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Published On: Tue, Apr 24th, 2018

Olivia Sanchez didn’t feel safe after Goutham Sundaram’s ‘racist sexist’ jokes about conquering ‘white women,’ now he’s kicked off the tennis team

A star athlete from the University of Portland has been kicked off the tennis team for making controversial remarks that were perceived as “violent” and “misogynistic” by Olivia Sanchez, a student who penned an op-ed, stating that she “had the most disturbing experience of my time here during the Athletic Department’s fifth annual Wally Awards.”

The event “was tainted by the violent, misogynistic speech of senior men’s tennis player Goutham Sundaram. Sundaram, the emcee, introduced himself with a speech in which he said he was going to open up, get real and ‘make the stage (his) locker room.’”

Sundaram, a senior, joked about his goal of getting “white women to sleep with brown men” and said his parents’ migration to the United States would be “worth it” if he were able to “hook up with a white girl.”

“Go brown and turn your frown upside down,” Sundaram said repeatedly. “Go French and your panties get drenched,” he said of his French teammates.

Sanchez detailed who left the room, explaining how she was “standing in the hallway shaking” after enduring this part of his “violent speech.”

It’s noteworthy that Sundaram never spoke in violent terms, rape or assault, anything implying force, but that’s not how Sanchez took it.

“…tonight proved that that place is not even promised to feel safe. They might let us in the room, but they don’t have to acknowledge that we’re there and that maybe we don’t need to hear about how as women, we owe an immigrant sex, because Gandhi starved for that very purpose.”

Later explaining that “Sundaram may not have been physically violating someone, but I felt violated. I felt unsafe. I was physically shaking. And what made it worse was that our top leaders of this campus, not to mention Sundaram’s teammates (the tennis team laughed the whole time), couldn’t understand the magnitude of the violence and harm that those words reverberate. Inaction and silence are equal acts of violence.”

Sanchez then turned to lecturing: “Whether you’re a white man or a man of color, women never owe you sex. No one owes you sex. Nobody died so you can have sex. Nobody starved so you can have sex. To belittle the work of others as a way of bolstering your own sexual entitlement is nauseating. The fact that I had to listen to it with little impediment though, was much much worse.”

She mentions National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the #MeToo movement, never citing a single thing Sundaram DID which was violent or proof of sexual assault, just his sexist jokes.

She then “breaks it down” for us, explaining what was “violent and unacceptable”:

One, as I stated before, women never owe men sex. To imply that you deserve sex for any reason completely dehumanizes the body at the other end of that statement. Women are not vehicles for your sexual gratification, and when we spout this narrative, we normalize unwanted sexual attacks on women. Because if you’re owed something, your natural inclination is to take it, whether there is consent or not.

Two, the way in which Sundaram glorified “white women” as the ultimate prize was not only grossly sexist but bent towards a common racist culture of holding up white women as the standard, and women of color as second rung, even among men of color.

Lastly, my particular predicament is representative of a sexist culture we don’t talk enough about. After I walked out, I was told that people asked my friends what was wrong with me. Why was I so upset? As a woman, it’s hard to stand up, or simply remove yourself, from situations where you feel unsafe. You are pegged as dramatic or overreacting. You lose the label of “fun,” “easygoing,” “one of the guys” when you speak out or even fail to hide your dismay about this type of injustice.

She closed: “I never want another female athlete to feel objectified like that again. To feel her skin crawl and knees buckle on a night when her strength should be celebrated.

“Sundaram, this night was about you, about the women you couldn’t conquer. But it shouldn’t have been. Your sexual struggles should never trump my safety.

“This was abhorrent. Athletics can do better.”

About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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