Belinda Brown: Feminist bullies and the pernicious myth that sexual morality is just about ‘consent’

Pity today’s male undergraduate, tasked with navigating his way through the thorny thicket of university gender politics.

For surely Oliver Cromwell himself, history’s most notorious puritan, would have admired the zeal of the new generation of self-styled feminist campaigners, with all their fury over perceived grievances.

The latest target of their rage is George Lawlor, a second-year politics and sociology student at Warwick University, who dared to question the effectiveness of sexual consent workshops run on his campus.

The brainchild of the Left-wing National Union of Students, these consent classes are being rolled out across the higher education sector.

Oxford and Cambridge hold mandatory sexual consent workshops for students during Freshers’ week to discuss ‘myths and misunderstandings’ around rape and harassment.

But Lawlor made the mistake of challenging the feminist orthodoxy by writing on an internet blog that he was offended by the invitation to attend since the vast majority of men ‘don’t have to be taught not to be a rapist’.

Read more of Belinda's article for the Daily Mail here.

Belinda Brown

  • Busy Mum

    Spot on – but I fail to grasp any similarity between the tyrannical feminists and Oliver Cromwell, the happily married loving husband and father of daughters, who stood against tyrannical monarchy.

    • Earthenware

      “stood against tyrannical monarchy”

      Not wishing to be picky, but he was more of a dictator than Charles I – who at least listened to advisers and didn’t butcher Irish civilians by the thousand.

      Cromwell has done very well from history, but in reality his only accomplishment was to play a major part in the replacement of the monarchy with parliament as the ultimate power. Both institutions existed before and after the civil war, it was just their roles that changed – something that I suspect could have been done without the bloodshed.

      • Busy Mum

        I would disagree that Cromwell has done well from history; he is probably the most vilified character in school history curriculums, school history textbooks and general history books for children.

        Tom Reilly has done a magnificent job of smashing the myth about the butchery of thousands of Irish civilians.

        Charles I may well have listened to advisers but those advisers themselves were self-serving…….Parliament existed but Charles had reigned absolutely without it for 12 years….Grand Remonstrance??

        I think an important lesson from history is that most change has come about after bloodshed; that’s why our unique English Revolution was aptly named ‘Glorious’.

  • Vera

    Universities used to be places where various opinions were listened to and discussed openly. Are current students actually being educated now? It seems now the feminists and their silly ‘safe places’ rule the roost, shrieking down any opinion other than theirs. Are they actually going to be employable when they graduate? If I was an employer I certainly wouldn’t want any of them on my workforce. Probably they will fit in well in the public sector.

    • Jenny L

      Well said, I completely agree.

    • Groan

      It is somewhat Ironic that it appears that it is “white knights” tilting at this young man on behalf of the feminists. Curiously old fashioned, the guys rushing to protect their damsels who are distressed. Life is never simple.

  • Mez

    Hmm, a couple of points :

    How can a mandatory attendance to discuss ‘myths and misunderstandings’, be construed as an assumption of guilt (re he is not a rapist), the students presence seems only to be requested to discuss ‘misunderstandings and myths’, no allusion towards guilt at all; why would you not want to guidance on potential misunderstandings, which could also include ‘false rape accusation’, or male rape (ie victim)?. Any real discussion should create an opportunity for somebody to put foward their position (ie totally against sexual abuse). The student looks as though he was trying to score a political point on his blog by publicising his decision. Although the end result was over the top, had all male students taken the same attitude where would be the opportunity to change anything?. It’s like all forms of social education, if you’re taught as a group that drugs are harmful, that doesn’t imply that you’re already considered a junky.

    US Justice Dept: College rape report in the US 1995-2000
    https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/182369.pdf

    Another US govt report : 2005-7 “Data was collected using a Web-based survey from over 6,800 undergraduate students (5,466 women and 1,375 men). Data indicate that 13.7% of undergraduate women had been victims of at least one completed sexual assault since entering college”. Even 3.5% is considered to be a serious campus problem.

    https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/221153.pdf

    • Ian Watt

      “How can a mandatory attendance to discuss ‘myths and misunderstandings’,
      be construed as an assumption of guilt (re he is not a rapist)”.

      The answer is quite simple, when it is a programme of indoctrination demanded by and organised by the women’s officer.

      • Alex Cockell

        More the case that the current “rape culture” stuff is informed by McDworkin concepts – that apparently all PIV is rape and all men are inherent subhuman rapemonsters or somehting.

        Thise growing up in the 80s like me (autistic as well) remember the deafening guff…

        • Mez

          Those (women) growing up in the 70’s and 80’s like me, were subjected to a lot of sexual abuse, so take all rejections of the existence of any of this with the contempt it deserves.

          • KjempInari

            Key lessons for young men that I learned in a modern progressive enviroment is:

            – whatever she says means no (things can change, even a few months after whatever happened happened)
            – never be alone with a female (not worth the risk)
            – keep your head down (disagreeing with a feminist = harassment)

            Ofcourse there are women who are on the level, the problem these days is that you cannot know if they are on the level untill its too late as the crazies have become very good at pretending to be normal. (russian roulette is a game most do not enjoy)

          • Alex Cockell

            Possibly, but then activists hit a LOT of innocent boys with the splash damage from area-effect shaming. Doris Lessing commented on this in 2001.

          • Groan

            I don’t know it applies to University but the large scale UK studies of what Americans had called “dating abuse” in under 18s found that young men experienced physical abuse from their partners to much the same degree as young women (in a couple of studies the young women reporting they were more abusive). And surprising levels of sexual abuse and harassment of young men. Moving from the reporting of the acts or behaviour to how the sexes responded this was where the biggest difference was found. Firstly males were more fatalistic about being abused “its just what happens” and very much less likely to regard it as something that they shouldn’t expect to happen to them. Secondly they were much less likely to report long term emotional distress as a result. They appeared particularly confused and disturbed by sexual abuse and harassment and very much less likely to think of reporting these.
            I really do think it important that any education or training particularly makes the point to young men that the protections of the law do apply to them and they can expect more respect from their partners. If consent be the measure, then their consent also needs to be obtained.
            Many years ago a wise feminist Michael Kaufman observed that people like him, training students, needed to listen and engage with young men’s experiences or “be perceived to be telling lies”.

          • mez

            “! really do think it important that any education or training particularly makes the point to young men that the protections of the law do apply to them and they can expect more respect from their partners”.

            I agree

          • Colonel Mustard

            “Those (women) growing up in the 70’s and 80’s like me, were subjected to a lot of sexual abuse”

            Wow. Projecting your own experience onto millions of women whose lives and own experiences you cannot possibly know, and in turn impugning “a lot” of men.

            I’ll treat that with the contempt it deserves. When it comes to the fabricated gender war now being fought people like you are part of the problem not the solution.

          • Mez

            “Wow. Projecting your own experience onto millions of women whose lives and own experiences you cannot possibly know, and in turn impugning “a lot” of men.”

            What a whopping transfer that was…what I wrote was that I would treat anyone suggesting that this ‘rising no’ rape issue does not exist with the contempt it deserves, how does that in any way infer that I’ve extrapolated anything onto the lives of millions of other women?. Police statistics bear this out, UK rape rose nearly 30% in 2014, and the highest % rise was at knife point. Sorry but the statistics already impugnate ‘a lot’ of men. Do you have any clue what I meant by ‘a lot ‘ no, because ‘a lot’ was my own general assessment. FYI, I also know a ‘lot more’ men who would never consider attacking a woman, including many in my own family.

            It seems to be that you don’t want to accept the facts of this situation because of the assumption of guilt scenario put forward by some extreme feminists, that ‘all men are rapists’. A woman who has been attacked a number of times by different people, might well eventually form that conclusion, living in fear is a dreadful thing; and sexual assault causes permanent emotonal damage, but is that really the basis for a gender war? this seems to be more about young people accepting urban myths as truth, and then refusing to discuss the consequences.

        • fubar_saunders

          Schrodingers rapists, everywhere, everywhere, I tell ya…. 😉

      • Mez

        Your assumption that it’s organised by the women officer and not by the University – which by the way has a duty of care to all students using it’s premises, especially those living in.

    • Belinda Brown

      I take your point but real discussion is not something that will be allowed in this context (I have done some reading about where these consent classes are coming from). I do think that young men may need classes to learn how easily they can be accused of rape and how they law is not on their side and how vulnerable they could be to false accusation but that isn’t what consent classes are aimed at providing. Thanks for the useful reports.

      • Alex Cockell

        So pretty much any couple are going to be playing out Winston Smith and Julia.

        “It was a blow struck against the Party. It was a political act”.

    • Earthenware

      “How can a mandatory attendance to discuss ‘myths and misunderstandings’, be construed as an assumption of guilt”

      Because it assumes that you need to be told not to rape – i.e. that you are likely to if you don’t attend the course.

      If I were to suggest that you attend a “don’t steal” course, you would rightly be offended – because I would be suggesting that you need to be taught not to steal.

      • Mez

        No, the up front assumption was that it involved being taught not to rape, whereas the context could also imply that you need to understand the law regarding false accusation of rape, (myths) which also involves consent, also as Groan stated, what the law actually is regarding consent.
        The point I made earlier is that everyone who attends a ‘drugs course’ are not junkies, not being accused of being a junky or a drug dealer yet still attend the course.
        It’s pretty obvious whether or not anyone is stealing, there are no myths or grey areas which surround what is considered to be theft, so need either to create a class to discuss it.

    • Bogbrush

      You lost me at the word “mandatory”.

      It is absurd to make attendance at such events mandatory. Personally, I wouldn’t go because I don’t need to be told how not to rape but in the end any such guidance must be offered, not forced.

  • Groan

    I think you make an important point about “consent”. Until very recently the laws around sexual behaviour were about prohibiting “acts”. In a society that stated that sex was about procreation within a legally sanctioned relationship (and it is still the case that adultery is a grounds for divorce in law) the laws concentrated on prohibitions (age, specific sex acts, forced sex, assaults accompanied by a sexual act). As you say following on from the sexual liberation this starts to unravel. For if any sexual act is ok what limits can made? The high or low point of this was possibly the flirtation with the demands of the Paedophile Exchange by Hattie Harman and others in the seventies.
    The eventual fall back became that the anything is OK could be bounded by “consent”. However bizarre, risky or damaging any sexual acts are Ok if parties consent. Not very edifying but some sort of boundary.
    The Sexual Offences Act and other laws do need to be better understood because they are quite differently focussed than the public think. Of course in a democratic society shifts and changes in the Law are what happens. It is probably helpful for young people to know the law as it is. Particularly young men as social conventions assume they more able to make judgements in circumstances that would impair the judgement of females.
    However the content of the varieties of “consent” classes are in fact wildly variable depending on the provider . Many having a political analysis to present rather than one based on the law as it is currently.