Why am I horrified over a group of self-proclaimed ‘Gentlemen’?

Why am I still horrified after hearing about yet another example of disgusting behaviour that targets women in sexually violent ways?

After all, this incident involving fourth-year students at the Dalhousie School of Dentistry who dub themselves the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen in their private Facebook group is the latest in a string of misogynistic incidents to take place in a city that continues to get its reputation toward women tarnished in the aftermath of each and every one.

From the south end stalker to the police response to ‘Nicole’ and ‘Kim’ in a Coast cover story from October to internationally covered situations like the entire Rehteah Parsons case and the SMU rape chants, Halifax has a reputation. And now this.

To further add insult to injury, these students actually directly cited Jian Ghomeshi, the new Canadian spokesperson for sex creeps himself, with their ingenious poll asking which of their female peers would they choose to “hate fuck“? Clever.

They also took a page out of Bill Cosby’s book with chloroform jokes. Cosby, like Ghomeshi, has been accused by many women in situations that, for him, go back to the 1960s. And where Ghomeshi’s style was to slap and punch, Cosby’s was the use of sedatives or date-rape drugs to knock the women unconscious.

So why is it that this has become recurring in the news and I’m still shocked at this new occurrence? I think it’s because I have allowed myself to be floored at the absolute stupidity of it. That we can have terrible and high profile cases such as the examples listed above and still have people who are on the road to a high profession such as dentistry partake in activities that make light of, mock, or even promote sexual violence just boggles my mind.

I repeatedly read in comments sections of news sites that these men didn’t do anything illegal and they have free speech on their side.

Ok, fine.

But should we not question the level of intelligence they seem to be completely void of that they are stupid enough to create a Facebook group, private or not, that jokes about raping the women they share a classroom with? At the absolute least, I would expect a group of soon-to-be professionals to have a better sense of judgment than that. Professionals who would be responsible for the safety and well-being of patients and who themselves would be in a position of administering anaesthesia in some situations on them.

I think the school should act. These students have displayed the type of character no professional in a medical field who could have authority over patients should hold – jokingly or otherwise. There are very likely students-in-waiting who can fill their place in the program who have a more appropriate sense of morals, better judgment and who hold themselves and their peers to higher standards than those shown by these ‘gentlemen’.

The school needs to act. Not doing so is at best accepting the actions of these men as being nothing and at worst endorsing them. To do nothing is to taint the program and its graduates, especially the graduating class of 2015. The men who didn’t actually participate and who are innocent will share the reputation of those who did. The women will be disrespected by the very school they’ve spent four years of their life and tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars attending.

So why am I horrified? It’s because people who are this close to being in a position of privilege and authority have shown just how incredibly stupid they actually are. The school should act because stupid shouldn’t be rewarded the privilege of receiving such a prestigious honour.

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