Rape is in the air. I may not personally know you want it, but E. L. James guessed correctly that you like the idea, if sales figures are any indication, and Robin Thicke guessed correctly that you must wanna get nasty. And I really wish fewer of y’all were taken with that shit.
At the University of Virginia, hugging is now a form of sex, or something. Vox Day unfortunately disbelieves in the possibility of spousal rape, which is in fact a very common form of domestic violence, but Amy Alkon is reputable enough to trust without verifying every time. What UVA’s administrators have determined is that “any intentional sexual touching, however slight” is sexy enough to require explicit prior approval from the other party.
They’ve led the entire institution into a legalistic quagmire. Intent is impossible to determine for most of the forms of touching that fall under this new policy. It can be inferred by the recipient, but not with any consistent accuracy, and only if the recipient has working emotional intelligence (not a prudent thing to assume of the sort of women who make false or exaggerated sexual assault accusations). Perverted intent is exactly the sort of thing that vindictive, prissy, or crazed self-perceived “victims” of negligibly discomfiting physical contact will exaggerate until it crosses the threshold for judicial action.
Try to imagine the Kafkaesque nightmare of applying this policy to a school dance. Fred Astaire or some other dear departed dancing type (I was just about to quote him as Fred Rogers; Wow Much mcfeely Such trolley What sweater Very portauthority) referred to dancing as “the vertical expression of horizontal desire.” A generation or so earlier there was a popular series of adultery songs using the refrain “oh you kid.” This is why I listen to NPR, unless I’m sleeping through Weekend Edition Saturday again because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak and cold-ridden. This is all to say that neither my generation nor yours nor John Travolta himself invented dirty dancing. It abides. It is primordial. Some cultures and subcultures are too prim to tolerate it beyond tightly circumscribed forms (the resentful twits in the administration and faculty at your high school who chaperone prom count as a subculture), but of course dancing is often sexualized.
This doesn’t mean that this truth need be made explicit in the interest of poor taste. We have too much sexual crudity and too few demure hookers, especially ones who speak English, as things stand. One of the tacit purposes of dancing is that it allows the safe expression and exploration of sexuality in quasipublic fora. If you don’t like that, don’t go dancing. It’s pretty simple. We don’t need more pearl-clutching from people who secretly bugger rent boys at Motel 6 or have group diarrhea on high-end infidel Instagram escorts in some Gulf satrapy. Dancing venues are usually self-regulating enough not to need input from whinging busybodies about the rules of engagement. This is the whole point. Moves that would be inappropriate, if not criminal, on the outside are acceptable. (Okay, the Arcata Plaza is a public venue, not that I’m admitting to getting nasty with a statuesque stranger from Santa Rosa on the Arcata Plaza on graduation weekend in 2010). Grinding, which horrifies pearl-clutching high school administrators from sea to shining sea, is obviously sexual in nature, but it would be a major party foul for a dude to ask a woman who is receptive to his advances for permission to fondle her hips and rub his erect penis on her ass. If a girl dislikes this experience, she’ll move away. Maybe she rationalizes that it wasn’t actually the dude’s boner, or maybe she doesn’t think about it. Or maybe she likes it. If she’s thrusting her ass into some guy’s crotch, she probably isn’t horrified at the idea that he’s erect and that he’s about to dry-hump her. These girls aren’t stupid, and they aren’t innocents.
Dancing, including its dirty forms, helps the sexes learn how to interact with each other. It’s an appropriate enough form of socialization, and an important one for the shy and the socially awkward. It helps young adults learn how to engage in the sort of tacit interpersonal give-and-take that they’ll need to function fully in their everyday lives. It helps them learn how to relate to each other sexually, but also socially, and sex is a social act. People who can’t or won’t recognize varying rules of social engagement in various social settings are well and truly up the creek. With rare exceptions in idiosyncratic religious subcultures, young people, especially young men, who don’t personally know how it feels to be physically intimate with a woman are at a great disadvantage in dating and courtship. One way to assess their disadvantage is that women are hot for alpha bad boys; another way to look at it is that women are put off by men who are sexually hapless to the point of not knowing how to be sexually affectionate with them in public because their sexual haplessness betrays a certain social haplessness.
Either way, a man won’t find his way sociosexually if he is forced (either by others or by his own compulsion) to explicitly ask consent for sexually suggestive but basically harmless forms of sexual affection. It’s just too socially retarded. This applies to extremely poorly adjusted women, too, but they’re fewer. People have to start somewhere in learning how to interact sexually with other people if they’re going to avoid a lifetime of celibacy. Most, if they’re in an environment that isn’t truly treacherous, will get somewhere with the other sex by testing the waters over time.
Affirmative consent for ambiguously sexual touching creates just such a treacherous environment. It means that if an awkward guy upsets a crazy or nasty bitch by getting just a bit too forward with her, she can rat him out to the school administration and make his life hell. Of course, most women who would rat out the sexually unattractive or awkward very much want to receive the aggressive sexual advances of men they find attractive. I.e., it’s a regime of turnkey universal criminality. A hot brother can slap her ass out of the blue at a fraternity mixer with impunity, while an awkward guy can get thrown to the dogs in the school judicial system for letting a hand drift down towards her ass during a hug that lasted a second too long. Or, if the frat hottie does something unrelated to alienate her, she can report him to the judicial system by presenting his act of physical aggression entirely out of its original, playful context and making him out to be a predator.
Something is very wrong with people who see rape and sexual assault everywhere in contexts that originate few or no criminal complaints or lawsuits for sexual misconduct of any sort. It’s quite likely that many of the women who push this narrative secretly yearn to be raped. Fifty Shades of Gray is awfully popular for such a dog pile. Many of the men who fall afoul of nebulous college judicial codes for sexual misconduct anger their supposed victims by not being aggressive enough. The same act that a woman construes as dominance coming from a man who has game she may construe as creepiness coming from a man who isn’t as smooth and confident. If this kind of thinking is purged from a society’s judicial systems, it becomes a mere annoyance that men must sometimes suffer from crazy bitches. In Western societies today, however, it is increasingly being set up as a valid basis for criminal and cryptocriminal complaints by gratuitously aggrieved women.
This is dangerous. It’s a gathering tyranny. It’s an affront to truth because many of the men who fall afoul of this regime would be completely satisfied with a quick lay and some cuddling. If anything, it’s the women in this scenario who are inclined towards rape. “Rape culture” allows them to divide sex into the kind of rough sex with a seasoned or natural lover, which they like, and unwanted sex that they decide afterwards was unwanted because their lovers were sexually inadequate, not committed enough, too clingy, or defective in some other way.
A huge problem here is that women who make false rape accusations, or who would do so given the chance, are disinclined to take basic adult responsibility for their own sexual decisions. It’s pathetic, but they don’t have the courage and the decency to just say, “Shit, that relationship fucking sucked donkey balls,” and move on. Any society will have people of this low character. An important component of the rule of law is ensuring that liars and nutcases are not given sway over the courts. Affirmative consent does just the opposite. It elevates rabbit boilers to places of honor before the law.
One thing we’re dealing with here is women who cannot, or will not, admit that they’ve made mistakes. This is only in part an individual moral failure. American society is structurally biased against displaying the humility needed to admit to this sort of failure. “Guess I got drunk and stupid over the weekend” is a few steps shy of pleading no contest to being the commandant of Dachau, but one wouldn’t think it from the amount of shame that some women feel for having had drunken hookups that they don’t consider advisable in retrospect. They guard their reputations too jealously. Bourgeois American society expects them to be perfect, their possessive boyfriends expect them to be faithful, their parents expect them to be high achievers and good girls: if they don’t have an independent sense of self-worth and self-confidence, they’ll be in a pickle. They can’t take Rob Ford’s tack of figuring that, well, if I smoked crack, I must have been really fucking drunk to do that; this is too honest.
I notice that the trouble comes disproportionately from girls who are rich and popular. All their lives they’ve been aggrandized with assurances that they’re charmed, and they have a lot to lose by not keeping up appearances of mainstream sociosexual normality. They’re accustomed to using their peppy sexuality to get their way, but this comes at a price. They have a lot to lose by dropping out of this game, and they simply aren’t used to asserting their own interests against those domineering them. They aren’t necessarily evil or even in any identifiable way constitutionally immoral, but the path of least resistance for them is to be, by turn, catty or bitchy in order to maintain frame. If they try to chart their own course, they’re lost.
There’s one woman in particular who brought this to my attention. In retrospect, I believe that I came dangerously close to being smeared with a false rape or sexual assault accusation several years ago. What happened is that we became very physically affectionate on a trip to Atlantic City while her boyfriend was asleep upstairs. With slightly different circumstances, we probably could have ended up having sex that night. The problem was that her boyfriend was very possessive of his girlfriends, and this woman was probably the least self-confident of the girlfriends of his whom I met. She put on a really good game face, but she was at heart too timid to make her own decisions and stick to them. This was exacerbated by her boyfriend, who was several years her senior and rubbed his greater professional success in her face at a time when she felt somewhat adrift and insecure academically, with little confidence about her own professional prospects.
I fear that a hookup with this woman would have gone very badly afterwards. Her boyfriend would have gone ballistic on her. He would have gone ballistic on me, too, but I would have given him one warning before calling the police and taking out a restraining order against him, given the circumstances. His girlfriend would not have been so resolute in holding him to minimal standards of nonviolence. Years later, her boyfriend (a close friend of mine) told me that they had broken up after a late-night argument that had culminated her father driving drunk from Erie to Rochester, her mother calling the Rochester Police night desk sergeant for a welfare check because she hadn’t responded to her most recent text messages, and a Rochester cop asking him if he had raped her. (By far the worst fuck-up in this saga was by the night patrolmen.) He was livid that she had contacted her mother while they were fighting, a rather disingenuous assertion, I thought, since he must have had some idea of how entangled they both made other people in their personal lives.
This woman has never struck me as being constitutionally immoral. A bit ditzy and immature, certainly, but she was chronically under the sway of dipshits. Given the amount of time that she spent under the sway of crude but prissy high-hats, she seemed pretty well-adjusted. Hell, she went to CB East, which has its own Urban Dictionary entry on account of its notorious affluence. Of course she had rich girl problems.
Claiming personal responsibility is rarely the solution to rich girl problems, as Hall and Oates will agree. But this isn’t the case simply because rich girls are constitutionally evasive of personal responsibility or treacherous or anything of the sort. They’re socialized not to make waves. If they have more or less conformist tendencies, they’ll try not to rock the boat by standing up for themselves when they’re being manipulated or domineered. This chick from CB East had powerful conformist inclinations. She got back together with her boyfriend after the Rochester clusterfuck but lied to her friends, pretending to still be single, just to keep the meddlers at bay. Then she started feeling guilty about leading a double life and broke off the relationship again, for good this time, it seems. (She should see some of the double lives that I’ve led. Then again, I hold meddlesome gossips in no esteem whatsoever and deign not to feed them.) If her boyfriend had flipped out at her for cheating with me, she would have have warned him to stop making terroristic threats. If he had gotten really threatening with her, she probably would have folded and done anything to protect herself, certainly including misrepresentations of her competency or willingness at the time of our fling.
By the way, her boyfriend would have considered our actual level of physical intimacy that night adulterous or the next thing to it. At one point I had a couple of fingers an inch down her pants. Around the time we started getting physical, she announced, “I’m off the leash tonight!” For a man as possessive as her boyfriend, all of this would have been infuriating had he learned of it.
Affirmative consent applied to sexual encounters is detached from the real world. Applied to hugging and cuddling, it’s completely fucking nuts. It suggests a conception of academia as a hothouse for very precious rare flowers. Taking such a bizarre understanding of how social interactions should be undertaken and mediated beyond campus would be disastrous. So in a way this is a case of universities setting their students up for social and professional failure as alumni. Insofar as students themselves support this sort of regime, it’s a case of students setting themselves up for the same failure.
This sort of sheltering does, however, have a certain unfortunate logic as a defense mechanism. It at least offers a reprieve of four years, give or take, from the cruelty of the real world, a reprieve that can be lengthened substantially with graduate coursework. The real world that it holds at bay is not just difficult in the sense that life is hard and unfair by its nature. The social and especially professional life that students avoid confronting by taking refuge in the trigger-free safe space of academia is unconscionably brutalizing and treacherous. What’s wrong with the American workplace is not that work naturally sucks; it’s all the extraneous political bullshit, much of it from people who have no core competencies worth a bucket of warm piss.
These asshats have nearly total latitude to make life hell for colleagues and especially for subordinates, and rarely do they do so in the interest of ensuring that core operations are conducted properly. What little recourse employees have against them is usually reserved for claims of discrimination over some protected status or other: mental health problems, physical disabilities, sex, race, that kind of thing. Hence the rising tide of litigation over sexual harassment at a time when workplace protections in general were being undermined. I very much doubt that the only problem with the average man sued for workplace sexual harassment is that he’s sexually inappropriate with women at work. The unprofessional bearing needed to make advances on an uninterested subordinate at work is roughly the same failure of professionalism needed to be a well-rounded raging asshole to everyone at the office. It’s just that insinuating termination threats, deliberately humiliating employees, or subjecting them to bogus “performance reviews” are not usually actionable labor torts, but telling a woman that she has a nice ass is. It should come as no surprise, then, if a woman who has been subjected to a broad campaign of workplace harassment by a toxic boss or colleague files suit over sexual comments or groping instead of non-actionable Glengarry Glen Ross horseshit.
It’s reasonable to fear that one won’t be able to cope with such a politically brutal workplace environment. This is a separate matter from fearing that one is unemployable. Very few people are unemployable, including many people who look at first glance like they’re too slovenly in physique and manner to hold down a job. Being badly retarded or autistic, psychotic, quadriplegic, or dependent on a walker to get from bed to bathroom will probably do the trick, but these states of disability encompass rather few people. The sort of morbidly obese people one can read about in the Daily Mail are even fewer, and some of them have jobs.
Hanging out with retarded big fat fatties of limited mobility in Section Eight apartment communities in South Tacoma may offer a useful self-esteem boost. Or maybe it will just be depressing; it depends, and that’s probably what some of them are wearing, too. But these people are few and far between around elite universities. Selective schools concentrate the best and the brightest, making the marginally less bright and enterprising feel like shit. Being a humanities major at a school with large numbers of business majors who flaunt their connections and wealth can be demoralizing. The message is that they’re winners, and any humanities alumnus who doesn’t go on to graduate school is a loser. (STEM majors rarely get sucked into this spat, probably because the coursework requires too much intelligence, interest, and attention to have much energy left over for status-whoring.)
Some of the losers in this regime must figure, maybe subconsciously, that as losers they need special accommodations. They’re in a regime that insists on an excellence that they’ll never achieve by their own merits or their own ruthlessness, and they’re playing a game that is obviously rigged by and for the winners. Why not demand help getting a cut of the winnings? Trigger-policing can at least momentarily shut up people who will otherwise be insufferably smug about their own rugged individualism, and who will inherit the earth upon graduation in any event. The lefty humanities types ultimately control very little of American business, government, and popular culture, and they control less and less of academia itself by the year. The wanker humanities departments serve as an intellectual reservation for them, an arrangement that is exactly as amoral captains of government and industry like it. Otherwise, these people might run amok in the real world and force real reform.
I have relatives who have taken in two mentally retarded adults, one of them also severely autistic. The autistic one would have to fall somewhere low in the bottom decile of college students for problems with physical boundaries and self-control (or maybe a bit higher at schools with large numbers of “student” athletes with histories of violent crime). It is difficult, if not impossible, to impose an affirmative consent regime governing physical contact on people who are so retarded and also physically outgoing. I say this because many people responsible for the care of the mentally retarded devote immense effort to instructing their charges not to touch others without permission.
It takes a thick skin to deal with the retarded on a regular basis. They tend to constantly do things that are annoying as hell, but of course they can’t help it. Maybe if university administrators and Take Back the Night activists spent more time dealing with handsy retards they’d stop being hypersensitive to the very mildly awkward behavior of people of normal intelligence. Maybe they’d realize that guys who are a bit huggier than they’d ideally like are annoying and odd, but not creeps, and certainly not autistic enough to laugh riotously when they inadvertently shit on the toilet seat, throw plates and teacups off the table in anger, and call their caretaker a fucking bitch. My guess is that it’s mostly conservative girls who are mature and socially well-adjusted enough to have such an informed perspective, since it’s mostly religious conservatives who take the severely autistic into their houses as wards under their care.
Caring for a young man who is too autistic to properly wipe his own ass is not a First World Problem. Go into nursing, and people of his character will surely grace your life. They may even assault you. You see, it’s not like I haven’t gone through with nursing school just because it sounds le hard. No grape vine has ever called me a fucking bitch and smeared shit all over my toilet seat. Plants are cool, yo.
Maybe the student activist types can take up the cause of protecting nurses and physicians from groping and battery at the hands of belligerent patients. Never mind; that wouldn’t be sexy enough. They’d be advocating on behalf of adults who act like adults.