The Steubenville Rape Trial has all the elements of a horrible teen nightmare. A group of boys take pictures and videos of their assault on an unconscious 16-year-old girl. One news report published a photo of the jocks dragging her as she was passed out. There was more than assault that night. Only when they were arrested and charged does it seem as if the defendants show any remorse or understanding of their actions.
Teenagers in general can be reckless and even do things they regret well into middle age later in life. What is troubling in the coverage of the incident is the suggestion that a sense of "jock privilege" had the boys think they were immune from consequence. One news story hinted that the defendants believed their coach would get them out of any trouble arising from their actions. Were their actions rooted in above average levels of testosterone combined with the dulled cognition from underage drinking plus jock mob thinking?
Before the Steubenville Rape Trial was college hockey player Max Nicstro's prosecution for an assault on a fellow female student at Boston University. Nicastro and fellow BU hockey player Corey Trivino were both arrested for sexual assault that year. Trivino's charge was more serious as he was charged with sexual assault with intent to commit rape. In the end charges were dropped against both men but the controversy led to a BU task force assigned to inspect the "culture of the men's hockey team".
In 2005, it was another sports team that made national headlines for an off campus sexual assault by Duke University's lacrosse players. Two of the team's members were arrested for kidnap and rape of a woman off campus. A year after this incident was the infamous scandal involving a dancer who was hired for a team party. The dancer claimed that she was raped by three of the players. Charges were eventually dropped when DNA evidence failed to show a link between any members of the Lacrosse team to the accuser's clothing or body on the night of the incident.
The connection between jock culture and an environment that is sexually hostile to women appears to have several factors. These include star treatment, social privilege, encouragement of views towards women as "less than" men, and a reward for aggressive masculine behavior. A sense of entitlement on and off the playing field seems to suggest that jock cultures encourages the use of women as a form of asserting masculine dominance through sexual conquest. Instead of just receiving a prized Mercedes for winning the State Championship it's as if the bikini model in the car ads is also part of the gift. The Mercedes is there for driving but (at the risk of sounding crude) the hot female is also along to do the riding.
Jock culture is not solely responsible for the aggression towards women. Damsel in Distress culture unwittingly contributes to the encouragement of women presenting themselves as the weaker gender here to simply sexual relief to alpha males whenever they want. Damsel culture also rewards women for feminine behavior, grooming, and a series of flirting behavior that sends "readiness" signals to straight men. Combine the two cultures with the keg party mentality and social ambiance of a frat house and its a recipe for disaster sometimes. However, a woman being feminine by wearing her hair long or body hugging clothing with high heel boots is not a yes unless she actually says yes.