All across America, on web sites and among social networking groups, sports fans are playing in fantasy baseball leagues. Even Major League Baseball operates a particularly sophisticated site that allows participants to draft players and create their own rosters, all to compete against other fans. The goal is to demonstrate skill in assessing the attributes and predicting the performances of athletes. Harmless fun. Now it’s come to light that a group of male students at Landon School, an upscale Maryland college prep academy, created their own fantasy sex league last fall. Not harmless at all.
First of all, the online sport was all too real. The participating ninth grade boys reportedly posted information and constructed their “draft” using ninth grade girls from other area prep schools. They posted nasty, sexually oriented comments about each of nine girls on the web site. The intention was to begin a round of parties over last Labor Day Weekend to which the girls would be invited. The participating Landon students would then try to obtain sexual favors from the girls and track and tally their results in order to determine the sex league champion.
Maureen Dowd of The New York Times surfaced the story (school officials stepped in and suspended several of the male students but state that disciplinary records are confidential) and called for a “curriculum overhaul” at the school. “Young men everywhere,” she wrote, “must be taught, beyond platitudes, that young women are not prey.” The Landon School administration stated that it has “an extensive ethics and character education” program that includes “civility toward women.”
But something deeper than “incivility” was at work in this incident. The notion that teenagers can and should be taught to engage in whatever sexual explorations suit them is widespread, and in fact this message is heavily subsidized by government programs and policies. Abstinence programs, the best of which are effective and more properly understood as programs designed to instill real character and true civility, are derided by entities that receive the lion’s share of public funding.
The appalling antics of rising freshmen at one prep school are a reflection of appalling advice from many adults who think nothing of having their own fantasies about a national “Petting Project” or teaching kids multiple ways to use others for sexual gratification. The good news is that for anyone genuinely seeking the kind of curriculum overhaul Dowd recommends has a number of very good – even fantastic – options.