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25 November, 2014

Cavalier Attitudes

Shut up and take it, b****

[To my one steadfast reader, who has noticed some Virginia-bashing here, I regret to inform you that it's happening again. Click elsewhere and come back next week, knowing that there are Virginians I love and admire, including you, sister. Likewise, good people who happen to be associated with University of Virginia, sorry you have to be connected with the subject of this post.]

Once again the Old Dominion has hit the news in a most sinister way. This time, it's the Rolling Stone article calling out University of Virginia for its utter failure to tamp down the rape impulse throbbing on Rugby Road, Frat Row to what is arguably Virginia's most prestigious institute of higher learning.

I never made such an argument. Being a smart kid in a suburban Richmond high school, I was of course encouraged to seek admission to UVA, but balked at the idea, much to the bafflement of certain counselors and teachers. Partially, this stemmed from a budding rebelliousness; fuck if I was gonna go where all the uber-preppies went, worship the old dead white guys, and give in to The System. After my knee-jerking settled down, though, there were other reasons to avoid UVA: people I knew who were most enthralled with it tended to be assholes who genuinely believed that "nice" clothes equate to civilization, a founder who fucked his 14 year old slave and sold off some of their progeny didn't inspire the same reverence in me as it did in the spawn of Virginia's finer families, wearing ties and swilling cocktails didn't strike me as recreation, going to college less than an hour away didn't seem like much of a horizon expansion,...and so on.

The Rolling Stone article scratches the surface but does not draw blood from the beast that is the Entitled Rich White Boy. He whose dad was a Wahoo, and whose son will be. Maybe he earned the grades to deserve entry, maybe he's even smart at something. But he's gonna sow his wild oats for a few years before moving on to daddy's firm. And those girls better comply. The article failed to name any of these rapists, and won't send any of them to jail.

In addition to the inexplicable "Wahoo," the UVA teams are known as the "Cavaliers," which is illustrative. Originally, Cavaliers were the royalists who opposed Cromwell's rebellion. It doesn't take a Cromwell apologist to suspect that Cavaliers were the vicious dandies who supported the old elite order. In the Crown's Virginia Colony, the influx of cavaliers came when the Roundheads were winning, and the self-proclaimed noble fighters took off rather than nobly face the music. Somehow, this dubious legacy became a swashbuckling logo.

Echoing this history, UVA has in my lifetime (and I suspect at least back through my William & Mary and Mary Washington educated grandparent's matriculations) been a refuge for elites and elitists. Sure, others make it there, but the aura of one of our nation's "Public Ivies" has long been one of wealthy entitlement. Graduate from there, and people acknowledge your academic achievement as well as suspect your birthright, even if you didn't, ahem, "earn" it by being born rich.

Even as "The" University's admissions policy has slipped into allowing non-FFV's, women, and black people to attend, UVA fraternities have proudly flown the Cav flag and maintained sanctuaries for Entitled Rich White Boys.

Women stepping foot into one of these refugia along Rugby Road risk rape. Sadly, women in any college stand a greater chance of being raped than women in general. Unsurprisingly, women walking into a frat house on any campus stand a greater chance of being raped than college women in general. Understandably, both fraternities and universities have a vested interest in protecting their reputations, and tend to deal with the spoilsport women who object to being raped through means other than law enforcement.

At UVA, the ability to avoid having the cops come in and arrest violent felons is enhanced by wealth and tradition. I don't have empirical evidence (such as that available to prove all of the previous paragraph's assertions) to prove this, but the Rolling Stone article makes a pretty good case, and my experience as a Virginian and American certainly fits. Rich guys avoid imprisonment pretty well. Reinforced by the aura of a centuries-old institution founded by a Founding Father, consistently rated highly as an academic institution, posessed of many traditions and a well-heeled sense of Decorum (whatever that is), UVA is not easily dragged through the mud. Not that long ago, one of it's drunken preppie athletes murdered his girlfriend, and yet the Rolling Stone article is still presented by many as an anomaly, an affront, maybe some sort of deviant leftist (or feminazi) plot.

Where Power is worshipped and Money talks loudly while it's partner Tradition silences dissent, people get raped.

1 comment:

  1. This post is fine, and as you and I said offline, this particular entitlement program has been adopted at most universities across this oh-so-spiffing nation of ours. Sigh.

    As to substantive commentary on the post itself? I'm just dying to know when UVA got the rights to use Christian Bale's image as the Cavalier: