If, as seems likely, there is a Genderfuck this year, attendees may come across guys in dresses and girls in less — but they will also encounter teetotaling fraternity brothers, dry and safe areas, sober bartenders, a phalanx of Party Associates, and, if all goes according to plan, a mass of students comfortably experimenting with gender in more ways than one slogan could ever hope to capture.
These features of Genderfuck, some new this year, are part of the plan the party’s planners recently laid out in a meeting with the administration on Jan. 31.
The plan is intended to address the safety and logistical concerns surrounding any Sharples party and bring Genderfuck back to its origins as a safe, sex-positive and gender bending space.
It seems likely that the planners’ efforts will ensure the party will go on this year.
“I was really impressed with the [meeting],” Myrt Westphal, associate dean for student life, said. “It was really collaborative. Everyone seemed focused on having a really fun, well-run and educational event.”
Westphal said that the early start to the planning process for Genderfuck makes it probable that the party will occur this year.
Given how favorably the deans have looked upon the project thus far, the planners say that they, too, are optimistic.
Like all parties, the approval process for Genderfuck is composed of three main parts: acquiring a location, getting a party permit and ensuring there are enough available PAs.
The planners are currently in the process of securing each of these. They have filed for a party permit and are in negotiations with the management of Sharples to hold the party there. Recruiting PAs is typically done much closer to the event.
The Delta Upsilon fraternity, though, has already pledged to volunteer a team of approximately ten to twelve sober brothers to assist with security concerns throughout the night.
Proving that the safety of partygoers is a high priority is a central task of the planning committee in the approval process.
Halloween and Genderfuck, the campus’s two largest parties where alcohol is present, are held in Sharples to provide the most space.
Usually, during these large-scale festivities there is a spike in the number of reported sexual assaults, so they require especially thorough safety measures.
The party planners have arranged for the Sexual Misconduct Advisors and Resource Team (SMART) and the Drug and Alcohol Resource Team (DART), whose members are trained to deal with sexual assault and alcohol issues, to be present at the party ready to deal with distressed revelers.
The fraternities Delta Upsilon and Phi-Psi have also committed to providing sober brothers to escort partygoers back to dorms and assist the PAs alongside other sober student volunteers. According to Kenneson Chen ’14, one of the party planners, the strategy is strength in numbers.
“There will be lots and lots of people on the ground, in the party scene,” he said. “We want a lot more people, more than have ever been at this party helping.”
He expects that at least 12 PAs and between 30-40 other volunteers will be on site at the party.
There is also an alcohol and sexual abuse campaign planned for the weeks leading up to Genderfuck, which will take the form of informative posters placed in Sharples.
PAs who plan to work at the party will be given instruction on how to deal specifically with attendees of Genderfuck.
The Clothesline Project, an unrelated event that raises awareness of sexual assault victims, is set to take place two weeks before Genderfuck.
The close proximity of the parties “will definitely raise survivor issues and give more sensitivity around the topic of sexual assault close to the time of the party,” said Lisa Sendrow ’13, a member of the SMARTeam and a co-facilitator of the Clothesline Project.
In addition to addressing safety concerns, the party planners hope to return the party to its queer roots in the Sager symposium.
The symposium, which focuses on homophobia and queer issues in general, was established by Richard Sager ’71 in 1988.
Genderfuck was never officially affiliated with these events, but it usually fell on the same weekend.
The party was intended to provide a safe space for exploration of the identities that happened to be the topics of discussion during the daytime at the symposium.
But concerns of the increased incidence of sexual assault at Genderfuck prompted the Sager committee to officially break their unofficial connection with the party in 2009.
Now, planners are trying to bring the spirit of Sager back to Genderfuck.
“This should be a night where people can feel comfortable, can experiment with gender safely,” Chen said. “We just want to get down to that again.”
As Genderfuck sheds its skin, administrators, planners and interested students are united in the hope that “guys wear a dress, girls wear less,” a slogan popularly associated with the party, will be washed away as well.
The planning committee has officially divorced itself from the phrase and plans to make fun of it in advertisements for Genderfuck.
“[The slogan] is heterosexist, and it reinforces the idea of gender binary which is something this party tries to dismantle,” Chen said.
“This party is more about the idea of gender freedom than a perfectly prescribed slogan. It should be more experimentation and less prescription.”
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