This is a project designed to represent the impact of sexist comments in the Public Forum Debate space. If you feel comfortable, please share comments you’ve received from judges, coaches, or other competitors that are sexist, insulting, or problematic to bring awareness to gender inequality in Public Forum. We also want this to be a space where anyone feels that they can share their experiences without anyone finding out. Feel free to use this page to express anything that happened to you that you don’t feel comfortable sharing in other settings.
Please keep all submissions completely anonymous, as the goal is not to call out specific individuals. Rather we want to bring awareness to the issue as a whole to better combat it.
Disclaimer: we understand that oftentimes, the experience of women/ gender minorities in the debate space are hard to isolate with just our identity. A rude judge, opponent, or teammate does not necessarily mean that it was the result of sexism– however we do believe that women/ gender minorities tend to experience these comments with higher frequency. For this reason, we won’t censor any comments that don’t necessarily indicate that their experiences were necessarily solely because of sexism– part of the struggle is never knowing and doubting our experiences because implicit biases within others are not something that we can identify.
HALL OF SHAME
April 22, 2020
“Right before my introduction into speech and debate, I used to live in a very open, welcoming place. I’ve always been very strong, independent, and I will not hesitate to call out on bs. I never felt as if me (a womxn), being in debate was any problem whatsoever, and was not afraid to argue with passion with my team. But that all changed as soon as I transferred into a new district. My initial experience with speech and debate has morphed into something successful yet completely convoluted. Boys on our team (and yes I will call them boys since men can at least respect women), would exclude us consistently with having “prep sessions” and deciding not to tell the womxn about it, make “kitchen jokes” even though we expressed that they were offensive, and talk about my body behind closed doors. But I’ll never confront it because “boys will be boys, and you need to cover up and stop acting like a bitch” At tournaments, if I was debating a male/male partnership I subconsciously pulled down my skirt, and if I had a male judge, I would be submissive in cross. I don’t think people realize that the structural sexism that womxn experience is blatant in our experiences. No decent person is going to come up to you and say ‘you’re a womxn, therefore you suck at debate,’ (sadly that has happened also). It’s the little things that happen to us, that makes us question “is it because of my gender, or am I just really aggressive” “was this too revealing, or was my judge just a perv.” And those are answers we will never get. People tend to think that our experiences are a result of shitty people, not a shitty system. But those “shitty people” are a result of the “system” that teaches our subconscious to act this way to women, the same way my subconscious tells me to pull down my skirt. I still have 3 more years of debate but I still feel like numerous opportunities have been robbed from me because of my gender.”
April 9, 2020
“Stop debating and make me a sandwich”
“Aren’t you supposed to be a dishwasher not a debater”
April 2, 2020
“I tried to talk to some teammates (male) a little while back who have consistently left out the girls on our team during prep sessions and at/before tournaments. When I finally confronted them about it, and asked for them to consider including the only 4 girls on the team out of over 40 debaters, including me and my partner, they hit me with the good ol’ classic, ‘It’s not sexism, you’re just not good enough to contribute anything useful.’ While it might be true that they have experienced relatively more competitive success than the girls on our team, that’s absolutely not an excuse to exclude us. When faced with any further accusations, they always point to the one girl “included” in their prep group as an example that they’re not sexist. Everybody on the team knows that the only reason she’s allowed to sit in on their prep sessions is because her male partner is captain, and started the entire exclusive prep group culture, and the others are wary of getting on his bad side.”
March 30, 2020
“Your boyfriend’s better than you.”
March 29, 2020
“At the Harvard tournament, I advanced in out-rounds. When a male friend of mine found out, he congratulated me by saying ‘have my babies.'”
March 25, 2020
“Our ten-person-team consists of mostly girls – a diverse group of African American, Latinx, Indian, Chinese, German, and Caucasian members that are representative of our area and school. Coming from this background, it’s especially hard to witness debate rounds where our opponents say incredibly offensive things (about race, gender, and sexuality). When we traveled to a wealthy school near San Jose, I was met with the (parli) debate topic about providing affordable tuition to college for low-income families. While my partner and I advocated for a wealth-tax, I was shocked by what our opponents claimed:
‘people of color are not discriminated against…it’s the rich who face discrimination because you want to tax them.’
Needless to say, we left the round shocked. Unfortunately, I witness this pattern a lot in debate. I’ve been told climate change does not exists, the gender pay gap does not exist, and numerous times in speech categorizes I’ve been placed last by a judge with opposite political beliefs. Our team faces a lot of these challenges – girls have been written down for their wrinkled shirt collars – and it’s clear that this type of treatment wouldn’t occur if we looked different.”
March 16, 2020
Content warning: unsolicited/nonconsensual pornography
“The debate season ended. The first thing my partner did was send me, and several other people, in our team’s group chat, an unsolicited dick pic of someone else’s dick. When I told him not to send unsolicited dick pics because no one in the chat consented, he ignored me. I was unsurprised.”
March 7, 2020
“the boys on my team love to be subtly sexist by doing things like making exclusionary gcs and prepping w/out the girls on the team, and when i would try to bring it up i was belittled for assuming it was sexism, even tho it just blatantly was… so i just don’t bring it up anymore”
March 2, 2020
“I attended the Harvard Tournament in the JV division. In my break round I hit this team and in response to one of my contentions they say, “Immigrants don’t matter, we need to prioritize our people first.” Most sickening thing I heard the entire tournament.”
February 25, 2020
“Miss (last name) you seem out of control, almost angry during most exchanges made during questioning periods. Unfortunately, your loudness comes across as indignant, rude and overbearing. Just calm down, make your point and go for the win.”
February 21, 2020
“Nobody cares about pronouns. Stop asking.”
February 21, 2020
I wonder what was going through my male opponents’ heads when they shook my male partner’s hand but not mine before the bid round.
February 18, 2020
“I didn’t know what blocks were my entire novice year and had to give rebuttals off the top of my head because the elder varsity members would rather teach male novices who would “do better” in the future.”
February 16, 2020
“Pull up your blouse, you distracted my son during cross.”
February 8, 2020
“”Africans when they are out of Water they have to go to War with each other” “Racism doesn’t matter as much as long as you’re benefitting the Majority of People.” … and thats on Structural Ignorance.”
January 22, 2020
“I’m lucky enough to have a team that’s generally pretty welcoming to femxle debaters, but I hit one senior from our school at a local and he spent the whole round talking down to me. I’ve seen him debate against boys before and that’s not how he debates. He all but called me dumb in-round, so I did start getting kind of rude back. It was annoying but not terrible, and I thought that was the end of it, but afterwards he called me a myriad of names and said he would never debate a girl again unless he absolutely had to. If that wasn’t enough, I got an hour long narrative about how he always gets judge-screwed because he’s a tall white guy on the bus back”
Nov 3, 2019
“I was a participant in an all-woman round robin. One of my panels was two old white policy bros (one of whom even runs a brief company where he sold a transcription of my case earlier in the year) who insisted on talking over us during prep and cross. We were whispering as they talked at full volume during a minute of our prep time. Whether it was intentional or not, it’s disgusting in spaces designed to preserve female comfort, they still have this privilege.”
Oct 30, 2019
“Just got a ballot. Only feedback on it is targeted at me (only female in the round). It reads verbatim: “Ms. LASTNAME tends to be argumentative, adversarial, condescending. Please be more polite in future debates. You are extremely bright and have potential to be a perfect debater, I am uncomfortable kissing this round due to this.” So so so so sick of this.”
Sep 25, 2019
“This was…at Yale. The opposing team would make faces and spam click his pen whenever the other team was speaking. I was in the room, and I found it disgusting. The 2nd speaker would say something and the opposing team speaker would type as loudly as possible and scoff. At one point during rebuttal he was just blatantly talking over the Second speaker during her speech and someone in the room had to shush him. This is the first time I’ve ever actually seen this behavior in round and I felt awful afterwards. The pure toxicity was enough to make me want to go home. I’m not going to say this was a sexism issue, but as a woman I felt so bad for the second speaker that was just trying to get through her rebuttal.”
Sep 15, 2019
“[sic] was attacked on reddit for a post i didn’t make. was accused of “fabricating events of sexism”. after a round, my male opponent told me i was “fiesty” and that he “liked that”. told i was too fat to wear dresses and skirts to tournaments”
Sep 15, 2019
Content warning: sexual violence
“On the determining round for state quals, my female partner and I went against these two senior guys, they won. That wasn’t the shameful part of course, but what was, was when they made a group chat with members of the league and one of the male seniors wrote “I have to return the favor by raping [her],” it was directed to me. The only reason I found out was because a girl in the chat sent me a screenshot of it and told me to call the police.”
Sep 12, 2019
“During a round I misunderstood the opponents question during grand x, instead of chipping in to redirect my counterargument response, my partner loudly interrupted saying “what are you doing” “what are you doing”. There have been a handful of condescending remarks before but never so blatantly, during a round and in front of peers and a judge. The judge mentioned how rude it was, and said he understood where I was trying to go in my response.”
Aug 14, 2019
“My partner is a male second speaker, with a deep voice and an intimidating presence. Due to his brash, confident personality and the fact that he is a male, people on our debate team and outside of our debate team automatically assume that he is very good. For a long time, I have been unhappy with his argumentation, his lack of work ethic, and how he portrays himself as better than everyone else after round. Because we were regularly getting dropped at tournaments, I expressed an interest to him about switching speaker positions. It was met with instant and utter disdain. He immediately rejected even the notion that a girl could ever become a successful second speaker. After talking to my close friends, a girl- girl partnership, they also expressed their feelings at how my partner should remain a second speaker. Even though we were of equal ability, he was just more “intimidating” because he was a man, and therefore his “analytics were better”. It came as a shock to me how even girls on my team have an unconscious bias towards men in debate, and how women are pushed out from achieving certain roles because they are “reserved for men”. Even in our debate team, he is heaped with more praise for the same things that I do, and people are quicker to regard him as “better”. When I tried to talk to the same people about his emotionally abusive behavior, and about finding a different partner who was a girl, they said that he was the only one I would ever have success with, and it would be a big mistake to walk away. It just goes to show how inequality in debate can be a vicious cycle, trapping women in a place where they feel like they can’t achieve anything, speak out, or ever be good enough.”
Aug 7, 2019
“My teammates assume that since I am a girl, winning rounds with male judges should be easy. There was one time I came out of a round and told one of my teammates that I most likely dropped the round. He replied by saying that I should have unbuttoned my blazer and it would have been an easy up.”
Aug 4, 2019
“As a former speech and debate president and Femxle extemper I usually look over all the novices particularly- PF. Where ironically this year we had only one femxle debater and she was dubbed “not worthy” of her partner and typically excluded from the boys club. As someone who’s been labeled as a bitch on the national circuit it pains me to see femxle debaters to be de-humanized by male peers just because we decide to cause a little trouble .”
July 4, 2019
“In my second year in PF, my partner told me that I needed to buy a skirt suit “to win rounds with male judges.” At the time, I had been wearing the same black pantsuit for two years, having tried to wear a skirt and deciding to ditch it because it made me feel uncomfortable in round. The fact that she said this was completely jarring to me, and made me second guess my attire in round when it should have been the last thing on my mind.”
May 29, 2019
“i got mad at a boy for telling me “you know what? you’re a pathetic individual. you are a fucking pathetic individual” straight to my face because he was trying to prove why i wasn’t worth his time. our mutual friend told me that i’m supposed to be a good debater but “argue like a petty girl”.
like um where’s the correlation pls show”
March 31, 2019
““My partner and I were in a round at Glenbrooks. The judge did not flow a word of my summary. At one point I looked up, and he was visibly cringing. I was the only girl in the round.” This is really problematic. Not once did she think about why the judge was “visibly cringing”. Maybe the reason was that her summary just wasn’t the greatest. I’m a womxn, and I love what BR is doing, but quotes like these make me understand why some men might be against the cause. Just because you were the only girl in the round, doesn’t mean that the judge was inherently biased against you. Provide context. Don’t just say what YOU think happened, analyze the round and see WHY the judge was cringing. Was your summary too fast? Were you stumbling over your words?” [In response to a Hall of Shame submission from December 2, 2018]
March 24, 2019
“in attempts to salvage his link my opponent mansplained a response to something i said in second rebuttal during cx. i asked him what the question was, and he said he was making a response, and continued that if i wanted a question i should just ask him for one”
March 21, 2019
“I was a spectator in a round at ASU, specifically triple-octa-finals. I was watching a pretty lopsided debate, where a girl-boy team was clearly not keeping up with the much better team, however, what disturbed me was the way the second speaker treated the female in crossfire. He repeatedly giggled to himself whenever the girl would make a joke, and moreover repeatedly said demeaning phrases which put the female debater down. What’s worse was that I was behind his teammates, and I saw on their laptops a slack group, where all of the males on the team were being very rude behind the female’s back, going as far as calling her a horse and claiming that the girl was the worst debaters they faced. Their entire demeanor before, during, and after the debate just reeked of toxicity, and left me sickened. I was deeply disturbed by this, and believe that male toxicity is something that needs to be addressed in this activity. Being better than a female doesn’t mean you get to make these rude comments.”
February 28, 2019
“During my round 3 at Berkeley I went against two males. The judge even called them out for being “toxic males”. During prep time I can overhear the second speaker saying that they were “obliterating” and didn’t know how we got to be in the up 2 bracket. My judge luckily understood that they were being quite offensive, and told them that they were being abusive after round. Luckily, my faith has been restored in humanity because instead of being rude and respectful they apologized to us.”
February 24, 2019
“guy pfers on my team routinely blame female judges for their losses citing them as ‘biased against men’ and claiming that girls in pf get an unfair advantage because judges force them (the guys) to be ‘less aggressive’ and ‘more polite’ in round”
“My femxle partner and I are both told routinely that we are either not wearing enough makeup, should be wearing skirts or that we are too shrill despite our voices being deeper than that of many freshman boys who do not receive the same comments”
February 5, 2019
“Last year, one of my old partners told me that I couldn’t debate or 2nd speak, and that only he could. He preoceded to yell at me the whole tournament on everything I was doing wrong. We got 2nd at the tournament. Later his mom told my coach that her son was right, and that the second speaking position should only be for the guys, therefore it was his right to have it.”
January 29, 2019
“I was told by my coach that the outfit I wore to judge a novice tournament in (white tank top that was almost completely covered by a black fur zip up and blue denim shorts that covered everything) was ‘sending a message.'”
“practice sitting in a skirt”
“cute asian girls win everything! that’s why you won”
January 13, 2019
“at just one tournament our opponents said they got judge fucked when they lost on a 3-0, a debater mansplained a turn to me for a whole minute during CX even though i know what a turn is and have been debating for 4 years, a debater called us dumb and stupid in round, i had to debate in front of a room of around 20 people (only 3 of which were female excluding my partner and me), and a group of around 7-10 boys laughed at me during my CX and before i gave my rebuttal”
December 31, 2018
“I’ve hesitated posting on this website for a while, due to a fear I guess. But I guess I’m just very frustrated by the injustice of it all. Me and my partner(both wom(x)en) were in a round against two male debaters. The judge dropped us and wrote “wear less make up next time, ladies,” as the only comment on our side. Then, later on, when we won the tournament, she came up to us (yes it was a womexen) and told us, you debate better than your face. I don’t know when she thought that was an ok thing but I’ve just been angry and hurt by it for a while now.”
“Out of 25 + novices I could only get one girl to stay.
This happens every year, at least the years I’ve been captain .
Within 3 years: girls quit at an average rate of 81.5% within their first year of debate, with a 22% average quitting rate for boys.
And the reasons that the girls give me, most of the time– fall along the lines of — I didn’t feel comfortable with this boys club.
I know, there could be other reasons why that could be unrelated.
But I feel like I’ve failed. I couldn’t give them a reason to feel welcome in this activity.
I wish our team wasn’t so toxic.”
December 20, 2018
“Guy on my team was talking shit about other teams and said’ *this girl-girl team* is bad. they’re speeches are good and they know what they’re talking about they’re just… bad.'”
December 19, 2018
“me and my partner ( both female) got voted down for not wearing heels.”
December 17, 2018
“‘any one of you GIRLS could get carried by and one of the guys on this team, you know it is just a male power thing, you got lucky’
– In response to my partner and I (both female) getting a gold bid”
“As a womxn in debate it is very hard to go up against ‘aggressive’ male teams. Not because they are better than us. Not because we cannot handle the pressure of going up agains a guy who is not afraid to try to steal control of the round. But because as a womxm anything I do will be seen as as an uncalled for level of aggression.
I am very short and petite and I look like I could get squished by some of the guys I go against, which is not a problem until it comes time to be aggressive. If anyone, a guy or a girl were to be aggressive and strong during the round and crossfire you better bet I will fight back. Yet that is where it becomes a problem. People expect that 6 foot 200 lb guy to be loud and aggressive, but me, no way. When I say anything that is not nice or ladylike suddenly I am obnoxious, and uncalled for all because it is not what is expected of me.
I have lost rounds because my partner and I (both womxn) have been too aggressive ‘you asked too many hard questions in crossfire’ when out opponents got told ‘your tough questions in cross helped me vote for you this round.’ Also ‘your voices sounded to aggressive for young ladies like yourselves.’ I also got told my freshmen year that ‘such a loud mature voice talking about big boy problems should not be coming from your body.’ – my male opponent. Even the guys on my own team tell me that I sound like a much better debate than I look because I am such a small womxn.
Often times there is a huge double standard placed on aggression, where men are congratulated and reward for showing force, whereas womxn are penalized. Just because womxm have been forced into the stereotype of being quiet and submissive it makes it hard for us to be loud enough for out problems and points and visions to be heard when all everyone thinks is ‘wow she is just too loud.'”
December 15, 2018
trigger warning: rape
“i was the only girl in the room on the gun control topic. one of our contentions was about guns used for defense, impacting specifically to rape. in first cross my opponent asked how people will know that they are going to get raped. i replied with explaining that womxn don’t know in advance, which is why they need a gun to protect themselves just in case. my opponents then got up in rebuttal and said that womxn will know when they are going to get raped and should just call the police beforehand. my male partner tried to attack him on this point and explain, you know, how rape works, but our opponents would not listen to him. in grand cross i almost lost it when, yet again, i was trying to explain how rape works to them, and they actually listened. but then, came every womxn’s favorite line, ‘i just feel like womxn don’t need guns to protect themselves from rape. if they really didn’t want to get raped they should take precautionary measures, like not wear provocative clothes or going places they may get raped.’ at the end of the round, the (male) judge voted for them because ‘they clearly won on our impacts.’ and gave me the lowest speaks in the round with the advice to ‘learn to take arguments in crossfire without losing your temper. your opponents made very good points in all of the crosses.’ i was so mad. of course, this was my novice year, so i didn’t know what tabroom was and that there were actually educated people who i could talk to.”
December 13, 2018
“I’ve been called a b***h twice throughout my debate career, and both times it was by a JUDGE (after praising every other debater) who also just happened to be a 40-50 year old white man.
The reason for why they both decided to use degrading language to refer to a 15 year old ?
‘You’re being too aggressive in round, and you’re honestly coming off as a b***h. Be way more quiet and try being more polite to your opponents’ Meanwhile, I got in one real question during that CX and the other speaker was blatantly ignoring my questions.
‘Sorry sweetheart, but you’re being kind’ve a b***h. Stop dodging questions in cross ex and just answer your opponent’s questions.’
Same kind of deal, but because the question the other speaker asked had a complicated answer.
Both of these times, the judge told my partner to basically rein me in during round. Keep in mind that my male partner is 9 times out of 10 more aggressive than I am AND that it’s my job to make sure that things don’t get heated in order to preserve the optics of the round.
It’s to my understanding that most judges, let alone most adults, would flat out call a 15 year old a bitch. It’s baffling.”
December 8, 2018
“I was recently in a round where I was the only girl in the room. My opponents referred to me as “he” in their speeches, and attributed things that I said in speeches to my male partner. When we called for cards, they showed them only to my male partner, as if it wasn’t relevant for me to see the evidence as well. Overall, this is frustrating because this is the first time any of my opponents have treated me as if I do not matter and what I say in round has no consequence.”
December 7, 2018
“imagine sitting in a room, in a round and you bring a personal example in. now imagine your opponents tell you that that experience doesn’t matter, how do you feel? at what point does it become okay to tell someone their experience doesn’t matter. ask yourself this question DOES WINNING MATTER IF YOU HAVE TO PUT DOWN ANOTHER PERSON TO DO.”
December 2, 2018
“My partner and I were in a round at Glebrooks. The judge did not flow a word of my summary. At one point I looked up, and he was visibly cringing. I was the only girl in the round.”
November 7, 2018
“I’m so excited that beyound resolves exist, but I feel like it only advocates for a specific group. BR seems to support women in Public Forum. What about women in Congress (heavily male oriented), LD, or Policy ? I think with a name like beyound resolved, it should be beyound PF. Also is the beyound resolve community really creating equality? It seems in your post you only give credit to women. What about their partner ? I think we should also congratulate and give props to their partners no matter the gender. Male partners work just as hard and PF isn’t a unilateral effort. I think we shine the light on how females struggle with male partners, but never discuss the male aspect. Please respond or post this.”
Response from Sara Catherine:
Beyond Resolved is PF specific, as the issues in Public Forum are different from other events. Having never experienced the issues in other events, we don’t feel equipped to take them on. I don’t think it’s fair to criticize a movement for only addressing a specific issue, especially when it is clear (out ABOUT page) that we only address PF. Would you criticize the gay rights movement for not addressing issues of race or vice versa? We will provide a platform for voices who need it, and are happy to help you or others out if they want advice on starting “Beyond Resolveds” for other events and other issues. There are currently other platforms for LD, Congress, and other events. To address your issue with the Hall of Fame, we find that other platforms give credit mostly to male debaters, ignoring the success of powerful womxn. That is why we seek specifically to empower womxn in the community. I understand that male partners work hard, but they usually get praise within teams or online, while womxn are ignored or dismissed. If you want to discuss the “male aspect” of partnerships, then I would love to hear what you have to say. What I would tell you is that womxn with male partners often endure comments that they are being “carried”, or are less intelligent than their male partner, and often are viewed as a less valuable member of their team. Zoe Kauffman’s post “When the Gender Roles Switch” and my blog post “Unpacking ‘Backpacking'” address this issue if you want to read more about it.
November 14, 2018
*This was submitted to our Hall of Shame. We want to publish the feedback we receive, but also thought that this should come with a response.*
Originally submitted: October 24, 2018
“I personally as a man feel disadvantaged in Debate. When I’m up against a feminist case how does one attack without being sexist ? I was raised by women and believe everyone should be equal. I feel like beyound resolve shouldn’t be just about women in debate. Men of color also are subjected to discrimination. I believe beyound resolve should be about improving debate for everyone. I believe in the cause, but feel it’s just as sexist to only cover females. I have been called rapist by fem cases. when I see a female judge and female competition I instantly believe the round is done.”
I find a few things problematic with this comment. First, there are ways to respond to a case involving sexism without being sexist (just like there are ways to respond to racism arguments without being automatically racist). Just like in every other situation in your life, you control your words, not the other way around. A fundamental part of policy debate is arguments such as these and thousand of high schoolers execute rounds without saying wildly racist things. It is most certainly possible to respond to arguments like these, and if you are actually incapable of not being racist while doing so that speaks more to problems with your word selection than your opponents argument.
Second, your comment that Beyond Resolved is sexist for just covering women. I fundamentally disagree with this. Causes have the ability to select what groups they are fighting for. Sara and I recognized the need specifically for women to be empowered in debate due to the systemic barriers that they are up against. Women are at a unique disadvantage that Sara and I had experienced which is why we created our website.
Third, your ending comment stating that you believe a round is “done” when you see a female competitor and judge. Not only is this logically difficult to believe would happen, but you also fail to provide any examples of a time when your loss could possibly be attributed towards sexism against you. Your notion that women rely upon women judges to win rounds is a toxic mindset that propagates many of the ideas that Beyond Resolved is attempting to combat.
Which brings me to my next suggestion. If you feel as though Beyond Resolved is not representative of the groups you would like to see represented in debate then please take action! Sara and I created Beyond Resolved to specifically target one issue of debate: gender inequality. We have geared our website towards a specific issue because that is the way we think that we can make the largest and most beneficial impact. Nothing is stopping you from starting your own initiative to give a platform to those who you see need one and we encourage you to do so.
October 27, 2018
“asked my male opponent a clarifying question in cross. he started his response with ‘let me dumb this down for you.'”
“You’re asking too many questions in crossfire. You’re just being petty girls.”
“Our arguments were deemed ‘pointless’ and ‘out-of-context’ without any rationalization, and we were called ‘immoral’ and ‘selfish’ debaters.”
October 8, 2018
“Debate is aggressive. It is just part of it. I agree there is a limit to how much aggression is acceptable but one should not be less aggressive just because his opponent(s) is/are female. Gender equality has not about being easy on girls. It is about being just as aggressive, or polite, with women as with men. Gender equality and feminism has been twisted to diminish men to either being inferior or just complete monsters. If that’s how it is going to be then why can’t men start a masculinity movement? They can’t do that because there would be extreme backlash and hatred. As a man (17) I honestly feel diminished by all of this. Where is my backup? Who is on my side? Who is going to defend me when a woman makes sexist comments towards me? Nobody. This is because if someone were to step in on my behalf they would be ridiculed and nobody wants that on their plate. I listened to the creators of this page’s speech at the Vestavia Hills Novice Tournament and I genuinely smiled at their idea but the more the spoke, the faster my smile faded. This page is advertised to be about calling out men for judging rounds and for male debaters for using simple intimidation factors to throw off their opponents. That is how debate works and it is perfectly acceptable. A ‘Hall of Shame’ is the exact opposite of what the creators portray this page to be about. This is all a facade. Why would you create a place for people to come and be uplifted only to have a page dedicated to bashing people? Priorities need to be recognized and respected. I denounce this page and the monster it has become. Soon it will only become another place to gossip and ruin the credibility of judges and debaters everywhere. I urge a negative ballot.”
Note from Sara Catherine (who gave the announcement at this tournament): I distinctly advertised this page as a space for anyone to share comments that are sexist, insulting, or otherwise shameful for the purpose of highlighting issues in the community as a whole, and genuinely apologize if that was not clear. I think aggression crosses the line when it becomes more of a game of making femxles in the round look stupid, whether that be using the “oh, you don’t understand, let me explain” model, or by just continuously picking at things that have already been answered to bully or make fun of an opponent. I used to wonder why there were certain teams that I hated debating. A lot of these teams we continuously beat, and it was never that I was scared of the actual debate. It was that I was uncomfortable, as everything they did in the round was not to point out flaws in my argument, but instead to point out flaws in me as a debater. I fully recognize that anyone can be a victim of sexism or discrimination. Unfortunately, in this activity femxles drop out at a rate SIGNIFICANTLY higher than guy debaters, and I do not believe it’s because we have “different interests” or “just don’t like it”. We don’t advocate on this website that “all men are trash” or that guys have to be more gentle towards girls. We advocate for crossfires that don’t aim to diminish femxles as debaters, prep groups that aren’t exclusive, and an environment that uplifts womxn instead of pushing them down. On the Hall of Shame, we aim to both provide a platform for anyone to share their experiences anonymously (as many are afraid of backlash from coaches or teammates), and to draw attention to problems in the community as a whole. If you read the page, none of the posts call out specific judges or people, as we recognize that issues in the community involve everyone, and therefore need to be addressed by everyone. Yes, part of our solution is uplifting femxles in debate, but we cannot effectively do that without recognizing the issues that they face. I’m not putting this on here to diminish your argument, as arguing is not the purpose of this page, but to clarify it’s purpose and the overall purpose of our website.
“after Yale, our opponents went on Reddit, found our names on a post titled “4-2 screws at Yale” and commented that my partner and I ‘abused the fact that [we] were girls to sass the hell out of [them]’ in a prelim.”
September 28, 2018
‘”You’re doing public forum? Face and body like that, you definitely don’t seem like the type to argue.’
– from the father of a debater at a tournament.”
September 25, 2018
“Whenever I try to say something to some of my teammates if I see them doing something exclusive / problematic, they make fun of me for it. They say that I’m a feminist like it’s a bad thing. They trivialize these issues. Most of my team is great, but these few people who make girls feel bad for pointing out the issues that we face can still really hurt.”
“A judge told my partner that he shouldn’t have read a frontline about insurance rates that I didn’t extend through final focus because ‘your partner probably didn’t understand what the hell you were talking about’.
We won on a 2-1 decision, and when he saw me in the hallway after the round, he shoved his finger six inches away from my face and angrily told me ‘You lost that round 700 percent’.”
September 23, 2018
“‘You can have the coin toss, because you’re the prettiest one in this room.’
He looks around to the opposing team and my partner, all male.
‘I mean, am I right, or am I right guys?’
He didn’t flow a single word that I said, but flowed crossfires between my partners and all the other speeches.
He dropped us.
He was seventy.
It was our bubble round at Nationals.
We didn’t break.
I watched him judge Public Forum Finals in Fort Lauderdale.”
September 22, 2018
“Upon entering into the debate program my freshman year, the pamphlets promised a positive, healthy community of high schoolers who shared similar interests as me. I walked into my first team meeting with the impression that the team would become my second family and tournaments would become a home away from home. During my novice year, I was one of the only two girls on my team so this concept of sexism in debate was never fully introduced to me as the males on my team never seemed to notice the issue. It wasn’t until my first year in the varsity pool when I started to feel the full force of sexism in debate. This discrimination is something you really don’t realize the power and influence it has over you until you experience it. I’d assume debaters don’t walk into tournaments with the intention of making sexist remarks. However, once the words are said, they leave permanent scars.
‘You are nobody and you never will be anybody in debate.’
‘Your voice is so shrill and annoying to listen to.’
‘You’re not even close to where the guy debaters on your team were.’
‘Sexism in debate doesn’t exist. It’s just an excuse you make when you lose.’
Comments like these have kept me up late at night, wondering why I continue to be a part of such a toxic, heartbreaking, scary debate world. If it weren’t for some incredible people I’ve met in the event and the fact that I’ve been on the team for a few years, I would’ve quit by now. While the debate community is filled with so much envy and hate, there are still good people out there. I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of my best friends in this life through debate and they serve as a constant reminder as to why I have chosen to stick with it and why I joined in the first place. I’ve found that the best way to create my own safe haven in debate is by making friends with people for who they are, not for their prep or ‘clout’. To every debater who’s reading this, there’s always someone out there looking up to you. Put yourselves in a novice’s shoes and see yourself the way you would want a newcomer to see you and hopefully that’s as someone who promotes kindness and love, not hate and jealousy.”
September 21, 2018
“I love my team because I know deep down inside, they’re good people. So I forgive them. But my forgiveness doesn’t mean that I’m not still hurt by how they have made me feel.
It’s so fucking easy to be labeled as a bitch for speaking up for the girls on my team. And that sucks, ya know? Like why does me expressing our discomfort to the team warrant backlash? I guess it’s easier to label anyone who brings up issues on the team as a bitch than to admit that there are structural problems with how our team functions.
Also on a different note, I hate that I have to filter myself even in a safe place like this. Like I can’t really talk about my real experience other than explaining ambiguous general shit that happened because I’m so afraid of how the team would react if they saw a comment explaining my story.”
September 19, 2018
“This doesn’t keep me up at night or anything but I still remember this uncomfortable incident at my first national tournament. I’m a girl who partners with a guy and once in a round against two male opponents one of them told me to “just be quiet!” with the same intonation that one might say “shut up!” in cross. I hadn’t been raising my voice, I was on my second question, but he hadn’t been trying to ask me any so I had just asked him another to not let the opportunity go to waste.
I don’t know if it was necessarily sexist or anything, I just thought it was kind of disrespectful. I was really taken aback. The weirdest thing to me was that when I looked at my judge and the one spectator, they didn’t even react. Nothing was on the ballot or in the RFD for my opponent about being more polite or respectful. The spectator didn’t even comment on it. No one apologised after round. I’m still not sure if I’m overanalysing.”
September 17, 2018
“‘You’re two males against two young girls, be gentle GENTLEmen, they might not take it as well as you two do’
Though I am a male, still thoroughly angered me.”
September 16, 2018
“Look at this team! They’re girls, but they’re actually kinda good!”
“our opponents compared people with disabilities to animals. ik this is a space for gender equality i just don’t know where else to put this.”
September 12, 2018
“As black debater has not always been my best friend.
I come from a school that focuses mainly on the speech side of things and does not give any real attention to debate. I joined debate my freshman year because all my friends were doing it. The minuet I got into the class, I was told that it would be better for me to do a speech event. The reason I was told this is because everyone thought that my skin color would give me an advantage. I immediately let it be known that my intentions were to do debate and only debate. While this may seem like a small issue to some, I believe it is a big issue because it gives the idea that blacks can not be good in debate. While I have seen these types of behaviors in my program, I have also seen it outside my program.
As a freshman I went to the novice tournament that my state offers for my very first debate tournament. I went 3-2 which is not the best but defiantly not the worse. The one impact that tournament will always have on me is the ballot I received after round 2. The ballot said quote “because of who you are, you will likely find more success in another event. As a debater and as a person, this really hurt me because this one person basically said that you will not be great in pf because you are black.
To wrap everything up I feel that minority debaters deserve more attention within the pf community. Nova fk will always be an example that any is possible in debate all you need is a drive. I am currently a Junior and last year, I was able to attend toc silver (did not go because of personal reasons) I hope that my message will encourage debaters who are not white that anything is possible. You just need a drive. Hopefully this year I can make my name on the circuit to be an example.”
September 11, 2018
“I came into debate a bit late in the game, and by late I mean my 10th grade year. My partner was also a newcomer, and he was male. While a good friend of mine, he had a habit of raising his voice and refusing to listen to me. As a result, we disagreed about a lot of things, but I worked as hard as I could, oftentimes writing both constructives, polishing rebuttals, and updating him frequently on the topic as well as quizzing him before rounds. We ended up doing really well, going undefeated several times and I even received extremely high speaks at almost every tournament (always higher than his). I may have been a novice, but I gave it my all, and I remained toe to toe with many of my fellow 10th graders (now in the varsity league), even keeping up with them at State Quals up until the late rounds.
I was even given an award by my school in recognition of my (unusually high) levels of novice success.
I had put my disagreements and in-fighting with my partner (who is honestly a really great guy, just super agressive when arguing, especially with me) behind me. I was confident that my coach would do the same: recognize my talent independent of my partner (who hated debate and only did it because he was forced to) and pair me up with the next best competitor of my age- despite being a novice, I was easily the second best (and most committed) debater on my team, second only to one person (a male) who made it to state in his novice year, but had yet to experience similar levels of success.
I begged my coach to put me with him, but I also even weakened my own position by agreeing with my coach when he said that he was concerned about my lack of experience (despite my comparative performance at state quals).
Then, in a meeting discussing partners for the next year, he suggested that it wouldn’t be a “good idea” to “put me with another boy like ” seeing as I “couldn’t seem to get along with the opposite gender.”
And I believed him. For almost two years, I believed him, so I settled for the next best partner I could find, struggling to find someone that matched my skill level, and finding none.
And to some extent.. I still believe him. That I was the reason the partnership in my novice year hadn’t worked out, that perhaps I had been too aggressive, that maybe I needed to “tone down my attitude” despite the fact that I now see just how unfair the situation was- a young novice who struggled to do the work of two people, and had to fight a belligerent partner the whole way, but to then have the narrative thrust back in her face that “maybe you just don’t get along with the opposite gender.”
“this was posted publically on /www.reddit.com/r/Debate/
‘Now, I’m not saying (girl girl team) was a bad team, like for sure they are a top tear team this year but the judges were blatantly trying to be feminist. All these posts in the past year have been bolstering support for women and showing that women can debate. This was good at first but it’s gone too far. Judges in the community are now actively choosing women to win debates to show “awareness”. This is stupid and y’all know it. Now what we r seeing a transition in debate where men r now losing to women just because they are women. The prime example is the UK finals where 2 handsome men lost to 2 women even though the men blatantly won but judges are trying to bolster feminism like what. As you can see what we need now is meninism where men r supported, so people make some stinkin studies about men being predjuced against’
there’s a lot to unpack there. i’m just gonna leave this here and say this. no girls attended the round robin for this tournament. 19/90 elimination round competitors at this tournament were womxn. 5/20 top speakers. i made it pretty far but every round. i was the only girl. if i’m a part of some conspiracy to oppress guys in debate, i’m doing an awful job of it.”
September 10, 2018
“not directed towards me but members on my team had nicknames for a specific female debaters shrill voice. she was a great debater and even helped our team get to our rounds by showing us the way”
“our club president got a comment left on one of her ballots that said her top was unprofessional and “did not fit the expected attire of a high school debater.” the top was completely fine and she had chosen not to wear a jacket due to the heat of the convention center.”