Local resident takes to the Internet to call neighbors “bimbos” for sunbathing
Longtime Brockport resident Thomas Mangan published an article on Examiner.com Aug. 28 welcoming students back to the Brockport campus for the Fall 2012 semester.
At least, he welcomed those he called the "bimbos."
Mangan's article, "College Bimbos Return to SUNY Brockport," is one of the first articles to appear when searching Brockport on any search engine and has 26 comments as of Monday, Sept. 3, all of which lash out against the 26-year village resident.
It has brought up conversations about lawsuits, First Amendment rights, sexual harassment, campus security and women's rights, including the "rape narrative."
Mangan, age 68, initially declined comment to Stylus reporters on the grounds that his editor wouldn't want him to talk, but later called The Stylus office to grant an interview.
He said he went to do work in his living room the morning of Sunday, Aug. 26 and opened his window to two female college students in the front lawn across the road, sunbathing in bikinis "with their legs spread wide."
The women, Jessica Nasuti and Jennifer Massoni, recently moved in to the house with four other women for the fall semester.
They said they were not aware of the article until a friend told them and a copy of the article was put in their mailbox the following day. They said they believe it to be from Mangan.
Mangan said he first took pictures of the incident, since "college students get upset with things." He said he then went to talk to the women, which both women confirmed.
"I told them you shouldn't lie at an intersection with your crotch out like that, and there are three reasons why," Mangan said. "It's inappropriate, it's rude and you have more class."
Mangan said he told the women, whom he referred to as "young enough to be my granddaughters," that it was his First Amendment right to talk to them. He said while one girl was very nice, the girl "with her legs spread wide was a snob."
The women said they thought Mangan had come over to ask them to turn their music down.
When he started lecturing them on proper behavior, they said they felt creeped out and angry.
Upon the backlash from the one woman, Mangan said he told the two he writes for Examiner.com and could publish an article about it with the pictures he took.
Mangan said the women told him the incident could be sexual harassment.
"I raised two daughters," he said. "I know what sexual harassment is. I raised them not to put up with that."
Mangan said he put the pictures away without intending to use them.
The women called police afterward and asked for more information regarding sexual harassment. Mangan said once he found this out, he wrote the article.
"I wrote it because she acted like a darn fool," he said.
The story has the entire campus talking. Mangan is known to bash the college's students through the use of Examiner.com articles. When asked if he's written before about college students and incidences about them, he paused before replying "probably."
He's also known for "spying on the neighborhood," as most online commenters described it. Massoni and Nasuti said they had been told by the house's former residents that they had had problems with him before.
Mangan said he did nothing wrong, as the pictures were taken from his window and on public property, which he is legally able to do. He said multiple times to The Stylus and to the women that he could see the sunbathers from his window, tanning at the crossroads of a "very busy intersection."
Located on Utica Street, Mangan's front porch directly faces another home on the same street.
For Mangan to see Adams Street and the home of the girls, he would have to walk off his porch and turn right. Even then, to have a clear view of the lawn he must walk a few feet.
While commenters are wondering why Mangan has yet to be sent to jail, he did not break the law. Mangan said he took the pictures from his house and from the sidewalk, which is public property.
The pictures also clearly show that none were taken from the women's property. He does not need permission to use the pictures on the Internet.
Defamation and appropriation of their likeness for commercial use are possible, but Brockport media law professor Marsha Ducey said she doesn't believe the women would win.
Defamation is harm to a person's reputation, but Ducey said this would not work mainly because being called "bimbos" will not prevent them from getting jobs in the future.
"The only thing that they potentially could sue for, but again I don't think they could win, is appropriation of their likeness for commercial use," Ducey said. "But [Mangan's] going to argue it's journalism. [The women] could argue every click he gets more money and that he's making money from their images."
According to a 2009 Time Magazine article, people who write for Examiner.com, called "Examiners," make one penny per every click. But since it is a journalistic site, the case isn't very strong. Ducey said the women could win, but it wouldn't be worth much to go after him.
"It's not much of a legal issue as it is an ethical one," she said. "College students are still young and to go and call these college students bimbos in what is looked at as a newspaper-like publication is irresponsible. I don't know why someone would feel the need to do that."
University Chief of Police Robert Kehoe also said nothing was against the law.
"From what I understand from what transpired, there was nothing illegal from either party."
Both women told reporters from The Stylus they were annoyed by the pictures because their license plates were in it as well as the location of their home. Their safety is a concern as well as the issues of women's rights and sexual harassment.
Barbara LeSavoy, PhD and director of Brockport's women and gender studies department, said the incident arises three key points: derogatory terms, perversion and the rape narrative.
"The term 'bimbo' is derogatory," said LeSavoy, who has written extensively on women and gender studies. "Historically it was a non-gender term. It tends to be associated with unintelligence. That immediately is a derogatory word. It's completely a gender stereotype and a construction of the way we understand gender walls."
LeSavoy said the incident is plain "creepy" and perverted. She said it transgresses into the rape narrative, in which sexuality is put on women's bodies.
"That's a dangerous, negative thing," she said. "[Women] wearing a piece of clothing that shows skin creates a discourse that they are provocative. The rape narrative is that it's your fault."
"We don't carry the prompt for sexual behavior on our shoulders. That is not our roll. And if we have sex [and] if we're showing our sex, too bad. Deal with it."
LeSavoy said she initially wanted to write a national piece about it, but didn't want to give him more publicity.
She said she's glad people have banded together around the story in order to make the "Thomas Mangan narrative a minority" and give voices to those championing in the women's defense for a wall of protection.
"I want to say that he should have been arrested," she said. "That's how severe it hit me. He violated their privacy [and] he constructed a narrative about them that is unfounded and untrue. So he's creating a derogatory image of who they are.
"But he's also violating all women. They're our women, they're us, they're the college. They are women and gender. They are every discipline here. It's violates us all, it violates the community that we live in. It violates the integrity of the College that we are a space of learning and study. And that you are all really smart. You're here in college; you're brilliant.
"So to take this narrative and place it on these two girls not only endangers their lives, but it violates everybody. They are us."
She added that she sees men out on their porches playing beer pong without shirts on all the time, which is a similar act to what these women were doing.
Massoni and Nasuti said they want to thank people for all of their support. As the story continues to grow, so do the comments on the article and on social media sites showing support for the two college women.
The large majority are criticizing Mangan for his actions. Many are calling this the last straw and asking for an end to his "spying" on neighborhood college students.
Additional reporting by Carolyn McMenemon and Erica Sylvester
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