Sex and Bondage 101
Candace de Russy on the new academic frontier

The sex movement in academia is in part a product of the latest transmutation of feminism, known as “sex-positive feminism.” One of its leaders, Lisa Palac, a self-described “cyber-sex queen,” is the author of The Edge of the Bed: How Dirty Pictures Changed My Life, and the producer of sexually explicit documentaries with titles such as Cyborgasm 1 and 2, and Didn’t Do It For Love. Palac dubs her feminist precursors from the 1970s as “duh” feminists (meaning they demanded the most obvious sorts of things, such as equal pay for equal work). If Palac and her sister “pleasure activists” have their way, equal-opportunity feminists and anti-porn feminists, such as Andrea Dworkin, will soon be as antiquated as the corsets of yesteryear.

Or maybe not. For Dworkin and her allies oppose heterosexual sex, while “sex-positive” feminists are the most extreme manifestations of the new “discipline” of “queer theory” curriculum that focuses on homosexual identity.

In practice, that means a porn queen who enrolled in an art class at the University of Southern California (USC) received credit-and accolades-from the university for her hard-core “performance art”: Annabel Chong and two other women undressed and performed sex acts together for a class project, according to a recent report by Young America’s Foundation. Not everyone was thrilled by the demonstration. Commented one student, Sandra Corsaro, “The bottom line is a girl got penetrated with two dildos for a grade.”
~Summer 1998

Goodbye to All That?
Charlotte Hays

For girls (and boys) who need it, a single-sex school provides a safe haven. Where but in a girls’ school would I not have been scarred for life by the trauma of those two dreadful weeks when I mistakenly thought Noxzema skin cream was a shampoo? Finally, an exasperated headmaster and my mother hammered out an agreement whereby I went to Franklin-Simon’s beauty salon every Thursday to be re-bouffanted-that is, when I wasn’t restricted to campus for my frequently unfortunate behavior.

I would never contend that a girls’ school is Eden. There are few places redder in tooth and claw than a dormitory filled with adolescent girls. But if battles were won on the playing fields of Eton, I learned realism and survival in the dorm of Lausanne [a school for girls in Memphis, Tennessee, not Switzerland].

As the rest of the world edged slowly toward protest and upheaval, we wore hats and gloves on Sunday. Whenever an adult entered the room, we sprang to our feet. “Bussy” McCall, our beloved bus driver, enjoyed sauntering into the dining hall just to make us rise noisily en masse. We were supposed to become “Lausanne Ladies,” as quaint as that might sound now. Like Florence King, I am a failed southern lady, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the efforts of chere Lausanne-and my longsuffering mother-to make me one.
~Autumn 2000

Daughter of the Sexual Revolution
Pia Nordlinger finds out why young women are getting shortchanged.

While talking to young women who are still undergraduates or graduated last spring, I was consistently told that hooking up is standard. Dating is an anomaly. “If a guy asked you out on a date,” said Anne, a senior at the University of Rhode Island, “it would be like ‘Whoa! This really means something.'” Samantha, a junior at Colgate University, concurred: “Wow! A date would mean he’s interested in you.”

Make no mistake, girls are often just as interested in exercising their sexual freedom as the guys are-one Villanova senior insisted that “guys do not perpetuate the standards alone.”

Although girls defend the practice of hooking up, they sense that they are getting shortchanged. They know that the status quo-going to bars, drinking too much, and following a guy home to bed-is somehow detrimental. The problem for them is that they are both unwilling and unable to articulate why.

But Dr. Drew Pinsky, co-host of MTV’s call-in show “Loveline” and proprietor of USA Weekend’s “Ask Dr. Drew” column, thinks he knows what’s wrong: Today’s sexual code is perfect for adolescent boys but not for girls.
~Summer 1999

Eat Me
Wendy Shalit roasts the food cranks of Williams College.

When EAT ME still allowed me to attend their meetings…I noticed they were invariably unhappy with the attendance. Why was it, they began each meeting bitterly pondering, that there were only 15 women and a sprinkling of sensitive men present, when they… knew that everyone at Williams was suffering from an eating disorder?

Therefore it was decided that more activism would definitely be required to help the students understand that they were all suffering from eating disorders, and that their only hope would be to “collectively eschew traditional standards of beauty.”

This collective eschewing was to begin last December. EAT ME rented a glass display case located in the most prominent area of the campus, a display case typically used to post notices. For several days, members of EAT ME garbed themselves in tight black clothing, covered their mouths with duct tape, and spent the hours locked inside the display case, thereby signifying that women were indeed “silenced objects on display” in our society.

Alas, things did not go quite as planned (or did they?), for although most young men passed the display case in utter solemnity and guilt, a few male students engaged in what is known in EAT ME quarters as “making comments about the body.”

In fact, most of what the men said that day actually struck me as rather complimentary-“Gee, she looks like Sleeping Beauty, let’s wake her up”-but this did not stop EAT ME from spending my College Council-allocated tuition fees to send out an all-campus mailing denouncing such “rampant sexual harassment.” Soon more posters crept up (of the How Could This Happen at Williams? variety), and more marches and demonstrations were organized. A ritual begun in homage to women dying of anorexia (150,000 per year, they claimed) proved to be a particularly rich source of all kinds of “evidence” of sexual harassment and female exploitation-in turn necessitating, of course, more funding for the organization.
~Summer 1995

Sex & the Citadel
Anita K. Blair explains why abolishing all-male schools will hurt women.

Shannon Faulkner may have collapsed during her freshman week at the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, but the campaign to abolish same-sex schools has not. Some two hundred miles from the college whose admission policies Faulkner tried to bust, a more serious challenge is underway. On January 17, the Supreme Court will hear a case against the Virginia Military Institute that will decide the fate of same-sex public schools-and arguably same-sex private schools-across the nation.

If the Supreme Court holds that VMI must admit women, it won’t just be boys who will lose out. All-female programs would be imperiled too. So it is particularly odd that national women’s groups-from the National Organization for Women to the American Association of University Women-should be siding with the lawyers of the Department of Justice against VMI.

But it is precisely these so-called advocates of women who should be most on the side of VMI-particularly if they believe, as they often say they do, that girls benefit from all-female education. How many girls don’t raise their hands, or drop out of science classes, because they don’t want the boys to think they’re too smart? How many girls have to waste class time waiting for the teacher to finish disciplining rowdy boys? And why are the boys rowdy? Sociologists and psychologists tell us that adolescent girls and boys develop in different, almost opposite, directions. As they enter their teens, girls often lose confidence. Boys, on the other hand, become overly aggressive. Single-sex programs cater to the different needs of each group.
~Winter 1996