The Short List — March 10, 2013 12:12 am

Adams’ Surprisingly Sexist Housing Video

First-year girls "dig" Adams House.

First-year girls “dig” Adams House.

On March 8, Harvard celebrated its fourth annual Feminist Coming Out Day. A day later, Adams House uploaded its housing video for 2013. The two events would seem to bear no relation aside from falling on the same weekend, but the Adams video shows how much progress remains to be done to combat sexism on Harvard’s campus.

The video parodies Kanye West’s 2005 single, “Gold Digger,” and features first-year girls who feign interest in Adams men in order to gain access to Adams House. The main “gold digger” gets plenty of screen time to dance suggestively while swiping into various parts of Adams while two male rappers brag about the wonderful amenities that attract the females to begin with. The “gold diggers” described rely on the lead rapper for their every need whether it’s access to fun Adams events, free frozen yogurt at Berryline, or even free Adams clothing. The video is clearly meant in jest, and it makes Adams look like a fun place to live. However, the video makes it seem like the perks of Adams are enjoyed by men, or someone who can gain the attention of one.

It’s not that the very concept of a female gold digger is offensive. There are many women (and men) who feign interest in romance to take advantage of their partners. What is problematic about this particular video is that while the two male leads get to flaunt their clever rhymes and (well-choreographed) dances, the women are relegated to slinking along anonymously in the background, or worse, nodding along to the list of sexist traits attributed to them. In one scene the lead rapper refers to the friends of the lead gold digger as her madams (clearly to rhyme with Adams but still an uncomfortable word choice). In another, the gold digger rises from beneath a table in Adams library, emerging next to the lead rapper, an image with awkward implications.

The video could easily have been both funny and fair to women by featuring gold diggers of both genders. As it currently stands, it is a sign that Harvard still has a way to go toward gender equality.


  • Easy bud

    it’s a housing day video, not a metaphorical comment on Harvard’s journey towards gender equality..if you write for Satire V, I would expect you to recognize the difference

  • Anthony

    First, as an Adams House resident, these guys stepped up to make the video when others didn’t want to, so props to them for doing the House a service.

    But mostly- was this article serious? This was a housing day video- a light-hearted bit of fun. Do you really think there is some chauvinistic subtext here?

  • Julianna

    I agree with this article, Taonga! There was something very uncomfortable about the gender dynamics of this video. While it was well done and probably did not intend to be sexist, the dynamics of the video in which, as you say, “the women are relegated to slinking along anonymously in the background,” are VERY troublesome.

  • housingday

    Yes, clearly he does. Duh. And me too. Did you READ the article? Even if something is meant in jest, just “a light-hearted bit of fun,” how “fun” do you really think it is to still have to deal with these sorts of stereotypes in 2013? If we could just get it into of people’s minds that showing “light-hearted” instances of sexism or objectification of women (in rap, for example) is essentially condoning these practices, we might have less of a problem.

  • h ’15

    Great article! I’m sure no offense was intended, but the video does have a lot of sexist subtext. What’s most disturbing is that people think just because this is a harmless housing day video, the offensive gender stereotypes should be overlooked as jest. Thanks for bringing attention to this.

  • get over it!

    Are you kidding me? This video is hilarious and all in good fun. We are a hell of a long way away from gender equality because people, like yourself, continue to take offense where no offense is meant. So the video would have passed your scrutiny if there had been a freshman boy using an Adams girl to gain access to the house? Please, you would have found something else wrong with it.

  • Adams14

    As a woman, I appreciate the concern but we should really focus on real issues of gender discrimination. This was a parody, and the actual message of it is ridiculous and shouldn’t be taken seriously. Why in the world would a freshman choose to date someone in Adams to be close to the Yard when they live in the Yard? It’s a joke. Let’s critique the original Kanye song instead of these housing videos. Yeah, we could have featured a male student too, or a gay couple. There’s a lot of things we could’ve done. If we’re gonna go this route, might as well critique the video for featuring a black student too and perpetuating the stereotype of black rappers. Oops.

  • Concerned

    Seriously? Let’s get real. One of the worst and most common stereotypes you can reinforce in a Housing Day Video is that “Living in the Quad is terrible”. Hasn’t OSL asked that we stop ripping on other houses and the quad in general numerous times? Last time I checked the Adams House Housing Day Video doesn’t call out the Quad by name, or ANY OTHER HOUSE BY NAME in the actual video (neither did Quincy – props). The idea for the video is comically unrealistic and shouldn’t be taken seriously – you perpetuate the very stereotype you seek to destroy by trying to identify it in the most innocent of contexts. You take the video too seriously. I took the Adams Housing Day Video about as seriously as I took your article.

  • calmyourselves

    Why are people always trying to find some sexist/racist/offensive implication within a video CLEARLY meant for good fun? In all honesty, this is just another stupid excuse to rag on Adams or for the author to make himself sound like he’s some advocate against feminism. There are way more pressing and important issues to address in the matters of gender equality.

    Housing day is coming up, people. What’s more important is the spirit that Housing day brings with it. An article such as this just spoils the fun, joy, excitement, and friendly competition we get from it. So in all seriousness, don’t take this article seriously.

  • Let’s Think…

    Adams house is currently lead by a female house master (who works with Michelle Obama), a female resident dean, two female co-chairs and is hosting an event in April to celebrate 40 years of women in Adams House (the first House to integrate men and women at Harvard). Adams is clearly a place where women are valued and that perpetuates equality. It is the daily actions of people and communities, not silly housing videos, that perpetuate stereotypes and inequality. We need to remember that these videos are fun and are meant to bring the community together, not for people to find ways to pick everything and everyone apart.

  • Taonga Leslie

    Hi Let’s Think,

    Thank you for reading. I wholeheartedly agree with you about Adams excellent record on women’s rights and even today it generally takes a lead in fighting for gender equality in campus. That’s one of the reasons I found the video surprising. I agree that housing videos should be fun and I love the community they help to foster. However, I also believe videos can be entertaining without relying on and reinforcing gender stereotypes.

  • Guest

    Is this satire?

  • eminem

    Perpetuating the stereotype of black rappers? Is this serious?

  • Me

    The Adams’ video was pretty funny but this article is way better

  • Me

    By the reasoning of this article the Mather Housing Day video is also incredibly sexist because it alludes to James Bond. Get a life

  • please, everyone, breathe

    While I think a “just pointing it out” tone might have worked better for the context of this article, after reading the comments, I wondered where the same people were who commented on the Crimson article about Seth MacFarlane’s Oscar performance… As far as the content was concerned, I think the Adams video was actually worse than MacFarlane’s performance, who made referenced stereotypes to point out what is so wrong with society, not to be “cool” as Adams did.

  • seriously bro

    seriously, bro?

  • Paula

    This video might have been all in good fun, but don’t kid yourself – it certainly wasn’t hilarious. Whatever the content was, the execution sucked.

  • Paula

    Speaking of awkward implications, how cool was that bestiality/cunnilingus scene in Mather’s housing video? You know, with the gorilla emerging from some girls thighs? No judgment though, Mather, no judgment. Currier has munch, you’re into that. To each his or her or hir own.

  • frustrated

    “It is the daily actions of people and communities, not silly housing videos, that perpetuate stereotypes and inequality.”
    ^I completely agree with that, but the housing video is a very prominent, visible, official representation that “perpetuates the stereotypes and inequalities.”

  • stahp

    By that logic, the telling of dead baby jokes must clearly mean that our society values dead babies.

    What’s worse: a society where you can’t make a light-hearted joke about gold-diggers without it being relegated to being a sexist message, or one where where people easily realize when something is not meant to be offensive or taken seriously?

  • skeptical

    ” In another, the gold digger rises from beneath a table in Adams library, emerging next to the lead rapper, an image with awkward implications.” okay seriously? a scene in which he’s clearly reading a book and is surprised by her presence ?

  • Ohplease

    “like he’s some advocate AGAINST feminism” —> say what?! You don’t even make sense

    Yeah, the spirit of Adams is a sexist message. You are not above criticism just because you intended for it to be “fun”

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