A Sexual Counter-Revolution

Our carefree college days were long ago, back in the era of raccoon coats and ukeleles and goldfish-swallowing, but we try to keep abreast of what’s current in higher education. Imagine our horror, then, to discover that the once-idyllic campus life has degenerated into a culture of rape.
This isn’t our usual grumpy old man’s anti-intellectual assessment of those pointy-headed academics, but rather the conclusion of academia itself. The more-or-less official feminist line is that one in five currently enrolled co-eds will be sexually assaulted while in college, an alarming statistic that has been repeated by the President of the United States, and the term “culture of rape” is frequently invoked to explain the epidemic. Many colleges have responded by adopting a “preponderance of evidence” standard when considering allegations of sexual assault, and now that the Department of Education has made federal funding contingent on such measures the rest will eventually do so, while there seems to be a serious movement afoot to eradicate whatever culture is causing all this rape.
Let us make clear at this point that we do not wish to make light of rape, which is as heinous a crime as man can commit and should always be punished with the utmost severity whenever guilt of it has been proved, but only a heart of stone can’t find some bemusement in academia’s clumsy response to this eternal problem. That one-in-five number is laughable at first glance, and would be the most damning indictment of higher education yet if it were true. One would almost certainly reach something approaching that ratio if the definition of “sexual assault” were expanded to include any regrettable experience a young woman might have in today’s hyper-sexualized society, and we have great sympathy for all of them insufficiently wary young women who have fallen victim to our cultural depredations, but it’s disquieting to see colleges denying due process to young men accused of violating the cultural norms that academia has long sought to abolish.
Back in the bad old days of sexual repression a patriarchy imposed virginity on the yearning-to-be-unleashed libidos of young women, especially those bold and brilliant enough to a pursue a college education, but academic feminism was at the forefront of liberating society from such archaic restrictions. Colleges used to promise the tuition-paying parents that they would act in loco parentis, meaning they would assume the role of nosy and puritanical parents, but by now they are acting those loco sorts of parents who provide condoms and encouragement for a nice robust romp in the dorm. There’s an inadvertently hilarious Hollywood movie set in the ’50s called “Mona Lisa Smile” that features the comely Julia Roberts as a heroic professor in the “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” mode who encourages her female charges to pursue promiscuity as self-expression, another called “Kinsey” that features the handsome Liam Neeson portraying the titular perverted Indiana University sexologist as a hero of the sexual revolution, and they accurately reflect the role colleges played in eradicating the old sexual etiquette. We suspect the sexual pioneers intended that their distaff charges would all have enlightening affairs with sensitive poetry majors, which would somehow enhance their procreative marriages to more boring but lucrative business majors, but it turned out that the main beneficiaries of the new rules were the buff frat boys and their infuriatingly anti-feminist “bro culture.”
(We’ll note in passing that a Democratic Senatorial candidate in Kentucky is running on her party’s familiar claim that the Republicans are engaged in a “war on women,” but is the heiress to a “breastaurant” called “Hugh Jass” that caters to the local fraternity clientele with a double-entendre-laden menu and scantily-clad waitresses.)
This is probably the real reason for feminism’s sudden concern with the “culture of rape,” and we have some sympathy. Our disdain for the womanizing frat boy culture is not based on feminist principles, but rather the old-fashioned respect for womanhood that our Christian mother inculcated in us at an early age, but we hope that one way or another it will soon wither from public scorn. The irrecoverable end of the old rules of courtship is not at all limited to that sub-culture, however, and until academia is willing to embrace more old-fashioned notions of sexual propriety it is unlikely to correct what truly is, in some unsettling if not strictly legal sense, a culture of rape.

— Bud Norman

The Rising Cost of Wising Up

Every day seems to bring another executive order, and the latest presidential edict concerns student loans. With a stroke of President Barack Obama’s magic pen the indented need pay no more than 10 percent of whatever monthly income they might be lucky to have, and all those recent graduates who voted for him as part of their embarrassingly idealistic college phase will no doubt be glad for the help. They’re still liable for the entire outrageous cost of their unmarketable degrees, however, and the president’s fix only perpetuates the unsustainable system that got them into that fix.
The cost of a college education has quintupled over the past 30 years, and a brief conversation with a randomly selected recent graduate will demonstrate that the quality of that education has declined just as markedly, but the only solution being offered is to help students stretch out those costs over a lifetime. If Wal-Mart or the Koch brothers or any of the other corporate villains being pillared at almost every college were subjecting their customers to crushing indebtedness with such shoddy practices they’d go out of business or into jail or both, but academia enjoys such status with our college-educated elites that the government intervenes only to help their alma maters continue their price-hiking ways. The administration is seeking to regulate away pesky price competition from the private sector, has nationalized the student loan program to make sure that they’ll keep enough money flowing to accommodate the tuition hikes that inevitably follow the expanding credit, and argued that denying even the most academically ill-prepared youngster an opportunity to go deeply into debt for four years of left-wing indoctrination and a piece of paper that might win a job pouring coffee at some some hipster bistro is somehow anti-intellectual.
Which is not to say that the administration isn’t willing to impose some burdens on academia, such as a new rating system and rules about how colleges are to handle allegations of sexual assault. The same academics who voted overwhelmingly for the president are bristling at the government’s intrusiveness, which they feel is more appropriate to everyone else’s business, but it’s hard to muster any sympathy or even fend off the schadenfreude. The sexual assault rules are a result of academia’s faddish obsession with the “culture of rape” that the feminists insists pervade those green lawns and ivy-covered halls of the average campus, by which they mean the promiscuous “hook-up” culture that has followed academia’s half-century-long assault on traditional Judeo-Christian morality, and it was bound to happen that some governmental do-gooders would sooner or later take their cause seriously. One can only hope the new rules will prevent a rape or two, even if there are already laws against it, which somehow pre-date feminism, but given the rapidly expanding definition of the crime on the modern campus and the lax standard of prove being mandated by the government it might also create a culture of false rape accusations based on hurt feelings rather than actual offenses. Concerns for the rights of the accused are somehow sexist, though, which can only be explained in a high-priced college education.
The new rules might accelerate the trend of fewer men attending college, which could in turn make the high-priced experience somewhat less appealing to many of today’s libidinous women, and thereby hasten the inevitable popping of the higher education bubble. At some point on the cost curve even college students will wise up, and if not their parents surely will. Giving the professors a taste of the governmental regulations they have long championed might improve their thinking, too.

— Bud Norman