One would hope that in this day and age, young women would have more important things to focus on than who’s been sleeping with whom. Turns out that’s not true — even at Harvard.
According to the legal tabloid Above the Law, third-year Harvard Law School student Stephanie Grace sent an e-mail to some friends expressing views that can best be described as … uh, racist. One of these alleged friends, Yelena Shagall, sent the e-mail on to the Harvard Black Student Law Association. It states in part:
I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that African Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent. I could also obviously be convinced that by controlling for the right variables, we would see that they are, in fact, as intelligent as white people under the same circumstances. The fact is, some things are genetic. African Americans tend to have darker skin. Irish people are more likely to have red hair.
Yeah. Pretty bad, right? It gets worse.
Turns out the e-mail wasn’t forwarded until six months after Grace sent it. Yup, that’s a long time to hang onto ammunition a personally offensive and obviously racist piece of correspondence. So what was the catalyst for making this public? A stroke of conscience? A sense of social responsibility? Nope. A boy. Yup, Shagall decided to “ruin Grace’s life” (Grace had has a federal clerkship lined up) following a confrontation regarding Shagall’s hookup with the ex-boyfriend of a girl both were friends with.
First (and most importantly), I am deeply offended by Grace’s words. Her comments regarding African-Americans are nothing short of sickening, and I find it unbelievable that a Harvard Law student, or really any one person living in 2010, could demonstrate such ignorance (plus, I am almost 100% Irish, and no one in my family has red hair … clearly she’s a moron).
Equally distressing, however, is Shagall’s behavior. If she had taken appropriate and timely action with the e-mail, she could have been a hero. Instead, she allowed her actions to be dictated by the repercussions of her sex life. There is nothing noble in searching for the sharpest possible sword in your arsenal to bring down someone else. Nothing.
Spats of the “She used to be my best friend, but now she’s fooling around with this guy I dated freshman year” are not new. However, with the advent of social networking sites like Facebook and cyber-bullying through everything from AIM to cell phones, this has been taken to a whole ‘nother level … and with increasingly dire consequences.
Massachusetts teen Phoebe Prince, for example, took her own life following a rash of hate brought on by a group of girls jealous of her brief relationship with high school football player Sean Mulveyhill. Jessica Hogan of Ohio hanged herself after an ex-boyfriend publicized naked photos she’d sent to him via cell phone after they’d broken up. Thirteen-year-old Floridian Hope Witsell committed suicide after topless cell-phone images she’d sent to a boy she liked were sent from his phone by a third party and were all over nearby schools (and, sadly, beyond) within hours.
And the beat goes on …
Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. Whether it’s a middle school girl forwarding naked pics found on her friend’s cell phone as a lark or a Harvard Law student deliberately destroying the career of a peer, the internet has upped the ante in terms of young women “getting back at each other” over boys.
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