Beefing with Barstool

Honestly, I’m just as confused as you are

Before you send me any nasty comments, make sure it’s something you’d let your mom see.

Last week I wrote an article about NDSU football culture. Of all the people I expected to openly share their opinions on the piece, I can tell you, the NDSU Barstool page fell pretty far at the bottom of that list.

For some context, the article had to do with the way that football culture at NDSU seems to prioritize getting drunk and posting to social media (something I quite honestly thought was pretty well understood). Imagine my surprise when NDSU Barstool, a page dedicated to showing off feats of drunken debauchery on social media, the highlighted behavior of my article, publicly took a negative stance on my piece.

In fact, their exact words via Twitter were: “The fun haters that write for a paper nobody reads are back at it. #CancelTheSpectrum.” I found this funny for two reasons: first, I don’t take myself too seriously and genuinely enjoyed the dig, and second, someone obviously had to have read the paper to have shared the article, so…

My familiarity with the Barstool brand previous to them sharing my article was limited. I had maybe checked out their Instagram once with my friends when a video of a classmate was posted. I’ve known friends at other universities who have been featured on their school-specific Barstool pages. For the most part, I’d just written it off as an outlet for male students to show off their dumbass feats. I wasn’t mad about it, just sort of uninterested.

However, my article getting shared by NDSU Barstool, something I was just going to laugh off, has seemed to be blown out of proportion. I’ve had a couple of dozen people find my social media. As someone who keeps their social media on the down-low, this was instantly surprising. What’s more surprising is the people who’ve taken their time, either over social media or in person, to tell me how much they hated my article.

I’ve written articles in the past about abortion, sexuality, feminism, and gun control, and let me tell you that I never thought it would be an article about football that would have me getting hate mail online. 

One user even took the time to message me: “If you hate fun go to UND. We don’t need more ugly bitches here anyway.” As much as this really hurt my feelings, I decided instead of sitting in my room crying all day to instead forward the message to his mom and do some research. It turns outs, my previous perception of the Barstool brand as harmless fun was a little too forgiving.

Barstool’s founder, Dave Portney, has encouraged a culture of open misogyny, sexism, racism, and xenophobia to appeal to a young, male base who use see themselves as the counterculture to the politically correct. Portney has made comments encouraging the rape of women who are size 6 and above, has condoned the online harassment of female journalists who expose his sexism, and has said that those protesting violence against African Americans “deserve to die a horrible gruesome slow death.”

All these instances are the tip of the iceberg for Portney, so it shouldn’t be surprising that his following uses similar tactics all in the name of fighting PC norms. Barstool has encouraged its followers to not respect the values or opinions of others while simultaneously attacking anyone who they believed has disrespected theirs. It’s hypocritical and unnecessary for a site that’s supposed to be about ‘a good laugh.’

I understand even writing this has put a target on my back. I understand that even though I wasn’t the one to start this conversation with NDSU Barstool, I’m surely the one who will have to suffer to end it. If no one truly reads the Spectrum, then a response from NDSU Barstool is impossible, right? So there should be nothing to worry about.

But I will worry. Because ‘Stoolies,’ Barstool’s devoted following, often have the benefit of anonymity and groupthink to encourage them that any actions that might be considered hateful or inappropriate are instead funny and well worth it.

My article was meant to represent my opinion on NDSU football culture, and if you have a different opinion: great! We’re hiring writers. 

However, before anyone who follows NDSU Barstool or shares their content comes out to try to attack me they should just look at this article like their own content: it’s just meant to be funny, right? And be ready for my response: “It looks like the fun haters that can serve it out but can’t take it are it again #CancelToxicMasculinity”

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