just not a good idea, nor a well supported one.

  4. Amy on October 30th, 2018 8:06 pm

    This article is so dumb 1. There is no ‘portrayal’ These girls were pictured in acts that they did. Liberals always try to make people seem like the victim of something, even their own choices. To fit in with their narrative and pre-conceptions that try to fit the facts of life and reality into.

    2. All you did was give free publicity to these websites and therefore increasing the humiliation and objectification of women that was so opposed.

  5. Ally Littlefield on October 31st, 2018 8:27 am

    I whole-heartedly agree with this article. People aren’t getting the POINT of this article! You’re all putting the blame on women for “getting too drunk.” Everyone has bad nights, don’t act like you haven’t all been there. However, the difference is you were lucky enough to have good friends or people around you to HELP and not take photos of you instead. The issue this article is addressing is unnecessary public embarrassment and shaming of women. If a woman is “too drunk” you’re all saying that it’s 100% her fault to be humiliated, robbed, or raped? That’s disgusting.

  6. NITZAKHON on October 31st, 2018 9:03 am

    @Amy:

    Precisely. These are the consequences of choices; the choice to drink to the point of total inebriation, the choice to wear clothing that would facilitate such viewing…

    Nobody is saying you can’t make those choices. Women have free will.

    Face it, snowflakes, you’ve been fed a bill of goods that you can be stupid and not endure consequences.

  7. Stephanie Higgins on October 31st, 2018 4:54 pm

    “Your thesis is that we should not codone the humilliation of women on social media by hard-line comedy pages like Barstool because it victimizes women, but I think you miss the reality that women, at times, can victimize themselves.” – Shahen Melkonian

    Ah, yes, @Shahen. Because the people taking and then spreading the videos locally and publicly are TOTALLY coordinated by drunk girls trying to have fun (just as piss drunk dudes on the page are). Victim-blaming and being entirely uncritical? Hardly “hard left” “philosophy”….

    You may disagree with people’s choice to drink, but Barstool/ZooMass can and should be held responsible for its gendered portrayals of partiers. The portrayal comes in, @Amy, when the account decides which images to post, and which not to. Also, you can’t simultaneously say “stop pretending to be the victim!!1!” and then in the next sentence confirm the “humiliation and objectification of women.” Honestly, y’all seem to be the ones who can’t get their story straight….

  8. Amy on November 1st, 2018 8:39 am

    Sure they selected what photos to take, they didn’t make the girls act the way they did. That’s common sense lol.

    Liberals have a such a pre-school mentality. For good or bad, people have the freedom to do what they want. If you don’t like it move to a totalitarian country. I think an Islamic one would be good and there is a reason liberals love Islam, I think it’ s because do exercise control and liberals secretly want to be told what to do and how to live, they can’t handle freedom

    I would also hope that someone is more intelligent and articulate to speak proper english than say ‘yall’. Last time I heard someone say that it was a redneck who bragged about being uneducated and never reading . That’s the sad thing about liberals these days, they at least used to be educated and intellectual; they seem to be getting dumber and dumber.

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