Once upon a time, the dream of the feminist movement was one of equal opportunity. They didn't want to be like men, just to have the same chances. There was an implication, a faith inherent in that aspiration, that not only could they perform the same jobs, master the same subjects and play the same games but that they would do it in a fashion that might be better for our society. The conceit was that they would imbue all they touched with a women's sensibility, which would be more nuanced, more empathetic and, ultimately, more humane.
It falls to women to create this utopia because men are our lessers. Starr shares a bit of his thinly-veiled, masculine self-loathing:
I grew up in an extended family dominated by males and one didn't have to be an Einstein to recognize our multitude of emotional shortcomings. Fortunately, the Starr men were just smart enough to marry up and improve the family gene pool. Still, trust me on this: by virtually any standard other than sports trivia, Scrabble and the ability to grill medium rare, I don't measure up to any of the following people—my mother, my wife, my daughter.
But Starr has learned to his chagrin that women can be jerks too. And now, even that glorious symbol, the female athlete, has been tarnished by the behavior of the Northwestern University women's soccer team, revealed for all the world on badjocks.com. The debauched, hazing ritual was indeed un-lady-like.
Perhaps women's athletics remained one of my last illusions. I certainly have none about big-time men's collegiate sports. While I don't pretend to be immune to their entertainment value, I am convinced they corrupt the entire system. But I hoped that women's collegiate sports might prove to be something better, something that perhaps reflected the legacy of the 1999 Women's World Cup.
What people like Starr don't seem to understand is that casting women as superior is as objectifying as casting us as inferior. It also gives men interminable latitude to drag their knuckles across the floor, revel in sexually degrading behavior, and generally behave like animals.
So when young men like the members of the Duke lacrosse team hire strippers, hurl racist epithets at them, and otherwise engage in drunken and disorderly conduct, they're just boys being boys. So typical is this behavior, apparently, that their counterparts on the Duke women's lacrosse team have seen fit to wear armbands proclaiming their innocence. As Salon's Kevin Sweeney points out, whether or not they are guilty of rape is for a jury to decide, but to call them "innocent" is a stretch. Says Sweeney:
For women who step forward to file an accusation of rape, it is often the hardest thing they will ever do in their lives. By making such a public stand of unity before the facts come out, by saying so clearly that the accused is a liar, the women of Duke's lacrosse team won't make it any easier for other women to step forward.
Yep. Sometimes women are jerks.