A look at how women are portrayed on ‘ZooMass’

Women shouldn’t be the butt of the joke


(Courtesy of Barstool Sports official Facebook page)

By Emma Garber, Collegian Columnist

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]