ABC gives lessons in lacrosstitution

Most important: Avoid the vagina dentata.

Topics: Broadsheet, Love and Sex,

Though Jessica at Feministing has already done a job on it (hint: it made her “throw up a little in [her] mouth”), I couldn’t let the day end without bringing up this story from ABC News. It’s about “lacrosstitutes,” or “laxtitutes,” collegiate athletic groupies “who want to date athletes — or at least have sex with them.”

Yeah. As you can probably guess, this is an angle on the ongoing story of the alleged gang rape by Duke lacrosse players. ABC reporter Adrienne Mand Lewin talked to Princeton University students like Candi Arner, who helpfully told her that “her friends knew three girls who between them had slept with nine players on the team.” Got that? Three girls, nine guys. It goes without saying what kind of women they are. It also should go without saying that friends don’t let friends of friends sleep with lacrosse players and then have those friends of friends talk to reporters. Because that is the definition of journalism hearsay, Adrienne Mand Lewin.

But put aside for the moment that not one of the women Lewin quotes gives any evidence that she herself has slept with any lacrosse players. What are we supposed to learn from this that could shed light on the Duke story to which it is so tenuously pegged? That lacrosse players have a lot of sex? That college women don’t care about being treated with respect as long as they’re bagging an athlete? Since the woman in the Duke case was not a Duke student, and thus is probably not a candidate for the “lacrosstitute” honorific, Lewin writes that these revelations pertain because “players’ behavior and the impact it can have on a team are now at the forefront of many college students’ minds.”

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Right. So what is the players’ behavior? I have no idea, because Lewin’s story mostly focuses on the lacrosstitutes’ behavior.

Here are some facts: Many women enjoy sex. Some have sex with many partners. This behavior is not unnatural, loose, morally wrong or any kind of a crime. Nor does it mean they can’t be raped. Likewise, high sexual desirability does not make it impossible for a man to commit a rape.

But the real thrust of Lewin’s piece isn’t about rape at all: It seems to be about the old “yawning vagina of death (and athletic disappointment)” chestnut. The guys apparently are just quaking in their cleats, afraid that they are going to be picked off by one of these predatory hussies.

“Our coach has given us a huge talk about how easy it is to screw up and jeopardize the whole program for one night,” Alex, a sophomore athlete, told ABC. “Just an accusation can ruin a whole program.”

Here’s an idea on how not to “screw up”: Don’t leave a woman with any impression that the sexual experience she’s had has been against her will. Sound complicated? It’s not. Here’s the key: Do not have sex with her, or fondle her, or kiss her, if she tells you she’s not into your doing so.

And here’s another idea: How about instead of teaching kids that sex is about racking up numbers, scoring trophy partners or evading dangerous women who could end your sports season with a single sentence, we start to teach men and women that sex can be fun and exciting, and maybe even about respect and affection and attraction, rather than domination and manipulation and recrimination.

Rebecca Traister
Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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