"Today's canny girls, emboldened by the hashtag "YesAllWomen" Twitter culture, scold their elders -- 'Don't tell us what to wear; teach the boys not to stare,'" Peggy Orenstein writes in The New York Times. "They are correct: Addressing leering or harassment will challenge young men's assumptions."
Actually, they're wrong. It may challenge some young men, but it won't change all of them, because such expectations ignore the fundamental and enduring differences between the sexes. Young women are learning this on college campuses, where mixed messages have made a mess of male-female relationships.
Harvey Mansfield, professor of government at Harvard, describes how feminists have failed to bring men up to a higher standard, and instead sink to the level of men. "It's not the fault of men that women want to join them in excess rather than calm them down," he writes in The Weekly Standard, "for men, too, are victims of the rape culture." He cites the false cues, driven by drunkenness, that men take in the campus hook-up culture.
The Harvard campus is roiled in the wake of a sexual assault on a young woman, described in her widely circulated letter in the student Harvard Crimson. She tells (anonymously) of her "hopeless, powerless, reaction" to an encounter in a dorm with a friend when she was drunk. Harvard, in response to this one accusation, assigned a "coordinator" with a staff to deal with the incident and its aftermath, and the federal government has sprung to action to combat the "hostile environments" on campuses, offering "significant guidance" for what it deems "appropriate" behavior between men and women. Nanny government now replaces in locos parentis.
Rape is a crime, but it becomes a harder call currently as the ambiguous "hook-up" rules muddle sexual foreplay. Gender neutrality in rhetoric does not trump biological nature in action. Here's an idea: What about a renewed appreciation for differences, adding a little feminine modesty to engender male restraint? We could start with what American apparel we encourage our young girls to wear.
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