It’s not every week that I that I find myself in perfect agreement with a Maureen Dowd opinion piece. But this is one of them. She tells the following appalling story:
A group of soon-to-be freshmen boys [i.e., 14 year olds] at Landon, an elite private grade school and high school for boys in the wealthy Washington suburb of Montgomery County, Md., was drafting local girls.
One team was called “The Southside Slampigs,” and one boy dubbed his team with crude street slang for drug-addicted prostitutes.
The young woman who was the “top pick” was described by one of the boys in a team profile he put up online as “sweet, outgoing, friendly, willing to get down and dirty and [expletive] party. Coming in at 90 pounds, 5’2 and a bra size 34d.” She would be a special asset to the team, he noted, because her mother “is quite the cougar herself.”
Before they got caught last summer, the boys had planned an “opening day party,” complete with T-shirts, where the mission was to invite the drafted girls and, unbeknownst to them, score points by trying to rack up as many sexual encounters with the young women as possible.
At the end of the column, she draws the only possible conclusion.
Young men everywhere must be taught, beyond platitudes, that young women are not prey.
Hear, hear! Only, I would like to add two thoughts.
1) I fear it is practically impossible so to educate young men while the culture around them is awash in pornography and celebrates moral relativism and sexual libertinism.
2) It is not only young men who must be taught that young women are not prey; young women also need to learn it.
Taking care not to commit the error of “blaming the victim”, we should look for ways of communicating to young women the role they play in ensuring that relations between the sexes are properly personal rather than brutal. This involves at least two things:
1) We have to encourage young women to value themselves as persons—as unique individuals, of infinite worth, free and responsible to dispose over their own destiny.
2) We have to encourage them to take care to present themselves to others as persons, not as objects, not as specimens of sexual attractiveness. A key element of this is modesty in dress and manner. We advocate modesty not (as the radicals feminists or modernists suppose) because we find sex or the human body shameful, but because modesty is essential for directing male attention to the personhood—the subjectivity and individuality, as opposed to the “flesh,” of the women he meets. When young women dress in a way that draws attention to their breasts or thighs or bare midriffs, they make it much harder for men to encounter them as a unique and incommunicable person—a person worthy of and calling for nothing short of love and respect.
And when they are treated as objects, it is much harder for them to realize their personhood to themselves.