Clearly, nobody has yet listened to any of the advice for defeating rape culture that I posted yesterday.
A 16-year-old girl in Fairfax, Virginia has been “asked to leave” (i.e. expelled from) Catholic prep school Paul VI after a topless photo she sent to a male friend got shared around by everyone on the lacrosse team. Meanwhile, the boys on the lacrosse team received no punishment. Come again?
According to Jezebel, it all started when a lacrosse player named “Jason” (not his real name) dared his female friend Alexis to send him a topless photo. She did it, as a joke. (And maybe also as flirting?) Jason showed the photo to one of his friends, who quickly sent it to everyone on the lacrosse team. The omniscient, all-seeing eye of the administration found out, and soon enough, everyone involved was called before the authorities.
According to Alexis, Dean of Students Patrick McGroarty (is it just me or is that a terrifying name for an authority figure?) called her behavior “outrageous…especially since she wasn’t dating any of the boys.” As everyone knows, it’s only okay to send sexts to people you intend to have sex with. DON’T BE A TEASE, KIDS.
While one might have reasonably expected the school administration to use this as an opportunity to teach everyone involved about the dangers of irresponsibly wielded technology, they decided instead to use it as a chance to teach them that female sexuality is bad and evil, and any time something like this happens, it is solely the girl’s fault:
The next week, Alexis, her parents, a handful of teachers, McGroarty and the principal, Virginia Colwell, had a meeting in which Alexis was asked if she knew what pornography was and whether she felt she had “harassed” Jason and Peter. Alexis said she found the questions complicated and was criticized for not answering them correctly, including one about “what justice” she felt the boys should receive; Alexis and her parents assumed the administration was referring to Jason and Peter’s punishment, but they actually “wanted to know what I should do to make them feel better if they were distraught,” Alexis said.
In the end, they expelled only the girl, for being evil and making all those poor, innocent boys share her boobie pic around like bubble gum. The boys received no punishment, as school authorities claimed not to believe Alexis when she said she hadn’t initially sent it as a mass text, even though anyone with half a brain (and access to the kids’ cell phones?) can see that’s what happened. High school girls do not generally sit around thinking up ways to harass the whole lacrosse team at once with their underage boobs. So really, Alexis was betrayed twice: first by her friend, and then by the school that was supposed to have her best interests in mind.
Alexis’ mother said as much in a letter to the superintendent:
Perhaps the biggest problem I have is that there was no compassion shown to my daughter. She was never counseled by Father Kelly, or even asked her side of the story. Why weren’t the children brought in all together and asked what happened? Why were the boys called to the AD’s office with their coach while my daughter was in with the Dean of Students? Why did the AD tell the boys that Alexis wouldn’t be in trouble? Why didn’t the Dean of Students believe Alexis when she said that the boys were the ones who sent the photo to everyone?
Far be it from me to expect a Catholic school to abide by any sensible standards where teen sexuality is concerned, but JUST IN CASE THEY CARE ABOUT NOT RAISING RAPISTS: this is a glaring fucking example of exactly what I am talking about when I talk about rape culture. The idea that it is always the girl’s fault for giving it up when asked and never the boys’ fault (they just can’t help themselves!) send a clear message that women are supposed to be the gatekeepers of male desire, and anything men to do them is somehow their fault, whether the men are violating a woman’s trust by sharing her picture around, or violating her actual body with nonconsensual sexual contact. The sooner people make this connection, the sooner people will stop raising rapists, which I think everyone but the worst monsters will agree is an important goal. Does this go against your antiquated religious beliefs? Cool, hope you’re fine with raising rapists. I’d call it “an inconvenient truth,” but I’m not one of those people who finds it inconvenient to respect young women.