Defending the Frat Boys of Old Dominion: Boys Will Be Boys, Silencing, and Donald Trump

Okay. I admit it. I have rape culture fatigue. I saw this story this week and I thought, “Ugh. Disgusting piggery.” But that was about it. I thought about reposting the story, but then I was just so tired of having to talk about it. So I didn’t. After all, I just posted this story last week…”Florida frat suspended after member caught on video saying ‘let’s rape some b*tches’“. I mean, surely people agree that these types of things are wrong, misogynistic and definitively stupid. Right? Right?!? [Please tell me I’m right.]

But then, this morning happened. I had just dropped my kids off at school and I flipped the radio over to hear the morning news as is my custom. Just as they were going to the news they teased that they would be taking calls about the Old Dominion story after the news break. I decided to stay tuned in and hear what people thought. Part of me is very, very sorry I did. By the time I got home (a 15 min drive) I had heard such analysis as:

  • Boys will be boys.
  • Clearly this was just meant to be funny. People need to lighten up.
  • If this was the 50s or 60s no one would have batted an eye.
  • Political correctness is ruining America
  • If we have to be subjected to Pride parades, I don’t see why this is a big deal.
  • I would give the kids a pass, this was just a joke. Who among us didn’t do something stupid in college?
  • If we have raised our girls well, we won’t need to worry. They will steer clear of frat houses like these.

These sentiments were expressed by both men and women. There were 2 callers I heard who disagreed and thought that this was unacceptable, caused a hostile environment and was cause for disciplinary action. One was a man and one was a woman. Additionally, although the host said in the days of Animal House this would have been seen as just kids having fun, he also noted that is not the current climate and kids should know by now that this kind of behavior will be punished.

There are many points I could make about the above statements, but I will limit myself to just a couple. The first point I would like to make has to do with political correctness and calls for the people who are calling this what it is to “lighten up”. In my experience being told to “lighten up” is a form of silencing. Silencing refers to techniques used to stop discourse when people complain about sexism or other issues. Silencing techniques include harassment, intimidation, shaming and humiliation intended to discourage people from speaking out or punishing them for having spoken out.

Secondly, “If we have raised our girls well, we won’t need to worry. They will steer clear of frat houses like these.” Really? So, if we raise our girls properly they don’t need to worry about rape? Or boys who try to take advantage of them? You mean like the girl’s at St. Paul’s Prep? Here’s a better question, why is it the girls who need to be raised properly to avoid predatory boys? Why are we not more concerned about properly raising boys who are not predators? Oh, I forgot, “boys will be boys”. SIGH.

I’m sorry. Boys will be boys is a lie from the pit of hell. The men I know are so much more than that sad, narrow definition of what it means to be male. If I was a man, I would be offended that people think I am no more than the sum total of my hormones and sexual urges. Men and boys can and should be able to control themselves and we do them a grave disservice when we disrespect them by excusing this type of behavior and chalking it up to the fact that they are incapable of anything else.

The type of behavior the callers want us to chalk up to a foolish youthful prank is the very type of thing that left unchecked leads to the story I linked to out of Florida, behaviors like those at St. Paul’s Prep and to the unfortunate statistics found in The Department of Justice report from December of 2014 titled Rape and Sexual Assault Victimization Among College-Age Females, 1995–2013.

You know what else this type of thinking leads to? A man like Donald Trump being the GOP frontrunner.

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