Holding Her Campus Scranton Accountable

Student addresses derogatory nature of select Her Campus Scranton content

Published: November 20, 2015

Screenshot of the Her Campus Scranton website SCREENSHOT CAPTURED of the Her Campus Scranton homepage, presented as a recognized affiliate of The University.

SCREENSHOT FROM HER CAMPUS WEBSITE / SCREENSHOT CAPTURED of the Her Campus Scranton homepage, presented as a recognized affiliate of The University.

Commentary by
MATTHEW DEFRENZA

Now, I don’t mean to step on any toes, offend anyone personally, attack another student publication or present myself in a negative light, but I cannot, for the life of me, fathom what Her Campus—Scranton is supposed to be.

Her Campus Scranton appears to be some weird, unnecessary hybrid of Tumblr, Buzzfeed, the crappy articles that your mom shares/tags you in on Facebook, spam and the junk mail that your grandma thinks you simply must read.

When I first heard that Her Campus Scranton was coming to Scranton, I was under the assumption that it was a feminist publication, regarding issues and problems faced by women.

I would have applauded that pursuit. But Her Campus Scranton is a mockery, attempting to be cutesy and comical. Some of their articles do in fact serve what Her Campus Scranton could be, but some are so terribly bad and offensive that the publication as a whole is thrown into poor standing.

Simply scrolling through Her Campus Scranton generates groundbreaking headlines such as “Scrantopodea Volume 1,” “Keeping Up with Khloe and Lamar,” “9 stages of Halloween night as a girl,” “Throwing a house party vs. going to one,” and, my personal favorite, “12 things that happen during cuffing season.” Really? This is what gets published? This is the groundbreaking work done by the Her Campus Scranton staff?

Now, I’m fine with posts aimed to be mindless reading, cute cat videos or anything of the sort, but who monitors the material? To call them articles would give them the dignity of legitimacy, that Her Campus—Scranton can publish regarding the social environment here at The University in a biased way is criminal.

One post that specifically begs me to question if The University has a recognized affiliation with Her Campus—Scranton was “A Boy’s POV of a Friday Night.”

The most fundamental criticism I have is that this article is the presentation of generalizations towards “boys” as written by a staff of “girls.” That right there should sound alarms.

How the hell can they factually support any of this blog, without any statistical information or interviews?

I can overlook the seizure-inducing GIFs, or interchanging images and, in retrospect, I am thankful for the room that they take away from the possible space for writing within the article.

Apparently, any male—female socialization automatically labels the males involved “frat bros,” clever allusion especially on a campus without Greek life. The allusion carries a negative connotation, without declaring the female anything at all.

Then comes the line that lowers my opinion of Her Campus Scranton from rag publication to mere trash.

After setting up a scenario of this hypothetical “boy” seeing a cute girl from his class, Her Campus Scranton depicts the “boy’s” actions as follows, prepare yourself for some truly masterfully crafted journalism, “You give” what I read as a group of fellow ‘frat bros’ “all one last bro hi five, and tell them that you won’t see them later (if you’re catching my drift).”

I cannot see any other interpretations of this line, other than the presentation of males in a derogatory light. According to whichever “staff writers” on Her Campus Scranton are responsible for this publication, males are eager for, and only for, sex. I openly challenge the writers to offer their own interpretations.

After having their hypothetical “boy” go outside to pee on the side of the house, they further their degradation of males by having the boy drown his sorrows in “Fratty Light” upon learning that the cute girl from his math class has left the party.
The hypothetical boy then goes to “Badfellas,” again, some true ingenuity, before calling it a night. I wasn’t aware that, as a college-age male, I was supposed to drown my sorrows in alcohol.

I was slightly more concerned than offended when the publication concluded with a disclaimer, stating, “*Disclaimer: This article is not intented to promote drinking or to be offensive.” THEY MISPELLED INTENDED…need I say more?

Her Campus Scranton clearly does not understand that putting a disclaimer at the bottom of the writing does not absolve you of all the offensive ideology presented, nor of the portrayal of The University’s social element as solely revolving around drinking on “Pine” street and having sex.

It is offensive not only to men in general, but specifically to male students and The University’s image. If I were a parent of a prospective student, I would be mortified reading through Her Campus Scranton as a “student publication” about life here on campus.

Reading Her Campus Scranton simply forces me to look over my shoulder to wait on Ashton Kutcher’s appearance, telling me that I’ve been “punked.” There is news, biased news, yellow journalism, tabloid, rag, gossip and then there is Her Campus Scranton.

Her Campus Scranton is bush-league, asinine, offensive, poorly written, pointless and simply embarrassing garbage that needs to be monitored by The University to ensure the integrity of the school’s name.

I am not calling for its eradication, but for it to become something that doesn’t mortify The University. I am calling for Her Campus Scranton to be held to a standard similar to The Aquinas, The Esprit, The Windhover or any other student-publishing organization.

I am calling for it to resemble something to the effect of “The Art of Manliness,” which does not pretend to project any knowledge about what it is like to be the opposite sex, but rather it provides wonderfully written articles for its male readership, articles regarding aspects of male life such as knots to know, grooming techniques and inspirational quotes from notable figures in history.

If you do not want to be criticized by others, simply do not publish your work for the world to see.

Someone needs to hold the staff of Her Campus Scranton accountable for their work, to voice that they cannot simply write anything that they want without rebuttal.

I invite response.

*Disclaimer—This article was not INTENDED to offend any specific member of “Her Campus Scranton.”

Contact the writer: matthew.defrenza@scranton.edu

14 Responses to Holding Her Campus Scranton Accountable

  1. Katie Darcy Reply

    November 20, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    First of all, I find this article completely offensive, despite the DISCLAIMER.

    By starting off your article, “Now, I don’t mean to step on any toes, offend anyone personally, attack another student publication or present myself in a negative light, but I cannot, for the life of me, fathom what Her Campus—Scranton is supposed to be.”

    You’re automatically offensive, the reader knows to be offended before going any further. I find it hypocritical for your to bash Her Campus for putting a disclaimer up, when you in fact did the same at the beginning of your article.

    Second, you sir should probably do your own research since you are quick to attack others to be lacking in that department. If so, you would know that Her Campus Scranton is not funded by the University but rather by your peers who simply wish to express themselves and have never positioned to be hard news, but rather another view on campus. This being America, they are entitled to freedom of speech and to publish whatever they wish to, whether or not it conforms to your “ridiculous” standard.

    I didn’t even have to look at the byline to know that this “piece of trash” article was written by a man. Who else would have the audacity to shame females for writing their perspective if it dares to degregate men. I challenge you to turn on any news channel without seeing the constant “rape culture” our young female genaration is dealing with on college campus’ across the nation. While these young women, try to bring humor along with some foreboding to their readers, you bash them. Ultimately, they are trying to understand the perspective of a select group of men who have so little regard for women. Being a women, on a college campus it is near impossible to forget the horror stories splashed across the nightly news. So any instance to take the story back, and find some humor is a welcome respite.

    Once again, a man has decided to censor women and dictate what they are going to write about (i.e. grooming and “knot-tying”). However, I find that laughable as you would probably be the first to attack the site if they did publish articles solely on shoe shopping, as that would be considered “vapid.”

    As you so condescendingly wrote, “If you do not want to be criticized by others, simply do not publish your work for the world to see.” So Matthew, welcome to 1950s Russia, as I feel that’s where you would rather be.

    It’s 2015 in America, and unfortunately for you, women have the right to say, write, and publish whatever they like.

    • Amy Smyth Reply

      November 21, 2015 at 1:29 pm

      Hey Katie.

      So I’d just like to point out that it was real nice of you to attack Matthew as a person rather than critique or provide counter-arguments to his points. Half of your response is you just ranting about how this is a man who is attacking Her Campus. Why not use some factual arguments that you can back up? Who cares if a male student wrote it? Why not look at the information rather than the source?
      Yes Matthew used some incredibly inflammatory statements but I’m sure that was done on purpose in order to illicit a response. He attacked the style of writing not the women.
      Maybe if you actually gave it a bit of thought you might see he has some fine points. I’d be incredibly offended if there was a a site run by “my peers who simply wish to express themselves” that depicted all of the women here in one category as trashy and easy. Stop putting everyone in one category due to their sex. One person does not represent their entire gender.

      • Katie Darcy Reply

        November 24, 2015 at 8:16 am

        Hi Amy,

        I really wasn’t going to respond but I invite dialogue, and unlike other writers would never suggest someone not comment if they don’t understand my intention or disagree.

        First, I am not attacking Matthew as person, I used the very words he put on paper as arguments of why I whole-heartedly disagree with him.

        Second, I really find it hard to see his “fine points” when he his masking as a quasi-feminist. I understand his notion, that he would like the site to reflect women and invite deep-seeded conversation. But who is he to dictate what reflects women? Her Campus was created, as a fun outlet for women to write a blog and connect. I’m sorry but if we are going to hold “Her Campus Scranton responsible” then where is the same harsh criticism for sites like BroBible that women have tolerated for years? It’s extremely hard to leave sex out of the conversation when women have been held to a much higher standard. (When you graduate, you will see)

        Oh and third because you wanted facts here are some:

        23% of college women are raped on college campus’ every year

        Only between 8-37% ever led to prosecution

        3% lead to a conviction

        Women still make 78 cents to every dollar a man makes and there are people who believe this is a myth (I promise you it is not)

        24% of women are involved in STEM programs across the country

        Only 14.6% of CEOs are female (although females make up 52% of the workforce)

        Her Campus Scranton is not funded by the University of Scranton and does not even use “The University of,” therefore the University has no right to monitor it.

        You all go to Jesuit school which values discernment and should work to help bring each other up instead of needlessly “crucifying” (pardon the pun) one group or another.

        AND FINALLY,

        Mr. Defrenza misspelled the word mispelled

  2. Mackenzie Black Reply

    November 20, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    It seems you have dissolved any kind of standard or accountability of The Aquinas by publishing this “garbage”? Before you argue that you’re simply expressing yourself too- consider both your motive and Her Campus’s motive for content. Their content is fun and harmless, while not targeting anyone in particular. Your masculinity is so fragile, Matthew.

    • Matthew J. DeFrenza Reply

      November 23, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      Now Ms. Black, for to call you by your first name implies an element of familiarness that I cannot endorse, I can handle people disagreeing with my article. I applaud the few who have disputed my words, rather than harping on my tone or subject matter. What I will not tolerate is your comment. Absurd claims of my being a communist, hell-bent on surpressing the voice of women, as made by Ms.Darcy are too absurd to even warrant my response. Now, for your comments. My article appears in the opinion section, which has a policy, if you would have read it, saying that the content within the Forum’s pages are the opinions of the writer, not of the Aquinas. Expressing myself is precisely what I have done, by expressing my opinion. Opinions fundamentally have motives, and mine was to bring to light an article that I felt depicted male students in a stereotypical and derogatory way. The harmless and fun content you mention was not the subject of my article, the subject of my article being the harmful and biased opinion of one such article. That being expressed, your last statement is laughable, a last attempt to insult me rather than my works. Insulting the person, rather than the person’s argument is committing an ad hominem fallacy. My masculinity is not the subject of my article, and should not have been the subject of your thoughts when reading my article. I’m sorry to say, that if you only gathered your astute observation by reading my article, you have utterly missed the point of my words and therefore should not comment on what you did not comprehend. If you plan to give me you opinion, give me your opinion of my words, not on the person that you perceive me to be…especially when I do not even know you.

  3. Blair Reply

    November 20, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    Luckily for Her Campus any press is good press.

    And Matt, if you don’t like it… don’t read it.

  4. Alyssa Milazzo Reply

    November 20, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    Get a life.

  5. Kelly Reply

    November 20, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    i love her campus!! I

  6. Nicole Hvozdovic Reply

    November 21, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    As a student of the University of Scranton who has no affiliation with Her Campus other than the occasional read, I personally am not offended, mortified, nor embarrassed to admit that I completely support Her Campus and all it’s contributors. The purpose of Her Campus is to provide a creative outlet for college students to post their writings. It’s supposed to be fun, silly, informal even. It’s supposed to be a place where anyone can write and have their writings published for others to view. You don’t have to be an aspiring New York Times journalist with impeccable vernacular to participate, hence why the articles are not of prestine quality. While some-or just Matthew DeFrenza- may see the articles as “poorly written garbage”, I see Her Campus as a site which fosters development of creative writing skills and subsequently a little boost in self-esteem for those whose work becomes published. And I can’t help but think the University of Scranton should be more “mortified” by a student blatantly condemning an entire group of fellow students for all the internet to see rather than a few “bush-league” articles posted to a site that is not supposed to be professional anyway. Publicly humiliating a specific group of peers, THAT is the aspect of this entire situation which goes against the Univeristy’s true ideals. It has also come to my attention that the author of this article has previously written another article commenting on the “absurdity” of man buns. Because writing an article mocking men with a bun is definitely not “bush-league, asinine, offensive, poorly written, pointless, and simply embarrassing garbage” in any way, shape, or form. Matthew DeFrenza, I invite you to practice what you preach. 🙂

  7. Brandon Reply

    November 21, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Katie, let’s not pretend that Her Campus Scranton writes to defend women from the challenges they face on a college campus. Saying so sounds great when defending yourself, but its simply not true. Her Campus primarily writes trash and, frankly, it should take pride in it; Do not defend yourselves with some quasi half assed excuse that you are standing up for women by defying “rape culture” and protecting your American right to freedom of speech. Ironically, I think Mr. Defrenza’s is actually encouraging you to talk about real feminist issues (i.e. sexual assault, equal pay, reproductive rights, etc) Given that, he certainly does not belong in “1950s Russia”.

    Overall, I remain indifferent to the publications featured in Her Campus Scranton. I never viewed it as a legitimate source of news and I certainly do not think it represents the majority of our campus community. Similar to many other websites, its a blog that allows me to procrastinate every once in a while and even laugh when I read something funny.

  8. Liam Reply

    November 21, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    I would challenge readers like Katie, who assert that because this is America, and not a communist country (which is a very valid point that I’m glad she clarified: I often get confused about whether or not I am back in 1950’s Russia) and women face many atrocities on college campuses and in the world at large, which cannot be denied, a group of women have the right to make their own publications which generalize and negatively stereotype all men as “pigs” or “frat boys,” to seriously consider the damage they are doing to their own cause. If certain young writers wish to advocate for the emergence of an “anti-rape and anti-discrimination” culture, the last thing that they should be doing is publishing articles that discriminate against males. For instance, one article titled “11 Ways to Know He’s a F@#K Boy,” states that any male who wears Sperry’s or Vineyard Vines, is a F@#K Boy. Furthermore, it includes a picture of a well dressed man, and labels this brand of attire as that conducive of a F@#K Boy. This type of article simply gives women something to laugh about, and makes it acceptable to label any man who has ever bought a pair of boat shoes as a jerk, or frat bro, which quite ironically is exactly what writers of HerCampus claim to be trying to end, but from the standpoint of a woman who wears cutoff jean shorts.

    I would also challenge those who wish do defend HerCampus-Scranton as Katie did, to look on the website at the most read articles. I assure you that the examples of advocacy for women, are very difficult to find.

    While it is perfectly acceptable to publish one’s own opinions on the internet, and such a website should not be “trashed” simply because the content of its articles are not entirely substantive to some and have too many GIF’s, the writers at HerCampus-Scranton should hold themselves to a higher standard of journalism. The cause that HerCampus as a whole stands for is undeniably commendable and extremely courageous. I personally love reading HerCampus articles that did not come from Scranton, because they raise important questions about how society views women and the “hook-up” culture. The Scranton section of HerCampus simply fails to uphold the high standard of philosophical and moral inquest that is set by other HerCampus chapters. Currently, HerCampus Scranton parallels to a Chipotle Branch that advertises healthy Mexican food, but sells you McDonald’s once you get in the door. I believe that such an article by the Aquinas should serve as a wake-up call to the writers of HerCampus.

  9. Dipendoodle Reply

    November 23, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    I got a flock in my ‘rari.

  10. Dipendoodle Reply

    November 23, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    I got a glock in my ‘rari.

  11. Katie Reply

    December 7, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    First off, I would like to make it blatantly clear I don’t write for Her Campus – Scranton or otherwise.

    Now I’m not trying to stamp on any toes, point any fingers or – well, actually, yes I am. I’m pointing one specific finger at you, Mr. Defrenza. You seem to have an issue with the Her Campus – Scranton page and I would like to address some of the points you brought up but I am not a coward and won’t bother to hide behind what some low brow journalists consider to be necessary niceties. If something goes up with my byline on it I mean what I say and I won’t apologize for it so that, when some people inevitably become offended by my words, I can whine and say ‘She’s over reacting I said it wasn’t personal!’ This is personal and this is just for you.

    The New York Times Pulitzer winning standard to which you hold Her Campus – Scranton to is, at worst, laughable and at best hypocritical. You state that the standard should only represent the school well and tackle complicated issues of sexism and misogyny. Or, more accurately, misandry which is what you seem to think Her Campus – Scranton promotes. You also seemed to take issue with the entire Her Campus – Scranton staff and the way it is run. You were offended by the idea of “asinine” articles. Indeed, how on earth could Her Campus – Scranton compare to your groundbreaking investigative journalism on important points like “Put Down the Highlighters.” Wow! What a finger on the pulse of America you have! I can’t wait for you to teach us how to properly use a highlighter, for yours must be the only correct way and our vapid, man-hating little women minds must be blinded by all the pretty colors, rendering us unable to use one properly.

    I am sorry you found the “Boy’s POV” article offensive. Clearly, we, as feminists, have not done enough to educate you on the finer points of satire. Or is it just perhaps that you are not used to a woman making fun of the stereotypical idea of a man in the same way you do in an article titled “Death to the Man Bun.” You seem to be of the idea that only “hipsters” wear this particular hairstyle – strange, though, that you would condescend to a man when you so vehemently protested any and all funny interpretations of stereotypical masculinity. Funnier still, somehow this is considered top tier journalism and definitely not some fluff and overtly opinionated news piece that might appear in a rag such as Her Campus – Scranton. You only write about the real issues, right?

    The thing I find most appalling, however, about your entire condescending, asinine and frankly bafflingly offensive article, is that you cannot stand the idea that perhaps a woman run, woman centered blog maybe, just perhaps, might not have anything catered to you. Her Campus is so titled for a reason. It is made for women. Women who like things like satire, relating to other women through amusing lists, and other such articles that sites like BuzzFeed make millions off of every day. You criticize everyone who works for the Her Campus – Scranton chapter and infantilize them by accusing them of not doing any real research and yet you are severely lacking in how to improve the situation in the slightest. You do not suggest that they go out and perform surveys and get more engaged in their campus. You do not even make the suggestion that perhaps a more seasoned woman in the journalism department lead them down a different path so that they might educate both themselves and their readers.

    No, your suggestion is to simply make it manlier. “If them there girls made more knots and less tampons they might understand what a REAL MAN likes to read.”

    You say if you don’t want your work criticized don’t publish it – while also being something most cowards say in an attempt to shift blame away from the purposefully hurtful things they’re saying (“I’m not racist, but….”) it is also something you should keep in mind before you start throwing stones and holding women to different standards than you hold yourself.

    This isn’t the Wall Street Journal and you are not Gary Webb – exposing the secret, shoddy underbelly of Her Campus – Scranton.

    With absolutely no due respect : it isn’t about you, Mr. Defrenza.

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