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Campus Rape Crisis

Campus Follies: Lesson Seven

Being a parent is tough these days. There are so many issues that require parental intervention and explanation.

Take the "campus rape crisis" that is the subject of this week's installment of Campus Follies. Having three daughters makes one very observant. And in the 1990's there is a great deal to observe.

When the Ole Ygg was a teenager, we used to "date." For the benefit of the younger generation, that means that young men and young women followed a fairly well-understood set of rules and conventions of courtship. A set of assumptions underlying this activity made life much simpler.

For example, when a young man interacted with a young lady, romantic interest was assumed. There was absolutely zero risk that the young woman would mistake your intentions or assume that your attentions were platonic.

The felicitous consequence was that whenever young men and young women were together, they were expected to think of sex and romance. Further, it was possible to begin relationships with shy females quite easily. The females did not need to be aggressive or provocative, and the males did not need to be right every time about the young lady's feelings. It was OK to make the approach and be wrong. The shy and the awkward had a much easier time of it. The social conventions, while frustrating in certain respects, were a tremendous convenience to all involved.

Everyone (including the young lady's parents) understood full well that the young man's intentions were evil in the short- term. Nevertheless, the young lady was expected to take some time to get to know the young man, figure out if she liked him, and determine whether his attentions were enduring (For it was a truth universally acknowledged that enduring attentions lost their character of evil).

Nowadays, things are much more complex. Young men and women live in coed dorms, and are expected to be platonic and disinterested "friends" most of the time. There is a whole new set of rules or "signals" that the female must give and the male must understand before asserting a romantic interest. Because of this expectation of platonism most of the time, there is significant risk that romantic signals by females will be missed or ignored by the males or that approaches by males will be interpreted as harassment or boorishness by the females.

As a consequence, relations between the sexes require far more social skill than they did back in Ole Ygg's day. Several consequences follow.

First, most young men are going to require a much clearer signal of initial "romantic readiness" from the female than many young females are comfortable giving. The consequence is that social success will disproportionately favor young ladies with an aggressive sexual demeanor (or at least the capacity to turn on such a demeanor at will).

Second, from a lack of clear rules as to what constitutes a "signal," and from a lack of experience, many young men are going to misinterpret the signals much of the time.

Third, aggressive, gregarious males will be far more demanding of most females, restricting their range of female friends to an "easier" circle to minimize risks.

Fourth, shy males are in real trouble. They will remain essentially dateless until economic attraction begins to supplement the physical and romantic. Loneliness and cynicism abound on most campuses. On campuses like Stanford, the aggression and hostility of males (who outnumber females 2 to 1) is so thick you can cut it with a knife.

Enter the additional complexity of "diversity" and "multiculuralism".

Recently Yggdrasil had occasion to attend an athletic competition at a predominantly Latino junior high school. It was make-out city. The boys and girls were all over each other. All in all, it was a healthy, normal American school atmosphere. A bit more active than the schools the Ole Ygg attended as a kid, but what the heck, this _is_ the 90s.

The contrast with the very exclusive suburban high school Ygg's daughters attend could not be starker. You wander around campus after school and you can feel something is missing, but you can't quite put your finger on it. It is only after the visit to the Latino Jr. High that you know what it is. You are hard pressed to see any sign of affection between the sexes among the kids. No hand holding, no kissing, no nothing. It is weird.

Your first suspicion, being a parent, is that the kids must be extraordinarily skilled at concealment. But then you take a hard, non-fatherly look at the young ladies wandering around campus after school, and you realize that something is dreadfully wrong. They do not give off any sexual signals whatever. For a slight majority, the chemistry is utterly missing. They seem, for the most part, utterly unaware of themselves.

The Ole Ygg had occasion to be a "security guard" at a junior high dance at this same school. Now in junior high, you do not expect particularly high levels of sexual awareness from European-American children. But there was a small group of kids, perhaps 10%, who occupied the dance floor and were surprisingly advanced for their age. By the way they were dancing, and the things they were doing to one another as they danced, you had to wonder whether this conduct and knowledge came naturally, or whether they had observed adult sexual activity in the home. In any event, it became clear that kids who are active sure aren't concealing it. They are quite brazen.

But then what of the attitudes of young men outside that 10% (or 20%, by the time high school arrives). You see, when the Ole' Ygg was a boy, young women were expected to restrain themselves for _moral_ reasons. Back in the old days, young men assumed that the young ladies were as interested in sex as they, but that the young ladies had a greater desire to be "good". Now that those moral reasons are largely gone, one cannot help but wonder exactly what young men must think of teenage girls.

Goodness is no longer a reasonable assumption. Disinterest is.

Thus, from the standpoint of a young male, the competition for desirable mates must appear a whole lot more ferocious than it otherwise would from the roughly even numbers of the sexes.

Yet when you ask a teenage male, you are likely to get no response at all, not even as to why he and his friends watch the S&M scenes in the Madonna videos that worry you so. If you ask at all, you ask with care, and you wonder.

Most fathers seem delighted with the idea that their daughters don't date- that they go out with groups of kids. The girls are less likely to "get in trouble", so the reasoning goes. And yet one cannot help but wonder where this lack of interaction might lead. Most young men never take responsibility for a young lady for an evening (except maybe at prom) and never shoulder the obligation of having a pleasant time even if romance does not happen.

One wonders how on earth these non-dating European-American youngsters are going to connect with the opposite sex. In an era requiring complex behaviors and complex signals, many radiate no signals at all. Without dating, experience and skill cannot fill the void left by nature. In any event, it becomes obvious that any sort of feminist ideological onslaught such as the "date rape crisis" will be refracted through entirely different lenses depending on your ethnic background. The children of color will know instantly that the whole fuss is not about them, and that someone else must have a real problem dealing with the real world.

And so it is that the "date rape crisis" on our campuses protrudes in many different directions depending on your perspective.

The campuses all publish "date rape guidelines" for the benefit of the males. There are rape crisis centers set up in conspicuous buildings on most campuses. They have big signs in front of them, as if to comfort visiting parents.

An outstanding article on this topic appeared in the June 27, 1991 edition of the Wall Street Journal entitled "The Date Rape Scare."

In the words of Professor Gilbert, the author:

Now if one in seven, or 15% of college women have been raped, then that is substantial evidence of male frustration. But perhaps things are not _that_ bad. Perhaps the numbers are infected by ideology. As the author notes:

Now the fascinating thing about these numbers is that the United States has a female college population of about 2.8 million. At 15%, about 420,000 have been raped - and at least twice that number, or 840,000, by the time four years is up.

The Bureau of Justice (BOJ) performs extensive surveys each year on 25,000 households to determine the number of crimes committed in the United States. They do the surveys because many crimes are under-reported. The BOJ reports that there were approximately 145,000 rapes in 1992 spread over the entire U.S. population. If rapes on campus were no more or less frequent than rapes generally, and if we assume that all rapes occur only within the younger half of the population, then we would expect only two- tenths of one percent, or about two per thousand college girls, to be raped.

Fortunately, the author provides us with an explanation and that explanation is, as expected, ideology:

Many of the European-American students arriving on campus have little or no sexual experience. Surveys claim that 70% of college bound girls are virgins. The propaganda hits them at a particularly vulnerable time. Our modern Universities no longer have "mixers" (or dances) as they used to in the old days. Indeed, Ygg, Jr. reports that, aside from lots of gay and lesbian dances, the only structured "social activities" on campus that men and women are invited to attend together are rape awareness lectures and the like. Young college students have been left to fend for themselves. And indeed there is not the slightest official recognition of heterosexual activity or relationships.

In the January 17, 1994 edition of the Wall Street Journal an editorial entitled "Swarthmore's Confused Correctness" gave a poignant, if severe, example of misinterpreted signals on our college campuses.

The article concludes:

This is not a pleasant time for young males to attend College. They must restrain their speech so as not to give offense to queers, blacks or other minorities. As we have seen in other installments of Campus Follies, these queers, blacks and other minorities are allowed to say anything they wish to or about white males.

Perhaps more significant, white males are taught that amorous advances toward females not wanting them are grounds for expulsion. Should any young man mistakenly expect that the probability of complaint is low, they are put on clear notice that the institution is teaching young European-American women to be suspicious and resentful of males.

Perhaps this is all one grand psychology experiment to see how far our society can go in infuriating white males before they organize and overturn the system. Perhaps at the first sign of serious trouble, the campus administrators will say "just kidding" about all this political correctness, multiculturalism and enforced male-hating, and the trouble will pass.

But to the average white male on campus, it could reasonably appear to be a well orchestrated attack from a number of different directions. Once the wheels of revolt begin to turn, they may be very hard to stop.

Thus far, most seem to retain hope and restrain themselves. They expect the torture will end when they get out into the real world of work.

Maybe, but maybe not! Stay tuned!


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