Paterno and Sandusky: Why Do We Care Less About the Rape of Boys and Men?

Paterno and Sandusky: Why Do We Care Less About the Rape of Boys and Men? July 13, 2012

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Ed Stetzer asks what churches and their leadership can learn from the Jerry Sandusky story, in light of Louis Freeh’s report that excoriates former (and legendary) Penn State coach Joe Paterno as well as other top university officials for doing so little to uncover the facts of Sandusky’s deeds, so little to properly inform authorities, and so little to protect the boys who suffered from Sandusky’s perversion.

…the fact that this stain will be forever be connected with Paterno’s legacy may, in fact, lead to the protection of future generations. People will remember, be more likely to report, and perhaps more children will be protected. If future “people in power” will remember what Paterno’s inaction cost him and others, maybe they will be less likely to ignore the cry of an innocent victim.

As best we can tell, Coach Paterno was a great coach and leader who made a big mistake that allowed immeasurable harm. Yet, part of Coach Paterno’s legacy may well be to remind people to protect children in a way he did not.

Stetzer is a church analyst of the first degree, and I hope he’s right.  He recommends (1) every church conduct thorough vetting of employees who will work with children, (2) every church develop a security policy that explains how to deal with accusations of abuse (a 2008 LifeWay survey found that four percent of churches report dealing with an abuse allegation), and (3) do not attempt to deal with this sort of thing internally at first, as a way of limiting the fallout.  Abuse is a crime and needs to involve the police.

There’s another question the whole sordid saga raises, however, and it’s this: Why are people more inclined to turn a blind eye when the victim of rape is male?

I have to confess I don’t have data to back this up, which always makes me a bit uncomfortable.  Tell me if you disagree.  But I think most of us, if we consult our own experiences and impressions, will agree that our society treats the rape of boys or men much more leniently than it does the rape of girls or women.  During the OJ Simpson trial, I hear that OJ would “go into prison as a tight end and come out as a wide receiver.”  Lots of people — myself included, I confess — laughed at the joke.  Make a joke about raping a woman and you will be rightly excoriated.  Make a joke about a man being raped and it’s all hardy-har.

That changed for me when I served as a chaplain at a max-security prison in Trenton, New Jersey, first as a part of my masters-degree internship and then as a volunteer for three years.  I came to know and love many of the brothers in those walls.  Prisoner rape is a persistent problem, and I had no reason to believe that the prison where I served was an exception.  If your friend or brother, husband or father was taken to a county jail or a state penitentiary, innocently or not, would you find “don’t drop the soap” jokes funny anymore?

When it comes to boys, we certainly react with less alarm in cases of statutory rape, where a teacher (for instance) has sex with a male student.  If the teacher is a woman, the boy may well be congratulated by his friends for seducing a more experienced woman.  We assume different power dynamics.  When it comes to sexuality, we’re used to thinking of boys as the aggressors, or we assume they have the physical power to escape if they wish.  With girls, we feel a certain purity is lost.  With boys, we may not posit any purity to be lost in the first place.

What do you think?  Would Paterno and Penn State have done more to stop Sandusky if his victims were girls instead of boys?

I know this is a discomforting question, but it needs to be asked.  And regardless of the answer in this specific case, people of good will can make clear that jokes concerning the rape of boys or men are never funny, and pressuring boys into sexual acts is no less evil than pressuring girls, and no less deserving of a swift, decisive, thoroughgoing response.

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  • The False God

    Men are treated as expendable assets in today’s society, while women are regarded as irreplaceable treasures.

    The reasons are not chivalrous, and the results are horrifying.

    • Zorro

      You are 100% correct. The results are horrifying. Our society is doomed if this nonsense is not stopped.

      • Commentator


        I think sodomy is always considered worse, man or woman, boy or girl. Think about this, Sandusky did not do anything different that Polanski did (Polanski sodomized that 13 year old girl in the 70s) although he did it more often (or was caught more often).

        • Commentator

          OK – I just meant that the legend is that boy molestors are targets in prison, i.e., the hated “chickenhawks.” I did not mean any violent intent or knowledge.

        • Sixtus66

          And both men had their peers and contemporaries cover for them and, after a time, celebrate their achievements.

    • > Men are treated as expendable assets in today’s society

      It has nothing to do with “today’s society”.

      It’s biology.

      Men ARE expendable assets. Start with 100 men and 100 women. Lost half the women, and the next generation is half the size. Lost half the men, and the next generation is just fine.

      • Paul Nathanson

        That might make sense in purely abstract or zoological terms, but you can’t understand humans fullyin either abstract or zoological terms. A distinctive part of being human (at all times and in all places) is the use of culture to supplement nature. And morality is a universal feature of culture (although moral systems vary, to some extent, from one culture to another). Seen in moral terms, I suggest, there can be no such thing as “expendability.” Every human is unique and irreplaceable. To argue otherwise is to adopt the Social Darwinist, which led to National Socialism. For the Nazis, men were valuable only as soldiers–that is, cannon fodder–for the Reich. And women were valuable only as the mothers of those soldiers. In other words, men were war machines or weapons, and women were baby machines.

        Besides, human societies have always found ways of maintaining or restoring demographic balance. Not all of thse ways, however, would be morally acceptable today. How many women would accept polygyny (a form of polygamy that allows many wives for each husband) as a solution to the probelm of too few men in the population? After World War I, for instance, that was indeed a problem–but no one advocated polygyny as the solution. Instead, many women accepted the fact that they would never marry.

    • In theory, of course. If women were actually treated like “irreplaceable treasures” we wouldn’t have the issue with military women and rape, and we wouldn’t have mothers on welfare trying to scrape by, and we wouldn’t have (some) women choosing abortions based solely on the fact that they are not supported enough by neighborhoods or society to feel they would be adequate mothers. If women were treasured, they would be supported as women on their own terms. Women are cherished in theory, not in actuality. I’m not saying the opposite is true of men. We turn a “blind eye to male rape” because rape is something that happens to women, it’s a feminine thing, and if men are feminine it’s bad. Women are therefore bad. Sounds like the opposite of treasure to me.

  • HeatherRadish

    I have to disagree with your premise. Lots of Div-I football program and their campus communities cover for for players who rape and batter young women (including students enrolled at their institutions). I would say “and no one cares” but coaches and other school officials spend a lot of time and effort pressuring the victims to “let the school handle it” instead of getting the local police involved; and you can’t even count on the local police and prosecutors to side with the victim instead of the school, especially where the U is the only reason the town exists. Where you can, the assailant is welcome back on the team, and they’ll work out a deal with probation or serving time in the off-season so he can keep playing. Besides, girls who hang out with football players are only really after one thing anyway, wink-nudge, right?

    If Sandusky had been abusing co-eds instead of boys, it would have been a 30-second item on ESPN, and except for a few jokes about “prowess” no one would have cared. The months-long outrage is solely because he was abusing boys.

    • DWPittelli

      “If Sandusky had been abusing co-eds instead of boys… no one would have cared.”

      They were 14-year-old boys, not college students (what “co-ed” generally means). Sandusky would have had a lot more trouble finding privacy with14-year-old girls, and he would have been in at least as much trouble if he had been abusing 14-year-old girls.

      • Commentator

        To follow up, Sandusky has to wear a bullet proof vest and might be killed in prison according to some precedents (Dalmer). Polanski is a playboy in France and won an Oscar about 10 years ago. Polansky is openly celebrated and supported in Hollywood.

        • The Polansky treatment has nothing to do with male/female. It is completely based upon him being one of the group with the right political bearing.

  • This is to some extent instinctive, and it goes back a long, long way. The short answer to your question is, “Because boys and men can’t get pregnant.” In human tribes, back in the day, there were only so many chances for male tribe members to father children. A rape of a fertile female potentially stole one of those rare (and evolutionarily valuable) chances. A rape of a boy or man didn’t.

    That’s also why boys and men are treated as expendable. If 90% of the men in a tribe are dead, all the women can still get pregnant. But lost of a fertile female means lost of a womb, and a reduction for the tribe of child-bearing potential.

    • Paul Nathanson

      See my reply above to the same argument. This is a profound moral problem for humans (as distinct from other species), not merely an abstract or zoological one. Unless you truly believe that women are nothing more than reproductive machines (which is what the Nazis believed), there can be no such thing as an “expendable” human being.

  • anna

    I don’t think that society regards boys being raped by older men as any less disturbing when you switch the gender of the victims. I think the situation with Sandusky was one of people being blinded by their cultish-like love for sports and their bizarre allegiance to their university. A better parallel might be found in the way in which some of those involved in film didn’t want to be too harsh on Roman Polanski.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      There’s definitely something to that. I still find a greater abhorrence when the victim is female, but I know people tend to generalize from their circles and circumstances. So others may not see it as I do.

      • Rob Smith

        I still remember someone (Whoopi Goldberg?) trivializing what Polanski did saying it wasn’t “rape rape”, I assume implying that the 13 year old girl consented even though she was drugged by Polanski and unable to consent.

  • Ben

    Both men and women care when women are raped. When men and boys are raped, women aren’t very interested on average — especially single women.

    • BEN,

      Where did you get this?!

      How do you know what all women feel. How do you know what anyone thinks. What is clear is that perhaps thinking and feeling should be criterion that are considered before you post?

      Please, please refrain from sharing comments that are specious, fallacious and down right offensive. They only enflame; they do not encourage any discourse or discussion. ANd there is an old saying that applies here, “Opinions are like ____; everyone has one.” I ask you to use your imagination to fill in the blank.

  • jill e

    I find male rape much more disturbing. Movies I wish I’d never seen: Deliverance and Pulp Fiction. Interesting though is how the entire Catholic faith was demonized by the acts of a small minority of its priests and yet the educational system produces many more incidences of pedophilia and child rape. Evil looks for opportunity and these types of evil people seek out places like churches, schools, organizations that give them easy access to children. It’s up to the “good” people to route them out and protect the vulnerable no matter the cost.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      The different treatment of the RCC and public schools, when it comes to abuse of children, is a huge scandal. I’ve written a bit on this previously, but plan to write more soon.

      • bandit

        Absolutely right – there are thousands of abusers in schools and their coworkers are looking the other way so fast they are going to twist their necks off.

    • Monimonika

      Oh not this argument again! Look, if it were just about a few priests being bad, this argument would make sense. There are bad people in pretty much any sizable organization. But it’s not. It’s ALSO about all the ones higher up in the hierarchy (even up to the Pope himself!) who were informed about the priests and deciding to COVERUP THE CRIME.

      School officials caught in a coverup are investigated by police and forced to resign at the very, very, very least. Many of the Catholic officials who were part of coverups? They’re still around and even keeping their positions as “moral authorities” because for some reason secular laws can’t touch them! Stop ignoring the fact that the upper echelons of the Catholic Church were also part of the crimes as well.

      • ppeter

        There is indeed a cover-up of abuse in public schools & other govt institutions, but it’s carried out by the govt/media machine that rules this country, so nobody cares.
        If we were actually governed by reason and not by anti-papist prejudice, we would be more worked up about govt abuse.

      • Timothy Dalrymple

        Actually, Monimonika, one of the things that makes the parallel compelling is the tendency of principals and school authorities to cover up and allow teachers to move on to other school districts. It’s a big problem.

  • fred

    Good question. I can tell you as a father if it happened to either my son or daughter I would be inclined to react as the Texas Dad did recently, who was deemed justified by the grand jury in not being charged for his reaction.

  • Eduardo

    Women can get pregnant and have that extra consecuence

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Yep, that’s definitely one of the reasons, I believe.

  • David

    I agree that when boys or men are raped, often times, it’s not taken as seriously as when women are raped. Imagine if Sandusky was raping girls. Paterno and Penn State would not have covered that up for one second.

    • Kristen inDallas

      I bet they would have. Football = king in some places. Even at the HS level, principles are known to look the other way re. accusations of girls against coaches. It’s got nothing to do with what gender the victim is, it has to do with who the criminal is.

  • Esteban

    In place of the statistics you don’t have, all you need to do is look at the trend in campus policies denying accused rapists any due process rights and their practice of taking the accuser’s word as golden truth starting with the first utterance of lack of consent.

    Had Sandusky been involved with girls, even co-eds of legal age who consented to sex but later claimed rape due to the unfair “power dynamic,” he would have been tarred, feathered and ridden out on a rail by the university administration upon the first accusation. Instead he was bought off, coddled and given the access and currency to perpetrate his sick perversions against further victims. Sandusky’s enablers should go to jail with him.

  • David Layman

    Two words: “romantic love” (aka “courtly love”: read C. S. Lewis, *The Allegory of Love*). The idealization of the inaccessible female. One of the deepest corruptions of western civilization, and the source of many of our moral horrors.

  • Kristen

    Prisoner rape is, I think, a different category in the minds of most of us because they’re not “innocent victims.” Not that it SHOULD be like this, not remotely, but your experiences in prison ministry helped you realize that these prisoners are human beings, and not many of us get there.

    There’s lots of data showing that women accused of statutory rape of boys receive vastly different outcomes than men accused of statutory rape of girls. It’s huge, and indicates nothing good. But is the distinguishing factor there the gender of the victim or the gender of the accused? Are men accused of abusing boys treated differently than men accused of abusing girls? I don’t know any data on that. The two scandals I’m familiar with involving adult men and boys are the Catholic Church one and the Jerry Sandusky one and both seemed to evoke a whole lot of visceral outrage in the general population.

    • DWPittelli

      Do you have a link to such data? I ask because I’ve heard this voiced in a lot of places, but then I once read an article that looked in depth and found that, when you adjust for things such as the age of the victim, there really isn’t such a discrepancy. In short, female teacher-offenders are more likely to go for 16- or 17-year-old boys, in something not too far from a normal relationship (especially if the teacher is in her twenties and single, as is often the case), with consent, while male teacher-offenders are far more likely to seduce/rape girls (or boys) who are younger than 16 (and the male teachers are more likely to be older and married), are more likely to have multiple victims, and are more likely to use threats to coerce their victims, and there is no way to see the acts as part of a relationship. Unfortunately, I don’t have a link to that article either, although statements about female offenders’ aggravating circumstances can be found, e.g., at

  • Uncledip

    Some distinctions come to mind:
    When a man rapes another person, physical injury is possible
    When a woman seduces a boy? Possible, not likely.

    • Paul Nathanson

      So psychological effects are unimportant?

  • pete the elder

    I doubt Penn State would have done more if it were girls. The people involved cared too much about themselves, their reputation, and their program and lots of schools cover up player and staff crimes. The only way they would have done more is to prove to them that they would be far more hated for the cover up than by unknowingly hiring a rapist.

    The scary thing is how many other well known institutions out there are still covering up similar crimes. Penn State won’t be the last one and if its ongoing and if you have already covered up you might double down now that you see what happened to Penn State.

    I think the reason some people treat male victims with less concern is that rape of a woman can have more consequences because of pregnancy. And because the vast majority of adult male victims of rape, in the US at least, are prisoners. Most people probably are a lot more outraged by the rape of a co-ed than they are of a rape of a female prostitute too.

  • Deoxy

    I have to agree with Kristen about the “prison rape is different” bit – yes, it’s bad, and I’ll get in line to put significant effort in to solving it right after we solve a whole bunch of other, more serious problems, those which have a MUCH higher probability of not victimizing the scum of the earth (to give only the most obvious example I can think of, a child starving to death is an awful thing – a convicted murderer being raped, while living in relative luxury in most ways compared to most human beings in the world today, simply doesn’t even show up on that scale).

    Also, I think a lot of people find prison as it is done today to be a very poor punishment for some crimes, and anything you can pile on is a good thing. Heck, if I was looking at a lifetime of flipping burgers and scraping to make ends meet, minimum-security prison would look pretty darn appealing… except for the other inmates.

    Well… my message is apparently “spammy”. Nice.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Apart from the basic justice issue, though, the notion that only “the scum of the earth” suffer prisoner rape is pretty far removed from reality. There are lots of folks in prisons and jails, sometimes awaiting trial, sometimes for quite minor things. There are also many inmates who mend their ways and reform.

    • pete the elder

      From a purely selfish perspective, the vast majority of people in prison will reenter society at some point in the not to distant future. Do you really think society as a whole is better off with prisoners being raped?

      Do you think prison rape is going to make them less violent or more violent once they get out? More likely to sexually abuse some innocent person or less likely? More willing to try to enter mainstream society or less willing? Is society as a whole better off with them getting all the diseases they can get from being raped?

      And a lot of prisoners have severe mental issues already and 50 years ago would have been in an asylum who today end up in prison instead. Is getting raped going to make them more sane and less likely to end up living on the streets?

  • Deoxy

    As to pedophilia, I don’t think most people really care the gender of the child being abused. HOWEVER, if a guy is statutorily raped, and his buddies are congratulating him on scoring with an older woman, he’s old enough that very few people get the “pedophilia” vibe.

    Yes, I understand the legal issues, and I mostly agree with age-of-consent laws (though the specifics and edge cases can be downright ludicrous), but that doesn’t make it pedophilia in any useful or meaningful sense, any more than it makes sense to show the pictures of Trayvon Martin as a 12YO when he was 17YO and 6’3″ (whatever you think of the actual case – not trying to bring up THAT whole thing!).

    For that matter, the 15YO (or 17YO, in some states) 300 pound linebacker could still be statutorily raped – yeah, NOT pedophilia, OK?

    That’s the difference, I think – sexual maturity makes the difference between “age-of-consent-we-should-probably-do-something-about-that illegal” and “pedophilia-lock-them-up-and-throw-away-the-key illegal” (or perhaps “pedophilia-we-should-rip-their-sexual-organs-off-and-let-them-bleed-out illegal”, which is about how relatives tend to feel about it).

  • J’hn1

    Does anyone believe that if Sandusky had been caught that last time raping a little girl, that there would not have been the whole turn away, agonize overnight, ask Dad for help, get outside recommendations, and finally turn Sandusky in to college authorities process.
    Sandusky would have been charged while in Critical Care at the local hospital.
    The same day.
    If a misjudgement hadn’t meant Intensive Care or the Morgue.

    • Elaine

      I disagree. These were boys from troubled backgrounds and homes, many of whom did not have a father figure in the picture. Statistics say that a young girl is most likely to be raped by the mother’s boyfriend or her stepfather…and this often happens with the mother turning a Paterno-esk blind eye to the matter. Evil has it’s collaborators, whether the victims are girls or boys.

      I have to say, as the mother of boys, that the idea of Sandusky sodomizing little 10 and 11 year olds makes me just as nauseous and outraged as I would have been if they were girls.

      • Timothy Dalrymple

        I’m glad that’s so, Elaine. But I suspect that if you were to ask 1000 Americans whether they were more disturbed by (say) the rape of fourteen year old boys versus the rape of fourteen year old girls, you would find a statistically significant difference. I’m not saying everyone feels that way, but I do think that we as a society and as a culture have historically been rather light on the issue of rape of males.

  • Prisoner rape is, I think, a different category in the minds of most of us because they’re not “innocent victims.”

    Does your argument extend to assault and murder? If someone is murdered or assaulted in prison, that’s a different category because they’re not “innocent victims”…in the minds of most of us, of course? Your rationalization turns my stomach.

    The jokes about prison rape are disgusting, dehumanizing. People who end up in prison are given a specific sentence and none of those sentences include “…and prison rape is a bonus.”

  • Jonathan

    It’s hard to process the truth once you’ve become comfortable with the ordinary horrors of day-to-day reality. Rape is an unthinkable assault which has been codified as a male attack upon a woman. I don’t believe most people could process the reality that more men are raped daily, and yearly (in prison) that all male-on-female rapes in a decade of years. True, there are no hard stats on this but if you have ever known anyone who has been in prison, jail, worked institutionally or with ex-cons, you hear the stories, you need only believe a tenth of what your told to realize the immensity of the problem.
    In my mind, it ultimately comes down to a underlying subconscious feeling that people get what they deserve and that men are strangely equipped to deal with it whereas women are psychologically fragile.
    And I have been more than a bit chagrined at the high talk over the United States policy of torture such as water-boarding. The real tragedy is that prisons turn a blind eye to all this. They know it is happening and do nothing. Most prisons are run by the government. How ironic.

  • boqueronman

    I know this flies against conventional wisdom, to say nothing of one of fundamental feminist tenets, but I read an interesting article a few days ago – admittedly from a “progressive” magazine called n+1 – that reliable studies have shown that, and this is important, once prisons/jails are included, rapes of males are likely more common than rapes of females in 21st century America. Startling huh! The point of the article wasn’t to take down a pillar of feminist ideology, but to bolster a case for radical prison reform. I found the article well researched and convincingly argued, to say nothing of troubling.

  • If you know any gays, they will tell you that often older men mentor and seduce teenagers, and it is consensual…. Sandusky hit younger kids but not that much younger, which most gays don’t do, but one can see why some folks in “gay friendly” Penn State gave him a pass.
    But I can tell you, teachers hitting on young teenaged girls was winked at in the 1960s and 1970’s, and still is, alas…

    Alas, intercourse below age 13 is not rare, nor is forced sex, which is why this CDC survey has gotten little or no publicity:

    • Makabit

      Yes, I know gay men. No, they don’t tell me that ‘often older men mentor and seduce teenagers’. They date men their own age, and think going after teenage boys is as inappropriate and immoral as going after teenage girls would be were they straight. If you’re suggesting that the rape of children was tolerated by ‘gay friendly’ Penn State because it was seen as ‘gay culture’, you’re very mistaken. It was tolerated because of the status of the men involved in the very straight world of college football. Sandusky was assaulting ten year olds. That’s not ‘not that much younger’, unless your friends are real creeps.

      As to the overall point of the article, there are a lot of factors involved here. I do think that most of the people who decided not to come forward or pursue the matter would have acted if ten-year-old girls were being assaulted. But maybe not. I know enough women abused by family and family friends as children who received no help, and were told it was not important.

  • Marilena

    When the acts involve pre-pubescent children, i.e., true pedophilia, I’ll bet that the vast majority of people couldn’t care less whether the victim is male or female.

    In the case of the statutory rape of post-pubescent minors, I think our emotional reaction may depend on gender to some extent; but it is not the gender of the victim that matters so much as the gender of the perpetrator. If a 40 year old man seduces a 14 year old boy, would we be any less upset than if he had preyed on a 14 year old girl? I don’t think so. If a 40 year old woman seduces either 14 year old, we’d be upset, but I think slightly less so.

  • Sal_S

    Tim, as you learned from your involvement in prison, prison rape is quite real. But people aren’t going to go out of their way to address this problem, or generate much sympathy, because the prison population as a whole isn’t a group that people feel sorry for. I think people dismiss prison rape as merely another consequence of having committed whatever crime that led the person into prison to begin with. If a murdered get’s raped, few people would see that as an injustice. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying that people will see that as a deserved consequence.

    You’re right about not everyone in jail being a convicted criminal. Constitutionally, the person is as innocent and you and me until he’s convicted, but people don’t always see it that way. People will assume that if someone’s in jail, then he must have done something that led the police to put him in jail.

    For me, the lesson learned from the Sandusky case is not that we care less about male rape, but that institutions and individuals with a reputation to protect will go to great lengths to protect that reputation. This is especially so when damage to reputation may also result in adverse financial consequences. We can speculate as to how Paterno and the other university officials would have handled a situation involving females (underage or not), but at the end of the day, it’s pure speculation. We can speculate that university officials were more quick to sweep the allegations out of sight because these were boys rather than girls or women. But it’s all speculation. What we do know with greater certainty is that the way they handled the situation was framed by a desire to protect their reputation and interests, as an organization and individually.

  • Yoyo

    in Australia we are currently have two large debates about institutional rapes, the first within the military but involving very young people, the second victims of the catholic church.
    In both cases there were male and female victims, in both cases the perpetrators and enablers were all male. Generally the majority of the horror has been for the male victims, I suspect because rape of females is more common.

  • SDHarms

    The reason “we” (I am not including myself in this we) do not care as much if the rape is of boys — the only difference between pedophilia and homosexuality is the age of the partner. My take: men who prey on young boys are homosexuals who are unsuccessful or fear they will be with an adult. But then I am not PC.

  • You’re kidding right?

    As a former prosecutor, I can tell you that your entire premise is fatally flawed. But one would not have to be in the DA’s Office to know this. The sexual abuse of girls by male teachers, coaches etc has been going on since…well the “last coming of Christ.” The rape of girls in the Catholic Church has been rife. It is when we have boys abused that it hits the media and there is is awift justice.

    Remember the Colorado University foorball incident? The Oklahoma University incident? ANd the list goes on and on. In CO, the football coach was dismissed not for the raping of women by his footballers but because of a financal slush fund that the AO used to pad the pockets of recruiters etc.No prosecution, no reduction in salary…not even a raised ete brow by the administration.

    Whenever there is a sexual assault, regardless of the gender of the victim, it should be dealth with compassionately (for the victim) swiftly and judiciously so that all those harmed are not harmed again.ANd claims such as the one made in this polemic do little to focus on the real issue—sexual violence is continuing on our college campuses, in our churches and across this nation…and the objects of such abuse suffer, their families suffer and our communities suffer.

    And articels such as this….well a wrod of advice….

    Please, before opining, get the facts. It really does a disservice when one’s emotions take over and control reason.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Kris, no, I’m not kidding. (1) Sexual abuse of girls *and boys* has been going on since the dawn of time. In some cultures, sexual relationships between older men and prepubescent boys was permitted, even celebrated, where the same relationships with girls were not. (2) The rape of children from priests, at least in the latter half of the twentieth century, is disproportionately toward boys. It was hardly “swift justice.” It’s not swift justice when it takes decades to hold the perpetrators responsible, after so many years of excusing and minimizing what was done.

      Of course there are rape incidents where justice is not done, and certainly not in a timely manner — and there are many reasons. There are also many rape incidents of boys where justice is not done. Anecdotes are not particularly helpful here. You assail me for not including more data, and yet you offer none.

      The incidence of sexual violence on college campuses has been massively exaggerated, and unfortunately this has led many true rape charges to be treated with much skepticism. Sexual violence continues in schools, churches, and (especially) homes, the suffering is immense, and there is much to be done. But exploring why many, at least (as this comment thread attests), feel a greater revulsion at the rape of girls than boys, does nothing to detract from the urgency of reducing sexual assaults. I’m trying to explore a common sentiment, or at least a sentiment I’ve found common — not that anyone looks lightly on the rape of boys, of course, but there are differences in how we regard innocence/guilt, power/vulnerability, aggressor/victim. This is especially clear when we regard statutory rape. But I think it holds with non-statutory rape as well.

      If you disagree, that’s fine. A persuasive argument would be nice.

      • Yoyo

        Timothy, maybe it is the circles you swim in but, I can assure you that rape of females by males is considered much more humdrum than rape of minor males by males. The exception being , as many others have posted, prisoner rape. The rare cases of rape of males, mostly adolescent, by females is a weird exception to this rule. Primarily I think because of the mrs Robinson meme, eg the young men are somehow blessed to have been taken in hand by an older woman. This is not right but is probably part of the slowly fading machismo culture.

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          To take direct parallels, yes, I do think that people as a general rule are more upset by the idea of an adult male raping a female minor than a male minor. Since some people in this thread feel otherwise (in my view, probably influenced by decades of feminist propaganda that overstated the frequency of rape and sexual assault and that consistently perpetuated the myth that male society does not care about rape victims), I’d love to see some hard data on it. You point to my own context (the circles I swim in) but try to adopt a context-less perspective (“I can assure you”), but in the absence of hard and reliable data we’re only left with our impressions.

  • mrteachersir

    My two cents: Regardless of the gender of the 10/11 year old victims, I think the same thing would have occurred. College football is a huge money-making tool for the university. A successful football team not only brings in cash, but it also provides a good deal of publicity for the school (this is why small “cup-cake” schools agree to play larger, more famous football powerhouses). The perennial success that programs like Alabama, LSU, USC (under Pete Carroll) and Penn State have had create a situation in which the administration, fearful of losing that cash flow and positive publicity, will do anything to save face, and will even give undue influence to the iconic coach (except where an NCAA infraction is involved).

  • Karen

    As long as you consider anecdotes as evidence, no. Sandusky was committing homosexual rape, and among the people I grew up with, this would be a whole lot worse. Many people still believe that it is possible to make otherwise straight boys gay and that Sandusky’s crimes would do just that which in turn ruined the boys’ lives. (He probably did ruin their lives, but because of the trauma he inflicted which used sex as the weapon.)

    As I was typing this comment, my husband reminded me of the Univeristy of Colorado football scandal from a few years back. In that one, alums and coaches Gave parties for players and prospects featuring prostitutes and women students pressured into having sex with the men as rewards for play or to attract players to the school. The head coach at the time, Rick Neuheisel, is now head of the UCLA program. So much for your “we don’t care about boys” argument.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      You make a comment about anecdotes not being evidence (and I would agree that it’s not logically effective evidence, at least) and then you offer…an anecdote?

      This illustrates the problem with anecdotes. In this case, were the women being raped? Or were they entering freely into a context where they largely knew what was going to happen? Sex on college campuses is quite common, after all, and parties with sports teams or with frats or with college kids in general often include girls being persuaded to strip or make out or have sex. It’s not right — and it may even qualify as rape in some extreme cases (say, if a date rape drug is administered or if someone is deliberately rendered so incapacitated that they cannot meaningfully make decisions). But there’s quite a difference between an adult male forcing himself on a little girl and college kids having sex parties. But even if none of these issues obtained, one could say that the reason they got away with it had more to do with our adulation for sports stars and etc. So every anecdote can be interpreted in multiple ways.

      I don’t know why some are so committed to the view that society does not care about girls who get raped. There are cases where people are skeptical of a rape claim, cases where they’re not sure if it really counts as rape, cases where an institution seeks to protect itself, and so on. But my experience is that when someone is clearly raped, people get very upset. And yes, I still believe that we get more upset when that person is female. The people commenting in this thread have offered various reasons why they’re less upset by the rape of males — some of it having to do with the possible consequences (pregnancy) being worse for girls, some of it having to do with the view of girls as innocents and boys as aggressors, some of it having to do with different power dynamics when the victim is male.

  • GarlicClove

    when we think of rape culture, we do tend to think about the way people joke about, talk about, and treat women. But the majority of violent crime in this country is statistically male against male. That doesn’t mean that violent crime against women isn’t a huge problem, but that the cultural shift has to be in the attitude and treatment of BOTH genders. Thanks for the perspective.

  • Mio

    Great reasoning. It is very hard to think there was a blind eye to Sandusky’s crimes especially by those in power. It’s so sad that it was allowed to continue for so many years. Everyone realizes that child molestation happens to boys and girls. I don’t know if girls are more vulnerable but we are more likely to read about it. How this horrible crime was allowed is beyond mr