THE University of Essex’s attempt to teach students about consent has backfired, according to the Daily Telegraph. Undergraduates were told they must watch a film called Can’t Touch This exploring ‘the issue of sexual harassment during a night out’. Students complained that the film was ‘patronising’, ‘deeply insensitive and damaging’, that the issues addressed ‘should be common sense’ and demanded that its mandatory screenings should be scrapped to avoid upsetting, or ‘triggering’, those who had been victims of sexual assaults or harassment.
Not Essex University’s most successful initiative, it seems. A spokesman explained that they ‘took the decision to make the training compulsory because both the university and students’ union think it is vital all of our students engage with these issues’.
Sexual harassment in colleges has become a hot topic in recent years, but if there really is a ‘lad culture’, perhaps the activists trying to stem it should look a little further back in the educational chain at how lads (and ladettes) are taught about sex. For decades now, children have been taught the mechanics of sex, conveyed with the impression that the only barrier to such activity is not the feelings of the object of their interest but the use of contraception.
It is true that in recent years ‘sex educators’ have called for children to be taught about issues of consent – yet this is the very same lobby which has sidelined the legal age of consent, instead telling them what to do ‘when’ they ‘have sex’, the very same lobby that has pushed for easy access to contraception and morning after pills.
It is beyond parody that a university should force students to watch a film about consent, and that students have taken offence is for once welcome. It does highlight the muddled thinking surrounding relationships that used to be clearly demarcated by cultures based on Judeo-Christian values. These are the values that are no longer taught because modern ideologues object to them in case they ‘trigger’ negative reactions because of their ‘archaic’ nature.
Given the state of the modern campus, it looks as if they are not so outdated after all.