The war on men-on-women-on-men ... or something, as MSNBC’s Alex Wagner described it recently, gained fresh traction with a controversial column by The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto about campus rape.
In full disclosure, I wrote a book called “Save the Males” (Random House, 2008), so my understanding of these issues is not vague. The title notwithstanding, my bias is toward neither sex but toward yin and yang. My central point was that relations between the sexes do not constitute a zero-sum game, and our failure to recognize the differences between men and women is undermining much of what makes us a civilized nation.
What got Taranto going was a New York Times story about bystander intervention in campus rape. Basically, if a drunk guy is getting aggressive with a girl, you’re supposed to stop him. What was once simple citizenship is now innovative behavior modification. Elsewhere the zeitgeist was buzzing about proposed legislation in California that would codify the terms of consent in sexual relations among college students. Saying “yes” apparently isn’t good enough. Now yes needs to be persistent throughout the act.
The war on men or women, take your pick, quickly morphs into a war on intelligence. “They” are winning.
Taranto may have been inartful, but he wasn’t wrong to note that the problem of campus sexual assault (or misunderstanding, as the case may be) is often, if not always, related to alcohol. Drunks misbehaving, in other words. But when two drunks have sex, who, ultimately, is responsible should one decide she didn’t really mean it? Without current data at my fingertips, I feel safe in presuming that few males charge females with rape following a sorority party.
If the female decides at any point, including the next day, that she didn’t really want to engage in sex — no matter her own behavior at the time or the fogginess of her recollection, never mind the male’s own degree of inebriation — is the male entirely to blame?