"Grab its motherfucking leg," she heard a voice say. And that's when Jackie knew she was going to be raped.
That single written sentence will encapsulate everything you need to know about the bone-chilling Rolling Stone article on the rape culture at the University of Virginia. I don't want this to be one of those pieces written with the "now that I'm a father" perspective because everyone does that. There is something even deeper here that hasn't been touched on too much lately. The focus has been, rightfully, first been placed on the victims who have not received justice. There is also outrage on the perpetrators, the ignorance of the police, and the complicity of the university administration. UVA has a reputation, certainly among those of us who did not go there. There has always been a dark side of Charlottesville that has previously peaked out from behind the curtains in the cases of Morgan Harrington and Yardley Love. If you asked anyone in Virginia where something like this could take hold, I'm pretty sure we could all agree that UVA would be at the top of the list.
But deeper than that, the article is even more sinister in something else. Look at that quite above again. "Grab its" leg. Its. These boys were treating this girl as an it. Taking her humanity away from her. How have we gotten here? How has an entire culture at UVA, and I'm sure it's not the only school or fraternity like this, been created that treats women like that?
What has happened to our boys?
I don't know the answer. Forget politics, forget class, forget race. As a society together we need to figure out what has happened to our boys. This isn't the crime of depraved criminal like Jesse Mathews that, while horrific, can be explained. This? An entire culture at fraternities that turn girls into gang-raped victims, into "it?" How did we get here? All I could think about reading this story is the boys who did this. What happened to them, where were they raised, what circumstances conditioned them to plan something like that and how on earth do they live with themselves for doing it? Again, in no way do these thoughts mean I'm not thinking about the victims or anything like that. But what have we done to raise boys like this? In Charlottesville, a light has been shined on a problem that goes deeper than simply a few disgusting frat boys. This has been going on for nearly 30 years.
I have no answers. But this is a question we need to think about, especially among my peers who are all now young parents.