The story that interested me most in this weeks readings was that of the Glen Ridge, New Jersey boys whose story was described in Our Boys. They were average, upper-middle class white teenagers who lured a mentally challenged girl into a basement and sexually assaulted her. And because they were athletes in a town that celebrated sports, they got off with nothing but a slap on the wrist. The reason why I find this to be so particularly interesting is because I am from Montclair, New Jersey, a town one over from Glen Ridge. While Montclair is significantly larger, and therefore much more socially, racially, and economically diverse, the two towns still share a border. The boys in Glen Ridge who did that could have been boys from my town who went to my high school. It reminds me of a term we learned in intro, the self-serving bias, which was defined as “the idea that you are better than others, that you would act differently than the way the majority acted” when in reality, you wouldn’t. We read stories of how seemingly normal people commit heinous acts and we think to ourselves “no one I know would ever do that” but they do. I guess the most upsetting thing in the whole Glen Ridge scenario is the fact that the town rallied around the attackers instead of the victim. I don’t really understand how the sports culture could be so pervasive that people including parents and teachers would throw their support behind boys who not only attacked an innocent girl, but a girl who did not have the mental capacity to protect and defend herself.
The other studies mentioned in the Gentleman or Beast article by Susan Bardo were equally surprising. The theories proposed by Pinker and Gray both sounded like they were out of the 1950s with sayings such as “men are from Mars and women are from Venus.” I don’t actually know when either of those theories were published, but Bardo made it seem like it had happened quite recently because she was similarly shocked at the proclamations these men were making. Gray made such extreme generalizations of all women, such as when he suggested that in order for all women to become sexually aroused, they must talk out their feelings ahead of time. I’m not really sure how someone with scientific credit could make that kind of incredibly generalized comment and believe it to be true.
When I was little I used to watch a fair amount of Disney movies so it always interests me to relook at aspects of them now that I’m older. I haven’t watched any of the Disney princess movies in a long time so I’m not sure what I would pick up on now in those movies, but I’ve watched movies like Monster’s Inc recently and it is incredible the kind of adult humor they include in movies that are targeted to children. Especially because these are G-rated films so they shouldn’t have anything inappropriate in them. The message that the Disney princess movies seem to promote is the importance of finding a husband. I wonder what my mom thought about me watching movies that focused more on romance than empowering themes such as friendship. It was interesting to read how even The Lion King, a movie you wouldn’t think would include a love story as part of its main plot, would include a storyline where Simba immediately discarded his friends in order to have a romantic relationship with Nala. If these movies are such a big part of little kids’ childhoods, why do the filmmakers constantly make love the main plotline? It is sort of bizarre that movies intended for little kids feature such adult content and that most parents don’t take issue with it.