Between Calling Pat Summitt a Liar and the Butt Chugging, UT is not Having a Good Week

1. You don’t call Pat Summitt a liar and have it end well. I don’t know how, exactly, this is going to go poorly for Vice Chancellor Margie Nicols, but it’s going to go badly for her. And here’s the thing, if I were Nicols right now, I’d be pissed because she’s now in the most likely position to have to fall on her sword when this blows up in UT’s face (or second most likely after the AD). Which means UT has arranged this situation so that they can get rid of another woman, if need be. Over a lawsuit about how much UT loves to run women off. That’s a bitter pill for Nicols to have to swallow, I’d guess.

2. Ever since Rachel said it on Facebook, I can’t stop thinking about whether the butt-chugging incident is an unrecognized sexual assault. And, in light of that being a real possibility, I’m growing more and more uncomfortable with making that kid the butt of a great national joke. And I’m now really uncomfortable with his name being released to the media. I think that, if a woman showed up in the ER with signs of sexual assault and she was all “No, nothing happened. Really.” we wouldn’t be so quick to jump to the conclusion that she was cool with whatever happened until it landed her in the ER. And we’d be appalled that her name got released to the media as if what happened to her was a big joke, before a real investigation even had time to take place.


7 thoughts on “Between Calling Pat Summitt a Liar and the Butt Chugging, UT is not Having a Good Week

  1. I admit, I read the fratboy’s statement to the media and made fun of him. But then it occurred to me that this kid had internal injuries and there was blood all over the place. That was horrible to contemplate.

    And, as inartfully stated as it was, he could be telling the truth as far as he knows it! I’ve known heavy drinkers in walking, talking blackout who “agreed” to something they would never do normally. He may not remember the least thing from the 2 hours or so prior to the ER. It’s saddening more than funny, however it happened.

  2. I just think that especially in that Southern fratboy culture, there is going to be huge pressure on this kid to take back or deny anything that could look bad for the frat. The barriers to his actually calling this sexual assault, I think, are pretty damn high. I think Jess is right that it’s entirely possible he was too drunk to consent to whatever ultimately caused the injuries, and there is also the pressure not to admit to anything that might seem remotely “gay” (see the lawyers statement for evidence of that impulse).

  3. You know, you all have me thinking that we don’t look at how fraternity hazing is a kind of training ground for ignoring sexual autonomy. But here you have a bunch of kids who are plied with alcohol and social pressure to let people do things to them that they would otherwise not consent to, and to then bond with the people who did it to them, to see that as acceptable behavior for people.

    So, even if they don’t go on to be rapists themselves, they’ve been acculturated to write off a lot of sexual assault as “not a big deal” or secretly wanted (and perhaps we should not hear “she was asking for it” as something so different than “he was cool with it” in that case) because to admit otherwise is to admit that these men they are so intimate with did something terrible to them as a condition of that intimacy.

  4. Jess, I had the same initial reaction when I read his release. And it should have occurred to me faster what the ramifications of “I had 4-6 beers on an empty stomach” could have been for this kid. (I know, I know–not a “kid.”)

    It’s becoming obvious that, regardless of what actually happened on Fraternity Row that night, there’s a bigger and much more insidious problem in Knoxville: KPD, UTPD, and UT Medical Center. They too have done way more yapping than they should’ve done, only unlike the kid and his father, they should actually know better because they deal with the media regularly. (Oh, and of course there’s that pesky little privacy act that everyone is incorrectly abbreviating.)

    Plus, anyone notice how law enforcement has spent more time in the past two weeks on Xander than the entirety of Henry’s case?

    Back to the original point though: You and Rachel are chillingly correct. These guys are being groomed throughout pledging. Guys are just as quick to say “I’m not a rapist!” as “I wasn’t raped!” in this scenario.

  5. Yeah, that ends up being the part that really bugs me. We know why rapists rape. That’s been pretty well-figured out since we figured out that they like to brag about it so we can just ask them. We know it’s not mistakes or miscommunication. it really is that they like to force themselves on someone. Their “partner’s” terror and nonconsent is the best part for them.

    But the question has then become, why do so many guys who would NEVER rape anyone provide rapists cover? And a scenario like this really shows you how that dynamic gets enforced. A group of guys who pressure you to drink until you’ll “let” them put a hose up your ass and fill it with wine, causing you to shit yourself and have massive trauma down there, and you want to deny anything bad happened. You’re literally protecting the guys who assaulted you, because they’re your brothers and your loyalty is more important than your physical safety.

    It’s really amazing and scary. And fraternity brothers are incredibly emotionally intimate with each other. How do you convince men than these men they love shouldn’t be hurting them? You can see why homophobia is such a potent force for keeping that question off the table. If they can’t admit that what’s going on there is a kind of love, they never have to get to the end of the question.

  6. There are some other parallels here, too – where if the guy makes a big deal out of it, he’s probably going to both lose his social support network (flawed as they are) and no longer be able to live where he lives (in the frat house, if he were to be kicked out). And once you learn, okay, I’ll tolerate this in order to not rock the boat for myself and tell myself that this was really nothing, it seems like it’s a lot easier to dismiss what you or your peers are doing to other people as no big deal, as things they should just get over or laugh off.

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