When I was getting my undergraduate degree, I had a weekly column in my university’s student newspaper (ever-true to my terrible punning, it was titled “Lizzen Up”). I wrote a lot of pieces that garnered negative attention, but the one that probably earned me the most notoriety, and certainly the most threats and hate-mail, was an article excoriating the pretentious and patently false claims about Greek fraternities and sororities bettering society. I wrote the article after attending a typical booze-filled frat party, full of scantily clad female underage drinkers and strutting, flexing fraternity boys.
I actually had a great time; the point of the article wasn’t to say people shouldn’t party, but rather that we should stop pretending that the purpose of Greek societies was service and brotherhood, and admit that they were an easy way for college students to get wasted and hook up. For me, that night didn’t end up in a blackout drunk fuck session, but I know friends for whom it did, and it’s not like I was totally immune to that behavior myself.
Of course, this all happened about ten years ago, before the college rape “crisis” really hit its full-on peak. Even then, it was abundantly clear to me that both sexes who attended the party were fully conscious of the intentions of the party – including the intent to be not fully conscious and hook up with someone. At the time, the ability to hook up at or after a party was mostly something we bragged about.
Occasionally, however, the braggadocio would be covering up weird feelings of regret. I remember more than one occasion when I felt like the sexual behavior between another random lad and I was unwanted – at least in the sense that I was nowhere near as interested in it as he was. However, I did not say no, I did not remove myself from the situation, and I continued to drink way more than I should have and so I continued to find myself in situations where, from time to time, I ended up feeling weird the next morning. It was normal for me and my friends, and that wasn’t because the men around us were predatory jerks. We ladies were part and parcel of that kind of behavior.
If you dare suggest to a young woman now that she carries the responsibility for drinking to the point that she can’t control her behavior and has drunken sex, you’re immediately a social pariah who has committed the PC evil of “Blaming the victim.” Shame on you for being stupid enough to think that women are capable of, or willing to, control their own behavior and prevent themselves from getting into a dangerous or uncomfortable situation. Instead, the “campus rape” narrative insists on stripping women of all culpability for their behavior, allowing them to take risks willy-nilly, and then pinning the blame on the man if anything bad happens. It doesn’t matter if both parties were equally drunk. The man is always the predator, so the thinking goes, because he is the penetrator – a nonsensical poststructuralist argument which breaks down rapidly upon closer inspection. (If, at it is sometimes argued, the man is the rapist simply because he is the penetrator, then all of nature is comprised of constant rape; at which point the very definition of the word rape breaks down and becomes meaningless. Fucking poststructualists).
What’s more, the campus rape frenzy has collapsed the distinction between true rape – one of the most heinous evils mankind can commit – and uncomfortable or unpleasant sex which might only be regretted after the fact. Everybody is now considered a “survivor.” The English teacher in me rails against this absurd redefinition of survivorship equally as much as the intellect in me does. Not only does this make a mockery of the women who are truly assaulted, raped, and survive – but it conflates a boorish and often unintentional offense with something that is so serious that it is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Are these really the same thing? And if they are, why in God’s name would you want university administrators, who are neither lawyers, detectives, nor judges, to be in charge of adjudicating the charges and the consequences attached thereto? It’s so stupid it would make me want to laugh if it didn’t also make me want to punch a wall.
Camille Paglia, one of the most interesting and intellectually brave women ever to wave the flag of feminism, puts it like this: Throughout the 60s and 70s, her generation fought hard to get university administrators out of the quasi-parental position of regulating female sexuality. When she was in college, women were required to sign into their dorm at 11 P.M., while the boys were permitted to run amok into the wee hours of the night. The assumption, of course, was that men were wild and dangerous, women were fragile potential targets, and their sexuality and virtue needed to be protected.
“Fuck that,” said Paglia and the rest of her feminist cohort. “We are strong women who are perfectly capable of speaking up, saying no, repulsing men who act inappropriately, and regulating our own behavior.” (I’m loosely paraphrasing, but I don’t think she’d mind my interpretation). And so the administrators got out of their way and women were permitted the kind of sexual freedom they yearned for.
So what happened? How the hell did we get back to this silly, Victorian-esque fainting-couch feminism? Why is it even conceivable that administrators are so involved in the students’ personal lives and interactions that the Obama administration actually lowered the criminal standard of evidence to punish young men for alleged sexual offenses, and then held Title IX funding over administrators’ heads to enforce it? Why are all students being compelled to take trainings and classes that insist that sex may only happen after “consent” is given for each advance in sexual action (May I hold your hand? May I kiss your cheek? Is it okay if I give you a blowjob?)? Who even wants to have sex in that way?? Certainly it might seem to eliminate the risk, but it also neuters all the actual sexiness.
Human relationships are complicated, nuanced, and impossible to regulate in such minute detail. And even if they were – even if women were actually interested in men taking these explicit precautions (because men are always the violators, remember), do administrators and college students actually think this is going to stop true rapists from raping?
It is, as Paglia says, as though women want all of the freedom of sexual liberty, but none of the responsibility. Women want to be able to behave in all the ways that have historically signaled sexual availability, but then claim that, in fact, they are signaling no such thing. They want to wear very short skirts and low-cut tops and demand that men not look at them. They want to wiggle their hips and flash smiles across the room, and then complain if a man approaches or touches them. And then they justify outright rudeness towards men who politely ask them to dance or to buy them a drink with lame excuses like, “I’m just tired of all the guys who are dicks.” (I actually watched that happen.) This is absurd. None of these young women would show up to class, church, or court in the same clothes and makeup they go out in on Saturday night, and neither would they dance that way during a board meeting, because it would be wildly sexually inappropriate. This requires no explanation.
I am not arguing that women shouldn’t be allowed to wear these things, and I am not saying that wearing them is an invitation for open-season rape. What I am saying is that the way we behave and present ourselves means something. This has been lost in the poststructuralist frenzy of removing all meaning from anything, including clothes, words, and sex. But we are products of millions of years of evolution, and poststructuralism can’t change biology. Humans are animals, which means men are animals, which means we can expect at least some of them to behave in animalistic ways that include nonconsensual sex with women. Whether you want to make the idiotic argument that rape is purely motivated by power and patriarchal hierarchy, and therefore we should “Teach men not to rape,” it matters not. Telling a good man that rape is bad is wasting your breath; he already knows. Telling a bad, rapist man that rape is bad is likewise wasteful, because he already knows it, and yet he does it anyway.
Not telling women that they are responsible for their own safe decision-making, especially when it comes to deliberately drinking enough to lose consciousness, is ignorance of the basest kind. It infantilizes women. It is insulting. It is a lie. Women are certainly capable of being competent and wise and fending for ourselves in the danger of the big modern world – college campuses being perhaps the least dangerous of all situations – without the parentalizing of administrators. And in situations where women cannot fend for themselves, such as rape and other forms of physical assault by men who are larger and stronger, women should be protecting themselves first and foremost by practicing wise avoidance.
And, after all this, is all the frenzy about “rape culture” and campus rape even true, anyway?
The short answer: No. It is absolutely not. The statistics that 1 in 4-5 women are raped on college campuses is pure and utter ideological bullshit, and it is delivered with the deliberate intent to manufacture fear. This statistic was initially based on manipulated questioning by one researcher who asked questions about women’s sexual experiences, and then decided herself, post-hoc, whether those experiences constituted rape, even when the alleged victims themselves disagreed. This researcher, Mary Koss, did this after other research found scant evidence of rape culture, and so she had to construct the evidence she wanted herself.
Why would someone want to do that, you might ask, as well you should. But in a third- and fourth- wave feminist ideology devoted to the idea that men are dangerous and bad, and women the victims of an abominable patriarchy, it’s hard to get people to listen to you if the problems you’re screaming about don’t actually exist. So – you have to make them.
Please, please read this article by Heather Mac Donald. It debunks the college rape myth in great and cautious detail, and it’s so good and so necessary.
I had never read it before a couple of days ago, when I did some Google searching, because I figured that there was no possible way that 1 in 4 women were raped during college. That statistic, once I thought about it, just made no sense. For sure, I myself had some hairy experiences, all of which I got myself into, and none of which constituted rape. But none of my friends have been raped either. So who were these women being raped? As it turns out, they don’t exist. Rather than celebrating this fact, along with the fact that rapes, as well as other violent crimes, are lower than they’ve ever been, feminists create a rape bogeyman and then an entire administrative entity springs up out of it. It’s disgusting.
Unfortunately, I do know a couple of women who have fallen into the black hole of “Regretted sex is rape, and so now I must be traumatized.” It’s sad to watch, especially because being “brave” enough to speak about your experience on social media now garners you pats on the back, which virtually guarantees self-traumatizing “victims” will continue coming forward en masse.
Sex is risky. Duh. Navigating sexual relationships takes practice. Duh. So here’s a suggestion: While young women are in college, navigating these relationships and taking these risks, tell them to buck up and take responsibility for their sexual behavior. Only have sex with men you know well enough to trust and talk to. Dress with the intent to send the message you want to send, and then whatever that message is, take responsibility for it. Stop pretending that your behavior doesn’t send signals to men. Stop acting as though they aren’t sexually motivated more than women, and stop acting like predators can be reasoned out of their predatory behavior.
I think if this advice was followed, the small amount of campus rape and sexual assault that does exist would dry right up. But then the corresponding administrative positions would dry up too – and we can’t have that now, can we?