You would think that it is normal for a mother to offer advice and guidance to a daughter who is preparing to go to college. You would think that a mother who takes her parental responsibilities seriously would explain to her daughter that too much drinking is a bad idea, not only because excessive consumption of alcohol is bad for her health but also because it makes her more vulnerable to sexual assault.
If you were counseling your daughter wouldn’t you want to teach her to avoid situations that might place her in danger?
If you think that this is perfectly unobjectionable, you don’t know feminism.
Two days ago Slate’s Emily Yoffe wrote an article saying that young women should not drink to excess. This would, she said, help them to avoid situations where they might be sexually assaulted. Most sexual assaults on campus occur when the victim has drunk too much. Ergo, women can help protect themselves by drinking less.
Surely, Yoffe knew what she was going to face. She deserves credit for telling the truth anyway.
Before you knew it, Yoffe’s example of responsible parental advice had produced a feminist freak out. From Katie Baker to Amanda Hess to Erin Gloria Ryan to Ann Friedman to Emma Gray the voices of contemporary feminism rose up to denounce Yoffe for, they seemed all to believe, blaming the victim and going easy on the male perpetrators of these heinous crimes.
If I may summarize it, they seemed to be reasoning that when a woman is raped it is not her fault. True enough. Thus, any suggestion that she might have avoided placing herself in a dangerous situation can make her feel that she was at fault, and thus will impede her recovery.
Yoffe was saying that she wants her daughter to do everything in her power, as an individual with free choice, to avoid being raped. Feminists believe that her message circumscribes the freedom of young women and tends to blame them when they are victims of sexual assault.
Feminists want to focus the maximum of outrage against rapists. Any suggestion that a woman might have knowingly herself in harms’ way diminishes their outrage.
You might ask yourself whether this outrage, directed against men as potential rapists and abusers is likely to make said men more or less likely to assault women.
And you might also ask yourself how many men are really capable of rape. Of those who are, how many of them do not know that they are committing a crime? Why would you want to teach all men that they are potential rapists?
True enough, none of the feminists mentioned above says that young women should go out and binge drink. Yet, they are in such high dudgeon over Yoffe’s recommendation that one would easily forgive a young woman for coming away believing that binge drinking was a way to assert her independence and her liberation.
Apparently, feminists believe that liberation means that a woman should be free to do as she pleases when she pleases how she pleases and not to have to suffer any ill-effects. They fail to see that freedom for responsibility is not the same as freedom from responsibility.
Worse yet, Yoffe was suggesting that women, far more than men, possess a specific vulnerability to sexual assault. It inheres in the biology of sex. And she was taking account of the fact that women are generally, significantly weaker then men.
If you take these realities into account, you will be advising your daughter to exercise caution when imbibing alcohol. You will be telling her to act responsibly.
For decades now, feminism has been telling women that they are strong and empowered. Yet, when you tell women that they are strong and powerful you are suggesting that they are invulnerable.
Yoffe’s feminist detractors did not specifically say it, but they must have been seriously incommoded by her willingness to accept the fact that a young woman is weaker and more vulnerable than a young man.
Let us not forget that some feminists, one of them Tufts professor Nancy Bauer have publicly said that equality means matching a man drink for drink and hookup for hookup.
If women are drinking more than ever it’s not because they are following advice given them by men. Most young women today refuse to accept any advice from any man.
While it is well known, as Yoffe documents, that women who get very drunk are more likely to be sexually assaulted, it is also true that women who choose to hook up, that is to perform consensual sexual acts with men they barely know often use alcohol as a psychic lubricant.
To return to the salient point, feminists are up in arms about sexual assault, as they rightly should be, but they seem to believe that the best solution is to prosecute rapists, thus to threaten men. Second best, they assert, is to organize sensitivity training sessions to teach men not to drink too much and to empathize with rape victims.
Unfortunately, the criminal justice system is not a very effective deterrent. As Yoffe points out, only a very small number of sexual assaults are ever prosecuted. The reasons are several, beginning with the pain inflicted on female victims during trials, but the truth is, most rapists know that rape is a serious crime and they do it anyway. For all I know, they get aroused by the risk. Many rapists are predators who will attack the most defenseless victim they can find. If they are true predators they will choose victims who are less likely to be consciously aware of what is happening.
Predators and psychopaths develop an enhanced consciousness of crime because they want to be able to do what they want to do without getting caught.
As for sensitivity training, I posted a while back about the ineffectiveness of anti-bullying sensitivity programs. It turns out that they do little to decrease the incidence of bullying. In fact, they provoke more of it.
Some feminists have been outraged to see that Yoffe does not place as much onus on the behavior of adolescent males as she does on her daughter. The reason might be that Yoffe does not have an adolescent son, but it also might be that, as all men know, when a man’s binge drinking surpasses a certain limit he will become, to be delicate, incapable of performing.
Be that as it may, telling people that an action is grievously wrong and even felonious does not appear to have a very strong deterrent effect. Threatening prosecution does not seem to prevent many rapes, either.
Here’s another proposal: how about teaching men that they have a manly duty to protect and defend women. Not merely in the most egregious situations where a woman is in danger, but in the smaller gestures that signify protectiveness. That might mean picking a woman up at home before a date; it might mean escorting her home after a date; it might mean opening doors for her and helping her to carry heavy packages.
It would mean behaving like a gentleman and treating women like ladies.
One understands that such thoughts might provoke yet another feminist freak out. Women are independent; they do not need men to protect them; they can take care of themselves; they have taken judo classes.
Why not try to change the culture so that men are encouraged to demonstrate more respect and more gentlemanly concern for women?
In the old days, before people became enamored of the power of the state to solve all problems, if a man assaulted a woman he did not have to answer to the court system. He had to answer to her brothers and her father. They would have meted out swift and merciless justice.
A potential rapist would have known that the women he was thinking of preying upon was not merely an independent, autonomous, strong, powerful woman… she was the sister and daughter of some very, very strong and very, very brutal men.