Thugs In The Locker Room: Listen To The "Culture Of Silence"

CJ Westerberg, November 11, 2011 6:01 PM


Previously published in The Daily Riff, this post echoes much of the cultural mindset surrounding the horrific unfolding of the Penn State/Paterno/Sandusky tragedy, as witnessed in this week's version of the "Culture of Silence"- C.J.W.            

Bullying:  The Dangerous Swagger               
"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."     --Maureen Dowd

The post by Maureen Dowd, titled, "The Dangerous Swagger" revisits the recent brutal murder of a young university woman, and zeroes in on the behavior of certain boys at Landon, an affluent private school in a Washington D.C. suburb,  "where the sons of many prominent members of the community are sent to learn 'the code of character' and to learn 'to work together to eliminate all forms of disrespect'".   Yet, the article really spreads its tentacles around much larger issues in our culture.

Yes, Dowd reminds us that outward appearances along with money, private schools and privilege won't insulate our kids from bad behavior nor will it necessarily teach them good values.   Boys "preying" on girls, boys bullying other boys, girls bullying girls - it's all the same twisted view on respect for others.  (No denying there are degrees far worse than others but not the point of this post).

Dowd calls for a change in curriculum in the schools.  Okay, we get that to a point.  Some school leaders are extremely pro-active, beyond elaborate mission statements and honor codes.   Yet, where are these affluent parents when it comes to guiding their sons as to appropriate behavior and attitudes toward girls?   Do these boys have sisters?   (The same point can be made for parents of girls and their behavior toward others, but again, another post or visit link here).

We admit the culture "out there" is so fraught with terrible role modeling - and we're not just talking about our Congress and some cable news shows (okay, cheap shot).  But in reality, if one listens to just a few rap songs, you'll notice something very inhumane about the lyrics, which mainly tend to be demeaning and cold.  And we already have way too much information from some reality shows like "Jersey Shore" and various geographical versions of spoiled "Housewives".

The point here is that schools, parents and communities not only have to take a pro-active role in areas like ethics, community service and positive role-modeling opportunities, but we also have to start playing big-time defense, too.   

In this case, silence is not golden.  It's time to make some noise.  

Here are a few excerpts from the article which may set your jaw on edge:

" . . .One team was called "The Southside Slampigs," and one boy dubbed his team with crude street slang for drug-addicted prostitutes.

The young woman who was the "top pick" was described by one of the boys in a team profile he put up online as "sweet, outgoing, friendly, willing to get down and dirty and [expletive] party. Coming in at 90 pounds, 5'2 and a bra size 34d.  'She would be a special asset to the team, he noted, because her mother is quite the cougar herself.'

Before they got caught last summer, the boys had planned an 'opening day party,' complete with T-shirts, where the mission was to invite the drafted girls and, unbeknownst to them, score points by trying to rack up as many sexual encounters with the young women as possible.

'They evidently got points for first, second and third base,' said one outraged father of a drafted girl. 'They were going to have parties and tally up the points, and money was going to be exchanged at the end of the season.' He said that the boys would also have earned points for 'schmoozing with the parents.'

His daughter, he said, 'was very upset about it. She thought these guys were her friends. This is the way we teach boys to treat women, young ladies? You have enough to worry about as a 14- or 15-year-old girl without having to worry about guys who are doing it as sport.'  . . ."

"...She said 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.'

Time for a curriculum overhaul. Young men everywhere must be taught, beyond platitudes, that young women are not prey."

Previously published the Daily Riff - June 2010.
Link to full article from The New York Times here.


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It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
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