Stanford Business School video deemed 'misogynistic' and taken down

'Misogynistic’ Stanford Business School students' video involving women's water fight taken down by university

Law professor said it was ‘a perfect illustration of the endemic culture of sexual harassment in Silicon Valley’

Rachael Revesz@RachaelRevesz
Tuesday 21 March 2017 12:30

A “misogynistic” music video produced by Stanford business students for their annual show has resurfaced online after it was axed from the school's official website.

The students, poised as the next leaders of Silicon Valley, were accused of making a sexist video, set to the song Unfinished Business by student musician and producer Petros ft Sol. It portrays women having a water fight in scant clothing, scenes of a sexual nature and men swinging golf clubs suggestively.

One of the critics was Michele Dauber, a law professor who is working to recall the Judge who sentenced former Stanford student Brock Turner to just three months behind bars for sexual assault.

“This video is offensive and normalises the objectification of women in the educational context,” she told The Independent.

“It is quite literally a film of a hostile educational environment and it is objectively offensive. It is also a perfect illustration of the endemic culture of sexual harassment in Silicon Valley. It is not funny it is degrading to women.”

After complaining about the video, it was removed from the website, but still exists on the Graduate Stanford Business show channel on YouTube.

Ms Dauber tweeted a screen grab of the video, which showed multiple undressed people with their hands on each other. The image was then blocked from the social media platform.

“I guess twitter has laid to rest the question of whether this is objectively offensive,” she wrote.

A spokesperson for Stanford annual show team said in a statement: "We unequivocally stand in support of women's rights and disagree with the accusations that Unfinished Business promotes a culture of sexual assault or misogyny. We are deeply saddened that critics have conflated these terms with the consensual and positive sexuality portrayed by women and men alike in the video.

"While we stand by the video, its creators, and performers, we also recognise that we cannot control its narrative or its impact at large. Out of affection and respect for Stanford University, we've made the independent decision to take down the public video in order to not interfere with the serious steps that the university is taking to ensure that there is no tolerance for sexual assault on our campus."

The lyrics use business speak as sexual innuendo and features Stanford student merchandise and campus grounds. (“We’ve got a little homework to do / I love collaborating with you / returns you can’t resist / follow my lead / (let me show you my) / master’s degree.”)

It was produced to advertise the school’s annual student show next month, which costs $59.50 a ticket.

Stanford has strict rules about student filming on campus for academic purposes only, which might suggest the school approved the video.

“In other words, did the makers of this film have Stanford's permission to film on campus?” Ms Dauber said.

She added: “If it was approved, who approved it? If not, what steps is Stanford taking to ensure that its brand is not associated with this depiction of women?”

Stanford Graduate School of Business spokeswoman Kristin Harlan said: "The video, which is intended to be a parody, is an independent activity that was directed and produced by the students and did not require nor receive university or school approval."

A spokeswoman previously stated that the video was “unacceptable on numerous levels and a team is working on having it removed.”

The producer of the video could not be immediately reached for comment.

Trump walks out of interview after being asked about racism and sexism allegations

Jen Boynton, editor of TriplePundit, a website that covers sustainable business, wrote that the video was “misogynistic” and “ill conceived”.

“This video promotes gender stereotypes and sexual harassment — issues one would hope Stanford students and faculty would be actively working against in the classroom,” she said.

Sarah Lacy, founder of Silicon Valley blog Pando, which often focuses on the way women are treated in the industry, said the video was “bizarre”.

“What am I watching? Is this a parody?” she tweeted.

The New York Times reported that a 2014 petition signed by 46 current and former business school employees claimed there was “a hostile work environment” that differentiated “on the basis of gender and age”, prompting Stanford to carry out an independent investigation over several months.

The case of the video comes six months after Brock Turner, a former Stanford student, was sentenced to just a few months behind bars for sexually assaulting an unconscious and intoxicated woman behind a dumpster in January 2015.

The survivor’s powerful impact statement quickly went viral and helped Ms Dauber to lead the on-going movement to recall the judge in the case, Aaron Persky, who was revealed to have a controversial history when it came to prosecuting male perpetrators of violence against women.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments