How the Jock Culture and the Boys Will Be Boys Mentality Encourages Rape
Oh Well, He's Just Being A Boy
This is a saying in this culture that boys will be boys. When boys act in ways that go beyond acceptable and societal boundaries, oftentimes they are given a slap on the wrist. It is often left unsaid that boys are supposed to be unrestrained in their behaviors. After all, boys are supposed to be the aggressors and initiators in situations. Boys are encouraged to be active from the time they are toddlers.
Even in this postmodern era with the loosening of traditional gender roles, boys are still giving more leeway than girls. Boys are seldom curtailed by their families. They are allowed to indulge in activities that is often frowned upon in girls. They are told to be rough and tumble in addition to not taking anything from anyone.
Boys are furthermore taught to be bold and never to back down. They are taught that to back down from a confrontation is to lose their masculine demeanor. They are inoculated to never show their vulnerability because they would be considered weak. They are told that strong boys never show their feelings and are tough!
Society and authority figures often reward boys for being strong and tough. In addition to society and authority figures, boys are further respected by their friends and peers for being strong and not showing their feelings. Conversely, more sensitive boys are often considered less than masculine in this culture. Sensitive and empathetic boys are pressurized into conforming to societal masculine standards. Oftentimes, such boys are referred to by pejorative names and are often victims of stronger boys.
Fathers, brothers, uncles, and/or other male authority figures are often masculine role models for boys. These men are the boys' representation of masculinity whether it is positive or negative. Such male figures expect their sons, brothers, nephews, and charges to conform to their specific idea of masculinity.
Boys in high school are pressured in the extreme to adopt a masculine facade. High school male culture is often testorone driven. In high school, there is often a strong pecking order, depending upon the culture of the specific high school. However, in many high school boy cultures, athletes are on the top of the boy culture pecking order. High school jock culture is often glorified because athletes represent symbols of ultimate manliness.
In many high schools, athletes are considered royalty and the ultimate male. Many high school boys idolize and worship athletes. High school athletes are oftentimes given leeway by teachers and coaches. Frequently, they receive preferential treatment not only from teachers and other authority figures but from fellow classmates.
As a result of preferential treatment, many high school athletes develop a sense of self-importance. They contend that the world is their oyster. Furthermore, because many high schools depend upon their athletes to foster and maintain the image of the school, they are considered to be celebrities and/or demigods hence, they are deemed untouchable(in a positive way).
This feeling of self-importance extends to their relationship to girls. Quite a few high school girls are quite enamored of boys who are athletes. For some high school girls, the ultimate date and/or catch is the high school athlete. Because of this incessant female adoration of the high school athlete, especially if he is a star athlete, many athletes believe that females are often at their beck and call.
These high school athletes often do not view girls as intellectual and/or social equals. They often view girls as appendages and trophies to enhance their masculine image/ego to themselves and their athletic compatriots. Oftentimes, this attitude is often reduced to the concept that power and might equals constitutional prerogative according to their contention. Let us put it more succinctly, the male is stronger and the female is weaker therefore the male has power over the female- after all, it is the male prerogative to dominate and subdue the female.
Males in our culture are inundated to show their prowess, especially in tasks which demonstrate brute power. Those who aptly demonstrate this power are lionized and rewarded. This acculturalization process extends to the high school athlete. He is constantly goaded to show what a man he is-if he is successful, he is adulated and if he is not, he is often denigrated, being told that he is "less than".
The concept of prowess and conquest also extends to how some high school athletes regard girls. There are some high school athletes who believe that girls are to be conquered, if necessary, even by force. On March 1, 1989 in the town of Glen Ridge, New Jersey, a group of star athletes in their respective high school, lured a mentally challenged girl they have known since kindergarten into a basement of one of their homes, raping her. The reaction of the town towards the rape was that the victim was promiscuous and it was not a rape. The consensus of the town was that the boys were innocent and such slander would irrevocably "ruin" the reputation of "such fine boys." In essence, these athletes were given special treatment by school and local authorities because of their high school status.
Another instance of rape involving a high school athlete is the infamous Alex Kelly case of 1986. He was a star high school athlete in Darien, Connecticut. In 1986, he was charged with the rapes of two girls. He smugly laughed that he NEVER raped the girls but the act was consensual on all their parts. His parents, of course, were behind him and concurred that he was innocent. It was common knowledge among girls in Darien that Alex Kelly was known as Alex Kelly, MD i.e. Alex Kelly, mad rapist.
The town decided to look askance at the issue, being incredulous that such a star athlete from a fine family would actually be involved in such an egregious act. Even though he was arrested regarding the case, he was let off lightly until the victim decided to really press charges against him cojointly. He steadfastly maintained his innocence; however, he was ultimately arrested and served some time in prison. He was just recently released.
These rapists partially were supported by their neighbors who refused to acknowledge what they committed was rape. Their respective towns believed that these athletes are "boys will be boys" and that only the victim was suspect, not them. Furthermore, according to the town consensus, these boys are star athletes hence they are winners and winners NEVER do anything wrong!
The pressure to be men is more prevalent among college aged men. Besides jock culture, fraternity culture also encourages and revels in the boys will be boys mentality. In many fraternities, young men undergo all types of initiation. Even if a particular college male perceives some of the initiatives to be suspect, he is pressured to endure all aspects of the initiation if he wishes to join the fraternity and to be a fraternity male.
Fraternity members in addition to college athletes are often idolized and adulated on college campuses. They are virtually given carte blanche to do as they please because there are usually few or no consequences for what they have done. This perogative of ultimate manliness of fraternity members as well as college athletes extend to their interfacing with young college women.
These fraternity members and college athletes, like their high school counterparts, view women as merely appendages and trophies to elevate and assauge their male image and ego. It is the assertion of many fraternity members and college athletes that women are there for the asking and it is their right to assert their male prerogative on them in one way or another.
On October 19, 2010, the pledges of Delta Kappa Epsilon Phi fraternity chapter of Yale University marched through the campus, chanting rape trivializing phrases. The Yale's Women Center was incensed, pressing charges which resulted in the pledges apologizing and subsequent pledging being suspended. There was a study done on campus rape by the Journal of Research in Personality and other related educational and psychological journals which authenticate that 60 % of male college student maintain that there is some likelihood of rape and using force in certain circumstances. The study further substantiated that men in fraternities are more likely to engage in more nonphysical coercion via the use of controlled substances as sexual strategy than men who are not in fraternities.
In essence, the lionized status of college men in sports and fraternity make them believe that they have the license to exert their sexual power over women by any means necessary. It is their assertion that women are there for their asking and who are they to refuse them. As a result of their elevated status, many of them believe that they are not guilty of rape. Their assertion is that the act was consensual when in fact it is not. Furthermore, depending upon the status of the fraternity man and/or college athlete, he is often treated preferentially and/or given a nod regarding the rape while the victim is often the blame.
This boys will be boys culture is not restricted to high school and college. It extends into adulthood. There are men who believe because of their unmitigated gender privilege and so-called superiority, they have the power to enforce themselves upon and/or conquer women so to speak. These men have been inoculated that men are the sexual initiators and they have the right to have sex as they please whether the woman is willing or not. Some men contend that if the woman "appears' to be unwilling, subconsciously she is more than willing. This attitude clears them of any perception of wrongdoing, after all "she asked for it", "she led me on", and/or " I just could not help myself".
Yes, boys are inundated with the concept of male privilege from birth. Boys, even in this postmodern, are subconsciously told that they are the superior and the conquering sex. They are often indoctrinated from an early age to be strong and invincible.
This indoctrination makes boys value toughness and prowess over sensitivity and empathy. Oftentimes, boy culture value and reward the strong while devaluing and denigrating the weak and more vulnerable among us. This teaching is often transferred to the myriad ways many males treat more sensitive and vulnerable males and women who they consider to be subconsciously "less than" them.
Many males view females not as equal partners who are individuals in themselves but an objects to subdue and conquer in any way possible. This male conquering and might mentality encourages all types of mistreatment of females which include rape. It is important that boys be be educated regarding sensitivity and empathy regarding the rights of others and to realize that females are equal to men and worthy of respect.
In summation, the jock culture and the boys will be boys mentality reward males who exhibit toughness, prowess, and the conquering mentality. High school and college athletes are usually glorified in their respective educational institutions because of the images they represent for them. They are often idolized by the school community and others usually want to be like them.
This adultation usually give high school and college athletes a sense of superiority and being untouchable. These athletes believe that everything and everyone are at their disposal to treat any way they want and this includes females. Many of them believe that females are appendages and trophies to boost their masculine image and ego. It is their further assertion that females exist at their total disposal so to speak. To them, females are not individual but objects to be used.
According to them, if a female is raped, she not is "raped" but is there for their immediate consumption. High school and college athletes in addition to many fraternity men feel that they are powerful and high status and any female within their orbit should be grateful no matter what type of "attention" they receive. They believe that it is their unmitigated male prerogative to treat females anyway they please after they are the kings of their respective universe and that the females were asking for it so they are not at fault.
As long as boys are inundated with the premise of so-called male privilege and superiority, females will always be objectified and dehumanized resulting in the act of rape. Boys must be educated regarding gender equality and cease the indoctrination of so-called male privilege. This indoctrination ultimately does irreparable damage to both males and females alike.
© 2012 Grace Marguerite Williams