Saturday, May 27, 2006

They did what?!

I know I am a day late on this but it really needs to be discussed in part because of the response that has been levied against bloggers daring to question the actions of the women's lacrosse team at Duke. So the brief recap is that some of the players chose to write the numbers of the 3 men's team players who have been implicated in the alleged rape incident. Others chose to wear the men's logo on their sweatbands/headbands (why do the teams have different logos?). So all this was in support of their fallen brothers.
So, many commentators on this perverse form of activism have noted that these women just continue to reify their own oppression. Yes, of course. The naysayers invoke the justice system and innocence and wouldn't-you-support-the-innocent? rhetoric. But that's not the issue. It's all about these women choosing to support the bad behavior (whether a rape occurred or not) of these male athletes. In the end they may be found innocent of rape but they are still overprivileged assholes who think it's ok to hire a stripper in the first place.
This leads to some additional thoughts on these female athletes. First, they refused to answer questions specifically about their support gear deferring to their coach, who is also a woman. (And the frustration just keeps on going.) If you're going to take stand then truly stand up for these alleged beliefs you have and speak openly about why you are doing what you are doing. The comments suggest that these women are sick of the attention being focused on their institution and specifically the athletic program. Well if this was really true then the best action to take probably wouldn't be to write the names of alleged rapists on your gear.
What seems to be underlying the frustration with all the attention is that it has called these players on their racial and class privilege. And for the women's lacrosse team--on which there are no African-Americans--preserving these privileges by ignoring male privilege is a no-brainer. Privileged white women want to maintain the class and racial order that exists in this country because their gender oppression is not felt as severely as other women without the same access to the benefits of being white and upper class.
Of course there is no final word on this situation--even when the case is over I doubt there will be any kind of closure--but I think for now that Duke's loss in the championship game speaks volumes. Schadenfreude, anyone?

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