On stupidity

I know I’m coming a little late to the party, but I wanted to take a few days to ruminate and prevent myself from simply hurling invective at those insensitive Landon boys. It wouldn’t make for a good post, I think.

The Landon School for Boys in Bethesda, MD has recently come under scrutiny for the actions of a group of rising freshman boys, who have created a fantasy football league (thanks to Maureen Dowd of the NYTimes for that descriptor) of rising freshman girls who were both hot and willing to put out, so to speak. Points were awarded for how many bases were covered, and at the end of whatever the season was, the winner would be the boy with the most points.

The game is demeaning and objectifying to women – to these 14 year old girls, who had no idea what was going on. It’s been a while, but I remember what it was like to be 14. You are so excited to get to high school, to be seen as somewhat of an adult, and yet so insecure, so desperate to be liked. These girls thought the boys actually liked them, that there might be something special forming. What they did with those boys was their choice. I can’t blame them for anything. But to find out that a seemingly budding relationship was simply a game – that had to be devastating.

The saddest part is, I was not surprised. Full disclosure: I went to Holton-Arms School for Girls, Landon’s sister school, for seven years. Though nothing of this magnitude happened while I was there – that I knew of, at least – I was privy to a culture that fostered macho posturing, arrogance and a sense of entitlement. That these boys felt it was acceptable to use girls in this manner is just another example.

(How about the three Landon seniors who cheated on their SATs even though they were already in college? They ruined their futures just because they thought they could get away with it.)

I’m not condemning all Landon boys – I know several that wouldn’t participate in such things – but the attitude that runs rampant through out the school encourages a sense of superiority, of untouchableness. Girls are simply there for their amusement, nothing more.

Look at George Hugely, the Landon grad and UVA student who murdered his girlfriend. That he felt it was ok to throttle her, to treat her as property, is another hallmark of this poisonous attitude. And then there is the reaction of his teammates. Who did nothing, even though they knew of his misogynistic behavior and violent tendencies. Is this a skewed sense of brotherhood that has them protect one of their own even though someone else suffered? Methinks something is wrong.

I’ve heard that Landon is supposed to foster honesty and brotherhood. But even the closest ties must be superseded when someone’s health – physical or emotional – is at stake. This need to protect others at all costs, especially when combined with the view of women as objects to be used and discarded at will, smacks of stupidity rather than loyalty. No one is infallible, not even prep school boys. Once they realize that they are subject to the same consequences as the rest of the world, then perhaps they will be able to treat women as human beings rather than playthings. And understand when loyalty is necessary, and when it’s stupid.

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