A “Campus Culture of Rape” or a “Culture of Drunken, Hook-up Sex”?

Watch it, buddy, make sure you read the University of Virginia's "Definitions of Prohibited Contact" before you touch that woman!

Watch it, buddy, make sure you read the University of Virginia’s “Definitions of Prohibited Contact” before you touch that woman!

by James A. Bacon

In the wake of gang rape allegations aired last week by Rolling Stone magazine, University of Virginia officials declare themselves to be angered by the incident and determined to prevent anything like it from happening again. “I write you in great sorrow, great rage, but most importantly, with great determination,” wrote President Kathleen Sullivan in a letter to the University of Virginia community. “Meaningful change is necessary. … This will require institutional change, cultural change, and legislative change, and it will not be easy. We are making those changes.”

If past is any precedent, we can look forward to a more verbose Student Sexual Misconduct Policy replete with legalese of the sort one might read in an Apple App user agreement, the hiring of more administrators to enforce the policy, the occasional drumming out of sexual offenders and… virtually no change to the “culture of rape” that led to the gang rape in the first place.

The reason that change will not occur is that the University of Virginia, like colleges and universities across the country, are caught between conflicting moral imperatives which Baby Boomer administrators are incapable of reconciling. On the one hand, Boomer administrators are appalled by sexual violence against women, which appears to have reached unprecedented proportions on their watch. On the other hand, they are unwilling to do anything to curb the licentiousness and promiscuity of the drunken hook-up culture that pervades the student culture and creates an ethical gray area regarding what constitutes a woman’s “consent” to sexual activity.

The only way that university bureaucrats know how to deal with this inherent conflict is to put into place stricter rules and procedures that students will ignore, just as they’ve ignored all the past rules and procedures. Even if the new regime of campus justice does succeed in bring more sexual transgressions into the maw of administrative review, students may well respond in unexpected ways. Already, male students are using videotapes to successfully refute charges of rape, according to the Women for Men blog. The net effect could well be to spur young more students to surreptitiously videotape themselves and their paramours in the act.

The problem is human nature. Young men and women, who are at the peak of their sex drive during their campus years, are obsessed with sex. This obsession is hard-wired into the species. Different civilizations and cultures over the eons have devised various mechanisms to channel and control the sex drive. In the United States the prudish “Victorian morality” prevailed for many years. That system stressed premarital abstinence and the strict policing of college campuses to limit the opportunities of couples to engage in sex. The system of Victorian morality was far from perfect, even on its own terms — it was, after all, fighting against human nature. Some women did get pregnant. Rapes did occur. As correspondent Gerald Cooper reminds me, in the so-called “Lawn Scandal,” three young men from prominent Virginia families were implicated in the gang bang of a young woman in a room on the Lawn around 1954. But there was no “campus culture of rape” in which 20% of all women were raped during their four years in college.

Victorian values were swamped by the sexual revolution and the rise of feminism. Few people who grew up in the 1960s or later regret the overthrow of the ancien regime. Most people, even many cultural conservatives, accept the proposition that single people should be free to express their sexuality. (Victorian morality still prevails when it comes to respecting the vows of matrimony; not everyone lives up to the moral norm but almost everyone accepts it.) On college campuses, the floodgates opened. When colleges ceased policing students’ sexual activities, students were free to pursue their primal instincts. Residential colleges like UVa threw together thousands of young people at the peak of sexual desire and looked the other way as a new culture arose that mixed heavy drinking with sexual license.

The Baby Boomers who dominate the ranks of college administrations today shocked their parents with their cavalier attitude toward sex before marriage. A few Boomers engaged in “swinging,” or the swapping of sexual partners, but that behavior was relegated to the fringe. The prevailing ethos among Boomers, even among singles, was to restrict sex to monogamous relationships. Boomers had more sexual partners than their parents did, but their morality still frowned on sexual promiscuity.

Now it is the Baby Boomers’ turn to be shocked by their children. Prevailing feminist theory on college campuses, reinforced by pop culture figures like Madonna, deemed it chic for women to be as sexually “empowered” as men, in effect to have sex with whomever they wanted whenever they wanted. For many men, this development was a dream come true — women offered sex without the encumbrances of emotional commitment. Whereas Boomer women bartered sexual access for emotional commitment, many  (not all, of course) Millennial women demanded nothing in return. Young people in college today live in a state of moral anarchy, some retaining vestiges of traditional morality, while others abide by no discernible sexual morality of any kind. The only recognized standard is the admonition that women must “consent” to sex.

The great question is how to interpret consent. The overwhelming majority of “rapes” on college campuses occur in a party context in which men and women alike are intoxicated. Sometimes the lines are clear. When a man plies a woman with a date rape drug and has sex with her, everyone would agree that that’s a case of rape, even if there was no violence involved. Everyone would agree that the gang rape at the University of Virginia, if it occurred as described, was horrific. No one sympathizes with the rapists in either case.

But the lines become blurred in an instance, say, in which a women gets drunk, starts making out with a guy, who also happens to be drunk, has sex with him and at some point along the line changes her mind. Is that “rape?” If so, do we place that in the same category of moral and criminal culpability as a case in which, say, a man stalks a woman and rapes her at gunpoint? Feminists might argue that in an oppressive, patriarchal society such a distinction is meaningless. Most people see a big difference.

Further blurring the lines is the rise of the exhibitionist “sexting” culture. Baby Boomers find themselves prudishly aghast as they hear of Millennials emailing photos of their their genitals to love interests. Do the kids have no sense of privacy at all? Then there is the phenomenon of “revenge porn.” Men create videotapes of themselves having sex with girlfriends and then post the videos online to get back at them for some perceived offense. Those trends have made it into the news, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. Google “college sex party” and browse the results. You will find dozens, if not hundreds, of videos posted of college kids stripping, walking around nude, engaging in oral sex and copulating without embarrassment in front of their peers. This kind of behavior may be extreme and unrepresentative of the general student population but its very existence is indicative of how thoroughly the old sexual norms have been obliterated.

I offer as a hypothesis the proposition that the college rape epidemic is deeply rooted in the drunken hook-up culture of the Millennial generation. Liberal Boomer college administrators, who make a fetish of being non-judgmental, have allowed this culture to arise without contesting it. The consequence is that as a matter of routine every Friday and Saturday night, young men and women are thrown into situations where the lines between consensual and non-consensual sex are blurred beyond recognition. It should come as no surprise that the victims of sexual transgressions and their friends are so often morally ambivalent about whether to report incidents or not.

Given the tenor of what takes place in college frat houses, dormitories or the bushes behind the Rotunda, how likely is it that the University of Virginia’s “Definitions of Prohibited Conduct” will have any effect upon students’ behavior?

The party desiring to initiate sexual activity is responsible for obtaining Effective Consent. In order to obtain Effective Consent, permission must be given prior to or contemporaneously with the sexual activity in question. Effective Consent should never be assumed. Lack of protest or resistance does not constitute Effective Consent. “No” means no, but nothing (silence, passivity, inertia) also means no. A verbal “No,” even if it sounds indecisive or insincere, should always be treated as a denial of Effective Consent. If there is confusion as to whether Effective Consent is present (e.g., words, gestures or other indications of hesitation or reluctance), the parties should stop the sexual activity immediately.

Surely they jest.  As reasonable as all of this may sound to a 55-year-old university administrator, it’s not likely to have much impact on 20-year-olds in the throes of passion. President Sullivan asserts that the University is working on making the institutional, cultural and legislative changes needed to end the college rape epidemic. I’d laugh if it weren’t so tragic. The only way to change the culture of drunken hook-up sex is to impose a regime so stifling and oppressive that the college students would rise in revolt. It will not happen.

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37 responses to “A “Campus Culture of Rape” or a “Culture of Drunken, Hook-up Sex”?

  1. Huh? What planet are you on? Why are you always trying to find the Feminist Boogie Woman? Or the hateful bureaucrat? How can you say college kids have to follow some code while giving them no idea what that code is?

    Furthermore, you really think that our parents and grandparents and down the line all had no sex until marriage? Are you nuts?

    • Peter, No, I don’t think our parents and grandparents down the line had no sex until marriage. But that’s what the prevailing moral code called for and, in fact, many people (not all) adhered to. Do you want to deny that premarital sex is far more pervasive today than it was 60-70 years ago?

      As for my statement regarding the “Feminist Boogie Woman,” what part of my statement strikes you as inaccurate or unfair?

      And as for the “hateful bureaucrat,” I didn’t characterize campus bureaucrats as hateful, just ineffectual. Do *you* think stricter Prohibited Conduct codes will do anything to change the campus culture?

      • I believe that there now is greater willingness to acknowledge pre-marital sex. There was considerable pre-marital sex, even in the 50s. One of the changes though is that people are no longer willing to accept ‘boys will be boys’ reasoning, and a recognition that violence is perpetrated by the rapist and not the victim.

  2. I am sure JAB that if your car, with a pricey stereo, is broken into, even in a ‘bad’ neighborhood, you will argue that a crime has been committed and the police had better investigate. It may be ‘human nature’ for some teenager to break in and steal the stereo, may be even drive away with the car, but it is still a crime.

    • Of course it’s not his fault, it’s the fault of the person who stole his stereo for not practicing personal responsibility! And these women who get sexually assaulted while drinking, well they need to be held responsible by not being allowed to peruse charges, that’s there personal responsibility! And the men who are doing the sexual assault…????

  3. “Do you want to deny that premarital sex is far more pervasive today than it was 60-70 years ago?”

    Yes I deny it. I have no evidence but neither do you.

    When I was at college during the tripped out, stoned out early 70s when it was like Free Love, man. , I remember the Dean saying, “you had no idea what it was like in the 20s.”

  4. I find it interesting that there has been so much attention once the frats came into play. There may be a larger cultural issue. For example, two coeds have been killed including the one that happened this fall. Then there was the rugby player who killed the lacrosse player. And then just two weeks ago there was a report of 27 reported sexual assaults on campus the previous year. And then this guy Mathew who is under arrest was employed in Patients Relations at the university hospital…a guy accused of rape at Liberty U. and then again at CNU but hired by the university. Is any of this connected to the 2012 Playboy designation of UVA being the best Party School in America?
    There has never in the history of American higher education this kind of problem. Dr. Sullivan needs to take a close look and see if anything needs to be done…it is in the best interest of all UVAers.

    • There was no rugby player who killed a lacrosse player. George Huguely was a men’s lacrosse player at UVA. He has been convicted of killing Yeardley Love a woman’s lacrosse player at UVA.

      Huguely had many worrisome incidents before he killed Ms. Love. In 2007 he was arrested for underage possession of alcohol. In 2008 he was arrested fr public drunkenness at W&L University. After they broke up Huguley attacked Love and was restrained by visiting University of North Carolina lacrosse players. In another incident Huguley attacked Loge but was so drunk that he didn’t remember hitting her. Shortly before killing Love Huguley punched a sleeping teammate because Huguley believed that the teammate had kissed Love. The incident was reported to coach Dom Starsia who choose to ignore it. After Love’s murder Dean John Casteen expressed his support for Starsia saying that the coach had no idea how serious the incident actually was.

      As of May, 2010 eight of the 41 players on the roster of the University of Virginia men’s lacrosse team, including accused murderer George Huguely, had been charged with alcohol-related offenses during their careers at the school, according to court records.

      To the best of my knowledge George Huguely was not a member of any fraternity. Yeardley Love was a sister in Kappa Alpha Theta.

      To the best of my knowledge the University of Virginia rugby team and its members have not been the subject of any accusations of sexual misconduct.

      • Rugby or Lacrosse or fraternity or not there is evidence of pervasive lax system or rules and regulations as evidenced by the rapes, 27 reports of sexual violence last year, employee Mathews and frat rapes calls for a major overhaul of the culture…this is not what Mr. Jefferson envisioned.

        • Blaming a member of the rugby team for a murder committed by a member of the lacrosse team seems inappropriate to me. However, there does seem to be a problem at UVA. What was the disposition of those 27 reports? How many resulted in criminal charges? Were the criminal charges successfully prosecuted? What sentences did the guilty receive?

          Here are some stark statistics from 2011 – http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/special-report-day-arrests-convictions-rare-in-va-college-sex/article_29347876-4d12-5823-a150-a93f19928abf.html

          Nationally, one in four rape claims result in arrest with a subsequent conviction rate of 62%. From 2008 – 2001 62 sex crimes were reported on Virginia campuses. Seven cases resulted in arrest and four perpetrators were convicted. None of the convictions involved student-on-student assaults.

          If you want to end or dramatically reduce student-on-student sexual assaults then there have to be arrests, prosecutions and convictions.

          The number of bank robberies has been falling steadily since a high point in 1991. In 2012 there were less than half the number of bank robberies in the US than there were in 1991. This was not the result of candlelight vigils, dialogues between authorities and potential bank robbers or an attack on the culture of bank robbery. It was the result of better investigations, more arrests, a higher conviction rate and longer sentences.

          If you want to end rape on college campuses you must prosecute the perpetrators.

  5. Went down to the Alma Mater of the Nation on Saturday to watch my one annual game and while wandering picked up a copy of the Flat Hat, once upon a time a place where this byline appeared.

    Here is a headline on page 6, bottom of the page: “Put Your Head Into It: Blowjobs are no chore, the are fun.” Subhead: “For some reason blowjobs have a bad rap, but they shouldn’t. Done right, blow jobs can even be empowering.” Written by one Mallory Walker, identified as “Behind Closed Doors Columnist.” I kid you not. I’m still blushing from reading it five or six times…..

    Looks like that door is wide open, not closed.

    Is this what you’re talking about Jim?

    One of the stories I remember doing for the Flat Hat (or the Fat Head, as we sometimes called it) was about a quiet change at student health, where a doctor was hired specifically because he was familiar with the BCP and would be writing that prescription right and left for the female students. Fast forward 40 years……

  6. James A. Bacon wrote (emphasis added) wrote:

    Surely they jest. As reasonable as all of this may sound to a 55-year-old university administrator, it’s not likely to have much impact on 20-year-olds in the throes of passion. President Sullivan asserts that the University is working on making the institutional, cultural and legislative changes needed to end the college rape epidemic. I’d laugh if it weren’t so tragic. The only way to change the culture of drunken hook-up sex is to impose a regime so stifling and oppressive that the college students would rise in revolt. It will not happen.

    There is one easy thing that can be done to make matters better, not worse. That is to repeal the idiotic federal prohibition on alcohol (forbidding persons between 18 and 21 from purchasing same) that was imposed during the Reagan Administration under the guise of social engineering (and “keeping the young people under control”).

    A person that is 18 can sign a contract, get drafted into the military and purchase real estate. Why can these people not purchase alcohol? Anyone that has turned 18 (or, even better, has a high school diploma and is 17) should be able to legally purchase alcohol.

    Worried about an 18-year-old buying it for those that are truly underage? Only allow persons under the age of 21 to consume alcohol on-premises only, and ideally in the case of institutions of higher learning, on-campus or near campus only.

    • We’ve had discussions in my home as to whether the drinking age should be lowered to 18. Do you really think that allowing easier access to booze will reduce binge drinking? Frankly, I don’t know the answer.

      • It won’t help. Since ~1984 the number of drunk driving deaths has been cut roughly in half. The age cohort of 21 – 25 is the most likely to drive impaired. And neuroscience has shown that human decision making abilities don’t reach full maturation until about 25. If anything, the drinking age needs to be higher not lower.

      • This is from the Rolling Stone article about why girls go to frat parties:

        “..Frats are often the sole option for an underage drinker looking to party, since bars are off-limits, sororities are dry and first-year students don’t get many invites to apartment soirees. Instead, the kids crowd the walkways of the big, anonymous frat houses, vying for entry. ‘Hot girls who are drunk always get in – it’s a good idea to act drunker than you really are,’ says third-year Alexandria Pinkleton, expertly clad in the UVA-after-dark uniform of a midriff-baring sleeveless top and shorts. ‘Also? You have to seem very innocent and vulnerable. That’s why they love first-year girls.'”

        • The fraternity monopoly on alcohol is indeed a pretty persuasive argument for lowering the drinking age.

          And depending on the type of campus involved, a college can really cut down on drunk driving by having alcohol available on campus so no one’s driving somewhere.

  7. You headed your post: “A “Campus Culture of Rape” or a “Culture of Drunken, Hook-up Sex”?” and my question is, do I hafta choose? And if I do, I’m voting for “Culture of Drunken, Hook-up Sex”, but if I don’t, I think they are both useful to explain what is going on. I’m with Zilliacus on cutting the drinking age, I think difficulty getting liquor and boring on campus parties with no alcohol contributes to going off campus to the frats, and we know where THAT leads.

    At this point, lots of sex happens and the woman is blotto drunk and the guy is maybe that impaired and maybe not. And sometimes there is no clear non consent, and in the morning if she regrets, she can tag him as a rapist. And sometimes she (drunk) makes attempts to stop him (drunk), they are either weak or strong, he pushes past them, and in the morning she has what I think is a better case – but it’s still very different from what I have always thought of as rape. And sometimes there are flat out false accusations, she decides she has been ill used when he finds someone else, or somehow else he displeases, and in the current climate she has a hell of a hammer available and she decides he is a nail. Very hard to decide between these alternatives when you are a campus disciplinary officer.

    I am working on my sons and my daughter to understand that getting very drunk is risky for a whole lot of reasons.

  8. Bacon – your language is so insulting and off base that I have to think you are just baiting the reader and attempting to get attention.

    You were there in the early 70s – do you think the culture was any better then when the administrators were not “Baby Boomers” but the “Greatest Generation”? Do you think Edgar Shannon had any understanding or effect on the behaviour of students in the early 70s?

    If I recall the history (perhaps the mythology) of the Honor System, it was a student-initiated movement in reaction to endemic cheating and violence among certain of the students (all male of course). The Honor System is the student culture that should be at the forefront here – why don’t the students believe in it to take care of this issue? Is it because it hasn’t taken care of real problems?; I don’t know. Is it possible that the problem is not the liberals and the Baby Boomers but the male culture that still pervades many UVa institutions?

    The demonstrations going on now are in response to real problems and we ought to applaud them rather than dissemble based on broad and anecdotal critcisms of youth culture.

  9. As usual the Obama Administration has managed to take a bad situation and make it worse. In 2011 the Obama Administration’s Department of Education threatened campuses with the loss of federal funds if they failed to crack down on sexual-assault allegations. This might have been a worthy act except that the Obama Administration insisted that the allegations be reviewed based on a preponderance of evidence concept. This essentially means that if the untrained campus authorities using whatever haphazard process they choose determine that 50.1% of the evidence points to sexual misconduct the accused must be considered guilty. Obviously this is a far cry from the reasonable doubt standard normally applied.

    Unfortunately for pretty much everybody involved Ole Hope and Change doesn’t have a lot of regard for the US Constitution or due process. Unfortunately for President Obama courts and judges have much more regard for such things. The net result is that dozens of accused men are suing the colleges who accused them and winning.

    This leaves campus administrators in a lousy situation. If they don’t follow the preponderance of evidence edict from the Obama Administration they may lose federal funding. If they do follow that half assed idea they may get successfully sued by those who they find guilty under the preponderance of evidence concept.

    If we want campus authorities to be successful in addressing what seems to me to be the real problem of sexual assault on campus they must be able to distinguish between “prosecutable” and “non-prosecutable” cases. Non-prosecutable cases should perhaps result in some sort of mediation. Prosecutable cases should result in the campus authorities trying to persuade the victim to go to the authorities and have the perpetrator(s) prosecuted. Failing that, the perpetrator(s) should be expelled after being tried in a standard process that respects their rights as well as those of the victim.

    • “Obviously this is a far cry from the reasonable doubt standard normally applied.”

      Obviously getting kicked out of college is a far cry from being imprisoned.

      “successfully sued”

      Which is a civil suit, which is a preponderance of evidence standard, which I thought we just decided was illegitimate…?

      “they must be able to distinguish between ‘prosecutable’ and ‘non-prosecutable’ cases.”

      I wonder how the women of New Orleans feel about other people having that sort of discretion…

      http://mic.com/articles/104180/if-anyone-asks-why-sexual-assault-victims-don-t-just-go-to-the-police-show-them-this

      “Non-prosecutable cases should perhaps result in some sort of mediation.”

      Yes, let’s put potential rape victims with their rapist and have them make amends. That doesn’t sound like a sure fire way to retraumatize someone…

      • That’s the point. You have a criminal matter being adjudicated as a tort case by an amateur hour college administration. The college has no subpoena power for cell phone records, social media communication, etc. So, the university finds a preponderance of evidence then a real court finds no preponderance of evidence.

        This will be a futile process until a real court using real rules of evidence has jurisdiction over these matters.

        The current system isn’t helping anybody.

  10. “If past is any precedent, we can look forward to a more verbose Student Sexual Misconduct Policy replete with legalese of the sort one might read in an Apple App user agreement…”

    So before the problem was the feminist fringe was being so vague and broad that ANYTHING could qualify as rape or sexual assault, but now the problem is the language is going to be too verbose and thorough?

    “just as they’ve ignored all the past rules and procedures.”

    So then I guess those feckless Boomer administrators can’t be faulted for their unwillingness to do anything to curb the hookup culture since the students aren’t going to listen to their rules in the first place.

    “But there was no ‘campus culture of rape’ in which 20% of all women were raped during their four years in college.”

    How would you even know? Who was compiling those statistics in 1954? It’s fun to just assert things isn’t it?

    Did you know before 1974 there was no spousal rape in the United States? It’s true! Was it because there were spousal rape exceptions on the books in every state or was it because the men were just more noble and restrained? Who can tell, all I know is there were none reported or studied so it obviously wasn’t happening!

    Also, before 1987 no one was taking Prozac. I guess people were just happier before the Reagan administration!

    “A few Boomers engaged in ‘swinging,’ or the swapping of sexual partners, but that behavior was relegated to the fringe. The prevailing ethos among Boomers, even among singles, was to restrict sex to monogamous relationships.”

    Jim Bacon is the Boomax, he speaks for the Boomers, for the Boomers have no tongue!

    Here’s a fun statistic for you: according to several surveys the amount of Americans that have had a threesome is somewhere between 14 and 19 percent. The 18-24 age cohort is about 10 percent of the American population. That means that even IF every college aged American is having a threesome right now there are still people from older generations that have participated as well.

    “Whereas Boomer women bartered sexual access for emotional commitment…”

    Women expect men to be mind readers when it comes to consent, which is impossible. Let me read women’s minds!

    But as much as I trust the opinion of a Boomer man on the desires and behaviors of Boomer women, I trust him even more…

    “many (not all, of course) Millennial women demanded nothing in return.”

    …to know the ends and out of the mind of the college-aged woman of today!

    “The great question is how to interpret consent.”

    Not that hard, in fact you provide a helpful guideline further down:

    “In order to obtain Effective Consent, permission must be given prior to or contemporaneously with the sexual activity in question. Effective Consent should never be assumed. Lack of protest or resistance does not constitute Effective Consent. ‘No’ means no, but nothing (silence, passivity, inertia) also means no. A verbal ‘No,’ even if it sounds indecisive or insincere, should always be treated as a denial of Effective Consent.”

    No = N0. Yes = Yes. Not Yes = No. That is really not that hard, and later when you talk about “20 year olds in the throes of passion” you clearly mean the men, because in my experience any woman who is actually in the throes of passion is going to quite loudly proclaim yes.

    And as far as this…

    “in which a women gets drunk, starts making out with a guy, who also happens to be drunk, has sex with him and at some point along the line changes her mind. Is that ‘rape?'”

    Yes, of course, absolutely. Consent can be withdrawn at any point in time.

    ” Google ‘college sex party’ and browse the results…”

    Nah, I’m good…I wouldn’t want my computer to catch a cyber STI.

    ” You will find dozens, if not hundreds, of videos posted of college kids stripping, walking around nude, engaging in oral sex and copulating without embarrassment in front of their peers.”

    As of 2012 there were 20 million students enrolled in colleges across the country and the best you could find were hundreds of videos? You should be relieved not appalled.

    Speaking of…

    “Further blurring the lines is the rise of the exhibitionist ‘sexting’ culture. Baby Boomers find themselves prudishly aghast as they hear of Millennials emailing photos of their their genitals to love interests. Do the kids have no sense of privacy at all?”

    26,000 BC: By Grog, this new generation is making sculptures of fertility goddesses, have they no sense of decorum at all?!

    3200 BC, Mesopotamia: By Marduk, this new generation is writing down sexually explicit messages to each other! Have they no shame!?

    600 BC, Mesoamerica: By the Earth Monster, this new generation is writing down sexually explicit messages to each other! Have they no pride?!

    1450 AD, Germany: Mein Gott, this new generation is printing their sexual exploits! Have they no sense of self-worth?!

    1839 AD, France: Mon Dieu, this new generation is making sexually provocative daguerreotypes! Have they no sense of decency?!

    1876 AD, United States: Mr. Watson – come here – this new generation is having sexually explicit telephonic conversations! Have they no chagrin?!

    1878 AD, United States: My God, this new generation is making sexually explicit moving pictures! Can they not be mortified?!

    “It should come as no surprise that the victims of sexual transgressions and their friends are so often morally ambivalent about whether to report incidents or not.”

    They’re ambivalent about whether to report, which means the victims who select to report are more morally certain about what happened to them, and that moral certainty comes from the knowledge that what actually happened to them was rape and not just regrettable sex.

    But these lines are so hard to draw…

    • Hey, Fall Line: you said – “…“in which a women gets drunk, starts making out with a guy, who also happens to be drunk, has sex with him and at some point along the line changes her mind. Is that ‘rape?’”

      Yes, of course, absolutely. Consent can be withdrawn at any point in time.”

      The problem I have with this ‘hang ’em from the rafters’ approach, is that there are a number of plausible cases where one party, and the ones which are being trumpeted it’s the girl, decides IN THE MORNING that she’s unhappy with what she did the night before, and retroactively decides that something was rape. And then this goes to some kangaroo court set up with the criteria which the current administration thinks it needs to ensure that guilty don’t go free, and the result is that non-guilty get expelled, or have to spend tens of thousands to sue the college and get reinstated after losing a year.

    • Excerpt from Virginia State Senator Chap Petersen’s (D-Fairfax) commentary on the Rolling Stone article:

      “The idea that a violent crime can be “resolved” within the confines of a college resource center or through a Honor Code investigation is the ultimate academic conceit. There may be a role of colleges in handling conduct which is rude or threatening but not criminal. A rape is not that case. It should be handled by the police.

      A related point is the ability to control young men, which is the sole population of potential offenders — and a group seemingly removed from the influence of persons who dictate campus policy.

      Let me make an obvious point: a “campus dialogue” or “conversation” on date rape may have some minimal effect on 19 year old males, who have spent the better part of their teenage years receiving lectures on good citizenship. But it’s limited.

      Locking up a fraternity brother for a five year sentence in a state prison or labeling him for life as a “sexual offender”, on the other hand, will definitely get their attention. I dare say that one such criminal sentence will deter a lot more sexual assaults than a dozen campus rallies or candlelight vigils.”

      Petersen is one of the very few competent people in our state government.

      • Agreed. Gang rape like that alleged to have occurred at UVa calls for long prison sentences. If a bunch of college rapists were sent to jail, the “risk-reward” calculus for would-be offenders would change dramatically, and we’d see a big reduction in college rape.

    • “How would you even know? Who was compiling those statistics in 1954? It’s fun to just assert things isn’t it?”

      That’s a legitimate question. Obviously, I base my statement upon personal experience, which is necessarily anecdotal. I attended UVa from 1971 to 1975. I did not belong to a fraternity; I had no interest in the fraternity culture of drunken parties. My friends tended not to belong to fraternities either, so I admit I wasn’t close to that scene. But I still had a lot of friends and acquaintances, and I still heard a lot of stories. I don’t remember hearing a single story of a woman being raped in a “date rape” situation, certainly not in my circle of acquaintances. Not one. That doesn’t mean such incidents didn’t occur. I’m sure they did. But it suggests that they occurred with far less frequency than today, when supposedly one in five women has been raped. If one in five women are raped, that means students today could easily know a dozen or more women in their circle of acquaintances who have lived through that experience. There is an order-of-magnitude difference between 1974 and 2014.

  11. Quick point first: A lot of the people you see when you Google “college sex party” aren’t just random people on college campuses.

    More substantive take: What would it take for *dating* to make a comeback? Why must everything be drunken hookups? Why not monogamous relationships?

    • I’m far removed from the college campus scene, but I believe that “dating” still exists; so do monogamous relationships. But we could definitely use more monogamy, even serial monogamy, and less drunken hookup.

      • I cling to similar beliefs. But there are others who have given the hook-up and binge drinking culture at our best colleges serious thought; UVA is not alone. Here is the link to “A conversation about America’s Universities” which features essays concerning e.g., the hookup scene at Brown, Wesleyan, Yale, even JMU — and particularly this posting from 2013 seems relevant here, “Hookup Culture–Great Publicity, but Not That Popular,” at http://www.mindingthecampus.com/2013/08/hookup_culturegreat_publicity_/ Undoubtedly an essay or two here on the UVA reaction to Rolling Stone is just a matter of time.

      • I think, based somewhat on anecdotes but also on some of the surveys linked here and elsewhere, that “hookup culture” is more perception than reality. Even in high school, I think kids are prone to think everyone else is doing it, only to find they’re really not. In college, the hookup people are obvious and high-profile, so it’s easy to think their numbers are greater than they actually are.

        But there’s no question “hookup” behavior is a big part of the media — writ large, including beer ads and everything else.

        Also, this generation has much greater access to porn than previous generations, and that’s warping a lot of minds. I’m not puritanical about porn, but a lot of kids these days (and mostly men) are growing up thinking that’s how sex is supposed to look.

  12. LifeOnTheFallLine wrote:

    It won’t help. Since ~1984 the number of drunk driving deaths has been cut roughly in half. The age cohort of 21 – 25 is the most likely to drive impaired. And neuroscience has shown that human decision making abilities don’t reach full maturation until about 25. If anything, the drinking age needs to be higher not lower.

    Correlation does not equal causation.

    I deliberately chose alcohol policies as practiced in several Nordic nations, where alc0hol-related crashes used to take a terrible toll in injuries and fatalities, and have also declined since about 1990, even though it is legal (but expensive) for persons 18 and older to purchase most forms of alcoholic drinks.

    Making alcohol legal removes the mystery associated with same. Puritanical policies like those imposed by Reagan (alcohol age of 21) and Nixon (“War on Drugs”) do not work and are a waste of public resources.

    • I don’t see how binge drinking could get any worse. Perhaps we should experiment with making alcohol legal for those 18 and over — and watch very carefully what happens.

      • Yes, yes! The problem is clear enough to anyone who’s raised teenagers — the MADDs of the world mean well but by emphasizing prohibition they have achieved the same result as Prohibition: what was happening continues to happen, but less legally, less observed or supervised, less moderated by adult common sense.

        And now we have the legal pot revolution heading fast this way, especially in NoVa. Get ready, parents.

  13. James A. Bacon wrote:

    I don’t see how binge drinking could get any worse. Perhaps we should experiment with making alcohol legal for those 18 and over — and watch very carefully what happens.

    Suggested addendum to the above: strict (and well-publicized) law enforcement – especially DUI, but also laws that forbid drinking in public and being drunk in public (the last two ought to be handled as the minor (and ideally civil) infractions that they are, unless there are other crimes involved).

    All of the above should be funded by higher taxes on alcoholic beverages that would be made available to the 18-to-21 age cohort if the Reagan alcohol law (and the state laws that accompany same) were to be repealed.

    As I suggested above, to reduce the risk of sales to persons under 18, it might be a good idea to only allow the 18-to-20 cohort to consume alcohol in licensed establishments only – and also to make it clear that children under the age of 18 may consume some alcohol at a dinner table with one or both parents present. My Dad used to give my brother and I beer to taste when we were elementary-school aged boys. Doing so removed any of the mystery (and besides, it did not taste very good back then anyway).

    My goal is not to increase alcohol consumption, but to the remove the mystery and sexiness associated with same.

  14. The current law in Virginia specifically prohibits underage drinking and serving alcohol to people who are underage; breaking the law is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of a minimum of $500 or a minimum of 50 hours of community service and the suspension of the perpetrator’s driver’s license for not less than six months. If the “hosts” of the parties where alcohol is being served to minors were arrested and convicted, along with the drunken minors, I think the drunken parties might come to an end. If the adults in the fraternities want to party with alcohol, they should make sure there aren’t any minors at the party.

    I now live in Chicago, a bar near the Northwestern University campus lost its liquor license not long ago for serving underage students (it was well-known on campus that you could get served there if you were underage). I overheard an obviously underage woman in Evanston complaining that she had received her second $200 fine for underage drinking and didn’t know how she was going to get the money from her parents to pay the fine.

    This is an area where colleges and universities need to step away and let law enforcement do its job. How difficult would it be for local police to cruise Fraternity Row and visit each house? They could drop back by later to ensure that the drinking didn’t start immediately after their first visit. What colleges and universities could do, however, is impose suspension or expulsion on students convicted of breaking the law. This would alleviate any civil suits against the institutions, since the consequences would be based on a criminal conviction. Just by enforcing current law, I suspect that the number of incidents of rape or “regrettable sex” would drop drastically.

    A larger issue, however, is the mindset, taught from an early age, that women are less valuable than men and are there to “serve” men’s needs. This sort of thinking permeates our entire culture, not just the Millennials. It’s evident in everything from churches to rates of pay in corporations. While enforcing alcohol laws won’t change the mindset, it perhaps could get a few people to stop and think about how they’re treating their equals.

    • Charles, Based on your observations would you say that underage drinking is much less of a problem for Northwestern than it is for UVa?

      • I don’t have a clue; I’m not connected to NU in any way and no longer live in Evanston. I just read about the bar’s closing and happened to overhear the student complaining. In some quick research, I find that the fine is now $500–$1000 if a student is caught drinking off-campus. I didn’t delve into all the options NU has; their policy is at asg (dot) northwestern (dot) edu (virgule) legal-services-faq (virgule) #underage-drinking.

        I also found this column in NU’s newspaper by a student which proposes a change in the mindset around alcohol consumption on campus: dailynorthwestern (dot) com (virgule) 2013 (virgule) 03 (virgule) 05 (virgule) opinion (virgule) ryan-universities-need-to-rethink-their-policies-toward-underage-drinking

        NU severed ties with a Jewish organization for their violation of the school’s policies around alcohol. Apparently the rabbi was serving more than just wine at Shabbat meals: failedmessiah (dot) typepad (dot) com (virgule) failed_messiahcom (virgule) 2012 (virgule) 09 (virgule) chabad-forced-off-campus-due-to-underage-drinking-456 (dot) html

        The school was sued over their decision, but the Federal Appeals Court upheld their decision: crownheights (dot) info (virgule) chabad-news (virgule) 458206 (virgule) campus-shliach-loses-lawsuit-over-underage-drinking-accusations

        The website colleges (dot) niche (dot) com rates Northwestern’s Party Scene A– and UVa’s A+; VA Tech’s Party Scene rating is also A+. I ran up against a limit in reading pages at the site, so I don’t have details on any of them.

        (This site has an overactive spam filter; including legitimate links has been a real pain!)

        I think it’s fair to say that alcohol is usually a factor in sexual assault cases, and, more and more, “date rape drugs” have come into play. While being stricter about enforcement of laws will help, I still maintain it’s the underlying mindset that needs to change. Just my 2¢.

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