Friday, June 23, 2006

Why Northwestern is not Duke

Jenny Haigh, the soccer coach at Northwestern resigned the other day. Perhaps we should put resigned in quotes, though. She is leaving in the wake of the hazing incident. Or rather she is leaving in wake of the publicity that emerged when photos of the incident were found on the internet (posted by team members on a personal website).
I was a little surprised by her resignation because--unlike the Duke lacrosse coach who seemed to know about and condone the behavior (pattern of behavior--not just the alleged rape)--Haigh likely had no specific knowledge of the event. I don't know the climate at Northwestern around athletics. All teams seem to have some kind of bonding events at the start of the season. This one crossed the line to hazing. Others have crossed that line as well. But there were no records of it. I am not diminishing the severity of hazing (see previous entry below) or that it is symptomatic of an attitude that collegiate student-athletes have certain immunities.
But how responsible is a coach in such an incident? She can't--and she shouldn't--be with her team all the time. A coach can instill a certain amount of values but it's ridiculous to think that one person's moral standards--no matter how high--can overcome the larger cultural attitude that what we call hazing is just harmless fun or team bonding.
In this light I suppose it is possible that Haigh simply resigned (without being pressured to do so). At some point it must be like hitting your head against the wall. You try to combat prevalent attitudes but the system in place impedes you and then when something that isn't all that surprising given the systematic constraints occurs--correction, is made public--you take the heat for it.


Anonymous said...

Firing the coach for team behavior was created by feminist who want to destroy men's sports. Many feminist heartily believe in the myth that females are morally superior and wouldn't participate in hazing, it these feminist knew that women would be effected, they would have figured out other ways of attacking men's athletics.

ken said...

Yes there is a version of feminism-it does by different names--that relies on many of what have been posited "essential" differences between men and women to point to women's caring natures and men's more aggressive ones. It should be noted though that these constructions were not created by women, but by the patriarchy. In the 19th century (in the US anyway) as we moved to industrialization and men began working outside the home--rather than on farms, in small shops, etc--women became charged with upholding the moral character of the nation through motherhood. It was presented as biological--because women bear children--and many people over a hundred years later still hold on to some aspects of this construction of femininity.
I am not a fan of this manifestation of feminism but it continues to exist, and be accepted, because it benefits a majority of men--i.e. it affirms the partriarchy.
That being said, I didn't see anything remotely resembling feminist activism involved in this case. It seems that what you are saying caused the resignation of Haigh is a general belief that women are morally superior--which, as I said above, is a belief that benefits and is maintained by the patriarchy.