Our Guys Book Critique Essay, Research Paper
The novel Our Guys, written by Bernard Lefkowitz, is a very dynamic story about the heinous actions of a dozen middle-class athletes, from a small New York suburb, against a defenseless mentally handicapped girl. Lefkowitz describes a brutal gang rape involving a baseball bat and broomhandle, which took place in this unsuspecting town, by these upstanding young group of boys, as the town would describe them. Lefkowitz looks at the incident which took place and then examines the jock clique sub-culture that allowed such atrocities to happen, and spawned the scandal to cover it up.
The town of Glenridge is at the surface not any different than any other surburban American town. Like most towns it has its cliques and the jocks are at the pinnacle of the town. Idolized by the students and a sourse of pride for the entire town, however the Glenridge boys were not like most high school athletes. The Jock clique formed at a very early age,and invaded their surroundings taking over where ever they went, whether it be school, games or around town, protected by the boys will be boys attitude held by the rest of the town.
The boys started showing signs of beligerance as early as elementary school, with a common ignorance for authority. The group was later easily passed through middle school to relieve the teachers of another year enduring the problem class. Once in high scholl the boys became the leaders of the school, andpride of the town. In Glenridge sports were valued higher than academics, turning these young men into heros, and everyone else into nobodies. There was not anything anyone could do to derail this movement, nor did they try to.
Glenridges attitude towards women was very outdated. Women were regarded as mothers and wives, their jobs weere to make the men of the town happy. They were treated as objects and rarely held positions of authority-there were not any women mentors, therefore everyone lokked up to their fathers and saw that men were the supreme beings. Most of the boys did not even have any female influences other than their mothers; infact only two of the boys involved had sisters, Bryan Grober and Phil Grant. Thes boys were raised in dressing rooms by males and taught to respect the institute and brotherhood of a team. That if they respected their sacred bond they could do anything. Nothing was more important than the team or eachother.
The Jocks of Glenridge were very much protected by the town and their parents. When the boys caused destruction or resorted to delinquency, money would simply change hands with out involving the law or the media. Everything was always taken care of and kept very low profile.
The parents of these jocks were also very respected within the community and refused to believe their children had any sort of problems. When Kevin Scherzer s problems were brought to the attention of his parents they simply denied the existence of a problem and dismissed the situation. When the school wanted to take disciplinary actions against Kevin, the Scherzer s would not allow it.
The parents played a major role in the deliquency of these young men, however they were not alone. The other students acceptance and adoration of the jocks behavior is as much to blame as anything else that led up to this behavior exhibited by the jocks . The little mothers ( as they were referred as) were treated with disrespect and as sexual objects. They would repeatedly engage in acts of voyeurism. They would also willingly fellate any member of this group, and some would even go so far as making a train or other acts of group sex with our guys . Many of these girls were referred to as trained seals and were proud of their titles.(p. 147) There was never any complaints made and as the boys got older the more deviant they became.
The Leslie Faber rape took place in the Scherzer s basementon the afternoon of March 1, 1989. During the trial the defence attorneys did everything they could to try and potray that Leslie faber was a willing participant and actually enjoyed, if not the acts performed, her inclusion to the cool group . The defence portrayed Leslie as a Lolita (p. 362) and that her seduction was to great for the boys reject. They even mentioned the fact that we re talking about sixteen year-old boys with hard-ons, what weree they supposed to do when faced with overt female sexuality? (p. 212)
Leslie s personal life was dragged through the mud for the entirety of the trial, leaving the jury to decide whether she had the capacity to refuse sexual advances and demands. Leslie s entire life history and character were put on trial, eventhough none the sexual histories of any of the defendants was ever discussed. The defendants character was never was put to scrutiny, nor was their records of sexual deviance and general lewd conduct ever introduced at trial. It seems the everyone involved felt more inclined to protect a bunch of gang rapists, rather than a seventeen year old mentally handi-capped girl. The community even stuck behind its hometown heros showing overwhelming support for the jocks and condemned the Faber s and their cause.
Through out the trial the defence council openly manipulated Leslie every way they could have. They attempted to confuse her and make her contradict herself, hoping perhaps, to make it seem as though she was making the story up. Their efforts however, only made the prosecutions case stronger by showing how vulnerable and eager to please Leslie really was. Through the entirety of her testimony, Leslie trade sides and versions of her story to suit whom she wanted to please. This allowed the jury to see the real Leslie, her true personality, moreover the jury was able to definitively conclude that she was unable to refuse the sexual advancements of the defendants.
The prosecution in this case did a superb job trying this case. Theere case faced a trmendous amount of adversity. The lack of physical evidence and support from the community, along with the fact it took three weeks to even be reported. This case was a turning point for the community of Glen Ridge. Finally the jocks had been given consequences and Leslie Faber s rights had been made the priority over the towns reputation and that of its citizens.
This story exposed an age old sub culture and gave it attention. This time it was a group of tightly knit high school athletes, within a tightly knit town. Lefkowitz looked beyond the surface to find out what was at the root of the problem. He found that these boys were a product of there environment, and that sociologically speaking, men will do just about anything so long as they feel they are protected by a team mentality. He draws a paralell between masculinity violence and deragatory demeaning attitudes towards women.
Lefkowitz clearly accomplishes his goal of exposing not only what this group did, but also by sending a warning to others about the consequences of allowing athletes to do as they please. However he does not do a good job of being non-partisan. He leads his readers to believe the only group of people who would do such things are jocks . This bias is not true. The newspapers report that University fraternities, and secret societies are as likely, if not more likely, to commit these very same acts. He also leads the reader to believe that all athletes and athletic teams are similar. The impression he leaves about the majority of teams and their members is prejudicial and unfair. It is very unfortunate and disheartening that members of a community that were so highly reguarded, would commit such acts. It is even more disturbing to hear about the scenario leading up to the rape, and the community which produced these troubled young men. It is more important to look at why the events took place rather than who committed them, because ultimately the only innocent person involved is the victim, a mentally handicapped young girl, named Lesli Faber.
This book shows that the community is to blame when tragedies like these occur, and that if it happened in Glen ridge, what is to stop it from happening in our own back yard by our guys ?