West Point Men's Rugby Team Disbanded Over Sexist Emails

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The West Point men’s rugby team has been disbanded and the players punished after the military academy discovered its members had been exchanging sexist emails. The lewd correspondence reportedly contained rankings of the sexual prowess of female cadets and other women, as well as references to rape, incest, and homosexuality.

A former cadet who was privy to the emails told the Sunday Times , “There were jokes about putting people in cages…while being leashed’ and that sexual references were made about a female cadet ‘eating a burrito.’

Not vile enough for you? The source also says that “the females were referred to as manly, disgusting, sluts and fat”.

In response to the findings, West Point spokesman Frances DeMarco says, “the cadets on the team were found to have violated the Cadet Disciplinary Code for Unsatisfactory behavior, Error in Judgment, Failure to Perform a Duty, and a violation of the General Article for actions which tend to reflect discredit on the Corps of Cadets and the United States Army." Accordingly, the implicated cadets were made to complete a supervised intense respect rehabilitation program involving self-assessments. In addition to the rehabilitation program, Webster said punishment of the senior players included 120 hours of marching in uniform carrying rifles, demotion, and loss of leave.

Chief West Point spokesman Lt. Col. Webster Wright told the Army Times it is undetermined for how long the team will remain disbanded and that the investigation is “ongoing.”

“Despite doing some really silly, sophomoric things, they stood up and they accepted full responsibility for this as the leadership of the team. This was unprofessional conduct and not what we would expect from future leaders of the army,” Webster says.

Boys will be boys, eh?

Except these were not just any old boys. These are college-aged men whose intelligence and good sense is evidenced by their mere matriculation into the prestigious academy. What's more? Webster stated, these are future leaders of the Army. It's pretty chilling to think about a man who still has the locker room mentality of high school sophomores in a position of power. This regressive perspective denotes a lack of maturity and tact, necessary for effective leadership, and these offensive exchanges reflect a larger culture of disrespect towards women. Am I the only one whose memory was jolted back to contemporary examples of this sort of misogyny and military abuse (Abu Ghraib, anyone)? These cadets have to be held to higher standards. Period.

I'm also unnerved that the rugby players' offenses are being minimized simply because they did what they were supposed to do in owning up to their wrongdoing. I don't believe that loss of rank and suspension from games is sufficient punishment for the unearthed subculture of rape promotion and misogyny among the rugby players. If the military is serious about stamping out this depravity towards women, the cadets have to know and understand that this sexist behavior will not be tolerated.

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Images: West Point on Getty Images; West Point Rugby on Creative Commons