Saturday, September 06, 2014
Some thoughts on the sexual assault issue on campus
There has been quite a reaction on the Libertarian Right about universities crusading against “sexual assault,” often defined as women complaining about having sex while drunk, regretting having sex, or simply lying about it. The most egregious example in the last decade is the Duke Lacrosse case in which the members of the lacrosse team were accused of gang-raping a stripper they had hired for a party. It turns out the accusation was lie, but in the meantime the Duke faculty signed petitions, held marches and banged on pans to protest the rape that never happened. The case drew national headlines. Virtually all of the MSM assumed the white men were guilty of raping the black woman, and that this was a perfect example of White Male Privilege™.
The accused men were in danger of being jailed for many years until their legal team was able to prove that the accusation by the stripper was a lie.
Forget for a moment that a number of innocent young men almost spent decades in jail because a woman lied and Liberals tried to lynch them because they were young, white, rich jocks. Do you think hiring strippers is a good idea? What do you think about a young woman who decides to be a stripper who sidelines as a prostitute and makes that her career choice? Is she sexually liberated? A young woman whose claim to fame is acting in porn films has just become a student at Duke, explaining that performing in porn is "liberating."
Even as the tide of sexual self-expression is cresting, we have a counter-revolution. The interesting thing is that this is a counter-revolution led by the revolutionaries. The current hysteria about college as a hotbed of rape is fanned by Liberals and feminists. But it's not certain whether it's created by actual feminist hysteria or by Democrats trying to rouse their base. This may be a false choice; it's probably both.
Glenn Reynolds, the Master of the Universe of blogging, frequently links to articles on this subject. I love his blog Instapundit and am very much in tune with most of his views. His view may be the most representative of the Libertarian position on this issue. But we do differ. He’s a Libertarian and I’m a Conservative. Our experiences are different. For one thing, Glenn’s a lot younger. He often hints that in his student years he was quite the stud. He frequently links to The Frisky website which specializes in the multiple sexual adventures of young unmarried women …. sort of a Penthouse for college-age women without the pictures.
If I am to take Glenn Reynolds, Hollywood, TV shows, the print media – sort of the regnant pop culture – as representative of American culture as it’s lived and experienced, I am woefully out of date. But then I look around me at teens, young adults, the middle aged and elderly where I live in Middle America and I don’t see people living the lives as they are depicted in popular culture. True, I'm not peering in bedroom windows. But looking away from the screen and the tabloid I know that I am in the majority and they are in the minority. They just have hold of the media megaphone. Most marriages that I am aware of are monogamous. I know a few gay people but no married gays. It may be true that college is a place where sexual license reigns and young adults with raging hormones take the opportunity to do things that their parents would not allow them to do at home. But I would be troubled if I thought my children were busy putting notches on their bedposts in the evening rather than studying.
We are all victims of the culture. A great, if extreme, example of the image that college students are supposed to emulate was Elliott Rodger. Of course Rodger was weird in so many ways, expecting women to approach him if he walked past. But his image of male/female relationships was very much in line with the way it’s depicted in film, the Internet and magazines. He wanted that lifestyle. What young man at that age doesn’t dream of having the cheerleader throw herself at you. And women reading Cosmo, The Frisky, or similar outlets may feel there’s something wrong with her if she has not slept with at least a couple of her classmates.
But sex is not a value-neutral act. It’s not the same as scratching and itch or a game of tennis. But that’s how it’s often depicted, a sporting event that you have to practice so that you can get good. But "casual sex" is like playing with knives. You will either receive or give others psychological scars. Those are the emotional consequences. There are also physical ones like pregnancy and an array of “social” diseases some of which have no cures.
With that as the background, let’s think about what we should desire in terms of a better atmosphere for the teen and young adult going to college. At the risk of sounding like a prude – I remember my own raging hormones as a college student - I don’t know of any Conservative who thinks that the college “hook up” culture is a good thing. Tom Wolfe wrote a book (Hooking Up) and a novel (I am Charlotte Simmons) about this. They are both good reads and leave you questioning the culture in academia.
Perhaps Conservatives should not reflexively oppose what the Left is doing to men in academia. We should, of course, seek to protect young men from being railroaded by a kangaroo court. But keep in mind that the reason these young men are being accused of sex crimes is because, in almost all cases, they have had sex with their accuser. So in standing up for them we are also standing up for casual sex, the one-night stand, the drunken quickie, in college. We are joining the ranks of the Libertines for whom the hook-up culture is a wonderful thing. I’m not sure that that’s a group I would like to join. Between the guy who will screw any girl if given half a chance and the girl who lets him, regrets it later and tries to ruin his life, it would be nice if they could both lose.
The Left has created the current debased standards of sexual conduct in academia. I am willing to see if the Left can be more reactive than the Bible thumping troglodyte of popular culture. Let's see if they can fix the problem that they have created; because it is a problem.
Rather than stand up for the principle that casual sex on campus is a good thing, something that should be protected, let’s use some social jujitsu. Let’s see if we can go the Left one better. How about the end of co-ed dorms? Perhaps we can even encourage reports of drunken, unsatisfactory sex between unmarried students. Do we really want to be the ones who assault the ramparts of academia in favor of sexual promiscuity?