Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

At Penn State fraternity, a basic disrespect for women

Fraternity brothers at Penn State's Kappa Delta Rho allegedly posted multiple photographs of naked, unconscious women who had attended parties at the fraternity, police officials in State College, Pa., announced this week.

The photographs and other material, including evidence of drug use and sales, were posted on a private website accessible only to fraternity members and alumni. An estimated 140 members had access to the page.

As a Penn State graduate, as a father of two daughters, as a brother and a son, I can't tell you how angry that makes me. Many of those KDR members are themselves sons and brothers of women that are important in their lives and whom they presumably respect, yet somehow they were unable to give that same respect to the women whom they victimized. They did not see their victims as fellow human beings; they saw them as objects to be belittled.

Honestly, such behavior bothers me more than that of the Oklahoma fraternity recently videotaped singing a viciously racist song.  Words have power, and that song told us a lot about the mindsets of those who were singing it. But posting such photos of helpless women is not merely an act of vicious misogyny; it is a symbolic form of rape, and raises real questions about what took place when the cameras were off.  As in Oklahoma, the fact that so many KDR members knew about the postings and allowed them to continue says a lot about the social dynamics in that fraternity, and none of it is good.

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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.