You might have heard about the juvenile frat boys who were disciplined by Old Dominion University for this:

Freshman women at Old Dominion University were given a very special welcome last week when they arrived on campus: Large banners that read “Rowdy and fun/Hope your baby girl is ready for a good time,” “Freshman daughter drop off,” and “Go ahead and drop off mom too.” Photos of the helpful offers to fornicate with women across multiple generations in the university community have since gone viral.

The banners were widely condemned by the university and other students, and the fraternity has been suspended pending further investigation. Note that it’s possible the fraternity itself wasn’t behind this and that the perps were just some stupid little boys who thought they were being clever.

My first reaction was to feel vindicated in my long-standing view that most young men ought to spend a couple of years keeping silence in a monastery somewhere before they’re allowed out into the world — I’m not picky about what sort of monastery, mind you. But apparently some on the Right think we’re making a big deal about nothing.

Hit and Run — It was protected speech and not really that offensive.

Comment at Daily Caller — “Good Lord, will people please get the sticks out of their behinds and find their sense of humor again! Yes, it’s not right, yes, it’s borderline sick, but still darkly funny, and the more people who thumb their noses at the PC police, the better.”

Comment at Fox News — “When you see the way FEMALE students behave on Spring break, especially in florida, Arizona or Mexico,  to claim that one female student “even considered going back home” is the joke of the day.

PJ Tattler — Reaction is just over-the-top hysteria. “You have to be out of your mind to believe that the banner-hangers had sexual assault or dating violence in mind when they put them up.

Comment at PJ Tattler — “I am so glad our sons are out of college. Young males can’t do anything today without the ridiculous females crying they are “hurt”.

I assume that last commenter doesn’t have daughters. Also there was a lot of nostalgia for “Animal House.”

Granted, stuff like this happened when I was in college (1969-1973) and was shrugged off. Boys will be boys, you know. But here are a couple of paragraphs from Rethinking Religion

Also, as Hannah Arendt observed of Adolf Eichmann, sometimes “evil” people are those who mirror the values of their peers and culture, without self-reflection or thought of consequence. When we read about teenage boys brutalizing a girl and bragging about it on Twitter, for example, that’s what we’re seeing. And when other people try to cover up or trivialize the brutality, or blame the victim, that’s what we’re seeing. Because such acts are an expression of social and cultural values, and approved by peers, they don’t feel evil to those committing them.

And later, when the brutality has been exposed to the light of day, we want so very much to believe that the perpetrators are somehow abnormal, or monsters, or possessed of some aberrant quality that caused them to be brutal. But most of the time, in truth, there is nothing measurably abnormal about them at all. That’s why cultural values — not just the ones we pay lip service to, but the ones we wink at — have real-world consequences, also.

The fact is, whether we admit to it or not, popular culture still thinks it’s cool to objectify and sexually exploit women, and as long as that’s true there will always be soft-headed young men who will act out that behavior. And a few of those young men will end up with rape convictions, and then people will wring their hands and either wonder how he could have been such a monster, or isn’t it a shame his life is being ruined. And I’m proposing that the university is absolutely right for not winking at this stuff any more. And this is not just for the sake of the young women on campus, but also for the sake of young men — and also young women — who don’t have the sense God gave eggplant.

Whether there is or is not a rape crisis on campus, any more than there was when I was on campus, is a matter to argue over. However, it’s not outrageous or new for universities to have codes for how students should behave. Letting it be known that this behavior is not acceptable is a step in the right direction. And then maybe, eventually, as a culture we’ll stop winking.

7 thoughts on “Winks

  1. If I may paraphrase Obi-Wan Kenobi: “Who’s the bigger creep? The creep, or the creep who applauds him?”

  2. “that the perps were just some stupid little boys who thought they were being clever.” I think that Cheney and “W” are planning to use a variation of this as a defense in the event of prosecution by the World Court.

    It is always amazing to see how deftly some, particularly on the right, can move from being the victims of political correctness to white knuckled pearl clutching. Old Dominion is, of course, a radiant exemplar of the civility and genteel traditions of the old South. Maybe “Fox and Friends” can blame this event on the banning of the confederate battle flag. Those poor boys were deprived of their heritage, after all.

    During my years at college, frat boys all seemed to be insufferable wankers. I suspect that they’ve carried on that tradition.

  3. “most young men ought to spend a couple of years keeping silence in a monastery somewhere”

    Wouldn’t hurt, they certainly shouldn’t be joining fraternities where their juvenile behavior is often encouraged and celebrated. I was in a band in college we had a song called “Greek Life vs, Real” it was really funny slamming the frat-boys, we’d play at frat parties and they loved it, not too bright most of them!

  4. “most young men ought to spend a couple of years keeping silence in a monastery somewhere”

    That’s what Republicans try to do with Black Citizens.

  5. “My first reaction was to feel vindicated in my long-standing view that most young men ought to spend a couple of years keeping silence in a monastery somewhere before they’re allowed out into the world…”

    If they act like obnoxious punks like this, young women will keep them in their own private monastery.
    Assholes like this couldn’t get laid with a fistful of pardons in a women’s prison.
    And that’s why they depend on booze laced with date-rape drugs.

    And if there were no cooler heads to tell the idiots who wanted to do this, then the fraternity needs to be disbanded.
    Either that, or change its name to Tappa Kegga Beer/Grabba Bitta Titty, and see if any sororities decide to show up for their parties.
    I think not.

  6. To be fair, a sizeable group on the right would think you’re overreacting to pretty much *anything* if it involves pointing out problems with equal treatment of anyone who is not a straight, white, Christian man.

    This is where I had a long argument about protected free expression blah blah blah, bu re-reading your post it’s clear that your message is simply 1) that frat-boy crap is horrible; 2) we need to continue pointing out and fighting against such horribleness, and 3) there’s still way too many people (mostly, but not exclusively, right wingnuts) actively minimizing the horribleness of these things.

    And that I can agree with 100%

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