Stanford MBA Video Called ‘Mysogynistic’

A scene from the Stanford video now removed from YouTube

MBA students at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business are taking some heat for a YouTube video being used to promote their forthcoming follies show. Critics, including a Stanford University Law professor, claim the broadcast is degrading to women and portrays what could be considered a hostile environment.

The slick and highly-produced video, set to Petros & Sol’s Unfinished Business, has since been removed from the GSB Show website. It was meant to promote the annual follies show on April 28th at the Fox Theater in Redwood City.

But as soon as the five-minute video surfaced online, it sparked controversy. Stanford law professor Michele Dauber tweeted the video, noting ““The problem is that this is what a hostile environment looks like. So it’s not funny — it’s degrading to women and diminishes all women in biz.”


Her tweet was flagged for offensive content by Twitter due to a screenshot taken from the video of barely clothed bodies writhing together. “I guess twitter has laid to rest the question of whether this is objectively offensive,” Dauber added on her feed.

Then, the editor of TriplePundit, a website that covers sustainable business and the Triple Bottom Line, published a commentary under the headline “Stanford Business Students Release Ill-Conceived, Mysogynistic Music Video.”

“This video promotes gender stereotypes and sexual harassment — issues one would hope Stanford students and faculty would be actively working against in the classroom,” wrote Editor Jen Boynton, who has an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School. She called the video “gross, unfunny and unbefitting” graduates who will some day be in leadership positions.


“While the students were most assuredly ‘just trying to be funny’ and ‘didn’t mean any harm,’ that’s simply not good enough for those who aim to lead organizations for change,” added Boynton. “Given the school’s values to ‘engage intellectually,’ ‘strive for something great,’ ‘respect others,’ ‘act with integrity’ and ‘own your actions,’ we expect more.”

Sarah Lacy, who writes the popular Silicon Valley blog Pando, has called the video “bizarre” and “misogynistic.” “What am I watching? Is this a parody? Or just a. Idea abt GSB students f’ing???,” tweeted Lacy, who has been outspoken about the way women are treated in Silicon Valley.

Retorted professor Dauber via Twitter: “Um, ‘No really, sweetheart, this will be funny if you act like a sex object on a video that will live forever on the internet.’

But then it disappeared–at last off the website and now off of YouTube. In fact, Lacy noted that as soon as Dauber began tweeting about the video, it was taken down. “Without–yunno–any admission of the larger problem,” Lacy wrote.


Asked about the musical video, a spokesperson for Stanford confirmed that the production was removed from the website. “It is a video that the students produced to promote their annual GSB Show in a couple of weeks,” she told Poets&Quants. “They decided to take it down when it was shared socially.”

A group calling itself the GSB Show Leadership Team issued a statement on the controversy, disagreeing with the video’s critics. “Each year, the students of the Stanford GSB write and perform an original musical parody that is designed to bring the community together. The show and the videos used to promote it are made by the students for this purpose.

“We unequivocally stand in support of women’s rights and disagree with the accusations that “Unfinished Business” promotes a culture of sexual assault or misogyny. We are deeply saddened that critics have conflated these terms with the consensual and positive sexuality portrayed by women and men alike in the video.
“While we stand by the video, its creators, and performers, we also recognize that we cannot control its narrative or its impact at large. Out of affection and respect for Stanford University, we’ve made the independent decision to take down the public video in order to not interfere with the serious steps that the university is taking to ensure that there is no tolerance for sexual assault on our campus.”

Tickets for the event, called “Blast Wars: A @GSBlessed Side Story,” went on sale today (March 10) and cost $69.50 for alumni, faculty and friends and $59.50 for students.