Dropping the Soap: Why is xxxx Sometime Funny?

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

I had been following the developing story about the former student at Dublin-Coffman High School who claimed he was sexually assaulted on a trip to Tennessee with his lacrosse team, but when I read the actual charges brought against the dismissed coaches, I was shocked.

On Friday, March 16, nearly one year after the incident, a grand jury charged Greg Simpson and Dustin Pentz with aggravated rape and several counts of assault. According to the laws of Tennessee, where the trial will be held, "aggravated rape" is a class A felony that involves "unlawful sexual penetration of a victim by the defendant"; it differs from "rape," a class B felony, if a weapon is used, the defendant acts with another and the act causes bolidy harm to the victim.

Looking at the legal text, it's clear that what the coaches did - one held the student down, another inserted gloved fingers into his rectum - qualified as aggravated rape.

But at first, it didn't seem to be.

What the coaches did was wrong, certainly, but it seemed more like a bit of rough-housing got a little out of hand. I've been in plenty of locker rooms in high school, and homoerotic tomfoolery is quite common. That doesn't excuse anything, but it wasn't too far off from what goes on when players hit the showers.

Plus, the student was male.

And when it comes to sexual assault, gender means everything.

I'm sure my initial gut response was common. Sexual assault by males is often under-reported.

Humor is a common coping mechanism used by groups to cope with and deflect pressures from various cultural traumas. Jokes about the O.J. Simpson murder trial are a way to deal with the thought of spousal abuse; jibes about Bill Clinton fend off fears of infidelity.

But prison rape has become not only its own cottage industry. It has transmogrified