To the editors:
My take on cyberbullying at Saint Mary’s College may be unique, as I have a presence on both the Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame campuses. I am in campus ministry at Saint Mary’s and a priest in residence in ND at Flaherty Hall. In addition, for 11 years, I was rector of Notre-Dame.
My first reaction to the incident – right or wrong – was that some ND men, influenced by the early hours of the morning, were talking about the ticket situation for the Wisconsin game at Soldier Field. Talking has led to resentment. Resentment led to drunken action. The drunkenness action led to the incident which resulted in shock and injury.
Some might take this as an example of “boys will be boys” as they are prone to doing whenever middle school kids misbehave. But it’s too easy and it reflects the male toxicity that permeates so many cultures: higher education, politics, religion, business, athletics, etc. Our cultural sense of what it means to be a man is far too limited and far too toxic. Stereotypical traits include power, fiery, hypersexuality, foul language, being responsible, drinking to excess, homophobia (although not recognized as such), bullying, blaming the victim, not being in touch or know how to deal with feelings and many more. In addition, “real” men tend to view women as weak objects, objects of sexual liberation and inferior beings – “the weaker sex”. These men are frozen in adolescence, regardless of their age.
What does this have to do with the YikYak incident, you might ask.
History relentlessly reveals what happens in a people-centered culture. Male superiority is the default setting. The first national response to the offense is violence. Compassion plays no role in business or political decisions. Foreigners are a threat. Lashing out is the right way to deal with annoyances and grudges. Tackling women is easy. âIt’s the woman’s fault that I didn’t get tickets to the game; the woman made me eat the apple. Add alcohol and male toxicity goes crazy.
What is the solution ? It’s always complicated to turn a whole culture in a different direction. It takes time, patience and understanding. There is no value in blaming someone for being what their culture has raised them to be. But they must be challenged, especially by their male peers, whenever they reveal their toxicity.
Rev. Steve Newton, SCC
priest in residence, Flaherty Hall
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.