Maureen Dowd Cites Landon School’s ‘Fantasy Leagues,’ Claims Young Men Treat Young Women as ‘Prey’
Bros have sent in New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd’s op-ed from yesterday about a dozen times over the past 24 hours, so we figure it’s something you all want to talk about.
For those who haven’t read it, “Their Dangerous Swagger” focuses on a Washington, D.C.-area private school, Landon, where a couple years ago high school freshmen boys conducted a fantasy draft of incoming freshmen girls, rating them on looks, bra size, personality, and willingness to put out. They then kept track of who hooked up with whom, and how far they got with them. When word got out about the fantasy league, Dowd says, the girls involved were upset and betrayed, and their parents were outraged. The column then makes an abrupt shift to the recent tragic death of Yeardley Love at the University of Virginia and tries to paint her ex-boyfriend and accused murderer George Huguely, a Landon graduate, in the same brushstroke as the current Landon boys:
The awful crime, chronicled on the cover of People with the headline “Could She Have Been Saved?,” raised haunting questions about why Huguely had not already been reported to authorities, even though other lacrosse players had seen him choke Love at a party and his circle knew that the athlete had attacked a sleeping teammate whom he suspected had kissed Love. Huguely had also been so out-of-control drunk, angry and racially abusive with a policewoman in 2008 that she had to Taser him.
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.
“His teammates and friends, the ones who watched him smash up windows and bottles and heard him rant about Love,” she wrote. “Why didn’t they turn him in? … Why did they not treat Yeardley Love as their teammate, too?”
Dowd concludes her column by saying, “Young men everywhere must be taught, beyond platitudes, that young women are not prey.”
So what do you guys think about Dowd’s column? (Make sure you read the whole thing first before putting forth an opinion.) Is she making a substantive point — do Bros treat young women as prey? Or is Dowd unfairly grouping all young men together as a bunch of Neanderthals, clubbing young women over the top of their heads and carrying them over their shoulders back to their caves to have their way with them?
Our take is after the jump. Leave yours in the comments.
For our money, Dowd’s linking of high school freshmen hoping to get to second base and an alcoholic, abusive “alleged” murderer is a bridge way, way too far. Huguely is clearly one f*cked-up individual — with serious problems that deserve first psychological treatment and then a long, long stay in jail — and to depict him as any type of young male archetype is outrageous. He is the worst kind of outlier, and not a role model or stand-in for every teenage guy in America. We won’t argue with the point that Huguely’s (and probably, for that matter, Love’s) friends and family should have acted earlier to get him help and her out of harm’s way. A Bro should never stand for a fellow Bro’s abuse of a girl, a teammate, or alcohol or drugs. But Dowd’s definition of “prey” is much too expansive here. George Huguely’s deranged view of Love is not the same as a high school kid hoping to experience something sexual that’s more than just a seventh-grade-dance French kiss.
As far as the fantasy league draft, as a website that routinely ranks and categorizes and fetishizes women over the age of 18, we won’t pretend to express outrage over the Landon boys ranking their classmates like the NFC East’s top wideouts. That’s what guys do: they assess, they tally, they rank, they keep score. That said, although girls might not go to the same Excel-spreadsheet extremes as the boys, rest assured that on that first day of freshman year, they were sizing up their prospects, too. Girls obsessively share details of hook-ups with each other and obsess over Facebook pages of potential targets just in the same way that Dowd and her college classmates 30 years ago probably poured through the freshman “pig book” (that’s what they used to call hard-copy facebooks back in the day), looking for the handsome guy they thought would sweep them off their feet.
And that, ultimately, may be the crux of the conflict between Baby Boomer columnists like Dowd and today’s teens — both boys and girls: Young people keep moving farther and farther from the dating culture that brought their parents together toward a hook-up culture that seems much more realistic — and a hell of a lot more fun) With at least 50% of teens growing up with single, divorced, or step parents, it’s little wonder why they’re giving up on the pursuit of true love, romance, or steady relationships during their formative years. They’re saying, What’s the point? Mom and Dad couldn’t make it work, so why should I even try? Why go through all of high school or college with just one girlfriend or boyfriend — it’s surely not going to last. Why not have fun now while I’m young and sexually curious?
Perhaps the female readers of our site will disagree with our lumping them in with the boys — maybe most of them are still hoping to find their future husbands in between lunch and fifth-period chemistry, or at a frat party near the Bud Light kegs. And vice versa — there are definitely some male romantics out there. But these days, high school or even college sweethearts who make it to marriage and beyond are not the norm.
Ultimately, we don’t recommend that every group of high school boys start drafting fantasy leagues for two reasons: if your school finds about them, they’re much more trouble than they’re worth; and your NFL fantasy team finished dead last last season, so focus your analytical prowess where it really matters. In addition, perhaps taking some edge off of the “lockerroom” jargon we use (“slampieces,” “conquests”) to describe hooking up is advisable, if unlikely. But young men pursuing young women, and vice versa, isn’t going anywhere, and shouldn’t.
That’s our opinion. What’s yours?