Harvard is in the news for its stalwart commitment to knowledge and truth. No, wait. Scratch that. Harvard is in the news because students at Kirkland House, one of Harvard’s 12 undergraduate houses, will celebrate “IncestFest” later this semester.
IncestFest is Kirkland House’s annual winter formal. It’s a lowbrow soiree, according to The College Fix, where the goal is to hook up with as many different people as possible.
There’s nothing particularly shocking about this kind of thing happening among red-blooded American co-eds, of course, even nerdy ones. And the party’s name derives from the fact that it is open only to residents of Kirkland, which makes the event sort of sadly limited.
Nevertheless, the tasteless name has definitely offended people.
Harvard student Samantha Berstler doesn’t find the humor in the name. She penned a critical article about the party this week in “The Harvard Crimson,” the daily campus rag. Berstler wrote:
There is one point I must emphasize: the vast majority of cases of incest are not between two consensual adults. Generally a father is exploiting a daughter or an older sibling is exploiting a younger sibling. Even if we bracket issues of age, supposedly “egalitarian” or “happy incest families” cannot exist: the power differential between father and daughter or older sibling and younger sibling is so huge that it necessarily precludes the possibility of consent.
[I]ncest is notoriously invisible and leaves its victims burdened with shame and humiliation for the rest of their lives. This invisibility and this shame are directly enforced by the myths of incest as “sexy” and “misunderstood” …
The comments in response to the article generally oppose and ridicule Berstler.
“Don’t go and let other people have a sick time getting laid,” retorts Marcus Bunny.
“Looks like someone needs to get some action at IncestFest,” snarks Kirkland2013.
“Nobody is thinking child abuse when they think IncestFest,” points out respondent OP. “And by the way, rape fantasies and incest fantasies are not analogous.”
But a few of the comments are more supportive.
“The name will stay along with the posing that it is hip, transgressive and avant garde until incest actually resumes being transgressive in the part of America that Harvard students care about,” suggests TMLutas.
CampusReform.org reports that “The Crimson” touts IncestFest in its guide to Harvard campus life.
“You’ll spend all of Secret Santa week watching underclad men gyrating in the dining hall and figuring out who you’ll hook up with at Incest Fest,” the guide reads. It also jokes that life in Kirkland House is “downright incestuous.”
Famous people who once occupied Kirkland House include Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, and, pretty interestingly, conservative/libertarian authors Thomas Sowell and Charles Murray.