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Yvonne Abraham

BU hockey team report details retrograde mentality

What a bummer it is to read Boston University’s report on the “culture of sexual entitlement” and general boorishness among its hockey players. The publicly released findings, issued after accusations of sexual assault against two members of the team, are bad enough. The confidential documents the Globe obtained, which spell out the grim truths of college sex in detail, are downright depressing.

Clearly, some of the players on BU’s storied team are blockheaded oafs, their views of women so retrograde that to call them Neanderthals would be to insult their forebears. Said one member of a team known for boasting of their own multiple sexual partners: “Some girls hook up with multiple guys, so what other word for them is there, other than ‘slut,’ ‘whore’ ?” Nice. Another told the task force, “We don’t know what is considered sexual assault.”

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Really? In 2012? As the report points out, the Terriers are mostly middling students. But could they be this dense?

And yet, go figure, plenty of presumably intelligent women on campus find these guys irresistible.

“Dating a hockey player is one of the most fun things can you do,” one student told the task force. “You will put up with a lot of things in order to get the privileges that come along with it. It’s almost like BU is a mini-Hollywood, and you are a celebrity.”

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Few of the players in this Tiny Tinseltown actually date one girl, however, according to the report. Theirs is a hookup culture on steroids.

I shudder at the thought of my kid going anywhere near people like this in college, but I’m not going to get all grandma here. If consenting adults want to have casual sex, even with partners who are jerks, I’m OK with it (especially since my kid can’t read this).

As Hanna Rosin argues in September’s Atlantic Monthly, many women feel empowered by the culture of no-strings sex that has arisen on college campuses — and just about everywhere else — over the last 15 years. Increasingly, ambitious, successful, young women — like men in previous generations — are freeing themselves of serious relationships that might distract them or tie them down. I think Rosin goes too far when she suggests that “feminist progress right now largely depends on the existence of the hookup culture,” but she does reveal an upside to a phenomenon many lament.

The BU report shows how perilous things can get when that culture collides with the Terriers and their ilk, who have decidedly less socially progressive outlooks.

No-strings sex is less empowering when guys like these openly call the women sluts, while high-fiving each other after their own exploits. And when they plead ignorance about understanding a woman’s wishes.

“We never got any training on sexual consent,” a player told the task force.

It’s hard to imagine that the player who groped a woman and put his hands down her jeans at an off-campus bar could be confused about consent when she was punching him.

“It was as if he felt nothing while I was punching him,” she told BU officials of her drunk assailant. “His arm was like a steel rod.”

The task force is right that everybody at BU — not just the gods of hockey — needs serious training about what is and is not acceptable, if for no other reason than to do away with their excuses. Once clearer rules are established, the school should throw the book at those who break them.

But this is not just about a sports team, and not just about BU. It’s not even about college in general. The clash between men’s judgment and women’s choices is much bigger than that. Just ask Sandra Fluke, the woman Rush Limbaugh labeled a prostitute for supporting insurance coverage for contraceptives. Or, on the other side, Todd Akin, the Missouri Senate candidate who said that in cases of “legitimate rape,” a woman’s body will try to shut a pregnancy down.

There are Terriers everywhere.

Yvonne Abraham is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at abraham@globe.com

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