Monday, June 14, 2010

"By Virtue, Not By Force"? The Boys that Prey Together Will Be Rapists, not anything close to Virtuous

[image of Landon School's crest is from here]

"Virtute et non vi" = "By virtue, not by force"

Landon School for rich boys states the following:
Landon School, an independent, non-sectarian boys' day school, prepares talented boys for productive lives as accomplished, responsible and caring men whose actions are guided by the principles of perseverance, teamwork, honor and fair play.
Unless men intervene in younger males' lives, boys will become rapists, harassers, batterers, pimps, and procurers of girls and women and see all of this as normal and natural. And they will do it while they are boys. This blog post contains graphic stories of misogynist behavior.
Consider this paragraph from another blog, Gender Across Borders, in a post titled “Boys Will Be Boys”: The Connection Between a Sex League Scandal and a Domestic Violence Murder.

What follows, blockquoted, is by Erin Rickard.
Last month I wrote about a domestic violence murder that became national news in the U.S., the death of University of Virginia student Yeardley Love at the hands of her former boyfriend and fellow student George Huguely. Now the private preparatory school Huguely attended, Landon School, is in the news because of an incident that happened there last summer. Maureen Dowd broke the story nationally in a New York Times op-ed on June 8. A group of students created what’s been dubbed a “sex league” game, wherein they divided unknowing girls from neighboring schools into teams named “The Southside Slampigs” and the “Crackwhores,” evaluated the girls’ measurements and attractiveness, and planned a series of parties where they would earn points through sexual encounters with the girls. According to the Washington Post, the “game” was shut down before the first party was held when a parent discovered the boys’ roster and descriptions of the girls posted online. Three freshman boys received in-school suspensions as punishment.
This next paragraphs are from Maureen Dowd's New York Times piece titled "Their Dangerous Swagger":
Landon is where the sons of many prominent members of the community are sent to learn “the code of character,” where “a Landon man” is part of a “true Brotherhood” and is known for his good word, respect and honesty. The school’s Web site boasts about the Landon Civility Code; boys are expected to “work together to eliminate all forms of disrespect” and “respect one another and our surroundings in our decorum, appearance, and interactions.”

The Washington suburban community of private school parents has also been reeling this spring from the tragedy involving former Landon student George Huguely V, a scion of the family that owned the lumber business that helped build the nation’s capital.

Huguely, who was a University of Virginia lacrosse player, was charged in the brutal death of his sometime girlfriend, Yeardley Love, a lacrosse player on the university’s women’s team who also hailed from Maryland.

The lovely young woman’s door was kicked in and her head was smashed over and over into the wall.

The awful crime, chronicled on the cover of People with the headline “Could She Have Been Saved?,” raised haunting questions about why Huguely had not already been reported to authorities, even though other lacrosse players had seen him choke Love at a party and his circle knew that the athlete had attacked a sleeping teammate whom he suspected had kissed Love. Huguely had also been so out-of-control drunk, angry and racially abusive with a policewoman in 2008 that she had to Taser him.

In The Washington Post, the sports columnist Sally Jenkins wrote about the swagger of young male athletes and the culture of silence that protects their thuggish locker-room behavior.

“His teammates and friends, the ones who watched him smash up windows and bottles and heard him rant about Love,” she wrote. “Why didn’t they turn him in? ... Why did they not treat Yeardley Love as their teammate, too?”

Some of the parents of girls drafted for the Landon sex teams think that the punishment for those culpable should have been greater, and the notification to parents should have been more thorough. Was the macho culture of silence in play?

This demonstrates institutional support for white boys' sexual and racist violence against girls and women. Class, race, gender, and sexuality all have a head-on collision in this story, but don't worry: none of the white boys were hurt. An elite educational institution which trains boys to be exceptional, gets mighty permissive when boys want to rape girls and be racist toward women of color who are police officers. What do you imagine would happen to a poor Brown boy or Black girl who expressed race- and gender-specific vitriol and violence towards a white male cop? I imagine the courts would argue the police officer was right to use deadly force. Call me jaded, or just aware of how this country's criminal justice system and educational institutions work to protect rich white boys and men. This is what rich white het men, and their lawyers and institutions value: full access to girls and women in order to insult, degrade, violate, and assault them, and boys respecting other boys.

The White Brotherhood is alive and well, and when it is heterosexual it gets especially virulently misogynistic and dangerous for females of all ages.

Ms. Dowd concludes:
Time for a curriculum overhaul. Young men everywhere must be taught, beyond platitudes, that young women are not prey.
Indeed. Now, how will they accomplish making that lesson socially visible such that area girls are safe and women police officers of color know they won't be mistreated by some rich little white boy?

Out of curiosity, I wanted to see how "objective" online media report things like this. What follows next is from Wikipedia, which is known for its pro-misogynist bias in many cases on many pages.
On June 8, 2010, the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd published a column drawing attention to last years soon-to-be freshman boys at Landon. The boys allegedly planned a fantasy football-like "draft" in which female students at other local schools were chosen for each "team," and "points" were to be scored on the basis of sexual encounters with those students. Noting that George Huguely V, a University of Virginia student recently charged in the brutal murder of his girlfriend Yeardley Love, was a Landon alumnus, Dowd criticized the school's honor code for what she saw as hypocrisy. Jean Erstling, the director of communications at Landon, was quoted in the column as responding that “Landon has an extensive ethics and character education program which includes as its key tenets respect and honesty. Civility toward women is definitely part of that education program.”
What we can note is the way Wikipedia prefers to report this is as a view existing primarily in Maureen Dowd's mind, as opposed to primarily in reality. What the wealthy boys planned to didn't happen primarily in Ms. Dowd's mind. She saw hypocrisy with the school's honor code. Is the school administration hypocritical? Yes. Did Maureen Dowd note and report this? Yes. Does Wikipedia prefer to make this seem like her point of view might not reflect truth? Yes.

And Jean Erstling is doing what preparatory grade schools and "good colleges'" administrators in the U.S. are notorious for doing: making their schools seem honorable, when rapist values and practices abound.

Shame on Landon School's administrators.

When they implement a mandatory program of teaching boys about endemic male supremacist violence against girls and women, including a feminist analysis of the impact of massive online pornography consumption on boys' views of girls and what girls exist to do, I'll be impressed. And the critique, analysis, and conveyance of non-sexist values and practices ought to be delivered by older boys and traditional college-aged males, who these boys will look up to, not reject as "out of touch adults". Until then, they deserve our collective scrutiny and outrage.

1 comment:


Why am I angry but not surprised at this latest incident of white male heterosexist power, wherein once again half the human population are deliberately reduced to dehumanised males' sexual service stations.

Because this latest reporting concerning boys who already have been socialised into believing their biological maleness entitles them to inflict sexual violence on girls is not remotely new or even shocking. Why? Because every hour, every minute popular culture and the media engages in never ending propaganda promoting the misogynistic and women-hating lie that females unlike males are dehumanised beings. Females unlike males are men's sexual service stations and females unlike males are not human and hence can be subjected to deliberate sadistic male sexual violence because such acts supposedly prove males' masculinity to other males.

Remember the Glen Ridge rapist boys whose multiple rapes of young girls were vigourously defenced by so-called 'respectable white men and women too.' Once again the girl victims were dismissed as 'sluts, whores' who supposedly caused these boys to commit violence against them. Or there is the case of a group of teenage boys who deliberately and cold-bloodedly committed multiple rape and sexual violence upon a young girl.

Both cases caused much controversy but central as in this latest reporting of mundane male sexual violence against girls is the consistent denial of the boys' accountability.

It is not enough to condemn these rapist boys - what is needed is a mandatory and enforced programme in all schools starting from the time the male child enters school that being male does not entitle them to view the half of human population - ergo females - as dehumanised creatures who can be subjected to casual, wilful male hatred and contempt.

But this is too extreme because it focuses on how masculinity is defined and promoted by our male supremacist society and we mustn't challenge male power and male rights over women and girls must we?