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Feb 08 2013

No one ever rats out a fellow bro

Michael Kimmel wrote a great article on the Steubenville gang rape a couple of weeks ago.

As I found in my interviews with more than 400 young men for my book Guyland, in the aftermath of these sorts of events – when high-status high school athletes commit felonies, especially gang rape – they are surrounded and protected by their fathers, their school administrations and their communities. These out-of-control, rapacious thugs are our school’s heroes — “our guys,” as the gang rapists at Glen Ridge High School in New Jersey were called nearly two decades ago. The players themselves hold to a code of silence, the omerta of sexual assault: No one ever rats out a fellow bro. The parents, the school and the community circle wagons in a culture of protection around the boys.

It’s often the girl herself, and her parents, who are vilified and receive death threats for daring to expose the crime in the first place. Raped boys, too, dare not complain: A few years ago, after rookies on the Mepham High School (Long Island) football team were sodomized with broom handles, golf balls and pine cones in a pre-season hazing ritual, the rookies’ parents got anonymous death threats for standing up for their brutalized sons.

This seems like a less than ideal arrangement.

At the moment, we’re hearing a chorus of adults saying “boys will be boys”– surely the most depressing four words spoken about members of my gender. Haven’t you noticed that we always say that when boys have done something really bad? We shrug our collective shoulders in resignation – nothing we can do about it. How come we don’t say, “Oh wow, a man walked on the moon – boys will be boys!” Or “A man won the Novel Prize – boys will be boys!” “A man is working to cure cancer … ” you get the idea.  It’s a pernicious type of male bashing to assume that boys can do no better than be wild rapacious animals. We can do better than this – and we can insist on better from boys as well.

What could be more “misandrist”? Why aren’t the MRAs all over it? Why are they all over feminists instead?

The Steubenville 2

did what they did because they felt entitled to, because they knew they could get away with it. Because they knew that their coaches, their families, their friends, their teammates and the police department–indeed, the entire town would rally around them and protect them from the consequences of what they’ve done.

Because the Steubenville 2 is really the Steubenville 18,437 (I’ve subtracted the girl victim and her parents). Until the community rallies around the victim and not the perpetrators, the shame of gang rape is on them all. All.

The global public outcry in India has begun to change their public conversation about gang rape. Citizens of Steubenville have a moral existential choice about where they stand. Whose side will they be on?

I have an educated guess, but I’ll keep it to myself.

 

7 comments

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  1. 1
    rnilsson

    At least some little movement against this global brutal trend has begun. The folk-storm army avaaz.org is initiating a campaign, “End the war on women”, to counter it by sifting out some of its worst perpetrators from political office. Now, I don’t know whether it is bona-fide or just a fiendishly clever confidence trick — everyone should come to their own conclusions. The count is now over 18,000!
    .
    I just got an e-mail; here is part of the sales pitch (actual link left out because it would identify me):

    It’s the same story all over the world — abusive, violent men are in charge of making the laws that are supposed to protect women. And they use their power to fend off challenges from victims or voters — but now we can change that.

    When a 23-year-old student was brutally gang-raped on a bus in Delhi, citizen protests caught fire across the country and the world erupted in outrage. India commissioned an official review, but this week the government brazenly says it will ignore the review’s recommendation that politicians charged with rape or similar violence against women must step down. The 260 Indian politicians accused of such offences are fighting tooth and nail, and so far they are winning!

    The only way to turn this round is a concerted, people-powered effort to banish men like this from office. If 25,000 of us pledge to donate now, Avaaz will be able to create a campaign war chest to take on the worst politicians. They depend on their reputations, and we’ll expose them in the news and social media, including through ads and polls. We’ll start in India — the world’s largest democracy, which is gearing up for national elections — and then stand ready to intervene wherever there are opportunities to change politics and end the war on women!

    Avaaz will only process the pledges if we get 25,000, enough to make a real difference. Click here to pledge $15 or $35 now:

    … …

    Worldwide, 1 in 5 women will become a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime according to UN studies. Until men like these are kicked out of power, we’ll never get the changes to laws and attitudes that women need. Our power multiplies when these guys are at their most vulnerable: when they’re running for office and need every vote they can muster. We’ve seen how much positive change pro-women politicians — male and female — can bring to our societies, so let’s make room for them! Help reach the goal — pledge to chip in $15 or $35 now:

  2. 2
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    It’s even worse, because by rallying around the youth to protect them from the consequences of their actions, the community is BETRAYING those youth. Being an adult caring for young people means that you take responsibility for giving them feedback that will lead them to develop healthy, fulfilling relationships and life skills, and as far as I can tell, teaching kids that rape is hunky-dory does not fall in the “healthy and fulfilling” category.

    This is not a boys versus girls or rapists versus victims issue – it’s an issue of responsibility for guiding young people. All young people. These boys deserved much better than this, and having more adults willing to stand up and deliver would greatly reduce the number of future victims as well as providing more care for current and former victims.

  3. 3
    rnilsson

    Mattir is right, of course. I view this also as part of an unnerving trend towards and beyond corruption, as when crimes are actually committed by law makers, who then use their power to adjust the law or bully society in order to get away with it. A few examples were at the Avaaz site; I seem to recall a case in CT (?) where * a young female brat well under the influence ran down a man with her Big Dad’s SUV and drove off with a head-shaped hole in the windshield. Big Dad who was a bigshot in the local justice field impeded police investigations until she was sobered up, fixed a trial with his best friend presiding and generally proceeded to fuck up the victim, who accidentally barely survived impact. (He was rescued by someone who saw his faithful dog by his side.) It could be argued that this young lady was also betrayed by her family and society, in never being able to develop a sense of responsibility. At the same time, such a society betrays itself and all its members.

    * (allegedly)

  4. 4
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    As the parent of a teenage boy, I get really really irate when I see how his age peers are betrayed by their caregivers. Over. And. Over. And. Over. And… Sure, my son is fine, but he should not be the only one in his peer group who understands the idea of enthusiastic consent or stereotype threat or privilege or all those other actual grown-up concepts.

  5. 5
    A Hermit

    aped boys, too, dare not complain: A few years ago, after rookies on the Mepham High School (Long Island) football team were sodomized with broom handles, golf balls and pine cones in a pre-season hazing ritual, the rookies’ parents got anonymous death threats for standing up for their brutalized sons.

    Had this conversation about a “hazing” incident which happened recently in a small town near where i grew up…some co-workers were complaining about the kid who had been victimized and his family for going public about it:”… it’s just a prank, just hazing, happens all the time, no big deal…” until I asked under what other circumstances would be OK for a group of older boys (some over 18…there’s some question as to whether the 20something assistant coach in charge was aware of what was happening or not…) to force a teenager to take of his pants so they could play around with his genitals…why would something which would provoke outrage if it happened in, for example, a classroom in a public school suddenly be OK just because it’s happening in a locker room at the local hockey arena?

    Somehow this thought had never occurred to any of them…

  6. 6
    Francisco Bacopa

    This kind of thing makes me think that anti-rape campaigns aimed at men like “Don’t Be That Guy” are a good idea. I doubt they they directly chance the behavior of “that guy”, but they make men watch out for that guy, and sometimes intervene to thwart him when necessary and perhaps even call out rapey dudes when they might make boasts.

    I sometimes think that people who talk about the sexual objectification of women are missing the point. I think some dudes can’t even get to the sex object level. Women might just be a commodity that earns status points. Given the whole purity culture dynamic where male sexuality is an inherently defiling force, fucking women with or without consent is a boost. In a sex object culture consent might matter quite a lot.

  7. 7
    Tim Harris

    Try Googling ‘Rape at Waseda University’ – and pay particular attention to the remarks of certain Japanese politicians…

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