Varsity Students Form "Fantasy Slut League," School Plans "No Disciplinary Action"

You can shame, exploit, and humiliate your classmates and get away with it, so long as you maintain a smokescreen of deniability in the form of carrying on your endeavors off-campus.

Oct 22, 2012 at 5:00pm | Leave a comment

The wealthy community of Piedmont is surrounded by Oakland on all sides, filled with mostly white people making lots of money, plenty of trees and chi-chi shops. Excuse me, shoppes. And, apparently, a “fantasy slut league” among varsity athletes at Piedmont High. Members of the league “drafted” certain female students and awarded points to each other on the basis of sexual contact with them.

How...charming.

This had been going on for at least five years before the school discovered it, and fascinatingly, the school is apparently taking no disciplinary action because the league was operated outside of school. It highlights a growing issue across the US: More and more students are taking bullying, harassment and abuse off school grounds in the hopes of evading oversight and penalties, and schools are having trouble adapting and cracking down.

According to a campus investigation, the existence of the league was discovered at a date rape prevention assembly, and “Participation often involved pressure/manipulation by older students that included alcohol to impair judgment/control and social demands to be popular.” A letter was sent out to parents, and the school has promised to hold a series of awareness assemblies (this school seems big on assemblies) to address the issue. Like Lesley, I’m dying to see what that assembly looks like.

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Assemblies? Seriously? That’s the best you’ve got in response to the systematic and multi-generational harassment of girls on campus? ASSEMBLIES? If the investigation showed that the league existed for five to six years, that’s an indicator that it’s deeply entrenched and has been passed down from class to class, and that’s clearly a consequence of attitudes at the school as well as a general lack of interest on the part of the administration to keep an eye on the social dynamics of the student body.

Not to worry, though, says Superintendent Constant Hubbard. “The main thing is that I don't want to blow this out of proportion; I don't want to make it something that is some horrible big event that we found out about.”

Right. We definitely don’t want people to get worried about the sexualization of female students, the possibility of coercion, sexual assault, and even rape for “points,” and the harassment of students through out-of-school means. We certainly wouldn’t want members of the general community to call for more accountability at the school, like, say, punishing members of the league for their involvement. And for sure, finding out that female students are being cataloged against their will as part of a gross and exploitative “game” isn’t “some horrible big event.”

Clearly, the district wants to distance itself from the league, rather than taking responsibility for allowing a culture of sexism to flourish at Piedmont High. By stressing that this all happened off campus and it sure is sad but the school can’t be blamed for it, it’s neatly turning aside blame and refusing to consider how it can prevent this kind of thing from happening in the future.

The insistence on maintaining an in-school/out-of-school divide when it comes to discipline is a really big issue, especially with rising concerns about harassment of vulnerable students. In this case, students were using their positions of power as varsity athletes and part of the prized cult of student athleticism to act with impunity; I wonder what the school’s response to a “fantasy slut league” run by minority students would have been.

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This graveyard angel in the Piedmont Cemetery is side-eying everything right now. 

For the female students “drafted” in the league, this is going to have real implications on their lives, including their academic performance and comfort level at school. The fact that the league may have been organized and managed outside of school is immaterial: being branded as a slut, being shamed for being sexual, and being preyed upon by your classmates is something that bleeds between school and private life and has massive implications.

Allowing these students to get off without any punishment sends a very clear message to the rest of the school, particularly girls on campus. It indicates that you can shame, exploit and humiliate your classmates and get away with it, so long as you maintain a smokescreen of deniability in the form of carrying on your endeavors off-campus.

And it says that you can pressure younger, more impressionable boys into sexually harassing girls and engaging in activities they may feel uncomfortable with and not get punished for it. Which is also a very damaging message to be sending, because one of the ways in which we should be fighting sexual harassment, slut shaming, and other acts of sexism is by educating men and raising boys to be better human beings when they grow up. The same boys pressuring their peers to drink and harass girls now are the ones who will be doing the same thing as adults.

While individual parents may be administering their own punishment at home, these boys should clearly be suspended from school sports, at the very least, to send a clear and unmistakable message that their behavior was not acceptable. The rest of the school would be getting a signal that the school takes harassment seriously, and the boys would be facing real repercussions: They’d be missing out on something they love and losing social status.

Playing in the fantasy slut league should result in getting benched, and the fact that it apparently doesn’t says a lot about the administration at Piedmont High.

Image credits: Julie Gibson, Max Jackson.