Heather Mac Donald has noticed something I’ve been trying to figure out how to write about: the encroaching Victorianism on college campuses.
The “yes means yes” law in California can be regarded as a recrudescence of Victorianism (or neo-Victorianism, as Mac Donald puts it): affirmative consent laws will certainly put a crimp in college sexual activity. The spectacle of conservatives (among them me) getting hot and bothered (excuse the choice of words) and railing against the law is amusing: shouldn’t we embrace the law as a way to kill the hook-up culture?
The requirement for progressive yeses throughout the sexual encounter is going to make campus sex fraught with peril for young men. Good heavens, Cotton Mather, who I realize was decidedly pre-Victorian, could have preached until he was blue in the face without making premarital sex more frightening than the new laws do.
I realize that we conservatives are really concerned about the erosion of the legal right of due process for the accused. But still, there is something deliciously ironic in the current sexual atmosphere on campus, which imperils the vulgar hook-up culture, one of the crowning glories of radical feminism. Mac Donald writes:
Sexual liberation is having a nervous breakdown on college campuses. Conservatives should be cheering on its collapse; instead they sometimes sound as if they want to administer the victim smelling salts.
It is impossible to overstate the growing weirdness of the college sex scene. Campus feminists are reimporting selective portions of a traditional sexual code that they have long scorned, in the name of ending what they preposterously call an epidemic of campus rape. They are once again making males the guardians of female safety and are portraying females as fainting, helpless victims of the untrammeled male libido. They are demanding that college administrators write highly technical rules for sex and aggressively enforce them, 50 years after the proponents of sexual liberation insisted that college adults stop policing student sexual behavior. While the campus feminists are not yet calling for an assistant dean to be present at their drunken couplings, they have created the next best thing: the opportunity to replay every grope and caress before a tribunal of voyeuristic administrators.
The ultimate result of the feminists’ crusade may be the same as if they were explicitly calling for a return to sexual modesty: a sharp decrease in casual, drunken sex. There is no downside to this development.
What we are seeing, according to Mac Donald, is “the liberationist regime…disintegrating before our eyes” four decades after the emergence of the radical feminist proposition that guys and gals are just alike in their sexual needs and proclivities. The hook-up culture on campus was a product of this mentality, with its expectations that young women enjoyed one-night-stands (that’s what we called hook-ups in my day) as much as young men.
But that is changing. “The new order is a bizarre hybrid of liberationist and traditionalist values,” Mac Donald opines. Embodied in pages upon pages of regulations at, for example, Claremont McKenna and Occidental Colleges (in California, for goodness' sake), the new Victorianism allows–nay, encourages–young women to “revert at will to a stance of offended virtue.”
The rules require the young woman to be absolutely and repeatedly clear that she intends to have sex on a given occasion. A guy who has sex with a young woman who has had a few tipples of wine is risking expulsion from school and a lifelong tag as a sexual predator. And we conservatives are complaining about this? Also, a young woman may simply decide the next day that sex was a mistake and drag the guy before a tribunal.
And guys have to worry about the possibility that a young woman will change her mind during the–uh–encounter and not be explicit about her change of heart, something that, alas, just might happen in the heat of passion:
“Withdrawal of Consent can be an expressed ‘no’ or can be based on an outward demonstration that conveys that an individual is hesitant, confused, uncertain, or is no longer a mutual participant,” announce Claremont’s sexocrats. …
With or without cameras, adjudicating college sex in the neo-Victorian era requires a degree of prurience that should be repugnant to any self-respecting university. A campus sex investigator named Djuna Perkins described the nauseating enterprise to National Public Radio in June: “It will sometimes boil down to details like who turned who around, or [whether] she lifted up her body so [another student] could pull down her pants. There have been plenty of cases that I’ve done when the accused student says, ‘What do you mean? [The accuser] was moaning with pleasure. He was raising his body, clutching my back, exhibiting all signs that sounded like this was a pleasurable event.’ ”…
Mac Donald comments:
It turns out that when you decouple the sex drive from modesty and prudence, it takes armies of elected officials, bureaucrats, and consultants to protect females from “undesirable” behavior.
Mac Donald disputes the numbers that underlie the popular notion that there is a “rape epidemic” on campus but does recognize that the accused, even if he believed the sex was consensual, will likely not fare well in the kangaroo courts that new sex-on-campus regulations set up.
My fellow Victorians, our day has come. We just didn't expect it to be a gift of the Obama administration and the California legislature.
I urge you to read the entire article.