I have been watching with some interest the great rape campus debate roaring between the liberals and conservatives in the US. It is not quite as loud in the UK – but there are signs it is heading our way. You can see part of it played out in the debate on Ched Evans.
For those who are not familiar with the great rape campus debate it goes something like this. Liberal feminists tell us that US campuses are veritable hotbeds, hotbeds of rape. Rape stalks female students like never before. The usual statistic is that 1 in 5 women will suffer sexual assault during their college career.
This statistic has been comprehensively debunked.
Many conservative commentators have grave concerns about the male student body being unfairly labelled as rapists, or potential rapists, and in particular that careers are ruined by dodgy university-administered bureaucratic systems that deny the accused due process and can result in permanent expulsion. I share these concerns, but they are not my only ones.
The feminists cry that female students are living in a ‘rape culture.’ However reliance on dodgy stats and witch-hunts undermines their cause at every turn. The social conservative response, however, has left me feeling cold.
The conservatives are worried – it seems to me – mainly about the lack of due process afforded to male students accused of rape and dodgy stats. I agree that both are problematic. But from a socially conservative point of view, there must be more to this than stats and systems.
Every story that I read about involves two things – ridiculously stupid amounts of alcohol consumed by both the accused and victim at a party where the main aim seems to be to ‘hook-up’ with a person you do not know or have met only a few times before. That quaint ritual once referred to as ‘dating’ is gone with the wind.
It seems to me that social conservatives are happy if we can fiddle around with the stats a bit and make the bureaucratic system a bit fairer. Once these are fixed, we can all happily go on our way. As long as the young people ‘get consent’ then it is none of our business. In many ways this is the position of the liberals – get consent, use a condom and get out.
Getting consent is of course a legal minimum requirement, but in no other area of human relationships do social conservatives settle for the bare legal minimum. Social conservatives are also interested in values, and I am afraid my socially conservative friend, ‘get consent’ is not a value.
I am not proposing some kind of beauraucratic or State-enforced value system. This is already being suggested by the Left (who never waste time in filling your kids heads with their empty, rubbish values) who believe “we need to raze almost every cultural belief that we have about sex, women, and rape and create an entirely new foundation from scratch.”
I do expect values (preferably socially conservative ones) to be championed by parents and families, faith groups and communities. This is what these social institutions are for, to pass on the cultural store, norms and values to the next generation.
I am bemused by the social conservative response to this because it is surrender. Are we just accepting that the heavily inebriated hook-up scene is just par for the course, part of going to university? I know people make mistakes, and that they have to experiment, but there is a line between freedom and abandonment and currently these university students are being abandoned by the their elders – something that has never happened before.
They are not abandoned when it comes to career advice however, No Siree. Plenty of advice there – micromanagement, in fact – if reports are to believed. But negotiating human relationships? Don’t ask me, I am just your mother.
It comes down to this. Since when did it become morally acceptable for a young man to ‘hook-up’ with a young woman he barely knows and who is highly intoxicated? Since when did the social conservatives say to their sons – this A-Ok ‘as long as you have consent.’? Like that makes it all fine despite the fact she has just been sick ten minutes beforehand. Is that what we are going to debate for the next 10 years, whether a ‘drunken consent is still a consent’? Is this all we have to offer?
What makes it worse is that these are the future lawyers, doctors and engineers. Even more important than this, these men are the future husbands to our daughters and fathers to the grandkids (lots and lots of emphasis added). If social conservatives continue this abandonment then don’t be surprised if ten years down the road you only see the grandkids once a month because either the marriage broke up or there was no marriage in the first place (if you are lucky enough even to have grandkids).