When superfluous quotation marks meet a public can of Austin: Hearts and Paws dog training facility, Leander TX.
I laughed the hollow, mirthless laugh of an obstreperally-blocked spinster aunt when I read this story about the two butt-slappin’ 7th-graders in McMinnville, Oregon whose ‘horseplay’ — that is, an avocation leading them to cavort through the halls spanking female students — has landed them in juvy, facing felony sex charges. The responsible adults in their lives are now scrambling to determine whether their actions were criminal or just a matter of boys-will-be-boys engaging in “a common form of greeting.”
I laughed because these boys are precisely the product of their culture. Do these outraged parents and attorneys and sociologists and radio jocks and sexperts really expect that boys will not initiate attempts to dominate girls as early in their lives as possible? Do they imagine that misogyny is a figment? Do they delude themselves that the attempt by these boys to join their elders in satisfying, lifetime careers of culturally-approved sex-based harassment was merely an anomaly, an aberration?
Apparently not everyone does. As the father of one of the jailed ‘McMinnville Two’ whined, “We’d all be in jail if everyone got arrested for this kind of stuff.” Too true, Mr. Redneck, too true. Everybody hates women; why, it would be insane to criminalize patriarchy. Which is essentially the argument in favor of defining the efforts of pubescent boys to forcibly dominate pubescent girls as ‘horseplay.’ How can it be antisocial when all of society condones it? Quoth a dudely editorialist in the Salem StatesmanJournal: “[T]o criminalize [...] brutish behavior is irrational and counterproductive.”
Blowhards variously use the words ‘irrational’ and ‘insane’ to describe this case, but what is really nuts is that anyone should expect anything but criminal behavior from kids raised to revere a culture of domination.
As usual, the real nub of the controversy, although nobody is acknowledging it, is not over whether a couple of 13-year-old boys facing 10 years in the hoosegow for butt-swatting is an “overreaction.” It’s whether female humans have a legal right to personal bodily sovereignty. Incredibly, in 2007, the jury’s still out on that one.