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Conservatives and the Concept of Consent: A Permanently Estranged Relationship

[ 249 ] April 28, 2014 |

Rod Dreher, ladies and gentlemen:

If her account is true, then yes, it was rape. But come on: what do you expect from a culture that brings together college-age men and women, and puts almost all of them in co-ed dorms? What do you expect from a culture that values casual hook-up sex … until suddenly, it doesn’t? Believe me, I’m

not excusing what this guy allegedly did. If that were my daughter, I would be raising hell with the school (and if that were my son, I would be raising hell with him). But it does seem clear to me that college kids want to live in an environment in which they are free to engage in consequences-free sex with no interference from Mommy and Daddy (= the college administration), except when something goes wrong, in which case they rage at Mommy and Daddy for not protecting them from themselves. And Mommy and Daddy, like nice liberals who desperately want to be liked, and to be progressive, dither and wring their hands and try to pretend that what’s happening isn’t happening, that the decadent way their sons and daughters live isn’t as bad as all that. (Come to think of it, Swarthmore alumnus Jonathan Franzen wrote a novel that’s sort of about this kind of thing.)

So, Dreher’s logic: either women cannot consent to sex without permission from “Mommy and Daddy” or their representatives, or they cannot expect any legal protection when they get sexually assaulted. There is no third option. Also, apparently people are sexually assaulted “by themselves.” I don’t even know what to say about this kind of thing anymore — it’s just an irredeemably twisted worldview. (On a side

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point, I wasn’t a big fan of Freedom, but Dreher’s interpretation of it is just bizarre; he seems to have confused Franzen’s book with Tom Wolfe’s interminable account of the 1979 Cardinals, I Am Ted Simmons.)


Comments (249)

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  1. jim, some guy in iowa says:

    I Am Ted Simmons – that’s probably the book Wolfe should have written. might have been readable

  2. actor212 says:

    Dreher does realize that many campuses have gender-separate dorms for people who are squeamish about such arrangements…and that rapes happen in those, too.


  3. wjts says:

    But come on: what do you expect from a culture that brings together college-age men and women, and puts almost all of them in co-ed dorms?

    Either I don’t understand sex and sociality or Rod Dreher doesn’t, but I expect college-age men and women to comport themselves like the adults that they are and not rape anyone even though they live in a building with people of a different gender.

    • Scott S. says:

      On the other hand, perhaps we should check on the welfare of Dreher’s wife and children. It appears he’s unable to control himself around anyone of the opposite sex.

    • Kurzleg says:

      It’s a wonder Dreher isn’t advocating that women dress according to the standards enforced by the Taliban. I mean, I assume he’s not, but then I didn’t get out of the boat.

    • Aimai says:

      This whole dorm room thing reminds me of how much trouble people seem to have grasping that social distance doesn’t equal real distance. These are the same people who have trboule with the idea that you can get sick from some waiter or cook handling your food when they are sick. Realistically sharing a building, or a floor, with male students is no different from being in a college with male support staff or that is in a, you know, city that has men in it.

      Its like Dreher et al (and a few people posting here in the previous thread on rape in college) think there’s some place where women can go to college where there are literally no men at all–no professors, no other students, no support staff, no coaches, no groundskeepers, no librarians. Is there some bubble world out there where no men are allowed? Because if there isn’t just how are women supposed to get an education? Hell, how are they supposed to live?

      Dreher won’t admit that the only safe place for women in his imagination is in purdah, because that doesn’t comport with his self image as a “not muslim” but unless he thinks that all those men in the world around our daughters don’t interact with them unless they are labled “student” there’s no safe place for our daughters.

      Again, as I pointed out on the other thread: propinquity doesn’t lead to rape. It just doesn’t.

      • DrDick says:

        Right. All of my neighbors in my apartment building are women, but I have never thought that gave me license to have sex with them

      • Nobdy says:

        To be fair, things like absolute authority and a fearful repressive attitude towards sex DO lead to rape. We’ve seen it time and time again, like in the Catholic church, if you tell people sex is bad and they are wrong for having it and if they were raped they are very dirty (so they shouldn’t report it) AND you give others extreme authority over others, sex abuse and rape are a natural and predictable results.

        So implementing Dreher’s ideal regime WOULD impact the rate of rape in our society. He’s right about that.

      • JustRuss says:

        It’s always the librarians.

      • Anonymous says:

        In reality, though, Dreher and men like him just want women out of their club. Where “club” is the world, society, all echelons of power and of poverty, higher and lower education, organized religion, and everything in between. This is What Women Get when they Choose to Pretend They’re Human, etc.

    • DrDick says:

      I do not think I have ever been unclear on the need for consent and I grew up in Oklahoma in the 50s and 60s for Cthulhu’s sake. I just do not understand these assholes.

    • efgoldman says:

      I expect college-age men and women to comport themselves like the adults that they are and not rape anyone even though they live in a building with people of a different gender.

      So, when I was ~30, and single, and lived in an apartment building, I could have been excused for raping the cute nurse who lived upstairs? Because I wasn’t in college anymore? Or is it the other way around? I’m so confused! It’s a good thing I never tried (or wanted to) rape anybody.

  4. Aimai says:

    Dreher is a truly vile person but this pretty much takes the cake. Forgive me if this doesn’t make the kind of sense it should but I’m very upset by all this rape-at-college stuff. Not that I think things are any worse than they were when I was in college but that they aren’t any better when, on so many points, things have gotten better for college age women.

    If I took seriously his years of whining, cringing, bootlicking, christian apologetics I’d point out that he ought to be arguing that the girls “did it to themselves” when they agreed to be born into a fallen world where you can expect nothing more than rape and slaughter at the hands of your fellow human beings. That seems to be what he believes on every other subject. The world is full of evils, after all, and no christian can prevent them from happening. Other people are tempted and other people fall to that temptation and rob, rape, steal and even vote Republican. How is that the fault of the victim?

    • KatWillow says:

      If you live in a co-ed dorm: You’re Asking For It! … if you go to a party and drink alcohol: You’re Asking For It! … if you live in an apartment bldg with women & men: You’re Asking For It! … if you walk down a street where there are men, or park your care where men park their cars: You’re Asking For It! … if you work for a man, or in a business with men employees: You’re Asking For It!

    • chris says:

      Forgive me if this doesn’t make the kind of sense it should but I’m very upset by all this rape-at-college stuff. Not that I think things are any worse than they were when I was in college but that they aren’t any better when, on so many points, things have gotten better for college age women.

      I’m pretty upset by rape no matter where it happens, but is there really good evidence that it’s any *worse* on campuses than anywhere else? Dreher certainly doesn’t bother to provide any before embarking on a standard law and order rant (with a heaping side order of slut-shaming).

      Shorter Dreher: the only thing that stops a bad guy with a penis is a good guy with a penis gun. And if you want to stop crime, you obviously can’t trust *liberals* to get the job done. He might as well just have started the column with “You can’t handle the truth!”, except then he’d probably have to pay royalties.

      • Aimai says:

        No, there is no evidence that its worse in colleges than in the world at large–but the proximate cause of the Dreher essay is that the aftereffects of the poor handling of college rapes are being published right now.

      • JL says:

        Well, it’s disproportionately common among young adults – almost four out of five female rape victims are first raped before age 25, and a plurality are first raped between the ages of 18 and 24 (see the CDC for more on this) – so environments that have a lot of young adults (which includes college campuses, the military, some activist communities, etc) tend to have more people getting raped or otherwise sexually assaulted.

    • low-tech cyclist says:

      Forgive me if this doesn’t make the kind of sense it should but I’m very upset by all this rape-at-college stuff. Not that I think things are any worse than they were when I was in college but that they aren’t any better when, on so many points, things have gotten better for college age women.

      That’s what leaves me gobsmacked as well. In so many respects, the world is a much, much better place for women in 2014 than in 1974, when I was halfway through college. But the way the Swarthmore administrators were basically making light of it and making it clear that the women’s complaints were unwelcome, seems straight out of that bygone era.

      It was depressing but not surprising to hear the stories over at Slacktivist of how this was happening at Bob Jones U. and other fundie colleges, where they’ve never quite gotten past 1954 (let alone 1974), but freakin’ Swarthmore?!

      I kind of expect the Swarthmores of the world to have at least made it into the current millennium with respect to taking rape seriously, and it’s pretty depressing to see that the only difference between them and Bob Jones is the absence of ‘purity’ rhetoric being thrown at the victims.

      • renska says:

        College administrations are seriously unthrilled about rapes being reported because that’s not something donors and (parents of) prospective students want to hear about. I’m not sure that’s changed much in the last 25 years.

        Certainly, there was EDUCATION about rape back then and it wasn’t the “it’s the female’s fault” variety. But rape certainly happened. Some examples:

        In the early 80s (before I attended), a younger sister of a current student was raped at a frat and locked in a closet. While I attended, a frat was still continuing a tradition of decorating a Christmas tree with spoons, to commemorate a drunken girl being penetrated with various objects, including spoons (not sure when the initial incident happened). And when I was an RA, female students in my dorm were scared shitless by phone calls from a guy who, over the course of 5+ years, managed to get his hands on a Freshman Facebook and celebrate spring by making threatening, sexually suggestive phone calls. Note that this was a REPEATED pattern of behavior and I, as an RA, was never told about it. And my freshman roomate was date-raped in her junior year. I was gobsmacked to learn this because the perpetrator was in a con law class of mine senior year and had been remarkably cool during a discussion of rape emerged (as a result of case law we were discussing). Professor was cool, too, as he invited a few women from his other classes to join the discussion because he didn’t want me to be the only female in the classroom when the topic came up.

        All this to say — there are reasons OTHER than “the dirty slut deserved it” that allow a rape culture to be perpetuated. And $$$$$ is a big fat reason in the college environment.

  5. rea says:

    what do you expect from a culture that brings together college-age men and women, and puts almost all of them in co-ed dorms?

    In my distant youth, I lived in the first co-ed dorm at OU. They did studies on us. One of the things they found was that there was less casual sex among the residents of the dorm than among the control group (two adjacent dorms, one for each sex).

    • Aimai says:

      I am so not surprised by that. Elsewhere its been called the Kibbutz effect–you very quickly turn people you see every day into quasi family, and then all kinds of intimacy and indifference sets in.

    • wjts says:

      I was in a coed dorm in college, complete with coed bathrooms (the idea of which seems to terrifty a certain set of conservatives even farther beyond the capacity for rational thought*) and that jibes with my experience – not much in the way of casual sex, but more than a few fairly serious relationships between dormmates.

      *I haven’t thought about this for years, but at the beginning of each year there was a dorm-wide vote on whether to have single-sex or coed bathrooms. For the first week or two of my first year (until I switched rooms) I lived down the hall from a College Republican-type who was LIVID that some of the women had voted in favor of single-sex bathrooms, meaning that the one closest to him was women-only (and the only single-sex bathroom in the entire dorm). For a while, he insisted on using the women’s bathroom until one of the RAs told him to stop it. In an act of protest that presumably made sense to him, but not to anyone else in the dorm, he refused to use the other, closer, coed bathroom on the first floor and would instead go up to the second floor to shower. I ran into him by the sinks one morning after I had moved up to the second floor, and he was ecstatic – “You and I are going to beat this,” he said. “We’ll show them that they can’t keep us out of the bathroom that’s closest to us!” I gently informed him that I had switched rooms, and his face fell. He did not say, “Very well – alone!”, but I’m sure he thought it.

      • ProfDamatu says:

        Our floor was co-ed, but the bathrooms were single-sex…however, the dorm having been built as an athletic dorm before Title IX, all the bathrooms had both urinals and stalls. Occasioned an *epic* freak-out on the part of one of the moms on move in-day!

      • Appleblossom says:

        That sounds like a conservative Republican I know. Hmmm…

      • Joe Bob says:

        That sounds exactly like where I went to college, including the part about voting on bathrooms. In my case, the vote was always heavily in favor of shared bathrooms.

        The one concession to the few people with more conservative sensibilities was that co-ed showering was prohibited; a prohibition that was widely disregarded.

        • Lee Rudolph says:

          I was in the last class at my college before it became coed, and now I just cannot imagine what college would have been like for me had coeducation been established there before I arrived. It’s not that I don’t have a huge body of available relevant evidence, including my (partial) observation of the college lives of two daughters and two grand-daughters as well as observation of undergraduates at the coeducational institution where I went to graduate school and at everywhere I’ve worked. It’s just that my imagination fails when I try to feel myself into a sense of what life would have been like for me those four years in whatever such an entirely male place would have been like if it weren’t that. (My first and fourth years, there wasn’t even a toilet or shower on the same floor as my bedroom, let alone one that might have had women in it. That seems like a triviality. But.)

          Thank goodness, though, that that world’s disappeared.

  6. DAS says:

    I lived in a co-ed dorm not too long ago, and there was an acute lack of casual sex and hooking up (it was quite disappointing, IMHO). In fact, sex between dorm-mates was somewhat looked down upon. There was even a name for it: “dormcest”.

    Why does one get the impression that Dreher and people like him have learned all they know about college life from pornos whose plots (such as they are) ostensibly take place on college campuses and from “Girls Gone Wild” videos? And why are such ostensibly “moral” men watching said programming?

    • Karen says:

      The whole column is appalling, but I have to admit that when he started talking about all the sex in coed dorms, my first thought was “you never lived in one, did you?” Sex is great and all, but someone who’ll unlock the outside door at 4:30 a.m. is irreplaceable.

  7. KmCO says:

    It goes further than consent–conservatives generally have a difficult time with the concept of free will and human agency for all but the most powerful (i.e god’s “chosen people”). Needless to say, people with two X-chromosomes need not apply.

    • Barry says:

      That was what I was about to say – these people repeatedly have trouble with the very idea of ‘consent’.

    • PSP says:

      To many conservatives is apparently quite a mystery how those without the fear of god refrain from spending their days murdering and raping. I tend to get nervous in the presence of people positing this idea.

      • NBarnes says:

        Ditto. Those sorts of people are one solid aural hallucination away from being a serial killer.

      • N__B says:

        i’d omit “apparently.” My introduction to online forums were the now-defucnt NYT forums in 2001, and several politically-conservative religious fundamentalists were forever going on about how they would rape and murder if they didn’t have god to tell them what was right and what was wrong.

        Goddamned creeps.

      • renska says:

        I had an interesting conversation with such a person, on the internet many years ago. He had found religion after living what sounded like a very unpleasant life (as in his life was unpleasant, and he made others’ lives unpleasant as well).

        He was seriously surprised by the idea that people didn’t need god/religion to scare them into being good. It was a revelatory idea, and one he wasn’t quite sure he believed. I assured him that I *didn’t* Believe and yet managed not to rob, thieve, embezzle, lie, cheat, steal, murder, rape, etc with great consistency (as in, honestly, the thought never crosses my mind unless maybe you left some chocolate out in a visible place. Or maybe snack food that’s been colored artificial orange. And the package was open. Erm, but likely not even then. Yeah… ;-)

  8. David Hunt says:

    If I’m interpreting Dreher correctly, he’s dog-whistling that women have no right to ANY agency regarding their sexual choices. Either some in loco parentis controls the women or they’re fair game for any man who wants them. The young men deserve a stern talking to from their parents for being too indulgent with this supply of “available” women, but it’s not like they did anything illegal. Is that about it?

    • MAJeff says:

      If I’m interpreting Dreher correctly, he’s dog-whistling that women have no right to ANY agency regarding their sexual choices. Either some in loco parentis controls the women or they’re fair game for any man who wants them.

      The only person who can give consent for a woman is her father or husband. Even when acting in loco parentis academic administrators could not be trusted because…liberals.

      In conservaworld, a woman’s sexuality is always owned by the man who possesses her.

      • Aimai says:

        And clearly if the liberal parents give consent to their daughter living in a co-ed dorm they are complicit in her rape or “lying to her” as our charming visitor said in the other thread.

        • MAJeff says:

          Oh, it looks like I missed something that I’m now happy to have missed.

          • Aimai says:

            It was…creepy.

          • Charlieford says:

            Here’s what I said Jeff:

            “If our society is failing to get the simple notion across to our young women that climbing into bed with a guy puts them in some jeopardy, and that, as much as it would be wonderful if words could save them at that point, in fact, they won’t–then yes, as a society, we’re lying to our young women.”

            Judge for yourself if “clearly if the liberal parents give consent to their daughter living in a co-ed dorm they are complicit in her rape or “lying to her” . . .” is an accurate summary.

            • jim, some guy in iowa says:

              our society is sure as hell failing at getting young guys to understand “no means no”, too, isn’t it

              • Charlieford says:

                Asked and answered, in the other thread.

                • Aimai says:

                  See, creepy.

                • Charlieford says:

                  Begs the question.

                • Charlieford says:

                  Also, borderline ad hominem. Never a good sign.

                • wjts says:

                  Shut up, Creepy.

                • Charlieford says:

                  Well now, there’s a finely formed argument.

                  Btw, would you mind awfully much telling us where you received your degree?

                  Some of us are about to spend a lot of money on our kids’ educations, and it might be useful to have a head’s up, if you know what I mean.

                • wjts says:

                  My comment wasn’t an argument, Creepy, it was an impolite request. Now shut up.

                • Charlieford says:

                  “sar·casm noun \ˈsär-ˌka-zəm\: the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say especially in order to insult someone, to show irritation, or to be funny.”

                  No charge for the continuing education.

                • Tristan says:

                  Robert’s Rules under one arm, stack of violent porn manga under the other

                • JMP says:

                  Gee, I haven’t seen what Creepy has said in the other thread, but he certainly seems fond of asinine flip responses that he probably thinks are oh-so-clever. He’s another Libertarian idiot, isn’t he?

                • wjts says:

                  Creepy thinks that unless women stay out of their own bedrooms “bad neighborhoods”, they’re partially to blame for getting raped.

                • Charlieford says:

                  Some folks seem to think it’s a smart idea to climb back in bed with a guy who’s just initiated unasked-for sex with them, after the two have mutually agreed not to have sex, and instead, “just be friends.”

                  And, despite hearing about what happened after that Einstein-level plan failed spectacularly, they’re still recommending it as an Oliver North-worthy neat idea for all the other young women out there who might be wondering, “Gee, is this really a good idea?”

                  What’s more, I’m “creepy” just for questioning the bona fides of these vaunted pearls of wisdom.

                  Temptations come in many forms. Hurling some gentle ad hominems is one.

                  So far, resisting.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Some folks seem to think it’s a smart idea to climb back in bed with a guy who’s just initiated unasked-for sex with them, after the two have mutually agreed not to have sex, and instead, “just be friends.”

                  Perhaps unsurprisingly, you don’t have an actual link to actual people saying this, which is, perhaps, why “some folks” find you full of shit, and creepy.

                • Charlieford says:

                  Just see the previous comments, Malaclypse.

                • delurking says:

                  Shorter Charlieford: Bitch had it coming.

                • Charlieford says:

                  Better delurking: “Anyone know a cheap reading-comprehension class I can take . . . preferably on-line?”

                • DrDick says:

                  Unresponsive in this thread, but still creepy.

                • Charlieford says:

                  . . .

            • DrDick says:

              How about the parents of sons, who have failed to teach them that consent is mandatory and that no means no? Are they complicit in the rapes? My son certainly knew the difference.

              • Charlieford says:

                You are clearly a gem of a parent.

                As are all the other parents, I’m sure.

                All their kids, unfortunately, rebelled against their gem parents.

                As I’m sure you’ll agree, rebellion is bad.


                I mean, that’s why we’re not still in Vietnam.

                Wouldn’t it be nice?

                (Beach Boys reference, there, kids.)

            • Pseudonym says:

              Somehow I’ve managed not to rape or jeopardize anyone I’ve shared a bed with.

              • Don’t bother Charlieford with the facts, he’s already made up his mind.

              • bluefoot says:

                Yeah, I was in this exact scenario in college twice. And it’s not like it was uncommon when I was in school (in the 80’s!). Dorm/house party, people not from the dorm/house not sober so we wouldn’t let them go home. Especially in winter in upstate NY. So they crash wherever there’s room. Guy friend is crashing with me. He asks do I want to fool around, I say no, he says okay, we both roll over and fall asleep. We continued to be good friends. ‘Cause, you know, good people respect each others’ boundaries.

            • Origami Isopod says:

              Oh, look, it’s the rape apologist from the other thread coming back to harrumph about how back in his day (before the women’s movement) people blamed the dumb broads for gettin’ themselves raped, but now that the dumb broads have gotten some political power they think they can actually get men to control themselves… like adults with consciences.

              The world’s moved on from the days of Mad Men, Chuckles. If you ever feel like trying to keep up with it, I’d suggest reading the back catalog here, but my sense is that the link is wasted on you. Oh, well, there are always the lurkers.

              • jim, some guy in iowa says:

                not sure ‘apologist’ is the right word…

              • Charlieford says:

                Origami Isopod says: “but now that the dumb broads have gotten some political power they think they can actually get men to control themselves… like adults with consciences.”

                That would be wonderful!

                Of course, perhaps it wouldn’t be irresponsible to ask, How’s that working out?

                1 in 4 college women will be the victim of sexual assault during her academic career.

                Every 21 hours there is a rape on an American college campus.

                College women are most vulnerable to rape during the first few weeks of their freshman and sophomore years.

                1 in 12 college-age men admit having fulfilled the prevailing definition of rape or attempted rape, yet virtually none of these men identify themselves as rapists.

                College rape victims receive external physical injuries in over 47% of all rapes.


    • Matt says:

      Either some in loco parentis controls the women or they’re fair game for any man who wants them.

      I believe that’s usually referred to by the shorthand “traditional values”. See also the über-creepy father-daughter Purity Balls that preach exactly that line…

  9. Alden says:

    Dreher seems like a nut. I wandered by there a couple months ago and he was talking about dowsing. Another post nearby he was asking readers to share their stories of encounters with ghosts.

    On a blog hosted by American Conservative. I guess a click is a click as far as his employers are concerned.

    • Ghost Dowsing Rods (Inc) says:

      What’s so kooky about that?

    • JTR says:

      I’m shocked that a guy who writes for a magazine founded by Pat Buchanan and Taki is batshit insane.

      • CaptBackslap, YOLO Edition says:

        Dreher aside, TAC is the sanest conservative mouthpiece around (not that the competition is particularly strong), because they’re actually conservatives, as opposed to the opportunistic grifters and wild-eyed radicals who comprise the Republican party these days.

        • JTR says:

          There are some people I would call firmly sane there. Unfortunately part of their legacy/status as a paleocon magazine means they also publish some of the worst scum the earth has to offer.

          • Pseudonym says:

            Isn’t that the abode of Confederate sympathizer but otherwise surprisingly reasonable conservative Daniel Larison?

            • Aimai says:

              I’ve always thought this was like saying “Isn’t that the abode of noted mass murderer but otherwise surprisingly reasonable guy…”

            • les says:

              “Surprisingly reasonable” for a guy who thinks Czarist Russia is the only really valid template for society, and that philosophy reached it’s high point at some Catholic conclave in the 1400’s.

    • delurking says:

      He also believes the statues in his local church cry tears of real blood at one of the Xtian Saints’ Days. (I forget which.) He claims to have a handkerchief with some of the blood on it.

      It’s a MIRACLE, and if you don’t believe it’s because you’re a liberal with no sense of the real wonders in this world.

  10. LeftWingFox says:

    Another excellent and timely post on this:

    Why Does Purity Culture Leave out Consent?

    Be sure to click through to the original two posts by Samantha Field, too.

    • STH says:

      Yes, thanks for posting that. Very relevant–in purity culture, there’s no such thing as consent, since there isn’t any choice about sex. There’s no sex before marriage and married women are essentially not allowed to say no.

  11. Walt says:

    It’s really weird that conservatives don’t understand the concept of consent, isn’t it? It’s not that subtle a concept. A lot of the time, I just assume they’re bullshitting for some ideological reason, but here they seem to literally not understand it. If they understood it, but they were lying about it, they would at least be able to produce arguments that were intelligible.

    • Origami Isopod says:

      Not weird at all, when you consider what KmCo says upthread. Consent is for full human beings. Lesser beings don’t get to consent.

    • Aimai says:

      Conservatives do seem to have some kind of blind spot for the concept of consent–like they don’t expect it to come up in conversation, or they can’t figure out what its doing in the discussion at all. But at a deeper level I think its because they are very uncomfortable, if Fred Clark’s work at Slactivist is any reflection of this, with agency itself. Agency is what permits an adult to choose what to do among many possibilities.

      Rod Dreher believes in Free Will, for example, as a matter of dogma. But free will exists in this weird space between “shit god tells you to do” and “things you want to do that condemn you to hell because of your fallen nature.” Really he believes that most of the things people freely will are bad for them and to be avoided. He believes that there are natural consequences for people freely choosing something that (he thinks) god would not like them to do. In fact he has to believe that because if he didn’t then he’d have no real world consequences to show wayward people and I’m pretty sure that “you ‘ll go to hell for that” isn’t working as well as it used to.

      So all the stuff that people would like to consent to, like sex–that all is especially evil and problematic for Dreher because it both is bad for the individual consenting and bad for the society which sees them consenting/choosing and doesn’t necessarily see them punished for it.

      • Gregor Sansa says:

        FREEDOM’s just another word for nothing left to choose?

      • STH says:

        I think there’s sort of a fundamental incompatibility between conservative Christianity and consent. Consent implies thinking about whether something feels right to you, is something you would like to do, etc. But that isn’t something that fundies are supposed to be doing–there is the ONE TRUE PATH that you’re supposed to be sticking to and anything else is wrong. What you want, what your goals are, what works for you really doesn’t matter at all. This is especially true for women, who have few or no choices (and those choices can always be overruled by their fathers or husbands). Men have some autonomy about careers and things like that, but it’s pretty minimal. So, yes, there’s very little free will in conservative Christianity.

        • chris says:

          Some people’s religions have all the warning signs of an abusive relationship. Just picture God telling them “I’m only doing this to you because you deserve it” — and them agreeing.

    • JMP says:

      Part is that they have a “morality” system focused on just following the rules from an old book. So murder isn’t wrong because you’re ending someone’s life, it’s only wrong because god said “thou shall not kill”. When it comes to sex, it’s OK if it follows the rules, which mean man-woman, vaginal intercourse only, and they must be married. Other forms of sex are all wrong because they deviate from the rules.

      Therefore, in fundamentalist land, consensual sex between two men or two women, and sex between an unmarried man and woman, are both wrong in the same way as rape is, and rape is morally equivalent; rape isn’t wrong because it violates the victim, but just because it’s against the sexual rules. And, similarly, they don’t recognize marital rape – these creeps actually think a man raping his wife isn’t wrong at all.

      It’s really creepy, and comes from their complete lack of understanding of basic morality and decency in favor of a system that’s just about following the rules.

    • renska says:

      Conservatives also love to frame their arguments about sex around teens and “young” women. As if there aren’t older unmarried women who, y’know, a) are not sexless and b) like sex. Or are married and like sex but don’t want kids. Or are married, and like sex but seriously, not tonight, I really DO have a headache…

      There seems to be an assumption that females will not only marry, but marry YOUNG. Which makes “waiting till marriage for sex” a not completely insane idea. But…

      Conservatives frame the waiting around “purity” whereas I’d prefer it to be a) making sure you actually WANT to have sex with this particular individual (let alone spend the rest of your life with them) and b) having the emotional maturity to recognize that you truly do (or really don’t)

      • Aimai says:

        I’m not so sure that is true for serious Christian conservatives–they spend an inordinate amount of time arguing that adult married women need to be permanently receptive to their husbands or their husbands’ straying outside of marriage will be considered their fault. There’s also the whole anti-porn thing in which the marketing of the idea of male “porn addiction” is really a covert way of controlling both men and women who are stuck in ill fitting marriages that prize monogamy over personal satisfaction. And the whole “total woman” thing which has its offshoots in the evangelical movement.

        • CJColucci says:

          Some years ago I got involved in a comment thread on Dreher bemoaning the view that married women have a right to decline sex with their husbands because they just don’t feel like it tonight. And he wasn’t arguing the commonsense position that sometimes you grin and bear it when you’re not really into it — I have occasionally sucked it up when my wife was horny and I really would have preferred an extra three minutes of sleep, and I’m sure there have been times when she did the same for me — beause that’s part of the give-and-take of marriage or any other committed relationship. He was genuinely opposed to the idea that the wife had a right to say “not tonight” that the husband had any obligation to respect.

        • renska says:

          Oh, sorry – I agree about the “permanently receptive” bit. But I got sidetracked somehow. I think that they are just as unwilling to accept that there are reasons for women to say “no” inside a marriage and that there are reasons to say “yes” OUTSIDE of a marriage.

  12. C.S. says:

    Potentially the saddest thing about Dreher’s post is that several of his commenters are accusing him of being too lefty-liberal.

    • witless chum says:

      I chose to believe those are people fufilling Poe’s Law.

    • elm says:

      The first two sentences, where he admits that if what she says is true, then it was rape, must have pissed them off. I was surprised myself that Rod even acknowledged that much.

      • Aimai says:

        His argument boils down to this: it was rape, but she was asking for it. Rod’s main concern is “who can I judge” and how to make the victim feel even worse about it than she does, not how to tease out how to prevent young men from hurting girls they have been in a sexual relationship with.

        Rape occupies this weird space for some people that is totally different from other crimes of coercion or seduction. If an old lady gets all her money taken by a confidence man we don’t say he wasn’t guilty because “she should have known better” or “what did she think by trusting her own son in law not to steal her money?” Relationships between other kinds of intimates are held to a HIGHER standard, not lower. But relationships between men and women that have been intimate in the past, or where the guy entertains a fantasy of intimacy in the present? Those are held to a lower standard.

  13. MPAVictoria says:

    What the fuck?

    I will never, ever understand conservative views on sex.

  14. Shakezula says:

    Yes, single sex housing and strict oversight is why there is no sexual assault in the military.

    Says no one who knows jackshit about this issue.

  15. Dr Ronnie James, DO says:

    If Eve wanted her daughters to have agency, she shouldn’t have eaten that apple.

    • Aimai says:

      Oh, you said it faster than me.

    • Gregor Sansa says:

      In other words, she should have done what she was told? Without any explanation? Agency?

    • cpinva says:

      I must vigorously disagree.

      “If Eve wanted her daughters to have agency, she shouldn’t have eaten that apple.”

      though tempted by the serpent, it was Eve who ultimately made the conscious decision to take a bite out of that luscious, juicy, globe of deliciousness, thus demonstrating her agency, apart from Adam’s. by doing so, she very demonstrably indicated that women would have agency in their own right.

      of course, if she hadn’t taken a bite out of said apple, the entirety of the bible would consist only of the first few pages of Genesis, and the GOP would have no reason for existing.

      • stickler says:

        She believed the snake, who told her (accurately) that she wouldn’t die from eating it; instead she’d gain knowledge. God is the liar in that scene.

        • Lee Rudolph says:

          She didn’t die immediately, but she did (presumably) die eventually. Conceivably humankind would have been immortal (and ignorant) had she not eaten of the fruit of the tree.

          Isn’t Lilith supposed (in some traditions) to still be alive and kicking?

          • N__B says:

            She didn’t die immediately, but she did (presumably) die eventually.

            I reserve judgement until the Lady Gaga biopic comes out.

          • mds says:

            Yeah, technically neither side comes out looking good from the scenario (except possibly in the version in “The Deathbird”). The serpent is correct that eating the fruit is not in and of itself fatal, but presumably also knew (as Adam and Eve seemingly did not) that what God meant was, “Disobey me about this tree, and I’ll take away your immortality.” It’s not that hard to see why Gnostics came up with their take on the Demiurge.

          • panda says:

            And stealng sperm!!

      • Ziplock says:

        I dunno. I think the gop would still have financial reason to exist. they would have to figure out a different way to sucker the rubes though

  16. Nobdy says:

    In places like Bob Jones university or whatever do rapists ask the administration’s permission before raping? That seems curious. I’m unclear how administrative permissiveness or control over consensual sex relates to rape which, by its nature, involves ignoring an authority figures directions (since when it comes to their own bodies women are the ultimate authority figures. I realize that this is a controversial statement in some circles.)

    Why are men more likely to agree not to rape when the university says not to than when the victim AND the police/legal system say not to?

    • Aimai says:

      FFS at Bob Jones University and all the other christian colleges you are more likely to be raped by the authority figure himself than boys lower down on the authority scale. And because of the ideas about female sexuality and temptation its going to be considered your fault for not stopping him, not his fault for not stopping raping you.

      • efgoldman says:

        FFS at Bob Jones University and all the other christian colleges you are more likely to be raped by the authority figure himself than boys lower down on the authority scale.

        But wait! How can they blame it on the coeds? They’re not allowed to be impaired with drink or drugs; they’re not allowed to wear slutty clothes like short skirts or low cut tops; they’re not allowed to dance. How can they do proper victim-blaming?

      • chris says:

        FFS at Bob Jones University and all the other christian colleges you are more likely to be raped by the authority figure himself than boys lower down on the authority scale.

        Is this different from other colleges? Maybe it’s overly cynical of me, but I suspect not. (Although the lower in authority are much more numerous, which may hide the effect to some degree.)

  17. JL says:

    Yes, people should be able to engage in consensual sex that is as consequence-free as the limits of science/medicine allow. And yes, they should have recourse when someone pushes non-consensual sexual activity on them. There’s nothing remotely contradictory about those ideas. A rape isn’t a casual hookup. It’s a rape (and a lot of rapes are committed by preexisting romantic partners).

    Does Dreher not think that adults should be able to turn to law enforcement, legal, judicial, and other conduct-enforcement systems when violent acts are committed against them, without surrendering their claim to adulthood, freedom, or autonomy? When did he become some silly Internet caricature of an anarchist?

    His “people of different genders living in the same dorm” argument is so bizarre; I don’t understand the worldview of people who think there’s anything even slightly odd or objectionable about mixed-gender dorms.

  18. TrexPushups says:

    Given that some of us experience by members of the same sex I don’t see how even a perfectly strict sex separation would fix the problem.

    Grand jury decided not to cert so other than bad press/word of mouth nothing happened to him.

  19. Brandon says:

    From the comments:

    The first account in the piece is from a young woman who had been having casual hook-up sex with some guy for months, then she decided they weren’t going to do that anymore, but she invites him over to snuggle with her anyway, tells him no when he asks for sex … but then he rapes her anyway.

    If her account is true, then yes, it was rape.

    Really? Here’s her description:

    “I basically said, ‘No, I don’t want to have sex with you.’ And then he said, ‘Okay, that’s fine’ and stopped,” Sendrow told me. “And then he started again a few minutes later, taking off my panties, taking off his boxers. I just kind of laid there and didn’t do anything — I had already said no. I was just tired and wanted to go to bed. I let him finish. I pulled my panties back on and went to sleep.”

    Is your position, Rod, that anything less than a clear affirmative statement that sex is desired thereby constitutes a lack of consent – and thus rape? That’s a fairly lefty view for you, no?

    Apparently it’s a “lefty” view to say that when someone says “no, I don’t want to have sex with you,” and then you still have sex with them, it’s non-consensual.

    • Brandon says:

      and more:

      While on proofs that the PC folk among us are the least “reality-based,” there is this.

      Recently NCIS, allegedly the nation’s most popular TV show, ran an episode about rape in the Navy.

      All the good-guys endorsed the ridiculous PC idea that the Navy can and so should completely eliminate rape.

      But I suppose there should be no surprise that the mass media would endorse such a blazingly stupid view.

      The alternative might lead to policy thoughts absolutely unacceptable to morally upright America.

      Such as that decent girls ought to have sense enough to stay out of the military, altogether, and absolutely off ships full of sexually starved swabbies.

      Anti-feminist/borderline pro-rape conservatives and MRA’s (but then, I repeat myself) have some of the shittiest views of men of anyone around. Way worse than even the caricature feminists they like to beat up. Apparently, we just can’t help but rape women whenever we get a little excited.

      • Brandon says:

        Aquinas is absolutely correct. It’s hard to get very worked up about the young woman who was hooking up with the guy and decided to stop but invited him over anyway.

        And Rod, I don’t think you’re being completely honest with this:

        If that were my daughter, I would be raising hell with the school

        Because I don’t think you would. I wouldn’t. I’d blame her completely. We both have daughters, and both of us would be raising hell with them in this situation, not with the school.

        Rape culture 101: consent once is consent forever. I have no doubt that this guy would shame and probably shun his own daughter for being raped.

      • JMP says:

        And we’ve got the ridiculous conservative absolutism on problems that they don’t really think are problems that we get on so many issues to. The Navy could never completely eliminate rape, therefore it shouldn’t do anything to prevent rape and make there be less of it! Just like, since we can’t end poverty/pollution/discrimination/etc. completely, we should do nothing about any of them.

    • Aimai says:

      Obviously it wasn’t “really rape” :

      Asked about a possible exception to that rule, Napoli replied:

      “A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.” [2]

      • Brandon says:

        Right, the idea that the only real rape is dark-alley-violent-rape is pretty common among the rape apologist crowds. And a non-virgin has already defiled herself, so she’s fair game.

        • Karen says:

          And any woman was actually assaulted in a dark alley at gunpoint by a total stranger would be confronted with “What were doing in that alley, anyway?”

        • Shakezula says:

          In other words, the kind of rape that far rarer than rape by an acquaintance but they don’t want to talk about because the idea is to keep the ladyfolk afraid and indoors.

        • Origami Isopod says:

          And such a rape, you’ll note, has a distinct racist subtext to it. Just like all the arguments about staying out of “bad neighborhoods.”

          • Anonymous says:

            Racism both ways. Victim can’t be a poc, and rapist must be.

            • MAJeff says:

              Derp on, cracker.

              • Anonymous says:

                Read again, bro. The description of the conservative’s Perfect Rape Victim provided by Aimai is doubly racist. Implied is that the victim is white (woc can’t be raped), and that the rapist is not.

                • Aimai says:

                  What? Come on. There is nothing in that (admittedly horrible) quote about race or that implies race at all. Neither the race of the imagined victim nor the race of the imaginary rapist. I hold no brief for the speaker but there isn’t a hint of racism in the cited passage.

                • Tristan says:

                  Forgive him, anyone posting under ‘Anonymous’ tends to come under immediate suspicion, as there are recurrent issues with certain persons.

                  You’re very much right, though. There’s been studies on how the racial identification of victim and accused impacts the outcome of trials, and they’re not uplifting reading.

                • Aimai says:

                  Sure, the race and other circumstances such as class or religion or community affiliation play into things like arrest, charging, prosecution, pleas, and sentencing. But there is literally nothing in any of the quotes about race. I think this is the usual “anonymous” idiot. At any rate there’s no justification for what he thinks he’s arguing here.

                • Anonymous says:

                  I’m not a “he,” and rape culture is decidedly racist. “Savaged” didn’t jump out at you? Take the blinkers off then. OI is correct; there are dog whistles there that you’re not recognizing.

                • Aimai is correct, there is no mention of the race of either victim or perpetrator. Either one could be white, black, Asian, whatever, there are no dog whistles here for race.

                • Origami Isopod says:

                  Aimai, that’s not JenBob, it’s a feminist commenter (Snuff Curry?), and I agree. “Stay out of bad neighborhoods” implies that the potential victim lives in a “good” neighborhood (i.e., white and middle-class). Poor women/WoC don’t matter in this equation, and the existence of white middle-class rapists is also erased.

                • Origami Isopod says:

                  DA: Classism and racism (specifically, anti-black and anti-Latino racism) are so intertwined in the U.S. that comments about “bad neighborhoods” most certainly are racist, just not on their face.

                  I’m sure that some people have heard the phrase used to describe predominantly white neighborhoods. I never have.

                • There’s nothing in the original quote by Napoli about dark alleys or being in the “wrong” part of town, OI. I think you’re overreaching here when you start basing your comments on evidence that doesn’t exist in the first place.

                • Drew says:

                  Can you really not spare the three seconds it would take to come up with a name? To differentiate yourself from the troll(s)? I mean seriously.

              • Origami Isopod says:

                Oh, is that the disconnect? I wasn’t talking so much about the Napoli quote, which indeed isn’t really racially tinged, but the conversation beginning here.

      • Nobdy says:

        I just like the idea that a woman who was impregnated through consensual sex or through “soft” rape (Where she was not brutalized and sodomized as bad as “you” can possibly make it) cannot have her life threatened by that pregnancy. Medical science will be ASTOUNDED to learn this.

        Or is her life just of less value? I know a virgin’s life is more valuable than that of a slut, that’s obvious, but what about a woman who had procreative sex with her husband and had children but gets raped. Is her life of less value than that of a virgin?

        Can a conservative provide me with a chart that assigns a numerical value to a woman’s life based on her sexual history?

        • Brandon says:

          Legitimate rape has a way of shutting that whole thing down. If you get pregnant, ipso facto it wasn’t legitimate rape!

          • Nobdy says:

            Okay, but what about a woman who had consensual sex but her life is threatened? Do we just let her die because she’s a dirty slutslut even if it was procreational sex with her Christian husband?

            • Aimai says:

              A good girl either doesn’t want the abortion or (I think the implication of his remark is) that the violence of the rape he’s specifying is itself causing the pregnancy to be harmful. But otherwise I don’t think he thinks that pregnancies can be harmful to women.

            • DAS says:

              if dying a painful death on the cross was good enough for the son of god, then giving up your life so your unborn child can live is a godly act and women in such a position should be thankful for their opportunity to be so saintly …

              Yes … people actually do think that way. The “pro-life” movement really is about a culture of death.

      • N__B says:

        Imagine how much time he spent fantasizing to come up with that description.

    • M. Bouffant says:

      I had already said no. I was just tired and wanted to go to bed. I let him finish. I pulled my panties back on and went to sleep.

      Sounds like marriage.

  20. M. Bouffant says:

    Dreher Self-Shorters:

    If that were my daughter, I would be raising hell with the school (and if that were my son, I would be raising hell with him).

    • Aimai says:

      What would be be complaining to the school about? I really don’t understand his point? Surely his daughter would never make any mistakes or, if she did, he should instantly abandon her to her fate and tell her to chalk it up to experience. What does the school have to say about it? He doesn’t think the guy is A RAPIST he thinks he’s an “opportunist” or he “took a slice off a cut loaf.” How is the college supposed to prevent this from happening?

  21. cpinva says:

    as I read the column, once you’re in college, you have no right to file a criminal complaint, or expect any action from the school administration, should you be raped on campus. I wonder if mr. dreher has that same opinion, if a student is robbed on campus? my guess is he doesn’t.

    frankly, his whole column is one inane rant, designed mostly to satisfy the ids of his readers.

  22. J. Otto Pohl says:

    Somebody brought this to my attention today. The reported numbers seem high to me. But, the college has considerably more people now than when I was there in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

  23. JTR says:

    Wow what a disgusting fool. I cannot believe someone I know once listed him among “reasonable Conservatives” who are worth reading.

  24. pseudalicious says:

    These guys just can’t find it within themselves to break free from the mistaken idea that rape is “just” sex that goes “too far,” rather than a conscious decision on the part of a rapist to violate someone else’s boundaries and consent, and that the rapist is getting off on exerting that power. It doesn’t matter how many times we say it. Probably because most of us who are saying it are women and lol like we matter.

    • Rod Dreher and the Rape Apologists says:

      I’m sorry, I can’t hear you. Were you speaking?

    • muddy says:

      My favorite rape prevention tips:

      1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.

      2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

      3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

      4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

      5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!

      6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

      7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

      8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

      9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!

      10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

  25. Hulloder says:

    The only story of conservative confusion on consent that makes sense to me is an utter incapacity to understand an environment where sex is offered and accepted freely, with little or no binding commitment.

    They dive immediately into the concept that, in such a freewheeling environment, acceptance becomes supremely difficult to identify. I think this is more than overblown, but simply bonkers.

    I shudder to consider what sort of grim and unfrolicsome sexual environment provided the experiences to inform such a view – that acceptance of an invitation to sex could be so casually misidentified or disregarded.

    “She/I was passive/tired/drunk – so I just went for it/endured it” is not something I would have ever heard in my late college days. It sounds more like a scene from a nightmare fifties marriage.

    • DAS says:

      Bonkers? Hoo boy … personally, I would imagine that the environment of open sexuality and casual sex that Rod Dreher is fantasizing so overly concerned about would actually be less likely to lead to rape than a culture in which more “traditional” views prevailed: after all, if our culture teaches that young women ought to and do view sex as degrading and if the environment is one in which “good girls say ‘no'”, then when a young woman tells a man “no”, that the response could really be “yes” provides just the sort of “blurred lines” of which rapists take advantage.

      OTOH, when women feel comfortable and culturally supported in saying “yes”, then “no” really does mean “no”, which creates an environment inimical to rape.

      As to ” that acceptance of an invitation to sex could be so casually misidentified or disregarded” … remember Rod Dreher’s spiritual younger brother is Ross Douthat of “Chunky Reese Witherspoon” fame.

      • Hulloder says:

        Right! And the imagined eternal receptivity of the “bad girl” to sexual advance in the conservative mind also goes some way to explain why clothing, chosen venue/means of recreation and intoxication level are seen as somehow mitigating or even overwhelming a refusal or incapacity to consent.

  26. ima nihnja says:

    Scottie here leaves out a big chunk of the article about how this prestigious Liberal school in Pennsylvania believed their reputation was more important than that of a rape victim. Seems to have a history of cover-ups of sexual assaults.

    I can see why Scottie here would leave that out. How embarrassing it must be to have mutiple women violated at a well known Liberal School and then have the administration get caught trying to cover it all up.

    But that can’t be true because Liberals love women. Unless their conservative. Then it’s okay to talk about raping them.


  27. Pseudonym says:

    That’s a lot of words to obscure Rod’s belief that certain women deserve to be raped don’t deserve to be protected from rape.

  28. Rob in CT says:

    These people raise children. Fuck.

    Now, it’s bad enough that many of them have daughters. That sucks. But some of them have sons. And it’s the parents of boys who we need to get this right.

    I have two daughters. I’ll do what I can to raise ’em right, but that only goes so far.

    I managed to live in co-ed dorms at college, had “consequence free sex” (oh noes!) and I managed to not rape anyone. I was young & dumb and didn’t handle everything as well as I should have, I’ll grant, but if I was in bed with a young lady who had informed me: a) she wanted to be just friends; and b) didn’t want to have sex with me, my response would not have been to proceed to have sex with her. I might’ve been hurt, and therefore whiny or huffy or any number of other not really attractive things, but being a rapist I could manage to avoid, even at age 18 with hormones raging.

    Why is this? Because I was raised with a certain baseline of respect for women, starting with simply watching the way my father treated and spoke about my mother. I was not indoctrinated into a patriarchical religion, nor was I given constant messages that reinforced my worst tendencies (or rather, I probably was to an extent, since that’s “out there” in our culture, but these were countered by other messages).

    I was never told “don’t rape anybody” by my parents. In fact, they never talked to me about sex at all. Sex ed in high school did do the no means no thing and there was a date rape video we had to watch (trying to get the point across that rape isn’t just something that happens in dark alleys). The message was pretty clear, though as with anything it could have been done better.

    • Rob in CT says:

      Culture matters.

      Put me in a different environment growing up and who knows? Maybe I would’ve grown up to be a rapey asshole. It’s possible.

      Really, it is. And this is a disturbing thing to admit. But it’s true. As it was, I was less than perfect at age 17, when I got to college. I thought I was pretty enlightened, but now, 20 years later, I realize I was giving myself cookies for things that were in no way cookie-worthy. I was a nice guy… ;)

  29. MacK says:

    I don’t agree with Dreher, but I do see a basic cognitive dissonance in the approach of colleges – they do not want to be in loco parentis over the students, particularly the undergraduates – but then they assume roles such as having “campus police” and investigating crimes like sexual assault and rape in such a way as to act (usually badly) as if they were in loco parentis, investigating it as if it was a squabble between children.

    If colleges want to have this sort of power, discipline, policing, etc. then they have to exercise it in the same way the state should – properly treat sexual assault as a crime – if they want to be in loco parentis, then they need to give up the campus police and hand it to the real police. Instead they want it both ways – and seek to shield young men (mostly) from the consequences of their actions against young women.

    We can all witter on about the binge drinking culture on campus and debate whether young women are putting themselves in danger – maybe they are – but that they are is much more a result of a “boys will be boys” tolerance of misconduct towards young women, sober and drunk. I think young women on campus need to be concerned for their safety especially when they have had to much to drink, but that is a deplorable reality.

    In any event, there is a crime called Misprision of Felony – the Federal version is at 18 U.S.C. §4:

    Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

    I think it might apply to a university or college administrator who failed to report a federal crime – but I am not sure if it would apply to a PA crime – because a “Court of the United States” is a federal court. I don’t think there is a misprision statute in PA law and rape and sexual assault usually falls under state law (outside the military.)

    • Aimai says:

      I’m not sure that investigating crimes committed on campus is any form of “acting in loco parentis.” There is certainly a special kind of problem that arises when an interested party (the college) attempts to act as a disinterested arbiter of fact on behalf of an injured party (the victim) when the alleged agressor also has a claim on the college (as a student/consumer). But colleges have special rights over stuff that happens on campus in areas other than rape and no one thinks they are acting “in loco parentis” when they charge a student with theft, or destruction of property, or plagiarism.

      • MacK says:

        I think the way in which colleges address a charge of sexual assault is very much in a style of acting in loco parentis, as is the presence of resident directors or advisors in dorms, etc. The issue that I see is colleges have decided to take the line – these kids are adults – but then to behave as if they are in loco parentis – taking decisions for the students (or forcing them) including persuading them not to complain of sexual assault.

        In short the colleges don’t seem to know what their role is – and they also suffer from an overwhelming need to avoid embarrassment. The latter seems foolish because as Swarthemore demonstrates, once you start covering up offences to avoid embarrassment, the portfolio of coverups will come out and be a lot worse (and it also imho encourages those who would engage in sexual assault to do so.)

        The main reason colleges argue that they are not in loco parentis, is, inter alia, liability.

  30. Western Dave says:

    So I’ve been thinking of this story a lot, what with being a Swattie ’89 and having taught there back in 1992-2000. And as I mentioned, I’ve had former students and others contact me about their experiences on college campuses now. So, I share even though this isn’t totally my story.

    I had an early morning departure for an ultimate frisbee tournament on Saturday and, leaving my girlfriend’s room, swung by my dorm room to pick up my cleats which I had forgotten. I walked in trying to be very quiet and discovered my roommate wide awake, dressed, showered, and studying while drinking a cup of coffee. Even for Swarthmore, this is unusual behavior.

    “I had a night”, he said.

    It turns out a guy on our co-ed hall, who, for the purposes of this story, we shall call the Viking, had drunk heavily the night before. Roommate had left the door unlocked (as many of us did) and awoke to the sound of running water. The Viking, stark naked, had opened our fridge and was peeing into it, under the impression perhaps, that anything white was a urinal. My roommate tried to dissuade the Viking from continuing to pee and was unsuccessful. My roommate then, I think hid under the covers, hoping the Viking would go away. Instead, the stark naked Viking climbed into bed with the roommate, and declared “shut up move over”. My roommate was out of the room like a shot, pounding on the RAs door. The RA, a woman, tried to wake the Viking who was now naked and passed out in my roommate’s bed. Eventually the found one of the Viking’s teammates who lived on our hall who physically carried the Viking back to his own room and dumped him atop the bed.

    Roomate filed charges with the college. The Viking, who was already in trouble for punching somebody at a party and some other things, got kicked out.

    Now this was 25 years ago but I think the incident is telling for a number of reasons. 1) My roommate knew that people would help him. 2) The college was ready to go after the Viking 3) My roommate was the kind of guy who had already cleaned the fridge by the time I got to the dorm that morning. And it was my fridge. Everybody was going to believe his version of events. 4) My roommate told people that I had left the night before for the tournament, because he didn’t think it was anybody’s business that I was at girlfriends’ dorm room all night. I was a little freaked out about that. We’d been dating seriously for over a year at that point. Why wouldn’t we be sleeping together. I’m not still not sure if he was protecting her honor, mine, or just thought it was nobody’s business.

    So the point is, as a guy, he felt pretty sure that a response would be quick, safe and effective. There are lots of women who are convinced that any response will be neither quick nor safe nor effective. So sure, you can say “why are you letting him spoon?” but the answer is “because I thought it was the safest option because all other options looked pretty horrible guaranteed and I was hoping for the best not the worst.” Changing the reality that (and the perception) that reporting is worse than surviving is job one right now.

    • bluefoot says:

      Changing the reality that (and the perception) that reporting is worse than surviving is job one right now.

      This sentence is fantastic. It deserves to be cast in bronze (or better yet, gold) in letters a foot high and prominently displayed….pretty much everywhere.

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