It’s an old psychological experiment, one that is almost too easy to understand. A researcher tells you: “Don’t think of turtles.” He continues, “No really, I don’t want you to think about turtles.” He will continue in this vein for as long as he sees fit. In the end you will be able to think of nothing but turtles.
If you really don’t want people to think of turtles, you should tell them to think of parakeets. Or tell them not to think of parakeets. Either way their minds will be full of parakeets, to the exclusion of all turtles.
Why is this the case? Simply put, because if you are going to follow the instruction dutifully you will need to think of turtles first—in order to know what not to think about. The word “turtles” evokes an image or a concept of turtles, regardless what predicates you attach to it. If you introduce the metaphor of flying turtles, they will still look just like every other turtles, except perhaps that they might have wings.
If we understand this point, let’s examine a variant. Let’s say that you are a male and that the same researcher comes to you and instructs you: Don’t see women as sexual objects. Don’t think of them in sexual terms. Don’t think of their erotically arousing body parts.
I defy you, upon hearing those instructions, to think of women in any other than sexual terms.
We are now having a national conversation about rape culture. We are told that we must think about men raping women. Especially of white men raping women. And we must be thinking about it and talking about it all the time. As for the non-white men who are raping women in Sweden and Germany… shut up!
Someone will have to explain, because I am a bit slow on these issues, what advantage is gained by forcing everyone to think of sexual relations in terms of rape? Doesn't this make men and women into antagonists? In what way will this bring harmony to relations between the sexes?
All of this is my way of introducing the current Harvard soccer team sex scandal. You see, in 2012—got that, it goes back to 2012-- members of the Harvard men’s soccer team were so vulgar and uncouth that they rated the members of the Harvard women’s soccer team in sexual terms.
The New York Times has the horrifying story:
They rated the women on a sexual appeal scale of 1 to 10, including explicit descriptions of their physical traits and musings about the women’s preferred sexual positions.
“Doggy style,” they said of one. “The Triple Lindy” of another. Of another whom they perceived as “manly,” they wrote: “Not much needs to be said on this one, folks.”
This was not a presidential candidate caught in an unguarded moment. This was the men’s soccer team at Harvard, one of the most prestigious and privileged universities in the world, writing about counterparts on the women’s soccer team.
The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper, last week revealed the existence of the so-called scouting report, written in 2012, which had been in a Google document and was publicly searchable until recently.
Keep in mind, no one did anything to anyone. A bunch of male adolescents were making crude and lewd remarks about women. One might have said that theirs was protected speech. You remember free speech, don’t you?
Well, it is no longer a sufficient rationale for politically incorrect speech on the Harvard campus. When Harvard administrators discovered that adolescents were speaking so disrespectfully, they punished the soccer team by cancelling all of its remaining games. I suspect that these males were white. Since they were also athletes they were guilty of deviant sexual behavior.
But, where is the ACLU? Isn’t repugnant and offensive speech protected under the first amendment? Apparently, constitutional protections no longer apply on college campuses.
As you recall, when a student is accused of sexual assault he can, on many campuses, be hauled before an administrative panel, presumed to be guilty, deprived of his right to a lawyer or his right to cross examine his accuser and be expelled from the university and labeled as a sexual predator.
The rule of law has been replaced by the rule of ideology.
As for the soccer team, that will teach them. At least, that will teach them not to make their files searchable.
As for the larger picture, David French analyzes the problem well:
Harvard and its morally bankrupt secular peers encourage the polar-opposite worldview. From the moment their young, hormonal students set foot on campus, they’re encouraged to obsess about sex. Free condoms are available by the armload. From Thursday to Sunday, thousands of students drink themselves into literal stupors. And all the while they seek hookups and one-night-stands by, yes, rating appearance on apps such as Tinder, Bumble, and Grindr. Students are encouraged to question and defy virtually every element of traditional, religious moral teaching. Indeed, they’re taught that such teachings are oppressive and malicious.
These schools beg students to play with fire, then come flying in with fire extinguishers only after someone gets thoroughly burned.
French then asks, exactly what did the soccer players do to merit their punishment:
What, exactly, is the punishable offense committed by these soccer players? Is it talking sexually about a student without their consent? Well then, virtually every student in America should forfeit whatever remaining intercollegiate or intramural games are left on their schedules. Is it reducing those words to writing? Well, then, in this age where texts, e-mails, snapchats, and listservs increasingly replace the spoken word, teams will still be gutted.
It seems the real offense here was being dumb enough to get caught. Either that, or Harvard really does want to stamp out any and all sexual discussion or commentary absent consent, even as it takes pains not to suppress sexual expression and creativity: Speak like a Victorian gentleman, live like Long Dong Silver. Only idiots believe this can work.
We can spend a lot of time arguing about whether or not these players were indulging in locker room talk. And we can argue for a long time about whether governing bodies should ban such conversations, even when they take place in private.
Unfortunately, these students live in a world where too many people spend too much time discussing sexual matters. In some circles, it’s all that people discuss. Not only that, they live in a world where women in the media talk about sexual matters, about reproductive anatomy, about contraception, about STDs,about breasts and butts and thigh gaps… all the time. And they proudly show off their assets at the gym and on the beach. Modesty is not exactly the rule for today's liberated women.
People really want to know whether it happened in the past, or better, in a past that I, having graduated from college several decades ago, recall? In truth, it did not. I went to college before the sexual revolution. I went to college before sexual revolutionaries, student radicals, psycho professionals and even feminists decided that it would be a good idea to overcome our sense of shame, our sense of decorum, our sense of propriety and our sense of tact.
You might think that women suffered from unspeakable oppression for placing marriage and family ahead of career, but seeing dating and courtship in terms of marriage did crass vulgarity and disrespect a very rare occurrence indeed.
In the old days men were supposed to be gentlemen and women were supposed to be ladies. Men and women dated, and they did not have sex on the first or second or third date. The goal was to have sex with someone you knew, and this limited the possibilities for misunderstandings or abuse.
Vulgar language was considered improper, so men did not spend their time talking about female body parts. There were no coed dorms and men were never allowed into women’s dorms. Women suffered parietal rules that required them to return to their dorms by a specified time.
If you really want to reduce sexual assault and rape on campuses, it’s a start. Another place to start is with the notion that today’s college coeds should match men shot for shot. Among the dubious achievements of feminism is that women now drink as much as men. Since women remain smaller and weaker than men they are more likely to become drunker quicker than is a man who is twice their size. We no longer have demure, feminine women sipping or nursing a cocktail for an evening. Today’s feminists match a man shot for shot. It does not contribute to good relations between the sexes. When two adolescents become blind drunk....
Unless you have codes of conduct that prescribe respectful gestures you can only regulate behavior with threats, intimidation and punishment. The more you rely on threats, intimidation and punishment, the more everyone loses his sense of shame. At that point, discussing sexual matters becomes the social norm. It might be a deviant norm, but a norm it is. Those who have insisted that we overcome shame and become more open and honest about sexuality, to discuss sexual matters freely in the media, have a great deal to answer for. Of course, they won’t.
I close with a text from Confucius. It’s nice to know that someone understood these issues more than two millennia ago:
If you lead them by regulation and try to keep them in order with punishment, the people will manage to avoid punishment but will have no sense of shame. If you lead them by virtue and keep them in line by rites, they will have a sense of shame and will regulate themselves.