Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Birds and the Bees 101

Apologies for the dearth of posts---I spent a long weekend in Vegas for my brother's bachelor party, and then had to do the whole re-entry thing once I arrived back in Richmond. Did you know food goes bad in the fridge if you leave it in there too long?

Anyways, catching up on my reading once I returned, I came across a fascinating article in the New York Times devoted entirely to a lengthy treatise on women's college hook-up experiences: Sex on Campus - She Can Play That Game, Too.

Can she now? Well, who knew. A certain Casanova (or would that be Casanovette?) claims that "she [enjoys] casual sex on her terms --- often late at night, after a few drinks, and never at her place, she noted, because then she would have to wash the sheets." One wonders: does she ever wash her sheets at all, or is she that lazy?

Well, it's a clever sexual stratagem, and justified thusly:

“I definitely wouldn’t say I’ve regretted any of my one-night stands,” she said.

“I’m a true feminist,” she added. “I’m a strong woman. I know what I want.”

At the same time, she didn’t want the number of people she had slept with printed, and she said it was important to her to keep her sexual life separate from her image as a leader at Penn.

There's just so many confusing things going on here, it makes my prudish head spin. What does being a "feminist" have to do with "knowing what you want?" Does she think non-feminist women simply have no idea what they want? And what does being a "strong woman" have to do with not regretting your choices? I'll concede her strength but raise her a non sequitur. I consider myself a "strong man," or whatever, but I've done plenty that I regret.

The last bit is golden, though. She "doesn't want the number of people she had slept with printed" because she's worried it will interfere with her "image" as a "leader." So she's a non-regretful strong feminist who is nevertheless aggressively demure about how many people she's gone to bed with; consequently, if we're to take her at her word, she's telling us that the tenets of feminism are incompatible with those of leadership! What a weird lady.

The article later details the story of another female student:

In November of Haley’s freshman year, a couple of months after her first tentative “Difmos,” or dance-floor makeouts, she went to a party with a boy from her floor. She had too much to drink, and she remembered telling him that she wanted to go home.

Instead, she said, he took her to his room and had sex with her while she drifted in and out of consciousness. She woke up with her head spinning. The next day, not sure what to think about what had happened, she described the night to her friends as though it were a funny story: I was so drunk, I fell asleep while I was having sex! She played up the moment in the middle of the night when the guy’s roommate poked his head in the room and asked, “Yo, did you score?”

Only later did Haley begin to think of what had happened as rape...

Now, if indeed the young woman was taken advantage of in such a way, then one certainly feels an immense amount of compassion for her, at least insofar as a non-rape victim like myself is able to feel. But of course she neglects to mention the critical detail of the entire encounter, which is whether or not her male companion was himself drunk. If he wasn't, then he is certainly guilty of rape. If he was drunk, however---a detail that, again, Haley apparently never even considers---then it becomes terribly ambiguous. If she was drunk, and drunk sex equals rape, then what if her quasi-lover was also wasted? Did they somehow rape each other? How on earth would that work?

Hardline feminists often like to claim that if the woman is drunk, then the sex is rape, no exceptions. They never seem to address the possibility of the man's being drunk, as well; instead they seem to depend on the male to safeguard the female's sexuality, akin to the puritanical social impulses they once hoped to shed: even if he's hammered out of his mind, it's still his responsibility. It's an incredible double standard, and one that perfectly encapsulates the fundamental hollowness of modern-day Western feminism. You've come a long way, baby.


  1. You make some great observations, but as regards this last scenario and the idea of date rape and drunkenness, etc., I currently volunteer for a crisis hotline for abuse in relationships, and one of the things that we stress is that if you are using alcohol or drugs, you are far more likely to make poor decisions and end up in a very bad situation. I think that if this young woman was drifting in and out of consciousness while someone penetrated her that she was probably raped--unless he somehow thought she was participatory--which would involve consciousness. One of the reasons that the responsibility rests with the man in this instance is "penetration." He would have to actively put his penis into her vagina while she was unconscious. I agree with you that feminism has NOTHING to do with making bad choices or being promiscuous, but as regards the semi-conscious date rape, your argument is poor. I am a woman who has been in the aforementioned situation so I speak from experience here. We live in a rape culture where it's somehow considered excusable for a man to have sex with a woman if she is drunk because it's her fault for being drunk. Men should take responsibility, and have some moral compass that impresses upon them that a drunk girl who passes out in their bed is not an invitation to put his dick in her or to invite his friends to do likewise.

    1. Hi Micki!

      I think you may be missing the point just slightly---the issue is not whether a drunk woman is unable to consent to sex (I believe she isn't, so we agree on that); the issue is whether or not a drunk MAN is able to consent, or rather: if both partners are drunk, does their consequent sex equal rape? I don't believe it does, but only because I've never heard convincing-enough arguments.

  2. Oh, you disappoint me. We do not agree on any issue. Of course, a legally intoxicated person can agree to have sex, but if you were unconscious and on the point of passing out... and a man put his penis in you or a woman stuck a dildo in you without consent--and they were drunk-- and pushed your face down, etc., would you feel that you'd been raped? Or would you think that one person being high on drugs while you were high on alcohol or any other drug made it all right even if you didn't consent? I am not missing the point. You did not make one.

    1. Well. I did indeed make a point---one based off a case study which you have simply re-stated here. Your example is the same thing that happened to the woman in the article, so it's not as if there's any new ground to tread here. But just to entertain the notion: if, say, I were gay, and a male companion and I BOTH got blackout drunk and had sex---no, I wouldn't consider it rape. That's just silly.

      Again, you don't seem to be allowing for any real female agency in the matter here---that is to say, a female is apparently physically incapable of rape, and can only rape someone under bizarre circumstances such as "sticking a dildo in you." You seem to think that a woman is incapable of raping a man via vaginal sex. I don't get it. So far as I can tell, your overarching problem seems to be with the basic act of sexual penetration---that is to say, your problem seems to be with biology itself, and not with any real societal concerns viz. sexual power. I suspect you just don't like the way the male and female bodies are set up. Which a lot of people don't, to be fair, but there's no point in trying to cover it up.

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  3. Oops. I shouldn't have added "and pushed your face down, etc." it was emotional and unnecessary at making my point.

  4. I think the point, here, is pretty clear:

    a) Daniel acknowledged that a (relatively) sober man having sex with a highly intoxicated girl constitutes a level of rape.

    a-1) Ergo, a (relatively) sober girl (or, for whatever reason, guy*) initiating sex with a highly intoxicated Daniel would ALSO constitute a level of rape.

    *It's worth noting that Daniel is not gay, and desires neither a penis nor a dildo up his ass. Presumably, this would have been understood by whomever he was with, and any attempt to subject Daniel to this act would only add to his sense of "being raped." Daniel wouldn't even enjoy this act while sober; forcing it unto his intoxicated self would compound the degree to which he was violated. Basically, this is a long-winded way of saying that the "dick n' dildo" rhetorical angle was impertinent and sensationalist.

    b) The primary aim of the above essay was to ask, "are two equally intoxicated partners still raping/being raped?" That is to say, if a guy and girl meet at a bar, get hammered, go home, and bang, was the girl raped? Is the guy a rapist? If they both wake up wondering what the hell happened last night, is the guy still, in some way, guilty of violating the girl? Sometimes, for some people, the answer is undoubtedly yes; the guy DID rape that girl. That strikes me as odd. That sort of scenario used to be referred to as "a drunken mistake." Now, many claim it constitutes sexual assault.

    b-1) Daniel also points out that this type of perception robs the girl of her sense of autonomy. Apparently, 1) only guys are capable of making drunken decisions, while girls are not; 2) Only guys can make determinations regarding drunken sex, while girls can not; 3) the penis is an inherently violent thing, and girls are porcelain dolls, and men are animals and women are weak, and a woman and a man who are equally drunk are, in reality, not equal at all, and it is the man's job, irregardless of his level of impairment, to "do right" by the girl, since she is fragile.

    This is the picture I get from this school of thought. Again, this does not speak to obvious, clear-cut, man-is-sober/woman-is-wasted rape. That sort of thing is vile and should not be tolerated. The point I think Daniel is trying to make is, Why is an instance of two heterosexual drunks having sex still seen as the rape of a woman by a man? Again, that sort of thing used to be considered the result of too many shooters on a Saturday night. Not rape.

    I think that's the point Danny's getting at. Am I right?