Letter: A Lingering, Noxious Mind-Set
To the Editor:
Some background: I have a daughter and son attending Hanover High. I am a former School Board member and have served on a number of Norwich/Dresden/SAU committees; and I am one of the middle-school assistant football coaches. I also am an attorney who is reasonably skilled at parsing sentences and words. My skill would be severely tested if I am ever forced to parse “gang bang” from “gang rape.”
The Oct. 18 Valley News article “Parents, Principal Dispute Description of Skit as ‘Gang Rape’” is a little ambiguous about whether Hanover High’s principal and some parents have, in fact, tried to parse the two terms or whether they dispute that the skit in question actually occurred. It would not be the first time the paper has slanted a headline or article involving Norwich, Hanover, Hanover High or Dartmouth. But assuming the principal and parents are parsing the terms as implied, I find it extraordinarily disappointing, bordering on infuriating.
I belonged to a college fraternity in the 1970s, and am ashamed to admit that the term “gang bang” was not an unusual part of the fraternity lexicon. I can assure you its contextual use was absolutely no different from the term “gang rape.” Those using the term somehow were able to reconcile the violent nature of the act by claiming — ignorantly or disingenuously — that there was no violence intended. Fortunately, only the term was used and the violent act never occurred to my knowledge. But the complete disrespect for women was part and parcel of the term’s use, and the fact the act never occurred was more fortuitous happenstance than understanding right from something horribly wrong.
We live here for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the expectation our two boys will grow up in an environment understanding that the objectification of women is unacceptable and the confidence that our two girls will not be subjected to the objectification that was accepted 50 years ago. If, however, leaders of the scholastic community and parents of boys in the community are parsing the terms “gang bang” and “gang rape,” then our expectation and confidence may very well be misplaced.