Women Have a Role to Play in Ending Rape

Erica Wanis
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Posted: Dec 17, 2014 12:01 AM
Women Have a Role to Play in Ending Rape
Before circumstances and Providence brought me to a small, Christian liberal arts college in a sleepy northern Virginia town, I spent three years studying at the University of Illinois followed by a two year stint in the Army. Needless to say, I spent much of my early twenties participating in American party culture, and I'm lucky I made it through those years relatively unscathed. Looking back, I made a lot of foolish decisions. I put myself in a lot of compromising situations that could have easily taken a dark turn. What I have to say in the following paragraphs, then, does not come from a place of ignorance or unsympathetic idealism. It comes from a woman who's played the game, learned many lessons, and come to realize exactly what's at stake for America's young people if something major doesn't change. It comes from a mother who knows in her heart that it's her daughter, even more than her son, who has a role to play in the change that needs to happen.

Rape is terrible. It is something that no person should ever have to experience. The way the issue is being politicized and sensationalized by feminists and their sympathizers in the media, however, is not helping matters. It is eclipsing the true nature of the problem and preventing authentic dialog from occurring. The hysterical and sometimes supremely irresponsible
media coverage of this issue has created the impression that America has a rape epidemic on its hands, and hordes of feminist activists have mobilized to combat it. On college campuses across America, students are protesting what they see as institutional indifference to an extremely serious problem. A group of students at the University of Virginia participated in a "SlutWalk" protest to draw attention to the problem of rape. Protest organizer Maria Dehart explained the origins of the provocative name. "[Slut Walk]," she said, "is trying to fight against this victim-blaming, slut-shaming culture we have that sexualizes women, yet shames them for being sexual. So we were trying to take the word slut, and the movement tries to turn it around and take the shame out of it."

With virtually any other public health crisis, Progressives are more than eager to examine the causal factors at play. Think of how they addressed the AIDS epidemic, or how they discuss the problem of obesity. "Why is this happening? What behaviors increase the risks of this happening? What can people to do avoid it?" Not so with the public health crisis that is rape. On this issue Progressives stop short of critical analysis and resort to the infantile tactic of indiscriminate male bashing. Anyone who dares ask these basic questions and ventures to connect the dots between behavior and consequences when it comes to rape is pilloried as a foot soldier in the so-called War on Women.


Professor Harvey Mansfield incurred the wrath of feminists when he suggested that feminism itself shares much of the blame for campus "rape culture" and that a return to standards of feminine modesty and gentlemanly honor holds the key to combating it. From his letter:

"In return for women's holding to a higher standard of sexual behavior, feminine modesty gave them protection while they considered whether they wanted to consent. It gave them time: Not so fast! Not the first date! I'm not ready for that! It gave them the pleasure of being courted along with the advantage of looking before you leap. To win over a woman, men had to strive to express their finer feelings, if they had any. Women could judge their character and choose accordingly. In sum, women had the right of choice, if I may borrow that slogan. All this and more was social construction, to be sure, but on the basis of the bent toward modesty that was held to be in the nature of women. That inclination, it was thought, cooperated with the aggressive drive in the nature of men that could be beneficially constructed into the male duty to take the initiative. There was no guarantee of perfection in this arrangement, but at least each sex would have a legitimate expectation of possible success in seeking marital happiness. They could live together, have children, and take care of them.

Without feminine modesty, however, women must imitate men, and in matters of sex, the most predatory men, as we have seen. The consequence is the hook-up culture now prevalent on college campuses, and off-campus too (even more, it is said). The purpose of hooking up is to replace the human complexity of courtship with "good sex," a kind of animal simplicity, eliminating all the preliminaries to sex as well as the aftermath. "Good sex," by the way, is in good part a social construction of the alliance between feminists and male predators that we see today. It narrows and distorts the human potentiality for something nobler and more satisfying than the bare minimum."


Feminists reject Mansfield's analysis wholesale. They scoff at the misogynistic notion that women have a responsibility to protect themselves from unwanted sexual advances by conducting themselves in a ladylike manner. On the contrary, they insist that women should be able to act however they please. They should let their libidos run free and wild. They should be able to participate in the popular hookup culture. They should be able to dress provocatively, and party and drink and flirt without any thought for the compromising situations this behavior might lead to, the dangers they might find in dark dorm rooms and frat houses, their reason and their inhibitions weakened by alcohol. And men should stand ready to respond to the whims of the feminine libido... but they must also be responsible for navigating the gray and foggy world of "consent." The "SlutWalk"ers don't explain exactly how this would look or should work, other than to suggest that we program our boys to be able to determine "conscious consent" without error, and that if in any way a woman is unhappy with the way an encounter plays out, it's 100%, without question always the man's fault.


This all speaks to the feminist's refusal to acknowledge reality, reality about their own nature as women and that of their male counterparts. And as Mansfield suggests, this refusal bears significant responsibility for increasing rates of sexual violence on college campuses. Feminist and cultural commentator Camille Paglia recently discussed the terrible danger of feminine obliviousness to their innate vulnerability and their cavalier attitude about the sexual power they wield. In the wake of UVA student Hannah Graham's disappearance, Paglia wrote:

"Too many young middleclass women, raised far from the urban streets, seem to expect adult life to be an extension of their comfortable, overprotected homes. But the world remains a wilderness. The price of women's modern freedoms is personal responsibility for vigilance and self-defense.

Current educational codes, tracking liberal-Left, are perpetuating illusions about sex and gender. The basic Leftist premise, descending from Marxism, is that all problems in human life stem from an unjust society and that corrections and fine-tunings of that social mechanism will eventually bring utopia. Progressives have unquestioned faith in the perfectibility of mankind.

The horrors and atrocities of history have been edited out of primary and secondary education except where they can be blamed on racism, sexism, and imperialism – toxins embedded in oppressive outside structures that must be smashed and remade. But the real problem resides in human nature, which religion as well as great art sees as eternally torn by a war between the forces of darkness and light...

The gender ideology dominating academe denies that sex differences are rooted in biology and sees them instead as malleable fictions that can be revised at will. The assumption is that complaints and protests, enforced by sympathetic campus bureaucrats and government regulators, can and will fundamentally alter all men. . . .

Misled by the naive optimism and "You go, girl!" boosterism of their upbringing, young women do not see the animal eyes glowing at them in the dark. They assume that bared flesh and sexy clothes are just a fashion statement containing no messages that might be misread and twisted by a psychotic. They do not understand the fragility of civilization and the constant nearness of savage nature."


Paglia, in discussing the pathology of sex crime, articulates precisely the problem with prevailing feminist attitudes about sex. In rejecting the notion that women have a responsibility of personal vigilance and self-defense, they are exposing themselves to grave dangers. For some, like Hannah Graham, the price paid is their very lives. For others, it is the trauma of rape or the embarrassment of an early morning "walk of shame."

If indeed American college campuses are experiencing an epidemic of rape, then women must be willing to consider how their attitudes and behavior might be contributing to the problem. This would likely mean a radical transformation of college party culture, including a female-led rejection of the hookup culture that has and continues to damage so many young lives. Would such a change eradicate all instances of rape? Certainly not, but in the case of the alcohol-soaked, consensually-murky encounters plaguing America's institutions of higher learning, it would go along way towards solving the problem.