Toxic masculinity? Group bonding? A look at the culture of hazing
Six teenage boys in Toronto are facing serious charges after a video surfaced that appears to show student athletes sexually assaulting a classmate.
Alumni of St. Michael’s College School, where the incident is alleged to have taken place, say that there is a culture of hazing at the school that goes back decades.
One of those former students is Bill Dunphy, who attended the all-boys Catholic institution five decades ago.
Dunphy told CTV News Channel that he believes the hazing stems from a culture of “toxic masculinity.”
“St. Michael’s in particular places a premium on the competitive athletes in their school,” Dunphy said.
“There’s no question that the hazing ... those assaultive behaviours -- are passed on,” he said.
Dunphy said he believes that hazing is “a way of establishing dominance (and) a way of establishing in and out groups.”
Margery Holman, a professor emeritus at the University of Windsor in southern Ontario, has studied hazing and said that it is “embedded in male organizations” as a way of achieving “team bonding.”
“The basic premise is that you have veteran or seasoned individuals within a team structure or any kind of a group who are exerting their power or control over newcomers to that group, in order to initiate them for membership into the group,” she explained in an interview with CTV News Channel.
Holman said that hazing can be difficult to prevent because the victimizers “have survived it” themselves, “so they don’t see an awful lot of harm to it.”
But hazing is not harmless, she stressed. There have been deaths associated with hazing incidents in the United States.
Tamara Lave, a hazing expert at the University of Miami School of Law, told CTV News Channel that while toxic masculinity may be part of it, “women do this too ... it doesn’t just happen at boys’ schools.”
Lave agreed that it can be difficult to stop hazing because those who have been through it often report that they “are glad they went through a hazing process.”
“They may feel it makes them feel closer to the other people in a group,” she said.
Lave said she believes Canada should follow the lead of states like Florida by passing a law specifically aimed at hazing, in which consenting to the activity cannot be used as a defence.
“It’s very common behaviour,” she said. “And it needs to be stopped.”