Does Jock Culture Breed Bad Boys? Part 2


The Steubenville Rape Trial is just one legal case involving jocks taking liberties without shame.

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. Unfortunately, when a woman says yes with her appearance and body language but no with her words, its confusing enough to make a man mad. Add some extra doses of testosterone and a narcissistic young guy drunk from a keg party and it does up the danger potential for the woman.

I grew up around jock culture in the Rocky Mountains. These guys were demi-Gods in a redneck town that worshiped hockey and football. In typical TV show fashion, the jocks dated either the cheerleader and/or prom queen. There wasn't much high culture around town so teenagers did campfire outdoor beer parties to entertain themselves. Since I looked nothing like the Jessica Simpson or Carrie Underwood doppelgangers around me, I hid in the library, reading about faraway lands or books about the New York and Paris art scene. Being invisible to jocks was a safe side to take even if one looked like a Texas Belle. I heard story after story of a girl who got hurt at a house party but wouldn't press charges over and over again when I hit puberty. When hockey and rodeo season started I would stay home. Then when I wasn't hiding out in the suburbs I was deliberately cultivating an ice queen affect. On the odd occasion that a typical jock did talk to me I developed an instinct to know what to say to make him leave me alone. Usually it was something that made me seem like an "ass" instead of a "smart ass". Don't even get me started on the jocks who misinterpreted my Dutch-Indonesian looks for being a sign that I was a demure Geisha who would cater to them.

Before I ran away at 16 to the East Coast and danced the night away Sex and the City Style like Carrie Bradshaw, I absorbed the message that (A) jocks were dangerous and (B) I was immune from the danger because of the way I looked. On one hand they ignored me anyway but jocks make perfect bullies so I never let my guard down around them. Unfortunately those messages led me to wear baggy clothing till I was 25, keep my hair short or in an unflattering style, and walk around with a chip on my shoulder. It took the famous HBO series to bring me out of my shell but I still stayed weary of jocks. The older I get the less fearful I am but it's never gone. I still expect an old jock in male menopause to be a chauvinist. The problem is, I don't take them talking to me like some dainty damsel idiot. Eventually I know I will answer back and then it's a tango I won't want to dance.

Another thing that this stereotypical way of perception did to my love life was have me seek out the opposite of the typical North American jock. I developed an attraction or kindred spirit to the international man. The one who resembled Michael Fassbender in X-Men: First Class, or Hugh Jackman in The Fountain, even James Purefoy in Maybe Baby. This was the guy who was raised in an old culture, spoke at least two languages fluently, and was worldly. When they were my lovers I learned more French and German. When they were my bosses or colleagues they acted like my father and mentor or an older brother who pushed me to perform better. I found that they would expect more from me than other females, mainly the Damsels, which was both confidence building and mysterious. My Jungian Analyst friend tells me that I'm an Athena archetype in personality. As a result I would naturally form father-daughter dynamics with men like Zeus, the father of Athena. A macho jock would encounter an Athena type female assuming she soft. He would quickly learn she doesn't back down easy or would say Uncle any time soon. A damsel would be like a Bichon Frise. Athena has her guard dog. In my case, I've had a German Shepherd since I was five.

Jock culture and it's attitudes towards women, obsession with hyper-masculinity in a power play against hyper femininity, and narcissistic entitlement to take sex regardless of female willingness, is a complicated one. Generalizations are never 100% true 100% of the time but stereotypes exist for a reason. The problem with extreme beliefs about men and women is that these ideas miss the ambiguity in between. Not all jocks violate women. Not all Southern Belles are weak but rather tough smart Texas Roses.

Categorizing people may make life safer but at times alot less richer. Every once in a while you meet those who aren't defined by the limits of a psychological profile checklist. Eliminating a person before you truly get to know them shrinks the enjoyment possible in friendships. Having black and white thinking does that. I learned this only by personal experience.

One day I asked a man if he had been a jock in high school. When he said yes my heart dropped convinced that if we met he'd be mean or we'd be bored from lack of conversation. He fit all the criteria of the good-looking and rugged masculine jock who would treat me like an alien life form. I wasn't sure if I should meet him at all when he said he was from Coto de Caza. I wasn't afraid so much as I had a fixed thought in my mind that sticking to the cosmopolitan European types were best. A twist of fate gave me the chance to learn that assumptions really did make an ass out of me. Even though I liked him my behavior went on automatic and did the very things to send him running the other direction. Regrets are pointless but they teach us a very important point.