Saturday, April 08, 2006

Weekend news


For those keeping abreast of the Duke rape scandal, there's a scathing piece on Slate on the culture of lacrosse with good links throughout. The commentary on the sport's demographics is perhaps not surprising, but elicits a sigh of despair from this blogger.
More than any other sport, lacrosse represents the marriage of athletic aggression and upper-class entitlement...how could college lacrosse players be any more misogynous than your typical football-team steakhead? Perhaps it's because, unlike their football brethren, an unusually large proportion of college lacrosse players spend their high school years in sheltered, all-boys academies before heading off to liberal co-ed colleges...In the warm enclave of the locker room, safe from the budding feminists and comp-lit majors, their identity becomes more cemented.
I am a little wary of the stereotypes promoted in this article - but i have to say that they are, sadly, confirmed by my own private school experience. Thanks JS for the link. ;)

Also check out the Herald's cover piece on women in leadership positions on campus. It's always interesting to me to observe the ways in which progressive institutions can reproduce social inequalities while trying to address them externally. I've personally been in groups where "liberal" men consistently feel uncomfortable ceding control to the women they work with - as the article implies, it's essential to call them out on these unconscious biases. That last quote is really sobering, by the way...

I'd be interested to hear our readers' responses to the article, if there are any of you still out there. Actually, right now you're probably at Toad's.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is it just me or is our martini-sipping Slate columnist giving a wee bit much influence (e.g. any) to the civilizing effects of "budding feminists and comp-lit majors" and a little too little to the destablizing effects of testosterone? (Besides, what does he know about lacrosse? He spent all of high school reading Proust until his pencil arms couldn't hold the book up.)

Also, the Duke rape scandal is not a simple matter of jockism. There are multiple treads in this one, folks. First, no charges have been filed, no DNA results have been returned, the escorts made a self-contradictory phone call, all the players deny it, the accuser was found at a supermarket too drunk (or stoned) to move, and the current white district attorney of Durham who, for a lack of evidence aside from the testimony of a sexual assault nurse has been trying this case in the press happens to have a very bitter election next month against a black challenger.

The rape accuser, and half of Durham, are black. It sure must be tempting for a summa cum laude graduate of UNC to pander to the people who love to hate Duke kids and would love to take a little racial/class hatred out on them in order to get votes.

The brilliant Durham police have so much evidence in this case that they resorted to reading lacrosse player e-mails and found one in which a kid joked right after the party about skinning strippers the next night (being angry about their short performance and the fact that the accuser was too drunk to stand, let alone dance). Using this as "probable cause" the police stormed his dorm room and confiscated his "shocker" poster (wonder what they'll be using that for?) and a sign from his car that says "suckie suckie $5.00"). I am awed with the sheer genius of this police work.

Finally, a few points about the accuser. In 2002 she gave a taxi driver a lap dance, stole his cab and led NC police on a high speed chase that ended on a dead end road.....but not before she tried to run an officer down with her vehicle. When she was finally subdued this working mother/student had a blood alcohol level that was still more than twice the legal limit even after the large decline that took place at extreme speeds during a protracted escape attempt ON THE HIGHWAY.

Is the lacrosse team capable of rape? Of course. There would be nothing shocking about date rape from these gents. Hold-down gang raping however? You know what they say: extraordinary claims merit extraordinary evidence, particularly in a case with so many factors and actors that could bias the outcome. We all shall see.

not a feminist said...

I am a male and certainly not a feminist, but I will comment here anyway because I think this is an interesting issue.

Unlike the above commenter, I wholeheartedly appreciate the Slate column and agree that the culture of lacrosse is typically repugnant for the stated reasons.

Like the above commenter, however, I am more inclined that I was before to believe that the rape story was fabricated. When I first read about it, I gotta be honest that I believed the stripper and the DA. This belief was influenced very heavily by my aversion to lacrosse culture, as well as the racist things that were reportedly said (though those two things are interconnected).

In light of all that has happened, I now think the case could go either way. It's undeniable that it is way too early to come to judgment against these men as rapists. Along those lines, it is ridiculous that the DA said that he was "sure" a rape took place, when he didn't have any evidence. His politicking has indeed been disgusting. That's all I, or anyone, can say with certainty about the rape case at this point.

But it's not too early to say for sure that a bunch of these people are racist, misogynist jerks with vile senses of humor. Duke should be ashamed of its lacrosse team, whether or not the players raped that woman. Hopefully, this scandal will force universities to reexamine their admissions criteria for athletes. Character is more important than on the field success, and although most schools SAY that they believe this, they ought to start ACTING like they believe it.

not a feminist said...

One more thing: I was going to say that you might well owe the players an apology in the future...but then I remembered that this blog hasn't "convicted" these people of rape, as certain other feminist blogs have. As proponents of reforming the culture of sexual assault at Yale, I think you handled this issue well by not rushing to judgment publicly. I think that says a lot about your credibility.

Andrew said...

Della and Sabrina, good thing "Not a Feminist" still thinks you have credibility. Because lord knows what women talking about sexual assault need is the approving platitudes of men reassuring them that they haven't pushed too much against the patriarchy. Yep, I think his name says it all.

The Duke case is appalling. As a brother of two sisters, as a son of a mother, and more importantly as a fellow human being, I am more and more appalled every time I read something about it. My thoughts go out to the women who were assaulted, and the ones who have to live with these guys every day.

And while much of Anonymous' post was irrelevant at best and apologetic at worst, he did touch on an interesting point. Gang rape is a unique beast. Not because it's so much worse and so much less likely to happen, as he asserts, but because of that way it can draw in men who otherwise would probably not rape. In the group setting, sexist, racist comments spiraled into assault. With the attitude of disrespect created by those comments, the initial assault probably went unchallenged by the others in the room. And my guess is that as people saw that being accepted, others joined in.

It's about a culture, as Anonymous admitted. The culture's tragic extreme is gang rape, but it begins with words like "bitch." So instead of digging up dirt on the survivor or analyzing the DA's actions, how about putting that effort into calling your friends out the next time they use sexist slurs to talk about girls? It'd be a lot more productive.

not a feminist said...

Andrew, no one is saying that gang rape, or rape, or sexual assault of any kind isn't horrible or criminal or immoral or anything else. We're looking at one particular case here.

You say that:

"I am more and more appalled every time I read something about it. My thoughts go out to the women who were assaulted, and the ones who have to live with these guys every day."

This indicates to me an unfounded presumptuousness that those accused of the crime are guilty. How do you have any idea? Do you have more information than the rest of us? It's completely inane to conclude one way or the other in this case at this point, and unless I'm misreading your words, you seem to know little about it. It's also completely unreasonable to equate speculations of innocents with misogynism on the part of the speculator. We're talking about a legal case here. One that has severe emotional implications, yes, but still a legal case.

The point of this comment is that someone's being a misogynist or racist does not make them a sexual assaulter or rapist. This is how your argument seems to work, and for that reason it's ridiculous.

Also, calling yourself a "brother of a sister, a son of a mother," etc., is a bullshit cheap shot designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator. All men have mothers and sisters they love. Think about what you're saying about these lacrosse players. Many of them are racists and misogynists, no doubt, but to convict them of a crime that they haven't even been charged with makes you sound irrational and shrill.

not a feminist said...

* speculations of innocence, not innocents

Andrew said...

"Andrew, no one is saying that gang rape, or rape, or sexual assault of any kind isn't horrible or criminal or immoral or anything else."

Agreed.

"This indicates to me an unfounded presumptuousness that those accused of the crime are guilty."

You are correct in identifying a presumption on my part, and no, I don't have any more information than you do (well, any more than has been in the mainstream news). However, I do not consider this presumption unfounded. The vast majority of women who report a sexual assault are telling the truth. FBI statistics indicate that rape and sexual assault are not falsely reported any more than any other violent crime. Furthermore, a large percentage of sexual assaults never go reported at all because of the social stigma against doing so. So based on those two facts, I do make the audacious move of believing a woman when she says that she has been raped.

"It's also completely unreasonable to equate speculations of innocence with misogynism on the part of the speculator."

It wasn't just the speculations of innocence, for as they go, yours are pretty reasonable. Rather, the first would be your name, then the sentence, "I am a male and certainly not a feminist." A guy who feels that his first breath should be spent making it clear that he does not support women? Yeah, I'd call that misogynist. Then the comments about credibility. See above for commentary.

"The point of this comment is that someone's being a misogynist or racist does not make them a sexual assaulter or rapist."

I never said that at all. If you go back and read my post, I said that gang rape is a unique situation, one that most likely pulls in people who would not rape on their own. There are certainly degrees of misogyny. Just being a misogynist doesn't mean that you're a rapist, but participating in is a culture of misogyny does mean that we're supporting those who rape. I make no claim that I'm perfect, but it's important to recognize how misogynist conduct short of rape creates a culture that leads to more sexual assaults. Think of a circle of ten guys. Maybe one of them would rape when he was on his own. Maybe another one would join in a gang rape in the group dynamic like what probably happened at Duke. Another one probably wouldn't say anything if he saw it happen. Two might make misogynist jokes all the time. One might question the credibility of a woman who reported a rape. Another three might laugh and agree with them. When that rapist hears that circle of guys making jokes about how women are sex objects, when he hears that guy immediately doubt the woman, and when he hears everyone laughing and tacitly agreeing to what's being said, he gets closer to thinking that rape is acceptable. But if that last guy in the circle calls out the misogynist jokes, points out that someone being raped isn't at fault, then that culture begins to shift. My point was not that misogynist statements make people rapists, it was that we all need to be more aware of how our own actions support a culture of rape.

"Also, calling yourself a "brother of a sister, a son of a mother," etc., is a bullshit cheap shot designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator. All men have mothers and sisters they love."

Yeah, but not all men act like it. Asking what a guy's reaction would be if his sister said she was sexually assaulted will often elicit a very different response than if it was just some random girl. Most guys don't speak the same way around their mothers and sisters as they do around their guy friends. Again, I'm complicit too, but we need to at least try to change.

"Many of them are racists and misogynists, no doubt, but to convict them of a crime that they haven't even been charged with makes you sound irrational and shrill."

I'm not saying these guys shouldn't have a trial. Last time I checked, I wasn't able of convicting them of anything. Courts have a presumption of innocence, but society can certainly pass judgement even if the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard was never proven. I can't do anything more to them than say "shame on you," so I'd rather spend my effort worrying about rape survivors than those that are accused.

AMac said...

The Duke lacrosse team, a bunch of rich preppie jerks, makes a wonderful target for other whites wishing to parade their moral superiority.

Taylor Davis said...

If you get the chance, Id be interested to see what you have to say about many of the details of the Duke case that are coming out that do not support the accuser's case, many of which are mentioned in the link that amac posted.

Anonymous said...

i thought it was funny that every woman interviewed in that article was described as "articulate and direct" or "well-spoken" or something like that. the speaking skills of the men were left unqualified.

not a feminist said...

The point of view of the commenter andrew, which presumes guilt before knowledge of any evidence, is a kind of scary reminder that even people who are supposed to be intelligent aren't immune from joining a lynchmob.

There's no DNA evidence in this case. I'm not saying that a rape or assault didn't occur, but we CERTAINLY need to stop this lynchmob mentality, and passing judgments before trying to idiotically justify our own stupid speculations.

Let me clarify one thing. I might not think of myself as a feminist, but that doesn't mean I don't support women's rights or most aspects of the feminist political movement. It is true, however, that I disagree with a lot of what is said on this blog, including the post villainizing frat boys at Yale for no apparent reason.