By: Ella Grim
TW: Mentions of sexual assault and verbal harassment
I recently perused the collection of Dartmouth’s original Spare Rib newspapers, which are housed in Dartmouth’s Rauner Special Collections Library. The original Spare Rib was founded by Molly Phinney ‘92 and published from 1992-1995. Although the publication aimed to provide a platform for “women across the spectrum” of life, the publication focused heavily on issues of concern to middle-class white feminists. Articles centered on intersectional issues are the exception rather than the norm in the old Spare Rib.
The 1990s Spare Rib provides insight into the pervasive sexism characteristic of Dartmouth during the era after coeducation started in September of 1972. One particular column, published occasionally on the first page of the paper, is titled “Spare Ribbings.” This column published misogynist and sexist quotes “actually heard around campus,” with the goal of calling out those who “still have ignorance to spare.”
Image Description: A photo of an edition of the original Spare Rib, published in Spring 1993. The title of this column is “Spare Ribbings,” The description reads: “Oh, the things some people say! The following quotes were actually heard around campus, and show that some people are still in the dark about, well, what century we’re in. Whether intentional or offhanded, these statements prove that some people still have ignorance to spare, and we have a bone to pick about that.” A full alternative text for these ribbings can be found at the bottom of this page.
The column is aptly named: ribbings. They’re jabbing and uncomfortable. They attack. They turn women into “others” with no perceived value on campus other than as sexualized objects. In publishing these overheards, the original Spare Rib created a space in which to call out problematic behavior occurring across campus: in frat basements, in class, in Baker, on the Green. More importantly, the publication created a record, a space to preserve these agressions so that today, we can look back on a definitive snapshot of the way things were. The quotations are a benchmark against which we can measure our own progression as a student body in terms of sexist language and behavior.
I wish I could say reading through these quips provided only a sobering, “this-was-how-it-was” reaction. In reality, I was only reminded of the uncountable times I’ve overheard similarly flavored conversations between today’s Dartmouth bros.
Although the reestablished Spare Rib aims to eschew certain troubling characteristics of our namesake publication, it is critical to continue the practice of calling out problematic moments and verbal harassments directed at all marginalized members of the Dartmouth community. This type of language— and the culture that creates it—is still persistent on our campus.
In light of the recent Supreme Court Roe vs. Wade draft leak, tracking these agressions becomes not only needed but urgent. From everyday harassments experienced around our campus to dystopian-esque legislative rulings, women’s autonomy, safety, and personhood are under attack. The least we can do is track these aggressions in order to spotlight the persistent harassment faced by marginalized students at Dartmouth. Perhaps in 30 years, current students will look back at our Spare Ribbings, if not to rejoice in the progress made, then to at least find solidarity in the record.
New Spare Ribbings
“Don’t worry, I’ll protect you.”
A male student to a Ribber while they were walking back to the River at night.
“Some guy touched my Planned Parenthood sticker on my water bottle, made a wincing sound, and excessively pulled his finger back as if it burned him.”
“I used to just think that SVPP was a minor inconvenience, but now it’s being unfairly used against me. No one cares about that SVPP bullshit anyway. I don’t know why they’re going after me for what I did, I didn’t do anything wrong.”
A guy overheard on the phone while a Ribber walked home at night—April 19th, 2022
“What do you think of colonization? I feel like it’s kind of a gray area.”
In a text conversation between a Ribber’s friend and someone he matched with on Tinder.
"I don't understand why you can't fuck a girl if she's drunk. If I'm drunk and I jerk off, am I raping myself? I don't think so [laughs]."
Group of guys overheard in the hallway of a dorm
“I think that was sexual assault.” “Yeah.” - Ribber, to her ex-partner, after she thought about what he’d done to her
“I found myself a good female. You gotta try it out sometime”
Overheard at the Hop—May 4th, 2022
Have a Spare Ribbing to submit? Fill out this form to add your experience to the record.
Alternative Text for Original Spare Ribbings Image
“Stop your bitchin’ and get back to the kitchen.” Anonymous blitzmail sent to a Rib editor
A man walked up to a woman with a beer in hand. “Excuse me.” He then threw a beer in her face and walked away. Observed in a frat basement: Sunday, April 2, 2:00 AM
A bunch of guys at the table behind me were talking about “getting action,” whatever, and one guy was apparently getting ragged on, and he said, “Yeah, well at least I don’t rape the girl.” Another guy laughed and responded, “Hey! Don’t knock it till you try it.” Overheard in the food court
A group of men as women walk in: “Should we make them blow us before they go in?” In front of SAE before the Saigon party
“There are some women playing pong in the basement, and they’re pretty good. Should we be letting women play pong in our house?” overheard in AXA fraternity
A man talking about having attended a sorority formal at a Southern university: “It was nice to see that there are still girls who act like girls.” Heard in Mass Row
“I was having a really good time, but it was late and I felt like I had to leave or I’d look like I was trying to pick someone up.” A man explaining why he left a sorority
“She’s still bitter that she can’t pee standing up.” A man talking about a vocal feminist
“Make sure you speak to an engineer. I only spoke to some woman when I called last time.” One male Engineering 21 student to another about calling a company
The following transcript of a blitzmail conversation between a number of fraternity brothers that was mailed anonymously to Spare Rib by another brother.
[bro 1]: “Anyone interested, just let me know. Not sure exactly what it is. (forwarded message from a sorority sister) ‘[Our sorority] is sponsoring The Untamed Shrews at the house on Mon. May 24 at 8:00. It would be great if a fraternity or 2 would like to co-sponsor this with us. I think it counts as both cultural and educational. Let me know if you’re interested.”
[bro 2]: “Just in case you don’t know the Untamed Shrews are a bunch of F@%cking Crack militant anti-male bitches. I don’t think we want anything to do with them.”
[bro 3]: “I have heard that the untamed shrews attempts, through drama, to shove down, into otherwise rational throats, vile, irrational, femminist [sic] demagogary [sic]. I’m not interested and the house should abstain, pending further investigation!”
[bro 4]: “I agree. The untamed shrews can go fuck themselves. This fine house should have nothing to do with them.”
[bro 5]: “Have you complaining children ever seen one of their masterful performances? I think not! They do tragic Shakespeare like no other traveling theater group that I have ever seen! They have mastered the underlining [sic] interpolomic [sic] relationships between the male and female that only a handful of actors have been able to display. I believe that I [sic] would be a great honor if they would perform in our [house]. All that would attend would soon be transformed into sensitive upstanding members of our inter-racial society.”
[bro 1]: “Due to the overwhelming support this house has shown for the Untamed Shrews, I have immediately request that they perform their intelligent, rational, and sensitive masterpieces next Tuesday at 8 pm. Thank you for all your responses… (signed) your PC Programming Chair… P.S. Pipe down, you fucks. I’m only kidding. Sheeeeez, try and do something for you guys, and you’re walked all over.”
[bro 4]: “I believe a reign of enlightenment will overcome all of us here if such culture is better nourished.”