After Annie Kors ’14 ran a case in an open demonstration debate about how debaters should be more sensitive with what they argue in rounds and more sensitive with the words they use, she overheard a stranger describe her as, “that stupid slut, she was probably raped, that’s why she said it.”
Since then, Kors has launched an organization called Debaters Against Sexism, along with Rebecca Kuang, a debater for Greenhill School in Dallas. With the help of other prominent female debaters and coaches on the national debate circuit, the two created a pledge against sexism and gender discrimination, which has gained over 1,300 signatures since February.
“We will be working closely with the National Forensics League to create and review legislation to help protect women in debate and to make the community more accepting of all people,” she said.
The National Debate Coaches Association unanimously decided to sign the pledge as an organization.
At last year’s Tournament of Champions only one girl was left debating on the last day with a few female judges on a topic about domestic violence. As a result, Kors and Kuang, who won the Tournament of Champions this year, began the organization by putting the pledge online for community members to sign creating a basic, fundamental platform for the organization. The pledge gained 1000 signatures by the end of the first week and spread into different circuits of debate, gaining more support than they expected.
“The biggest problem was just people would say that we wouldn’t actually do anything, people could just sign it and then feel better about themselves and not actually solve the problem,” Kors said.
Kors identifies herself as a feminist, a label she defines as “mostly meaning that women deserve equal respect as human beings,” she said. “Everyone deserves equal respect and treatment regardless of gender or sex.”
Debate Coach Mike Bietz said “organizations like Debaters Against Sexism will make everyone aware of how their behavior may contribute to an environment that is not friendly to girls.”