The Sexual Politics of Nine Males for Eleven Females

Girls' night out in Chapel Hill. Lucky guy. Photo credit: New York Times.

Girls’ night out in Chapel Hill. Lucky guy. Photo credit: New York Times.

by James A. Bacon

I had sworn to myself to stop writing about the University of Virginia sexual-assault debate, but I have come across an angle that, I believe, has received insufficient attention. In comments to a previous post, Reed Fawell III referred readers to an article by Peter Augustine Lawler on the Weekly Standard discussing the sexual dynamics of college campuses. I agree with some commenters that Lawler’s prose was often dense and overly academic, but I think he made one exceedingly value contribution to the debate: He drew attention to the increasingly lopsided sex ratios on college campuses. Writes Lawler:

The increasing scarcity of men on the residential (and especially residential liberal arts) campus is a headache for administrators, who know that if the disparity grows too large it will discourage applications from young women who want a normal social life. The “enrollment management” news at my college has recently been quite good, with the exception that the gender disparity crept beyond the 60-40 mark that is thought to be a comfort zone.

The proposition that the skewing of sex ratios might affect the sexual culture of a college is not the fevered imaging of conservative pundits only. The New York Times drew attention to the phenomenon as far back as 2010, citing the American Council on Education statistic that 57% of enrollees in American colleges are female. The skewed sex ratio, while a promising sign of women’s ability to succeed in American society, bequeaths an advantage in the mating game to those males who do make it to campus. As the Times wrote:

This puts guys in a position to play the field, and tends to mean that even the ones willing to make a commitment come with storied romantic histories. Rachel Sasser, a senior history major … said that before she and her boyfriend started dating, he had “hooked up with a least five of my friends in my sorority — that I know of.”

In China, where the abortion of female fetuses has skewed the population heavily to males, females have used their relative scarcity to bargain more favorable terms in the mating game. Chinese men (or their families) are willing to pay the families of females as much as three times their annual salary in bride price, far more than in the past. A similar phenomenon is occurring in reverse on American college campuses. Men are getting more of what they want (sex) on more advantageous terms (less emotional entanglement) than in the past.

The sex ratio at the University of Virginia is almost as skewed as the national average — 56% female and 44% male, according to US News & World-Report. I would conjecture that this skewed sex ratio feeds a hook-up culture in which women are more likely to provide sex without strings, leading to more of emotionally disconnected sexual encounters than they would prefer. The casual sex of the hook-up culture, when combined with binge drinking, contributes to a range of encounters that the anti-rape movement now describes as “an epidemic of rape.”

Insofar as the skewed sex ratio results from a meritocratic system for identifying students likely to excel in college, there is little we can do about it. As a principled conservative, I do not support affirmative action for males. (I do marvel, though, that liberals seem willing to suspend their usual logic when women, a favored victim group, seem to be the systemic beneficiaries of institutional standards). I highlight the skewed sex ratio because it illuminates what’s happening on campus and it needs to be part of the discussion about sexual assault.

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43 responses to “The Sexual Politics of Nine Males for Eleven Females

  1. perhaps you should have stopped when you were behind.

    😉

    and missed your bottom line….

    my frustration with you and Reed is that you keep looking back and looking for blame – or in this case – who knows – but you have no path forward other than “better morals”.

    unfortunately – we do have a real problem and better morals is not going to do any better here than in the military or countless other venues … check with Bob McDonnell on that point…

    going forward – we need uniform statistics that inform people so they can

    1 – know the facts
    2. – develop opinions
    3. – participate with speech and voting on what they want to do

    the idea that the govt has no business doing this is laughable.

    It would be like saying the govt has no business in doing nutrition labels or requiring purity standards and accurate labeling for drugs -or warning signs on cigarettes.

    This is no longer the world of Alexis de Tocqueville.

    We’ve moved on – as was inevitably – when you have a Democracy where people play a big role in our desired govt and laws.

    and I would assert that most people, most parents want to know how safe a school is so they can make informed decisions and also advise their kids about what the statistic mean with respect to their own behaviors.

    disclosures like this are no different than other calls for “transparency” in government so I’m confused when folks who say they want transparency (and expect the govt to comply) .. say they don’t want the govt involved in requiring other transparency that informs people and helps them make good decisions.

  2. Not sure the 60-40 ratio is that meaningful. 70-30 maybe.

    • Well sir, in this sort of zero-sum game each addition and subtraction has double the effect. If one was to physically stand a group of 100 college students in the middle of the quad at a 60 female – 40 male ratio, and maybe even start pairing off (if only mentally) this difference would quickly demonstrate to be abundantly lopsided, with 20 females standing by themselves. That means an extraordinary portion, 33% of the females, 20/60, are excluded from the match game. As alluded to by JB, to get back in the game the strategy of employing coitus is invoked much quicker. Even at 56 – 44 this still leaves a dozen young women on the outside.

      • re: ” That means an extraordinary portion, 33% of the females, 20/60, are excluded from the match game. As alluded to by JB, to get back in the game the strategy of employing coitus is invoked much quicker. Even at 56 – 44 this still leaves a dozen young women on the outside.”

        totally ludicrous in the context of sexual assault but now I see how some folks “reason”.

        next thing we’ll hear is that there are more closet homosexuals at the Military academies because of a shortage of “normal” …

        geeze.

  3. “You’re raving, Larry. Your comments has absolutely no bearing whatsoever upon my blog post. ”
    This is the first day in several weeks that I have checked in and the first thing I see is the same detraction to the the intelligent discussion one hopes for here, the same thing I briefly wrote about several weeks ago. No matter what the subject of many well-written articles, a limited number of posters always, but always, manage to tie it to polarized political philosophies that often are not even in play with the timely topic. Too bad, because the experiences and level of information and literacy of most contributors here is well above the average internet blog, but these rants drag the blog into the mud puddles.

    • re: ” manage to tie it to polarized political philosophies that often are not even in play. Too bad, because the experiences and level of information of most contributors here is well above the average internet blog, but these rants drag the blog into the mud puddles.”

      there is no polarization here. I asked what the purpose or point was and in what context?

      you want “intelligent” then I would assert that I’ve asked an intelligent question … because – perhaps I am ignorant (like we all are) – and I do not understand the point… and am asking for it.

      I did not understand the article he and Reed referenced – in the context of the primary discussion.

      It’s like someone saying in the middle of a discussion about sexual mores – “why are so many Chevy’s purple?”

      ” I highlight the skewed sex ratio because it illuminates what’s happening on campus and it needs to be part of the discussion about sexual assault.”

      REALLY???

      sorry.. I do not see the point and I do not recall a single person in all the folks talking about UVA and RS – bring this up.

      but I’ll admit ignorance and ask for enlightenment.

  4. Jim, I think you are absolutely right that this is a factor at UVa, and all throughout the Virginia system and largely nationally (except, perhaps, at Va Tech, where there is a majority of male students). There are some strong historical analogies, in culture changes in young women’s behavior in countries which have suffered disastrous loss of young men in wars – Germany and USSR after WWII, Paraguay after the Chaco War. Late-Victorian lascivious writing about post-Chaco Paraguay as a men’s paradise is very odd, for current readers.

    I’ve got a general view that a level playing field is a good thing, and this kind of ratio certainly leads to a non-level playing field for admitted students. In my parents’ generation they useta harrumph about ‘why buy a cow when the milk is free?’ At this point, I think there’s little chance of getting the cow back into the barn, but trying to make the culture more humane and to help students be more self-aware is all we can do.

  5. “Men are getting more of what they want (sex) on more advantageous terms (less emotional entanglement) than in the past.”

    Why do you think women don’t want sex without emotional entanglement?

    • Some women do want sex without emotional entanglement, just as some men want sex within a committed relationship. But as a generality, I would argue, women are more likely to seek sex with emotional commitment, and men are more willing to enjoy sex for the sake of sex. Why do I say that? Personal observation. Evolutionary theory. The observations of others.

      • Here’s what I thought I heard – and if I heard wrong or have screwed up in some way – then I apologize to any/all who felt insulted.

        what I thought I heard was that the ratio of men and women have some kind of cause/effect relationship on the numbers of victims of sexual misconduct.

        If I heard right and interpreted correctly – I think this is totally off the wall – and has a hint that women will, in effect, cause their own victimization because they are driven to it by unfavorable male/female ratios that pushes them to more risky behaviors.

        I’ve just never heard this in the current UVA discussion not the Clery Act Report.. not from the govt or UVA leadership..or students – and actually not at any college across the country and I’m quite sure the predominantly male and female colleges would be quite ashamed of their role in this (sic).

        and what boggles my mind further – is that this line of thinking seems to be coming from the folks who say morals are the problem and we don’t need or want the govt involved.

        where am I wrong? how have I gone wrong? seriously, let me have it…

        Oh .. and the free milk analogy… there’s another one further back “nice girls don’t do that – and you play with them but find a more proper girl for your wife and to have kids, make a home. and not that far back – it was actually one of the themes in the movie – “An Officer and a Gentleman”.

        http://youtu.be/xYn9AoHHR_8

        pretty schmaltzy , eh? 1982

      • I kind of agree although I think the difference is more about societal pressure. I also think that societal view is changing to be more even handed.

  6. Apparently, it’s time to take stock. November 20 to January 9, a period of approximately 7 weeks, and this blog has seen 17 postings entirely devoted to the UVa gang-rape scandal, 15 of them by our fearless leader, Jim.

    Now, mind you, I think the issues involved deserve that much attention and more! There’s the underlying sexual revolution and its current manifestation in colleges today, most especially in T.J.’s special University given its important place in the social and political culture of Virginia. There’s the generational divide that made us pre-“hook up culture” folks so embarrassingly ready to accept the events in the R.S. story as real. There’s the role of alcohol, specifically binge drinking on campus by under-aged students, which some of us think we remember and understand but may perceive through very rosy glasses. There’s the expectation of many that the University should not only educate but develop children socially, in loco parentis, including how to handle liquor and sex, disregarding their legal maturity. There’s the evolution of UVa into a university where the majority of undergraduates live off the Grounds in private quarters, even after counting all the fraternities and sororities in addition to the dorms as “University housing” – yet its rules, including the student-administered honor code, purport to govern morality among all students wherever they are by demanding “zero tolerance” for certain “ungentlemanly” behaviors – yet morality doesn’t seem to include decent treatment of the opposite sex. There’s the UVa administration stumbling and finger-pointing while declaring “zero tolerance” and suspending “greek” social life without any relevant findings, coming so soon after the miss-handled Board-Sullivan confrontation which left so many unresolved questions about the future of the University. There’s the ugly background of sexual violence affecting UVa student lives recently even to the extent of murder. There’s the ugly appearance, at least, of a feminist agenda at work in the federal Department of Education and in higher education generally, and at UVa specifically, and an equally confrontational backlash in some political circles, influencing if not steering all sorts of reactions to R.S. There’s the collapse of journalistic standards at R.S. that allowed the gang-rape story to get published in the first place. There’s the failure of the UVa administration even to investigate this alleged instance of extreme sexual violence when it was brought to the administration’s attention over 2 years earlier, much less, to turn the allegations of such a serious crime over to Charlottesville authorities to pursue according to law. There’s the open question whether any academic institution is competent to adjudicate a crime, let alone a felony, let alone without proper investigation, full disclosure and questioning, a trial before competent authority, a judgment by a jury of peers, and other due process. There’s the States-rights versus federal-bullying aspect to the due process story to whet our interest. There’s the impact of all this bad publicity and turmoil on UVa admissions, faculty retention and the Grounds “atmosphere” generally, and on political/funding support for the University from the General Assembly and from alumni. There’s the relevance, or not, of the “Virginia Way” to how all this ultimately unfolds. Dare I add, “et cetera”?

    So, you see I quite disagree with LarryG that we’ve exhausted this topic. Am I alone in feeling this way? I for one really enjoyed your post “Sex, Genes, Love and Rape,” December 16, 2014, and would love to return to those themes again in the context of higher education for the future. I think anyone who has raised children recently (or still faces that task)has to share the concerns you’ve touched on here, and their resolution is potentially just as devastating to Virginia families as, e.g., whether the Manassas Battlefield gets paved over so trucks can reach an expanded Dulles freight terminal.

    • ” So, you see I quite disagree with LarryG that we’ve exhausted this topic. Am I alone in feeling this way? ”

      Probably not and I did consider that in my thinking also but when we get to the point of talking about the role of gender ratios in causing sexual misconduct and the victimization of some – I start to throw up my hands.

      I think – compared to the rest of the world – we have become so jaded and so narcissistic on this that it’s embarrassing. I cannot imagine this being such a hot topic at Universities in other countries – but again – I do admit to be an ignorant person … on these things..

      but heckfire – if this thread needs to go on – let me get my scrawny butt out of the way although I do retain the right to snark.

  7. Larryg, I happen to agree with you when you point out “we need uniform statistics” and that the government already is (and ought to be) involved; of course (isn’t that the root of the debate over the Common Core standards?)!
    As far as the sex ratio on campus is concerned, let me simply repeat the point made to me by an neighbor’s 17 year old son recently, jubilant that he had been accepted early to attend Mary Washington (“of course I want to go there — all those girls!”). Ditto, a friend’s son headed to Vassar. They have a pretty good idea what “sex ratio” means for them.
    What leaves me scratching my head is, where is all this headed? We destroyed the old ways – chaparones, house mothers, parietal hours, unisex dorms – in the 1960s, but we seem to be offering our children no moral compass to fill the void, even as we launch them into college life with more freedom than we ever had. The debate over what to do means our schools do nothing. Our children, left to their own natures and devices, do what comes naturally – and generally seem to feel no guilt about it other than an occasional desire for deeper relationships. The parents are the ones with the hangups about sex and booze, apparently. Which begs the question, is “hook-up culture” such the norm these days that we should be preparing our kids for how to navigate it, not how to stay aloof from it? Are those who have bad experiences the aberrations to be pitied and counseled, not the pure of heart to be emulated?
    In that context, I think JB’s point about the unexplored consequence of the increasingly skewed sex ratio on campus is a good one.

    • re:
      ” Larryg, I happen to agree with you when you point out “we need uniform statistics” and that the government already is (and ought to be) involved; of course (isn’t that the root of the debate over the Common Core standards?)!”

      yes – and disheartening when we have a mobile country where people move and kids change schools .. and kids don’t start up where they left off.

      “As far as the sex ratio on campus is concerned, let me simply repeat the point made to me by an neighbor’s 17 year old son recently, jubilant that he had been accepted early to attend Mary Washington (“of course I want to go there — all those girls!”). Ditto, a friend’s son headed to Vassar. They have a pretty good idea what “sex ratio” means for them.”

      well sure.. and when Annapolis had Mary Washington all to themselves – they loved it also … but STILL – do you REALLY think that gender ratios are a cause of sexual misconduct and rape?

      “What leaves me scratching my head is, where is all this headed? We destroyed the old ways – chaparones, house mothers, parietal hours, unisex dorms – in the 1960s, but we seem to be offering our children no moral compass to fill the void, even as we launch them into college life with more freedom than we ever had. The debate over what to do means our schools do nothing. Our children, left to their own natures and devices, do what comes naturally – and generally seem to feel no guilt about it other than an occasional desire for deeper relationships.”

      I’m an old-fashioned guy in some respects and I can hear the guffaws but the basics should suffice.. and on this I agree with Jim. Tell your kids to treat others like they would like to be treated – no matter the gender.

      ” The parents are the ones with the hangups about sex and booze, apparently. Which begs the question, is “hook-up culture” such the norm these days that we should be preparing our kids for how to navigate it, not how to stay aloof from it? ”

      the “kids” think this kind of discussion among the older – including their parents is a joke ..

      Kids know much more than parents think they do.. but kids also do stupid things themselves.. and it’s no big deal for a parent to tell a kid – ” don’t be stupid” …The parent might have a different idea of what “stupid” means but the kid knows what “stupid” is … in their world.

      “In that context, I think JB’s point about the unexplored consequence of the increasingly skewed sex ratio on campus is a good one.”

      I’d just respectfully disagree until I see that it’s a wider issue being discussed by a lot of other folks…

      I’m just not buying it. At this point – the widening discussion is almost surely going to move into what kinds of clothing and mannerisms …lead to … bad outcomes.

      I can see it now… the guy says ” I was going crazy.. there were so few women that I had to do something” or.. ” I was so desperate for a guy because there were so few that I lost all good sense”.

      sorry -we’re navigating a flat earth here .. and falling off the edge..

      again – my apologies to anyone who feels I have personally insulted them..

  8. Several comments arise from this discussion. I’ll try to take each in turn.

    We need more commentary like Acbar’s and Dave Shultz’s posted above. The reasons are obvious. These comments are highly thoughtful and reasoned. They illuminate the subject. They give insights. They share knowledge. They thoughtfully probe with precision the subject at hand. They open wide the scope and opportunity for thoughtful dialogue.

    Just as importantly, they do not attack others participating in the discussion, using their preconceived stereotypes of others to demean, insult or attack their views, beliefs or background.

    Nor do they stereotype then attack the relevance of outside learning, values, wisdom or beliefs that might reasonably be considered by liberal educated people of various views to be relevant to the issues under discussion.

    They do not suffocate discussion or try to dominate it. Rather they invite others people and views into the discussion, giving all a welcome and spacious place to share, educate one another, illuminate a problem, have fun and breath, so to enlarge a learning space for all.

    Thus, for example, I agree with Acbar who says: “So, you see I quite disagree with LarryG that we’ve exhausted this topic. Am I alone in feeling this way?”

    No, Acbar, you are not alone. I concur with you and Jim.

    In fact many knowledgeable commentators, educators and administrators have strongly and convincingly argued that the imbalance of males to females in higher education pose vast and dramatic challenges to our institutions of higher learning, including sexual behavior among students at those institutions. Quite likely this shifting landscape is playing out in a very dramatic historic way right now at the University of Virginia.

    Note also the very helpful and strong way that acbar contributed to this discussion. How specific he was. How knowledgeable. How thoughtful, pointing up why we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of this general topic, including my own “rose tinted” views of UVA’s social culture, including boy/girl social relationships before late 1960s sexual revolution.

    I also agree with billshlots who says:

    “This is the first day in several weeks that I have checked in and the first thing I see is the same detraction to the intelligent discussion one hopes for here, the same thing I briefly wrote about several weeks ago. No matter what the subject of many well-written articles, a limited number of posters always, but always, manage to tie it to polarized political philosophies that often are not even in play with the timely topic. Too bad, because the experiences and level of information and literacy of most contributors here is well above the average internet blog, but these rants drag the blog into the mud puddles.”

    Perhaps we are at a crossroads. And have an important decision to make. Are we going to use our intelligence, experience, and learning to help Jim Bacon in his quest to create Virginia’s leading politically non-aligned portal for news, opinions and analysis about state, regional and local public policy?

    Are we going to help him help provide Virginia citizens with the ideas and news they need to build more prosperous, livable and sustainable communities, and thus help to reinvent Virginia for the 21st Century?

    Or are we destined to be like so many blogs that simply rant, shout and attack one other and others views, throwing no light on the issues, as we shut down an chance for a civil, open and intelligent exchange of views.

    Jim Bacon’s gives us a priceless opportunity. But all of here must live up to that opportunity, not suffocate and squander it.

    • I encountered “Reed Fawell III,” on Bacon’s Rebellion several weeks ago. I wasn’t sure if Fawell was a real person or a nom de plume, though he seemed to have some idea of who I was. This writer, Fawell, made reference to three or more institutions where I have held a position, and he seemed to be conveying negative attitudes about me. When you work at a number of institutions over 50 years, as I have, you make a few enemies, esp. if you do your job. I have tried to draw on a variety of experiences and not be too slanted in my comments, esp. about UVa, and I have written a signed piece or two, supporting President Sullivan. I have failed to raise the level of discussion, so I have dropped out. I also note that comments from female writers are absent in this blog, and white male attitudes seem to predominate. “What’s wrong with that?” Nothing, if you idolize Nathaniel Bacon. I lean toward Washington and Jefferson.

      • wesghent – I would encourage you to stay and offer your views and not be dissuaded by anyone else or me if that is the case.

        We’ve had two women lately and if you are of that gender – in my view – we desperately need that representation.. as – yes.. we seem to be overrun with male perspectives and I’m not sure that is really a truly open-minded discussion.

        but please – again – add your views.. and I say that even if I end up not agreeing..

        the premise behind BR – is to have the fire and fury of different views – but don’t attack individuals.. and some of us do need gentle reminding at times.

  9. Amen, Brother, Amen!

  10. Guys, I have led you astray. The Chaco War was the one in the 1930s against Bolivia. Paraguay won that one! Sort of.

    The War of the Triple Alliance was the one I should have named. One of the most disastrous defeats ever. A good thumbnail is here: http://www.worldcrunch.com/world-affairs/paraguay-039-s-first-woman-presidential-candidate-tries-to-crack-macho-culture/feminism-election-women-rights-lilian-soto/c1s11468/ and particularly interesting in our current discussion because it ties current cultural conditions in the country to those which were present after nine tenths of Paraguayan men died in that war.

    When I was at Berkeley, our student body was about three fifths men. Women were able to spurn guys who didn’t treat them politely and with consideration. A line of my wife’s, from that time: “Men are like street cars. Wait ten minutes, another one will come along.” It led to better behavior, in my view. At least, I tried very hard to please…

    • You earlier mentioned “culture changes in young women’s behavior in countries which have suffered disastrous loss of young men in wars – Germany and USSR after WWII” . In Germany specifically, that country was left to deal with the national trauma of huge numbers women (of all ages) who were brutally raped during the immediate aftermath of WWII (primarily by Soviet soldiers) as the Allies occupied the country. Many women were raped multiple times and gang rape was not uncommon. Although Western historians say the figure is upwards of 2 million, it is impossible to determine exact numbers. Subsequently approx.. 240,000 died as a direct result.

  11. I would agree that a skewed male/female ratio is definitely a contributing factor, but am not convinced that it is a determining one. After all, misconduct is found at plenty of schools where male students outnumber female and the list is very long: Harvard, MIT, Cornell, Stanford, Cal Tech, U. of Chicago, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Duke, Georgia Tech, Northwestern, Penn State, U. of Michigan, Notre Dame, USC, U. of Illinois, etc. not to mention a much longer list of state universities and other smaller schools. The list of schools where male/female ratios are essentially equal is even longer.

    Has anyone found a study where stats correlate male/female enrollment ratios with misconduct?

  12. “Has anyone found a study where stats correlate male/female enrollment ratios with misconduct?”

    That is a good question. I have not, although I have not been looking for such a study. Now I will keep an eye out.

    However the sex ratio imbalance issue permeates all the informed literature on the hook-up culture that I have read, saying it’s a primary driver in the culture, giving disproportionate power to the male in setting the sexual and social agenda in those places and among those groups where the hook-up culture holds undue sway.

    It can also be said that the male had undue power in the dating era too, “where the girl had to sit by the phone waiting for male to choose her for a date”. Obviously today that can be modified by also giving the girl the power of initiating the choice.

    It was interesting to note the UVA professor of sociology, writing in the National Review, lament on the Socially Powerful Male at UVA, the Frat. Boy. But should we not educate all our children to be “socially powerful?” Is that not a legitimate goal of higher education for boys and girls alike?

    Quite likely, what the UVA professor was really lamenting was that this relatively small group of UVA boys was exercising far too much ” sexual power” over far too many UVA girls. Here I would agree with him, but not try to destroy the boy’s power by taking away his fraternity. Rather shouldn’t we find ways to level the playing field, given that by nature some significant number of 1st and 2nd years girls will tend to be groupies and some significant number of boys will tend to be tribal? Is this not nature? We can’t change nature, but we can better manage it. And that concept extends to the entire question of the boy girl ratio at college. Imagine the change wrought by the relatively recent idea of opening up higher education to women?

    Imagine the change that will be wrought by closing down higher education to men. Change then would be everywhere around us.

    I am sensitive to the latter fear, given my believe that insofar as higher education (indeed all education is concerned), a significant number of boys and young men are “delicate flowers” in need of constant cultivation. I was unable to spell, read, or write, until receiving special help in the 6th grade. Like so many boys I suffered then and now from dyslexia. Many boys by nature have a range of natural impediments to learning, which can be overcome only if attended to. But now our culture seems bent on doing the reverse, damaging the boys chance to learn and be boys. That is happening right now at UVA

  13. OK, if the guys will tend to want to get snockered and have uncommitted sex, how does that work with, doing unto others as he wishes done unto him?

    If, under the topic “sexual misconduct”, the discussion blends rampant binge-drinking and a hook-up culture (no quotes here) = voluntary; with sexual assault = involuntary, then we will also get all mixed up with the analysis, selection of relevant data, diagnostics and forensics, and recommendations .

    I hold out hope that education, frank dialog, and sunshine will help reduce sexual assault, so we don’t need codification and all the silly examples that go along with it. Sexual relations are nuanced; sexual assault is not.

    As a woman and mom of a woman, I’d feel better if you [ahem] guys decried hook-up culture and binge-drinking in one thread, and left sexual assault to another. Draw a nice bright line around it.

    False accusations – very very bad. Morning-after regret accusations – very very bad. I will stand with you on the ramparts and oppose it.

    Now, maybe we can get together behind moving towards a culture (not law) of:

    1. Yes means yes, and no means no, so if the partner says no, stop.
    2. An incapacitated woman is incapable of consent.
    3. The only one to blame for an assault is the assaulter.
    4. You can play a role in bystander intervention.
    5. Teaching safety to women doesn’t mean they’re to blame if they get assaulted.
    6. Women can wear what they want, and have crazy college experiences equivalent to men (see #3).
    7. When your judgment is impaired, your judgment is impaired.
    8. False accusations are as bad as assault and should be treated equally.

    ….then people will stop seeing you as rape deniers.

    (I don’t want to talk any more about: false equivalencies with men being raped and getting incapacitated, and the utility of verbal consent.)

    • glad you’re sticking around!

      😉

      PLEASE continue to advocate your points..they’re needed to at the least help delineate the boundaries of the views and discussion.

    • It isn’t just guys that get snockered and want uncommitted sex.

      In fairness to the guys, to me, any meaningful discussion of college sexual misconduct HAS to include a discussion of rampant binge-drinking.

      Otherwise, to me, any discussion misses one of the key tools in reducing both assaults and misunderstandings.

      As a woman who also has many female relatives, I actually want to discuss binge-drinking as part of a discussion of sexual assault. I don’t personally think that hook-up culture absent binge-drinking is quite as key.

      I agree with most of your list of desirable cultural attributes, except one – an incapacitated PERSON is incapable of consent. This is not specific to women.

  14. kvdavis –

    Thanks for your above post. You really drill down into a key question. For example by asserting that “As a woman and mom of a woman, I’d feel better if you [ahem] guys decried hook-up culture and binge-drinking in one thread, and left sexual assault to another. Draw a nice bright line around it.”

    One problem I struggle with is whether or not we really can ” Draw a nice bright line around it?” And I say that wishing we could.

    Jim touched on your key question in his post mentioned by acbar “Sex, Genes, Love and Rape,” December 16, 2014.” I have a somewhat different view from his that makes it even more difficult for me to answer your excellent question as cleanly as I would like.

    My lack of time doesn’t allow me to get back to you on this now, but I’ll try to explain my dilemma as soon as time allows.

    • I tend to think binge-drinking is a key issue here that should be included.

      That level of drinking can cause people to make bad decisions – including making themselves vulnerable, committing crimes, and having serious, even fatal, accidents.

      Examples that any of us can think of offhand include George Hughley (convicted of committing an awful crime while drunk, had previously been arrested – I think he was tasered by a police officer in that incident, series of incidents reported in the paper associated with heavy drinking), Hannah Graham possibly being targeted because she was vulnerable while intoxicated, kids walking out in front of cars (for those with long memories, one of those deaths was the reason I heard given for ending Easters), various offspring of prominent Virginians arrested for being drunk in public, various offspring of the prominent being arrested for doing stupid things like assault and vandalism, etc.

      This isn’t specific to women. In real life, people who stagger around “puking drunk” a significant percentage of the time tend to be associated more with living under bridges rather than running the country.

      I am not saying “dry campus.” I am saying that moderate drinking is fine, but extreme drinking tends to be associated with bad things happening. Those things could include misunderstanding consent or the lack thereof, or forgetting having consented – but it is absolutely NOT limited to women and NOT limited to sex and it does include things up to and including fatal accidents.

      I’m not trying to end “the fun” for women. I think this applies to men every single bit as much. Further, I’m not so sure a lot of the people participating really are having that much fun. My suggestion is that for both men and women, drinking oneself into a coma in public is probably not benign fun that should be implicitly encouraged and tolerated.

      • I agree with you, Virginiagal2.

        The vast majority of those who get “hurt” by hooking-up require binge-drinking to enter into an play the game of hooking up, if only by reason of the fact that they are the most vulnerable, and know it, thus require binge drinking to remove that anxiety and fear which typically is far higher then a date scenario where a modicum of trust through experience is in place first. And here the great majority of the hurt is typically psychological, not physical.

        But again as you point out, the introduction of binge drinking, extreme intoxication induced by the desire to hook-up can also lead to reckless behaviors that result in self induced vulnerability that in turn may then result in exposure to criminal conduct by oneself or others. Such may thus have play a roll in death cases, including those you mentioned.

  15. re: ” I was unable to spell, read, or write, until receiving special help in the 6th grade.”

    May I ask who paid for the help? Was it private or govt?

  16. Regarding wesghent’s post above: My dialogue with Gerald L Cooper (aka wesghent) can be found at:

    http://www.baconsrebellion.com/2014/12/facing-the-problems-at-uva-a-wake-up-call.html

    http://www.baconsrebellion.com/2014/12/presumed-guilty.html#comments

    While quite familiar with three schools he mentioned, including positions of governance, I never encountered or heard of Gerald l. Cooper, so had no opportunity to form any opinion that he suggests.

    • Looking back at the Gerald L Cooper dialogues (see above), I was surprised at their relevance to today’s discussions, and also at the perspectives they throw on where matters now stand at UVA less than 30 days later.

      In particular, please note:

      1/ How little was deemed necessary to make major progress at getting binge drinking under control at UVA fraternities.

      2/ Given the relatively small adjustments deemed necessary to address the problem, why were these simple ajustment not made back in the 1990’s by Presidents Casteen and/or later by Sullivan? Where were these great educators back then who purport now to be so devoted the looking after the health and safety of UVA’s students and the culture of the University?

      3/ Note too the high blow rhetoric of President Sullivan 50 days ago, such as

      “I write you today in solidarity. I write you in great sorrow, great rage, but most importantly, with great determination. Meaningful change is necessary, and we can lead that change for all universities. We can demand that incidents like those described in Rolling Stone never happen and that if they do, the responsible are held accountable to the law. This will require institutional change, cultural change, and legislative change, and it will not be easy. We are making those changes.”

      She deploys rhetoric worthy of Churchill to kill a mouse. Adjust a few rules.

      But in fact her words are far worse, high blown demagoguery that smears part of her own community of students at UVA, nothing more than a shameful political maneuver for which she is yet to make even an apology.

      4/ Note too how much remains to be done, all of it far different from Sullivan’s earlier false agenda, namely:

      a. eliminating binge drinking by UVA students everywhere in and around UVA’s Grounds and Charlottesville generally,

      b. getting UVA’s rampant hook-up culture under control so that 1st and 2nd year women students do not have their health and safety threatened by that culture and so that those young women students can, without undue pressure, select a different lifestyle at UVA without being social exiles.

      c. restore a civil culture at UVA instead of the mob rule that has been so plainly evident at UVA over the past several months all as described in the commentary found at “facing the Problems at UVA a wake up call” and “presumed guilty” articles referenced above.

      d) Once a civil culture is restored at UVA, then go about restoring the opportunity for UVA students to receive a decent education, like learning about the values of rule by law, and rights of individuals to due process.

      Is the current leadership at UVA up to these tasks. We’ll soon find out.

      • Those new and simple rules also help to dilute somewhat the hookup culture during major parties at fraternities which is a small first step in the right direction.

  17. Just finished long visit with Big University College daughter activist. She says:

    1. Why are you looking for loopholes for rape?

    2. Don’t fall in to the trap of saying men are biologically driven to rape. They choose to rape, and they can choose not to rape.

    • This kind of makes my point.

      No one here has said anything that I personally think could remotely be considered looking for loopholes for rape.

      If someone has consented, that’s not rape. Consent can be given when drunk or high. Pointing that out is not looking for a loophole – it is observing a fact, and a fact that is a major weakness in many statistics on the subject. Calling something rape when there was consent is not closing loopholes for rape, it’s a false charge.

      Requiring affirmative consent is not closing a loophole for rape. It is an unworkable intrusion into the private lives of adults – these are not children, they are adults by law – and is not part of the definition of rape in any jurisdiction. Requiring that couples make major, unwanted adjustments to consensual sex is about as intrusive as a social change it gets.

      Ignoring the role of binge drinking does not close a loophole for rape. It willfully ignores something that puts students of both sex at risk for major harm – and binge drinking is associated with a significant percentage of really bad behavior.

      Finally, absolutely no one here has said, suggested, or implied that men are biologically driven to rape, so it’s kind of offensive to suggest they have.

  18. I was truly mystified about this topic about the proportion of male and female college students. I think now I understand, from this article on South Africa:

    “…churches systematically preach female subservience, while traditional tribal leaders often blame women for dislodging men from their rightful places in modern societies.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/opinion/sunday/the-backlash-against-african-women.html?ref=opinion&gwh=F8F9B2DFD342F900DA520D35ED6F9368&gwt=pay&assetType=opinion

    • I don’t think that has article has anything to do with this discussion.

      I am reasonably certain Jim’s point is that he believes that skewed sex ratios exacerbate hookup culture, and that he believes hookup culture is a major driver of sexual assault.

      Personally, I don’t exactly agree with him – I think that the driver of much unfortunate behavior under those circumstances is binge drinking rather than uncommitted sex. In fairness to Jim’s point, there is an element of inherent risk in becoming so vulnerable to someone you just met and know nothing about – which applies to men as well as women.

      Personally, I am not all that interested in who has sex with who, as long as it’s consensual and not with children.

      I do think that binge drinking has helped drive some very bad, even fatal, situations. I also believe that way too often, police and authorities turn a blind eye because they don’t want to hurt the future of a promising kid, or they’re afraid of lawsuits from a rich or well-connected one. And no, this is not talking about sexual assault in particular, but rather public drunkenness, vandalism, disturbing the peace, fighting, and so on.

      Think of it this way. If someone threw up in your rhododendrons, you would call the police, and they would probably do something. If a student throws up in the rhododendrons near their apartment, or pees in public, or throws a party you can hear six blocks away, we tend to talk about the wild experiences of youth, they get a talking to, and nothing happens. That’s why adults generally tend to be a bit wary of living near undergraduate students.

      Maybe we should have a little higher expectations. Maybe we need to enforce existing rules – about being drunk in public, about vandalism, about fighting and drunk and disorderly. Life isn’t going to give you a pass when you get out in the real world.

      I’m not saying don’t drink – people drink in the real world. I’m not saying don’t have parties – people have parties in the real world. I am saying, Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen are not good role models.

      I think Jim has a more traditional view of women and sex, but I don’t think he’s saying that women are dislodging men from their rightful place in modern society.

      • Well.. I’ll weigh in again and risk the ire of Reed and others.

        I think the idea that gender ratios have anything to do with any of this is loony because:

        1. there is a LONG history of gender ratio disparities
        2 – I’ve yet to see a single credible study that address – cause and effects
        3. – EVEN IF – it was actually demonstrated – what would we do about it?

        what I get out of this whole discussion is that the problem that supposedly exists according to the Clery Act and other reports and statistics – is caused by “binge drinking”, ” hookup culture” and now Gender ratios – AND it’s NONE of the governments business – it’s a unique UVA problem that UVA must solve.

        where have I got this wrong? seriously?

      • Virginiagal2 –

        Again I agree with your views, subject only to a shade of difference regarding the impact of Hook up culture, which I’ll explain when more time allows.

        For now, its important to add that I also agree with you observation that “Personally, I am not all that interested in who has sex with who, as long as it’s consensual and not with children.” So its not about morals, its about people’s right to choose what is right for their health and safety based on good information and without undue pressure from others.

      • Thank you , VirginiaGal2. You are correct, I have never suggested that “women are dislodging men from their rightful place in modern society.” My wife is a successful business executive. One of my sisters is a successful investment banker (and the other is a wonderful caretaker). My daughters are both professionals with graduate degrees. I have encouraged each of them every step along the way. I totally defend right of women to pursue the path they choose, whatever it may be.

        As for men, I do worry about them — especially the younger generation, who seem to be falling behind women in acquiring the skills needed to succeed in the Knowledge Economy. But I don’t believe that men have a “rightful place” in society. They have to earn their place.

      • You say “I am reasonably certain Jim’s point is that he believes that skewed sex ratios exacerbate hookup culture, and that he believes hookup culture is a major driver of sexual assault.”

        As to your first point, and not speaking for Jim, I believe that skewed sex ratios exacerbate the hook-up culture particularly if that culture is pervasive on and around campus. By this I mean that there is little alternative left for the highly social students to enjoy drinking and parties while doing it. Not only is there nothing wrong with drinking and partying, it should be available at college given that students need to learn how to be “socially powerful” and otherwise effective in such venues. Its important to their to their future success in many parts of our culture. Indeed all students need more social face to face interaction skills and less virtual experience.

        As to your second point, and not speaking for Jim, I believe that the hook up culture “is a major driver of sexual assault” only to the extent that its offers far too many opportunities for sex with women incapacitated (ie. passed out) by reason of having too much to drink. (I limited this to “women” victims on the assumption that women cannot sexually assault a passed out man. Perhaps however that what is beyond my old fashioned imagination is quite common given today’s sexual practices.)

        However, I believe (through reading not personal experience) that the hook-up culture is a major driver of binge drinking that otherwise would not occur, and that this is particularly so among women. That binge drinking is indeed essential to much of the hooking-up sex going on today (particularly as regards younger college students), and that the combination of such sex and booze inflicts substantial emotional damage and health issues (STD) on a significant number of college students, particularly young women.

        And that this “regret sex” too often inflicts on a significant number of these younger students health issues ranging from mild to severe anxiety, depression, ADD, self mutilation, and other emotional issues, including not only suicides but other kinds of destructive behavior, including their willingness to recklessly put themselves in highly vulnerable (dangerous) circumstances, and long term problems in establishing stable relationships in the future. Such as conduct that we have recently seen at UVA.

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