Re: Bad

1

This story in tandem with one about the Honduras refugee children made me hate humanity this weekend. (Specifically, there was a line in the about a 6 year old Honduran girl who was found with her throat slit and her panties stuffed in her slit throat, which moved me to tears. The oddness of the horribly specific detail is just so grotesque and I hate everyone.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 7:46 AM
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Particular things that kill me about that article: generally, when there's an account of a criminal prosecution, and someone who sounds guilty as hell is acquitted, I think "You can't tell what the evidence looked like in the courtroom, and 'beyond a reasonable doubt' is a very, very, very high standard." But the college's disciplinary process was explicitly, as stated in the article, supposed to make a finding by a preponderance of the evidence standard: more likely than not. And those fucking bastards looked at evidence including an eyewitness and contemporaneous texts asking for help, and figured it was more likely than not that nothing requiring discipline happened. How does that work?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:02 AM
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the real problem here is that a significant minority of boys all over the country seem to think that treating a woman this way is ok. What the hell?

It's male privilege and entitlement in a nutshell.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:03 AM
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1. Everything is awful.

2. Shit like that happens round here every week during term, and everyone knows it.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:07 AM
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From the article:

The chairwoman, Sandra E. Bissell, vice president of human resources, was joined by Brien Ashdown, an assistant professor of psychology, and Lucille Smart, director of the campus bookstore, who the school said had expressed an interest in serving...
Two of the three panel members did not examine the medical records showing blunt force trauma -- it was the chairwoman's prerogative not to share them. Instead, the panel asked what Anna had drunk, who she may have kissed and how she had danced.

Gee, I wonder if the "vice president of human resources" has any sort of incentive to sweep this under the rug. I hope the next rape victim on this campus sues them into oblivion.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:07 AM
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The oddness of the horribly specific detail is just so grotesque

Agghghghghghgh


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:09 AM
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And those fucking bastards looked at evidence including an eyewitness and contemporaneous texts asking for help, and figured it was more likely than not that nothing requiring discipline happened. How does that work?

Honestly I think schools know that the fed-mandated preponderance of evidence standard would mean--if properly followed--that they'd be expelling a couple of dozen guys a year, and no way are fancy schools about to get into doing that.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:09 AM
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Jesus, Heebie.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:10 AM
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I'm sorry. It's so beyond the pale.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:12 AM
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It was the line about the Red Zone that bothered me most. Yes, this sort of thing is routine, and it's so routine around one particular time of year that we actually have a special slang term for it, like shops talking about Black Friday or politicians talking about Super Tuesday.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:13 AM
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Welcome to college! Have fun, and watch out for the ole freshman fifteen and red zone rape!


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:14 AM
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At least they didn't have a sponsor listed for the term, like at the football game with the Heinz Ketchup Red Zone.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:15 AM
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that they'd be expelling a couple of dozen guys a year, and no way are fancy schools about to get into doing that.

Yeah, exactly. This is why it's crazy to let schools handle this internally--all the incentives are lined up against the victim.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:16 AM
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Following on 1, the apparent lack of public empathy for the refugees--children!--coming across our border has me nearly murderous with rage.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:17 AM
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Me too.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:19 AM
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One Friday afternoon last year I had lunch in a dining hall in earshot of a bunch of kids (all girls) discussing their Thursday night. The main goal was to reconstruct about when they had gotten black-out drunk, where this had happened, in which order, and whether anything "sketchy" had happened.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:19 AM
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There have been a number of accounts online recently of rape or sexual-assault investigations by colleges. I don't remember any of them sounding like the college used a very fair process or did justice for the victim.

The alternative, the victim going to the police, is rarely discussed in these accounts. I would guess that the arguments against it are that the police are usually even worse at investigating sexual assault, and that there's value to excluding police from university life. I'm also guessing that a darker motive exists, which is that universities don't want to piss off the families of the rapists.

But it seems odd to me to have rape prosecuted by institutions whose disciplinary tribunals can barely handle accusations of plagiarism. Rather than expecting universities to develop parallel criminal-justice systems devoted to sex crimes, why not have them hire advocates and liaisons who help students through the regular criminal-justice system? Among other advantages, there could be a real deterrent effect if the perpetrator students were getting arrested rather than handled by inept administrative boards.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:19 AM
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Why do the police put up with it? Isn't it illegal not to report a sufficiently-serious crime?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:21 AM
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the apparent lack of public empathy for the refugees--children!--coming across our border has me nearly murderous with rage.

Yes, what on EARTH is wrong with everyone? Christ.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:22 AM
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(I suppose I know the answer. Long live rich white rapey men.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:23 AM
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Well, 'let' schools handle this internally doesn't really address the whole problem. "Beyond a reasonable doubt" is an incredibly high standard, and it's particularly an incredibly high standard in situations where people are drunk, given than alcohol is an amnesiac: it is not impossible, or even terribly implausible, for a drunk person to genuinely (even if misguidedly or whatever) consent to sex and not remember clearly what happened the next morning. The story in this article sounds as if it would easily have supported a criminal conviction, but tweak the facts and it's very easy to get to something where I would vote to acquit as a juror while firmly believing by a preponderance of the evidence that a rape occurred.

But the criminal justice system can't do anything to a rapist unless the facts are established beyond a reasonable doubt, which means that there has to be a role for colleges to take some kind of action in cases that don't meet that very high standard.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:23 AM
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18: No. Generally, if you didn't commit the crime yourself, you have no obligation whatsoever to do anything about it. You can watch person A murder person B, and there's no duty to act. (That's why there are 'mandatory reporter' laws for child abuse -- in their absence, no one has to do anything.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:25 AM
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The alternative, the victim going to the police, is rarely discussed in these accounts.

As I think someone mentioned last time this came up (possibly me) this is nuts from an outsider's point of view. Universities over here simply don't have that sort of power over their students, and haven't since the Middle Ages. If a student commits a crime, or is the victim of a crime, the police handle it. University authorities limit themselves to very minor public order offences like vandalising college property and drunkenness, and academic issues like plagiarism. If someone came to them with a report of a serious crime, they would call the police. I am baffled by the argument that there's value to excluding police from university life; there's also value to excluding crime.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:26 AM
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21 should have made it clear that victims should also be going to the police, and that universities should be supporting them in doing so, but I think there's an inescapable role for a university disciplinary process in cases where the evidence isn't strong enough to support a criminal conviction.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:28 AM
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Larger universities here have a university police department with powers of arrest and such.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:28 AM
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Can you be sued? We sat through a big training session about the correct way to handle different sensitive information about students so that we didn't open ourselves to litigation.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:28 AM
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As I think someone mentioned last time this came up (possibly me) this is nuts from an outsider's point of view. Universities over here simply don't have that sort of power over their students, and haven't since the Middle Ages. If a student commits a crime, or is the victim of a crime, the police handle it. University authorities limit themselves to very minor public order offences like vandalising college property and drunkenness, and academic issues like plagiarism. If someone came to them with a report of a serious crime, they would call the police. I am baffled by the argument that there's value to excluding police from university life; there's also value to excluding crime.

Yeah, but don't you want colleges to be able to expell people for assaulting other students?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:29 AM
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14. This is an election year. Is there anything more specific to write than an angry paragraph to a congressman? NPR explained earlier this week that some large overhaul bill just died-- is there anything at all that's outstanding in congress that could help?

Sorry to threadjack, the college sounds horrible also.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:29 AM
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22: accessory after the fact has to involve some action to assist the criminal or prevent their arrest, IIRC. Just knowing about it and not saying anything doesn't count.
I don't know if telling the victim not to go to the police would count?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:29 AM
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On external police, colleges have a thousand years behind them of formally or informally presuming private law on campus. Obviously this is not a legal fact, but academics basically assume that if it involves students or faculty, anything short of a murder can be dealt with internally.

On the frat stuff, Armstrong's "Paying for the Party" is pretty good.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:30 AM
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Until last year, Hobart and William Smith's chief fund-raiser also helped oversee the school's handling of sexual assaults.

!


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:30 AM
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26: Can you be sued for not reporting a crime to the police? Generally, in the absence of a particular duty to do so, no. (Or, you can be sued for anything, but it's not going to be successful.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:31 AM
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Seems to me that the entire point of having the separate campus police system is so that students, mostly but not exclusively boys, can have collegiate style fun/act like assholes far beyond the bounds of normal life without suffering normal-life consequences (I'm talking about things like minor property vandalism or theft, setting off the fire extinguishers, throwing up in hallways, things I did in college like getting drunk and wandering into random people's apartments, preserving the autonomy of the fraternity unit, etc. And, of course, drinking itself, which of course is illegal but which most campus life is set up to tolerate). That this protective system also ends up protecting rape isn't exactly intentional, but it's going to be almost impossible to avoid when you create consequence-free fun island for 18-21 year olds and construct a separate jurisdiction to protect fun island.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:31 AM
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If the web page is to be believed, we have a police force with 101 officers. That seems a little odd given that the city has only 900.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:32 AM
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Rather than expecting universities to develop parallel criminal-justice systems devoted to sex crimes, why not have them hire advocates and liaisons who help students through the regular criminal-justice system?

This seems a good idea.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:33 AM
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Honestly I think schools know that the fed-mandated preponderance of evidence standard would mean--if properly followed--that they'd be expelling a couple of dozen guys a year, and no way are fancy schools about to get into doing that.

If they expelled a couple of dozen guys a year for a couple of years it might begin to penetrate the thick skulls of the next round of guys that this sort of shit was a bad idea and had consequences. And then they wouldn't have to do it any more.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:34 AM
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22: it also might depend on the state. Findlaw notes: "a small minority of states have enacted laws punishing individuals who fail to report certain types of crimes to the authorities. Under Texas law, for example, you can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for failing to report an offense that resulted in serious bodily injury or death. In Ohio, on the other hand, it's illegal to knowingly fail to report a felony."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:34 AM
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A lot of the training relied on examples like Virginia Tech - which teachers had covered their tails by reporting stuff to student services, and which teachers were being sued because they'd only mentioned something to the chair of their department, things like that. Being a creative writing teacher, where about 15% of any class writes about shooting each other up and another 15% writes about being raped, sounds awfully fraught. Fortunately my life is more cut-and-dried.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:34 AM
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colleges have a thousand years behind them of formally or informally presuming private law on campus. Obviously this is not a legal fact, but academics basically assume that if it involves students or faculty, anything short of a murder can be dealt with internally.

Our colleges do and our academics don't. Your colleges don't (even Harvard is only, what, 450 years old) but your academics do.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:36 AM
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33: this happens over here; if you get drunk and set off the fire alarm, the college will fine you. If you get drunk and assault another student, though, the Thames Valley police will lock you up. The bar is set a lot lower for police involvement.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:37 AM
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Your colleges have Inspector Morse. I've seen the documentaries.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:38 AM
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but it's going to be almost impossible to avoid when you create consequence-free fun island for 18-21 year olds and construct a separate jurisdiction to protect fun island.

I don't know about 'almost impossible to avoid'. The process described in the linked article could have worked -- it didn't because the individuals on the disciplinary board (or whatever it's called) were horrible, and presumably they acted the way they did because the institution implicitly wanted them to. If the institutions could be convinced somehow that if they need to expel a dozen boys a year, that's what they have to do, you could keep tolerating all sorts of other stupid behavior but not rape.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:38 AM
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Plus, using a predominance-of-evidence standard for serious crimes is a huge mistake, even if the punishment is minor.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:39 AM
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If you get drunk and set off the fire alarm on an American campus, they will call the regular police on you. At least they will in 1990 in Nebraska.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:39 AM
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Another problem is that the local police also want to treat college student life as uniquely-protected fun island, because otherwise they'd have to police it seriously, which, given the huge concentration of students (and our bizarre system of illegal but tolerated 18-21 year old drinking), is a giant PITA.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:39 AM
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but it's going to be almost impossible to avoid when you create consequence-free fun island for 18-21 year olds and construct a separate jurisdiction to protect fun island.

While rowdy students have always been with us, the data I've seen suggest that there's been a deepening of kids' commitment to the idea that college is when you *ought* to go crazy and experiment and generally enjoy fun island---that's what college is for, after the stultifying world of high school and before real work. It's become the start of the age of independence, the 10-15 year period after high school when middle-class kids become free of their parents but do not start families.

Because neither men nor women are looking for spouses in college, the party zone effect gets stronger. Women are much more willing to play along than 50 years ago, but unreconstructed frats + alcohol + roofies and all the rest mean that they get raped.

Meanwhile the quasi-medieval presumption that everything can be handled internally has weirdly morphed into HR and other administrative types developing guidelines, procedures, tribunals, and policies which are oriented to signaling that the school takes the problem "seriously" while also preventing the external legal system from being triggered in any way.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:40 AM
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Your colleges have Inspector Morse. I've seen the documentaries.

And an abnormally high murder rate. I think Morse's Oxford probably has about the same per capita murder rate as McNulty's Baltimore.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:40 AM
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If you get drunk and set off the fire alarm on an American campus, they will call the regular police on you.

That would be unfortunate if you had set off the fire alarm because there was a fire.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:41 AM
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45: The case of the guy I'm describing in 44 illustrates that. He pulled the alarm on Friday. (Thinking about this again, maybe he just broke the glass on the fire hose cases. Whatever it was, the work-study security guard saw him.) The police came to our house to cite him on Sunday and said that they didn't come Saturday because we were having a giant keg party that wasn't bad enough for them to gather the resources to break up.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:43 AM
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43: Spin this out? The action taken should depend on the level of certainty, but if an administrative investigation establishes that it's more likely than not that Student A raped Student B, I'm not seeing why it's a huge mistake to do something to protect Student B, and future Students C-J, from Student A.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:44 AM
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"Cheese it! It's the Thames Valley police!"

Seriously, teabags, make up some scarier names.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:45 AM
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42 -- I'm not saying you can't improve current practice, which as in every other thing that involves university administration appears to be "stunningly incompetent," but let's be real here: colleges and college life are now set up to encourage sexual assault on a massive scale, almost none of which is even reported, and which the colleges are not just not preventing or not investigating but affirmatively facilitating. That's the bigger problem, and it's not going to be solved just by having marginally more competent university disciplinary committees. We don't usually let self-interested nonprofessional amateurs handle these kinds of serious crimes, and with good reason.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:48 AM
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If the institutions could be convinced somehow that if they need to expel a dozen boys a year, that's what they have to do

There is a pronounced collective action problem here: the first university to take a hard line and expel a dozen boys will get a reputation as Rape Central, and will suffer a handicap in attracting new applicants (and, perhaps more importantly, donations), even if the underlying problem is no worse than at other campuses, and the school is taking all the right steps to address it. So how do we solve collective action problems? State intervention (or, in some cases, self-regulation occasioned by the threat of government intervention). I am moderately optimistic that the Obama administration will do something useful on this front through the regulatory process.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:48 AM
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I think "a giant PITA" vastly understates how impossible it would be for local police to actually crack down on universities, especially when you're talking about large public universities in small towns. The first University I attended had a reputation for chaos (see, e.g.) in part because it was in effect something like a prison; the idea was to keep the students enclosed on campus and in dorms because otherwise nobody -- not the campus police, not the town police -- would have the available resources to keep a lid on things. I have no idea how you solve that with policing. I mean, shit, actual prisons don't know how to solve that with policing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:49 AM
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43: Spin this out? The action taken should depend on the level of certainty, but if an administrative investigation establishes that it's more likely than not that Student A raped Student B, I'm not seeing why it's a huge mistake to do something to protect Student B, and future Students C-J, from Student A.

Just speaking descriptively, I think colleges see themselves in a bind. If they issue some sort of citation or quasi-restraining order but allow the offender to stay on campus, they risk been seen as having given the guy a slap on the wrist. If they expel (the obvious action), they open themselves to the accusation that they punished someone on a he-said/she-said basis.

All of this is made worse by the fact that these hearings are run by amateurs. But if they let professionals handle it, then they're back to the reality of being forced to acknowledge that rape is endemic on campus and a lot of it is committed by their darling donor rich boys and athletes. Which would be fine by me, but most schools will say OK you first.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:50 AM
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46 all seems totally right, and very smart.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:51 AM
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What's not scary about the Thames Valley Police? They cover a string of towns and small cities west of London in the Thames Valley. Think of a better name.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:51 AM
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52: I'm repeating myself, but I really think you need universities to take some kind of action in cases that wouldn't support criminal convictions. Say Frat House Whatever has a he-said/she-said blackout-drunk rape complaint four times a year. It is perfectly possible that there's nothing the police can effectively do; in any such case there might not be enough evidence to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But the university damn well should be able to do something about the house -- withdraw any institutional protection, publicize it as a dangerous place, and so on.

I don't know how to make universities do this kind of thing, but I think there's things they should be doing that the police can't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:52 AM
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50: I disagree with this: "The action taken should depend on the level of certainty". So if there's a really small chance that A killed B, A should maybe only get a little fine? Not how criminal law works. And if you are punishing people for criminal offences, you're in the criminal law business. University authorities should not be in the criminal law business.

In your specific example, it's because there's a 49% chance that Student K actually committed the rape and will get away scot free to continue to threaten student B and students C-J in future (because the university certainly won't continue to investigate the crime after convicting someone on this bullshit 'eh, probably he did it' standard of proof). And, of course, because there's also a 49% chance that Student A is innocent and has been unjustly convicted by a kangaroo court of a very serious crime.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:56 AM
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57: The Greater Wokingham Brute Squad.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:56 AM
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It's not as bad as it sounds; the worst things get solved behind the scenes by the resident campus Veronica Mars.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:59 AM
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54 cont'd: AISIMHB my first weekend on campus I ended up in these dudes' dorm room while they threw mad dog bottles out the 14th story window at police. Those dudes had cops showing up all the damned time -- at one point they were running a cash bar (bartenders in tuxes, all very classy) out of their dorm room -- but never actually got in trouble for anything. Part of this was that the first line of defense was the RA on their floor (also an undergrad), who they essentially terrorized into never leaving his room, but part of it was just that there sheerly weren't enough cops to deal with them. The closest they came to actually getting picked up is when one guy threw the lobby furniture in the high-rise dorm through the plate glass windows; the police stormed right up to their room, said "we know that it was you; somebody in this room is going to jail", but then had to go respond to a stabbing elsewhere on campus.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:59 AM
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59: In your specific example, it's because there's a 49% chance that Student K actually committed the rape and will get away scot free to continue to threaten student B and students C-J in future (because the university certainly won't continue to investigate the crime after convicting someone on this bullshit 'eh, probably he did it' standard of proof).

I'm not seeing any force to this at all, given that the alternative is do nothing in the absence of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. A rapist can't get away any more scot free than that.

And, of course, because there's also a 49% chance that Student A is innocent and has been unjustly convicted by a kangaroo court of a very serious crime.

Preponderance of the evidence does not a kangaroo court make. That's most civil verdicts, some of which include factual findings of conduct that constitutes a crime (e.g., the O.J. Simpson civil verdict.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:59 AM
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62: Where did you go to school again?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:00 AM
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It's in the link at 54.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:02 AM
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The Greater Wokingham Brute Squad.

Pretty much, yes, if Greater Wokingham is taken to mean Greater Reading, Oxford, Abingdon, Didcot, Swindon, etc. But they aren't the gentlest force in the country, for sure.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:10 AM
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Local U is such a party school that they decided they needed to rein in their reputation. So they changed their name. However, they decided not to mess with the policy of no-classes-on-Fridays, because that's too popular. Good thinking!

(That was about ten years ago. Now they offer classes on Friday mornings, but not after noon.) Local news articles like so:

The manager of a student housing complex in San Marcos is facing a $1,400 fine after a social media advertising campaign went viral, bringing an estimated 2,000 people to a pool party that had no event permit.

Apparently every officer on duty was put on the scene.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:14 AM
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63.2: no, but being composed of untrained university administrators does.

The OJ Simpson/civil verdict issue has come up before:
http://www.unfogged.com/archives/comments_11415.html#1331124


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:16 AM
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Endless Entertainment company representative, who goes by "Big Neechi", says people flew in from all over the country to attend. He says Endless Entertainment strives to promote Bobcat pride and San Marcos, not stir controversy.

Big Neechi is not the enemy, here! Big Neechi is pro-Bobcat!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:18 AM
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Dangit. Put 69.1 in blockquotes, please, history-changing fairy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:19 AM
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If they expel (the obvious action), they open themselves to the accusation that they punished someone on a he-said/she-said basis.

Colleges and universities are also getting sued by students they expelled in these kinds of cases.


Posted by: pasdquoi | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:22 AM
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It was the line about the Red Zone that bothered me most.

That line definitely stuck out to me when I read it. Though I forgot about it some in the face of the increasing nausea I felt as I got further into the article. I don't usually react so viscerally. Ugh.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:24 AM
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71--Yes, I'd meant to add that and forgot. Once a suit is launched the school gets bad publicity as basically no-one understands the evidentiary standard issue.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:24 AM
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73: Presumably if the evidentiary standard is a preponderance of the evidence then the university has a good chance of prevailing in a lawsuit.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:27 AM
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But if they let professionals handle it, then they're back to the reality of being forced to acknowledge that rape is endemic on campus and a lot of it is committed by their darling donor rich boys and athletes.

Because I am a total naïf/unworldly Rhadamanthus I have always found it totally bizarre that the people running these institutions find this kind of thing so hard to admit and deal with. Especially the ones with fuck-you money in their endowments (though really even the less well off should think better of themselves).


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:33 AM
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And if you are punishing people for criminal offences, you're in the criminal law business. University authorities should not be in the criminal law business.

This belief, and the rest of 59 et seq., are, I think, a huge part of what makes university authorities so reluctant to do anything effective about sexual assault. It's not that the belief is itself unreasonable or beyond the pale, I can follow the thinking behind it, and believing that criminal defendants should have all the procedural protections that are their due is a decent, commendable sort of thing to think. But the effect is that you can expel someone for plagiarism on whatever evidentiary basis you like, because plagiarism isn't a criminal offense, but you can't take action on a sexual assault if the police can't or won't get a conviction.

Think about it in a workplace: you're in a hiring and firing position, and one employee comes to you and says that another employee raped her, and the police said there wasn't enough evidence to get a conviction. You look into it, you give the accused employee a chance to give you his side of the story, and you personally, on the basis of everything you know about the situation, believe he raped her. Is it wrong of you to fire him, because you're not in the 'criminal law business'? I don't think so, but I think 59 requires you to think so.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:34 AM
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While rowdy students have always been with us, the data I've seen suggest that there's been a deepening of kids' commitment to the idea that college is when you *ought* to go crazy and experiment and generally enjoy fun island---that's what college is for, after the stultifying world of high school and before real work.

Also possibly your last chance to have a middle-class lifestyle.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:42 AM
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I have always found it totally bizarre that the people running these institutions find this kind of thing so hard to admit and deal with. Especially the ones with fuck-you money in their endowments

The degree of fawning deference to both groups has to be seen to be believed. And for high-profile athletics, when it comes to enforcement, etc, Athletics : School :: School : Outside Law Enforcement.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:47 AM
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74: Administered by incompetent, self-interested nonprofessionals.

Re: liaison or support for complainants going through criminal justice system, paid for or provided by the higher ed institution, I don't know why those people would not be subject to the same nasty incentives to persuade complainants to drop their allegations. I certainly would be at least leery of such "support."


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:49 AM
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76 is a horrible position and I hope (obviously) I'm never in it.

On the other hand, isn't the end result of it a climate of administrative vigilantism, where anyone in a position of power is justified in punishing anyone they can in any way they can, based only on their own judgement of guilt?

I am honestly not sure what the legal position under English law would be in that case - am I justified in firing someone based only on my own belief that they have committed a crime, even in the absence of any criminal case?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:50 AM
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76 is a horrible position and I hope (obviously) I'm never in it.

Sure. But university administrations can only avoid being in that position by adopting a See-No-Evil/Hear-No-Evil/Speak-No-Evil position. They are going to be made aware of accusations of sexual assault, and their options are to ignore such accusations completely, or to do something about them.

I am honestly not sure what the legal position under English law would be in that case - am I justified in firing someone based only on my own belief that they have committed a crime, even in the absence of any criminal case?

I'm not a UK lawyer, but of course you are. If you personally witness an employee stealing from you, you can't possibly be required to call the police in order to be allowed to fire them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:57 AM
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I'm not a UK lawyer, but of course you are.

I'm not exactly sure what ajay does but I don't think he's a lawyer.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:59 AM
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If you personally witness an employee stealing from you, you can't possibly be required to call the police in order to be allowed to fire them.

No. On the other hand I have never worked anywhere where the police would not be called in that situation, unless the theft was extremely petty and the perpetrator was given an informal "plea bargain" not to contest their dismissal if the police were not involved.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:00 AM
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82: I'm not a UK lawyer.
81.last is a good point. But if you didn't witness it personally, and if the police have already been called and the case wasn't going anywhere for lack of evidence...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:03 AM
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You all know this, but the employment context is very different, both practically and legally, from the on-campus college environment. Mostly, the employment context is limited in scope, the relationship depends on service to the employer, and the employer is not generally trying to curate a full-time, 24/7 environment for its employees. And, almost any employer confronted with having to deal with the issue of trying to determine whether or not a rape occurred would try like hell to put that determination (and investigation) onto some kind of outside body. I agree that students credibly believed to be raping other students should be expelled by a university, but the analogy to the workplace I think reveals why colleges and universities are both reluctant to get into this issue and are terrible at dealing with it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:04 AM
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I'm not exactly sure what ajay does but I don't think he's a lawyer.

On the contrary, I'm not exactly sure what ajay doesn't do, given his polymath knowledge.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:04 AM
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I'm not exactly sure what ajay doesn't do,

Based on a thread at Making Light, he does not fire crossbows at walruses for science. Might have, but doesn't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:06 AM
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85: This is generally right -- I am absolutely unsurprised that universities are terrible at this sort of thing, given their incentives. I just don't see any other entity in the position to act effectively in many cases.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:08 AM
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Based on a thread at Making Light, he does not fire crossbows at walruses for science. Might have, but doesn't.

Indeed, and as Orwell tells us, sometimes it is harder not to shoot the elephant [seal]


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:10 AM
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Not for science, no.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:13 AM
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This story pushed my priors further in the direction of "believe the accuser in rape cases", since it's hard to imagine putting oneself in the middle of the investigative process for revenge, attention, or to deal with regret (the main motives for false rape accusations?) given how insanely unpleasant and likely-fruitless the story illustrates the process to be.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:16 AM
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Is there anything more specific to write than an angry paragraph to a congressman? NPR explained earlier this week that some large overhaul bill just died-- is there anything at all that's outstanding in congress that could help?

I know that the organizations that are trying to get them legal representation, RAICES in Texas specifically, are completely overwhelmed.

On a personal note, a big middle finger to the Cuban-American political class--a substantial number of whom are part of a generation that came here as unaccompanied minors in the early 60s and were given refugee status (because Cold War)--for being silent on this.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:21 AM
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85/88: Ideas for steps that could be taken by either individuals, Congress, or anyone else that would lead to universities expelling the perps in cases like this? Public shaming/more articles like the OP seems like a good start.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:22 AM
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There is a pronounced collective action problem here: the first university to take a hard line and expel a dozen boys will get a reputation as Rape Central, and will suffer a handicap in attracting new applicants (and, perhaps more importantly, donations)

Penn State still seems to be going strong.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:23 AM
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They were only 7 and 5 last year. That's not horrible, but it isn't strong.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:26 AM
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Btw, someone recently came out with a rape accusation against the inventor of Cards Against Humanity, which I now feel lucky not to be a fan of.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:27 AM
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And it'll probably pull us off topic, but I can't help but think that the real problem here is that a significant minority of boys all over the country seem to think that treating a woman this way is ok. What the hell?

Pulling the thread off-topic, yes, this. There's probably some irreducible minimum of people who would commit a sexual assault, and I don't know how much cultural change is going to affect that. But the number of people who wouldn't do it themselves, but are in a position to intervene and don't, or close ranks with perpetrators after credible accusations... that sort of thing seems like it could be reduced.

Boy, was I fond of the house I lived in at MIT. I got stupid drunk there a fair amount, messed around with boys with whom I was not all that well acquainted, and felt very safe, given that any time I was in the house I was within shouting distance of a dozen or so reasonable people who were pretty much guaranteed on my side in any altercation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:28 AM
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But the number of people who wouldn't do it themselves, but are in a position to intervene and don't, or close ranks with perpetrators after credible accusations... that sort of thing seems like it could be reduced.

There are actually a number of college campaigns targeted at encouraging bystanders to be active when they see something creepy. I'll see posters outlining things you can do ("Spill a drink in your friend's lap!" "Fake a phone call!" etc) to disrupt a sketchy situation.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:40 AM
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Much closer than shouting distance - sometimes more like "loud breathing distance" - which was its own sort of problem.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:41 AM
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That was one of the most disgusting tales of utter incompetence and cowardice I've ever read.

The common denominators in a lot of these stories include: football (and other semi-pro sports) players, fraternities, binge drinking.

I'd love to say "lower the drinking age to 18" but I'm not sure it would help the way a lot of people think it would. (I know a fair number of people who still binge drink "for fun" into their late 20s.)

Ban fraternities (and sororities).

Nuke the NCAA and all its works from orbit.

And the college itself? The mind reels. Do any of these fools have children of their own? Do they have a spark of empathy? Do they have any measurable brain function? (Oh, of course "She led them on." GAH!)


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:48 AM
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(I know a fair number of people who still binge drink "for fun" into their late 20s.)

It's not until your thirties that binge drinking becomes a duty.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:50 AM
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I'm sure that there's some good work that can and should be done on peer reporting, and probably some good cultural change type work that could be done with eg men's sport teams. But the pressures described in 46 seem pretty inexorable -- if you're in an environment where every signal is "this is your time to go wild and crazy" and both men and women are generally accepting of that, and you've got a geographic-legal set up designed to isolate and encourage the wildness, there are just going to be a substantial number of sexual assaults. I really do think the core solution is to try and figure out ways in which 18 year olds actually get treated like young adults and to shatter the culture of college as the protected magical land of party island. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the protected magical land of party island aspect of college myself.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:53 AM
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I guess I should lose either "land of" or "island" in there but whatever.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:55 AM
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Everybody I've ever known who binge drank did it "for fun", including me. Why else would you? Damn, I'm bored this evening. let's see if I can cause myself irreversible liver damage. I'll hate it, but it beats reading a book.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:55 AM
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104: Didn't you know anyone who did it out self-loathing and despair?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:58 AM
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Sometimes it just sneaks up on you.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:59 AM
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Halford, I don't fully understand why you think substantial numbers of sexual assaults are an unavoidable byproduct of a magic party island.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:00 AM
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That is, binge drinking. But also self-loathing and despair.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:01 AM
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105 Those people generally didn't binge. They just drank assiduously most of the time. And often without getting noticeably drunk. Binging to me is being moderate most of the time and then putting away fifteen units at the weekend.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:03 AM
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107 -- because if you get a bunch of kids extremely drunk, in an amped up sexual situation, and there is a prevailing sense of consequence-free action, some people (OK, men) will take advantage of the situaion to engage in sexual assault.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:03 AM
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That's why there are 'mandatory reporter' laws for child abuse -- in their absence, no one has to do anything.

I don't know if I've mentioned this odd thing but social workers are, of course, mandated reporters except...when they work for PD offices. It was a big deal in my interview, because they asked about what would happen if I became aware of child abuse and I said "I'm a mandated reporter, so I'd report it" and they immediately made it clear that attorney-client privilege trumps this and asked me in several different ways if I would be capable of not reporting abuse. I'm pretty sure this was not my former employers' understanding of the overlap between mandated reporting and privilege, though (surprisingly?) it never came up.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:06 AM
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I went to a college with a giant fraternity culture in which most of the rape happened, but the actual college administrators didn't seem to have trouble cracking down on the Greek system when warranted. This is all 10-15 years ago now, but I was the student support person for a student who made her case about a sexual assault to the hearing board, the first time such a thing had happened since the board had been created several years before. She would not have gone to the police (as, indeed, I didn't) and the evidence was not at all clear-cut like in the linked article, but her rapist got the punishment he deserved. I made a report to campus police after my rapist had

I also ran a support group for survivors, helped institute a program where Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners were available in student health services, which meant a bunch of us had to be trained as student advocates to be on-call via a hotline in case of need, and also helped rewrite policy and run information sessions on sexual assault awareness and prevention for first-year students and fraternities/sororities. At the time, I thought I might go on to do some sort of victim advocacy professionally, but then I realized I was already burning out. And now instead I'm just me.

All that to say that I'm not sold on the claim that having an in-campus system is necessarily a bad idea. My school ranked way higher on the number of reported incidents in the years that were just posted on that Justice Department or whatever link than they would have been when I was there, and I see that as a sign that the work I and others did toward making it safer to report have paid off.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:07 AM
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107, 110: I think there's an irreducible minimum of sexual assault that you're going to get with young men, women, and drinking, but that American colleges are well over that minimum. I don't know how to get there from here, but wild-and-crazy doesn't have to involve bystander acceptance of things that look non-consensual.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:10 AM
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there is a prevailing sense of consequence-free action

This is the part where you seem to be assuming too much. Most carefree college know they can't just go around stabbing people, even if they're drunk, or there will be consequences. And, by and large, they don't. And that knowledge is perfectly compatible with the idea that college is generally a magic party island. There are limits. You can't physically hurt other people. It doesn't seem like it would necessarily be a stretch to extend that same sentiment to include sexual assault.

(On frat culture in particular, norms around physically abusive hazing of pledges have changed dramatically within a generation. why? Because colleges got serious and started severely sanctioning frats that engaged in unacceptable conduct. So this sort of change is not without precedent. Colleges just have to decide that it's important.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:13 AM
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wild-and-crazy doesn't have to involve bystander acceptance of things that look non-consensual

Yep.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:14 AM
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112 sounds like great and important work but I wonder what the reported/unreported incident ratio was. 1-30? 1-100? 1-500?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:14 AM
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And, as Thorn says, I think some of them do.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:14 AM
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117 to 114 last.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:15 AM
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This is the part where you seem to be assuming too much. Most carefree college know they can't just go around stabbing people, even if they're drunk, or there will be consequences.

I'm sympathetic to this argument but also I don't think many people arrive at college looking forward to all the stabbing they're going to get in.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:20 AM
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The vast majority of people don't go to college looking forward to all the rape they're going to be committing. They want to have consensual sex, and some of them may be culpably confused about the boundaries of consensual sex, but the number of people looking at college as a well-stocked hunting ground for rape victims, is, while much too big, quite small in terms of absolute numbers..


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:22 AM
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116: I can't tell you for sure and I don't think anyone can. The Department of Justice assumes there's about a 20/80 split between what gets reported and what doesn't nationwide. I do know that our campus police are actual officers, and so contacting them meant you could start the process of making a criminal case, while doing it in a more comfortable and familiar context. I feel relatively secure in my belief that the reporting rate would not be any higher if students were expected to go to the city police on their own.

The sentence I left unfinished above was "I made a report to campus police after my rapist had left the school, and I was told that because I was making credible allegations, he wouldn't be allowed to re-enroll if he'd wanted to, not that I think that was an option for him anyway."

One thing I can take personal responsibility for was setting up the training for first-year students to ask people to stand if they knew anyone who'd been sexually assaulted and several first-year students commented how striking it was that few of their classmates stood but essentially all the older students did. I also definitely know of one false allegation, and dealing with the fallout of that was probably the hardest thing I ever did in college. But only one.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:24 AM
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119: And they do arrive on campus looking forward to all of the sexual assaults they're going to commit?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:25 AM
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Pwnwd But I am on phone so barely counts.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:25 AM
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I don't know if I've mentioned this odd thing but social workers are, of course, mandated reporters except...when they work for PD offices. It was a big deal in my interview

I was about to write a puzzled comment asking if you were really part of a police department now.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:26 AM
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122: not as such probably not, but they probably do arrive looking forward to having sex. I'm not sure there's an analogy with stabbing here. Knife play?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:28 AM
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I suspect I went to one of the more 'consequence free' colleges in the country*, but even there it wasn't a perfectly sealed off bubble. It just operated according to somewhat more lax community norms, e.g., stealing from the dining halls was fine but not from other students; breaking into construction sites and academic buildings was fine but not into other people's dorm rooms; and so on**. (Open drug use, obviously, was fine as was drinking at any age.) I wasn't aware of any serious assaults while I was there or much of anything that would have genuinely merited a strong police response (aside from theft of college stuff and general mischief which was practically an intramural sport) but it was understood that the police could/would get involved at that point. The question really has less to do with the consequence free environment and more to do with the communal norms related to what does and doesn't stay within that environment and what breaks the bubble.

*Though that was changing while I was there, I suspect partially in response to insurance companies making increasingly strong demands regarding putting in keycard locks on the dorms, and increasing police annoyance at the college's "Hello Officer this campus is private property can I see your warrant?" policy.
**Probably sexual assault was part of the bubble, because this is America and that's how it works here in general. But it's not hard to see how that could change, it's just not changing that's all.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:29 AM
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Anyway, my intention was not to excuse anyone with the comments about stabbing.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:35 AM
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119, 120 -- sure, but the question here is whether you're creating an environment that's going to easily facilitate the commission of sexual assault, or not. Creating an environment in which most people are drunk and feel generally that they don't have to take consequences for their action, combined with a generally promiscuous culture, is basically inevitably going to create an environment that's propitious for the commission of sexual assault, and I think it's reality-denying to believe otherwise. There's important work you can do around community norms, to be sure, but there are still going to be plenty of reasonably ambiguous situations between consent and lack of consent that can be taken advantage of. "Just change the norms" isn't very realistic when e.g. you're allowing massive black out drinking by young people, in a culture where people are hopping for and entitled to sex, in unregulated houses where people basically can and do feel not only entitled to do what they want but generally outside the world of ordinary behavior.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:37 AM
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125: the stabbing point wasn't an analogy to sexual assault, it was meant to disprove Halford's assertion that college students believe that college is a special magic island free from all consequences for bad actions (and that this island effect was somehow an important feature of the college experience). And that's not true--everyone knows you can't stab people. What he means is that students want to have lots of consequences free sex. (And partying and drinking and drug use, etc.). Which, sure, go ahead. They may be in some sense important (although I suspect its importance is widely overrated). Caveating "just don't rape anyone" doesn't seem like too big a restriction on anyone's sacred college freedom.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:38 AM
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Culturally, I think the people talking about an 'enthusiastic consent' standard as a norm for sex have the right idea. It's not workable as distinct from simple consent as a legal standard, but if eighteen-year-olds heading off to college had internalized as a norm that if anyone involved in a sex act is anything other than delighted to be there, something very disturbing is going on and everyone should step back and figure out if things are okay, I think that would help a great deal. Again, that wouldn't magically make all the rapists disappear, but if you could get non-rapist fratboys to react to ambiguous but certainly unenthusiastic consent with revulsion, that would make a huge difference.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:38 AM
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I mean, to be clear, it would also be theoretically possible to have an environment that was both promiscuous, "wild", and didn't lead to a ton of sexual assaults. But that's not even close to the conditions that obtain on college campuses.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:39 AM
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130 -- good luck with that standard in a world of 18 year olds black out drinking.


Posted by: Robert Haford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:40 AM
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129 -- most people don't rape anyone, right now, and know that this is deeply wrong. The problem is how to discourage (and provide consequences to) the ones who do.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:44 AM
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What does drinking have to do with it? Drinking makes enthusiastic consent, depending on the people involved, more likely. And it makes rape easier. But I don't think it has much to do with the social norms that say that sex with someone who isn't into it is still a reasonable thing to do, so long as they don't clearly express non-consent, and those social norms are what get in the way of bystanders doing much that's useful, often.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:44 AM
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I don't think you're going to get any disagreement with 131. My comments were reactions to what I thought were your earlier suggestions that the "conditions that obtain on college campuses" in this regard were somehow essential.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:44 AM
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I agree with 130. Getting kids to internalize 'enthusiastic consent' as a prerequisite to sex might be a realistic solution on how to change social norms. Drawing an analogy between rape and overt violence against women might be a way of going about this. Even douchey fratbros know hitting women is a no-no and would very likely try to immediately stop a friend they found beating up on a woman. There might also develop a culture of "real men don't rape" which would provide group-internal policing structures. This would probably require a significant PSA campaign and retooling sex ed in most of the country, so in the current political climate it might also prove undoable, but it seems more doable than getting an outright feminist sex positive critique of society as accepted in mainstream America.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:48 AM
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134 -- drinking heavily makes judging both the reactions of someone to your actions, and what other people are doing, much harder to figure out. It's genuinely harder for everyone to understand when both you and the people involved in a sexual encounter you are severely drunk whether or not a sexual encounter is genuinely consensual, and people inclined towards sexual assault take advantage of precisely those kinds of ambiguities. You're going to get severe misreadings of even "enthusiastic consent" that are going to be hard to figure out.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:49 AM
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Moreover, I think that most kids these days, including most men, have already internalized something like an enthusiastic consent standard. The problem is that even this standard isn't always crystal clear in the moment and there's plenty of space for predators, particularly with the kind of geography and social space for parties that are going on in most college campuses.*

*to be clear, I think you could do a lot of good just by moving people out of houses and into bars and other public spaces. A big part of the problem isn't the hedonism, it's the total divorce from the real world.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:53 AM
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This isn't an issue that allows for fatalism. If it's really true that there's no way for college campuses to not be dens of rape, it's time to do away with college campuses.

I support "enthusiastic consent" as a standard, though we should recognize that it's a tough sell because it leads to false negatives.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:57 AM
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Maybe we should do a power analysis.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:59 AM
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137: It's genuinely harder for everyone to understand when both you and the people involved in a sexual encounter you are severely drunk whether or not a sexual encounter is genuinely consensual,

Outing myself as the drunken slut of the commentariat, I'm not seeing this, really. I've been involved in sexual encounters in which I and the other party were both severely drunk, and I have made drunken passes at other severely drunk people and been drunkenly rebuffed without any difficulty in communication. Someone who's literally too drunk to notice that their prospective sex partner isn't kissing them back is next thing to passing out -- probably too drunk to do anything as active as having sex.

Someone whose belief is that the important line for consent is whether the prospective sex partner has clearly communicated non-consent might plausibly make a drunken mistake. (And more importantly, a bystander might look at a situation like that and think "Nothing wrong happening here.") If the culturally accepted line is whether the other person is actively into it, on the other hand, that's a much harder mistake to make, and it's a much harder situation for a bystander to ignore.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:00 PM
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141 -- I agree that maybe 90% of the population can do just fine, even when drunk, in picking up reasonable consent signals for sex. Most people, even most male football playing frat members, aren't rapists. The issue is that some people are, and they can do a lot of harm. I don't really think that asking 18-21 year old third party college students to judge the relative level of the enthusiasm of the consent in a sexual encounter between their peers is a very realistic solution.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:07 PM
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It sounds like a porn app, not a social justice proposal.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:08 PM
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Frame rape as an act of cowardice and bad sportsmanship could well be a successful way to combat the sort of rape being discussed on this thread. It's not particularly feminist, but a sort of "manly men only have sex with women who are into them" or "real bros have women who want to have sex with them" campaign might help cut down on the pro-rape ethos fostered by frat houses. Frats are transgressive only within socially normative values, and if we change social norms, we change how frat bros are transgressive.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:08 PM
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Someone whose belief is that the important line for consent is whether the prospective sex partner has clearly communicated non-consent might plausibly make a drunken mistake. (And more importantly, a bystander might look at a situation like that and think "Nothing wrong happening here.") If the culturally accepted line is whether the other person is actively into it, on the other hand, that's a much harder mistake to make, and it's a much harder situation for a bystander to ignore.

The real impact might go deeper than avoiding a few close calls by basically well-intentioned men. Given that most rapes are thought to be the work of serial rapists, there is real value in putting more daylight between their behavior and the outer boundary of acceptable behavior. Not unlike the phenomenon that was discussed the other day whereby the disappearance of the three martini lunch made the problem drinkers in the workplace much more visible.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:11 PM
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I think I'm totally confused about what you're trying to argue, Halford. No one is arguing that most college men are rapists. But there is definitely a campus culture that's enabling (and in some instances outright encouraging) to those who are, which is what people would like to see change. And you think this unworkable or ill-advised because... it's going to be very difficult given current campus culture (?) I'm genuinely losing the argument.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:14 PM
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I agree that 145 last is the real issue. The question is whether and how that can be achieved in anything like the current set up on college campuses.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:15 PM
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142: I don't really think that asking 18-21 year old third party college students to judge the relative level of the enthusiasm of the consent in a sexual encounter between their peers is a very realistic solution.

When you've got someone being raped over a pool table with an audience laughing and taking pictures, I think changing bystander attitudes is the only thing that's likely to help much.

145: Right, this sort of thing exactly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:16 PM
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||

Paging Sir Kraab. Anyone know of a good e-mail address for her?

Please e-mail me at the address above if it's not something she wants posted.

I have a question about how best to work with my union.

|>


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:18 PM
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146 -- I'm not advocating stopping efforts at changing the "campus culture," they're just fine and should be done and can work at the margins. I'm just pessimistic about their chances of substantial success. "Changing culture" in the relevant sense of actually substantially preventing rapists from committing rapes is hard, I'd argue to the point of impossible, given the current cultural state of college as islands of isolated hedonism under their own jurisdiction, as described in 46 and elsewhere.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:19 PM
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150

This is a very good argument for getting the police involved and prosecuting rapist to the full extent of the law, and if there's proof but not proof beyond reasonable doubt then getting colleges to expel them. 1) Change the culture, which is doable if difficult, and 2) find out who the serial rapists are, and lock them up/kick them out.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:22 PM
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OT: The other day TWYRCL asked me what "paleo" was (pronouncing it "pah-LAY-oh").

Today she suggested we eliminate refined sugar from our diet for "a week."

I blame you, Halford. You and your ilk have ruined my candy-dependent lifestyle.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:22 PM
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150: And while I've been arguing with you, I don't know that you're wrong, I'm just not sure that you're right. And if you are wrong, and we can figure out how to make that kind of cultural change happen, it'd be a big deal.

But cultural change is very difficult, and I don't really know how to go about doing it, other than exhorting my own children and expecting them to lead their peers to a brighter future.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:24 PM
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Most people, even most male football playing frat members, aren't rapists.

"Most", I have no idea, but a very significant number of men in fraternity culture think that it's okay--funny, even, possibly a bit transgressive but nothing worse--to use a woman who is blackout drunk as a sex toy. I think that's been pretty well documented. And that can and should change.

Some also think it's okay--funny, even, possibly a bit transgressive bit nothing worse--to get a woman into a blackout state against her will/without her knowledge. "Should have watched her drink more closely--she'll learn next time."

I think almost all college kids would recognize violent rape on the street as wrong, but they have internalized that a girl who drinks herself silly in the frat house must have known what she was in for (the slut), so it's all fair fun and games. And that can and should change.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:26 PM
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153: As recently as my high school years, the hedonistic college experience involved blithe acceptance of drunk driving. Then came the hammer blow of harsher DUI penalties, stricter enforcement, and (misguidedly, IMO) the 21-y.o. drinking age. I expect something similar is required here.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:27 PM
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Some also think it's okay--funny, even, possibly a bit transgressive bit nothing worse--to get a woman into a blackout state against her will/without her knowledge. "Should have watched her drink more closely--she'll learn next time."

I think I've told this story here before, but Buck works with a British guy who I liked quite a lot -- funny, pleasant, nice wife, nice kids. We were hanging out, talking about Buck's homebrew cider, and the guy said that one of the best things about cider was that when he was in college, American girls didn't realize how alcoholic it was, and got much drunker than they'd meant to. And boy, did that kill any sense of thinking of him as a friend: you're in your forties, and girls getting unintentionally drunk and vulnerable is a fun, nostalgic memory in a naughty kind of way?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:31 PM
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[T]hey have internalized that a girl who drinks herself silly in the frat house must have known what she was in for (the slut), so it's all fair fun and games.

Where -- where?! -- are they getting this stupid impression in this day and age? I was in college eighty-eight epochs ago and date rape was an acknowledged and discussed danger to women on campus. Has the tide rolled back so far?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:31 PM
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153

See, I waffle about how difficult cultural change is vs. how difficult it feels to be. If we look at attitudes towards GLBT stuff, prejudice seemed incredibly ingrained, and then it changed incredibly rapidly. I wonder if the growing publicity of rape on campus isn't a sign of cultural change. I wonder if the increased publicity around college rape, which makes us feel bad, isn't actually a sign of changing culture. Women are speaking out about stuff now because they realize it's wrong and they don't feel as stigmatized at speaking out, and all of the garbage which is making us see rape as entrenched is actually what's getting dragged into the light as part of major cultural shifts underway.

(apologies for the terrible writing, I'm dealing with insomnia)


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:34 PM
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I support "enthusiastic consent" as a standard, though we should recognize that it's a tough sell because it leads to false negatives.

Presumably that will work itself out over time as young women realize they need to abandon any pretense of coyness to get any. But it will be tough for the transitional generation. Thinking back, only one or two* of my first six sex partners exhibited what could be called enthusiastic consent on the first go-around (though the others became notably more enthusiastic in subsequent encounters).

*Both Scandinavian exchange students, natch.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:34 PM
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Second 154. Yes, most people "know that [rape] is deeply wrong." The problem is how they define rape - in far too many cases, screaming/struggling. (Cf. that movie where a sleep-rape is made okay by the woman fuzzily accepting later on.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:37 PM
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Thinking back, only one or two* of my first six sex partners exhibited what could be called enthusiastic consent on the first go-around

This is making me think that 'enthusiastic' is misleading. I'm not talking about confetti and noisemakers, just active participation: not to get graphic, but, you know, kissing back. Voluntarily touching you. That kind of thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:37 PM
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I think almost all college kids would recognize violent rape on the street as wrong, but they have internalized that a girl who drinks herself silly in the frat house must have known what she was in for (the slut), so it's all fair fun and games. And that can and should change.

Yes, and this is changeable through education/PSA that sex with an unconscious girl is wrong/cowardly/unmanly/unsexy etc.

Where -- where?! -- are they getting this stupid impression in this day and age? I was in college eighty-eight epochs ago and date rape was an acknowledged and discussed danger to women on campus. Has the tide rolled back so far?

Republicans. Abstinence-only sex ed.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:38 PM
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I was in college eighty-eight epochs ago and date rape was an acknowledged and discussed danger to women on campus.

Before I got more educated, I think my internal definition of "date-rape" was as forcible, not pressured.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:38 PM
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161: Goes back to the original Sleeping Beauty.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:39 PM
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162 was me.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:39 PM
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I'm not talking about confetti and noisemakers

NTTAWWT.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:40 PM
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This is making me think that 'enthusiastic' is misleading. I'm not talking about confetti and noisemakers, just active participation: not to get graphic, but, you know, kissing back. Voluntarily touching you. That kind of thing.

That's where the ambiguity strikes again. The escalation from kissing/touching to penetration is crucial here - many a date rape happens when that boundary isn't respected. In the other four cases I spoke of, taking that step required some delicate negotiation / persuasion (stopping short, I would adjudge, of "pressure"; but definitely aimed at resolving her ambivalence in favor of giving in to carnal temptation).


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:44 PM
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156: hmm. See, maybe he was creepy in telling it, which made a difference. But this story doesn't seem offensive to me--it merely brings up your point from 134 that drinking makes enthusiastic consent, depending on the people involved, more likely. Without other reason to think ill of him, I'd imagine that was all he was implying.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:45 PM
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Could we create a safe harbor rule where enthusiasm is presumed if the woman is on top?


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:48 PM
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"Most", I have no idea, but a very significant number of men in fraternity culture think that it's okay--funny, even, possibly a bit transgressive but nothing worse--to use a woman who is blackout drunk as a sex toy. I think that's been pretty well documented.

Actually I thought nearly all campus rapes are committed by a very small percent of serial rapists who believe that all men rape as often as they do.

Some also think it's okay--funny, even, possibly a bit transgressive bit nothing worse--to get a woman into a blackout state against her will/without her knowledge. "Should have watched her drink more closely--she'll learn next time."

This I find more plausible. People are vindictive assholes under the guise of a great partying time.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:49 PM
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168: The creepy bit was that the fun thing about cider was that because American girls were unfamiliar with it they didn't know how drunk they were getting. Not that I have any reason to believe that he personally ever did anything wrong, but the clear implication was of unintentional vulnerability rather than unbridled enthusiasm.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:50 PM
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(though the others became notably more enthusiastic in subsequent encounters).

Subtle and situationally appropriate!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:51 PM
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Could we create a safe harbor rule where enthusiasm is presumed if the woman is on top?

No. Spoken from experience.


Posted by: Martha Washington | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:51 PM
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I had the same reaction as 168.

"stopping short, I would adjudge, of "pressure"; but definitely aimed at resolving her ambivalence in favor of giving in to carnal temptation"

This is the exact type of sex that society might need to sacrifice to stamp out rape, since someone in your position has all kinds of incentives to make the wrong judgment call here. (Don't think you did, been there myself, etc.)


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:52 PM
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Actually I thought nearly all campus rapes are committed by a very small percent of serial rapists who believe that all men rape as often as they do.

I think that's true, but it's actively enabled by a culture that finds it humorous, not horrific. Based on a few high profile cases, people seem more likely to pull out their phones for pictures than to call the cops.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:54 PM
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http://time.com/100542/the-sexual-assault-crisis-on-american-campuses/

The U is spending a lot of time telling young men to cut it out, and young women to call 911 if they are the victim of a crime. Meanwhile, enrollment is down something like 8% under expectations, which has a rippling effect everywhere (including the campus police -- revenue from parking tickets is way down because it's easy to find a space even if you're late for class).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:56 PM
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the clear implication was of unintentional vulnerability rather than unbridled enthusiasm

Not unintentional drunkenness leading to unbridled enthusiasm?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:57 PM
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174.last: No disagreement here.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:58 PM
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167: I'm trying to figure out how to say this in the least attacking way possible. But if what you mean, on full consideration of the circumstances as you remember them, that when you had sex with four of your first six partners, that you were genuinely unsure as to whether they wanted to have sex with you at that moment (not whether they gave consent, but whether they wanted to), you did a bad thing (four times) and should be in retrospect thinking about the situations with horror as a narrow escape from having essentially committed rape by mistake.

If, as I suspect, you were actually at the time not in any doubt, then talking about the situations as if you were is exactly the sort of blurring of the lines between consensual sex and date rape that you very rightly identified as part of the problem in 145.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 12:59 PM
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I think that's true, but it's actively enabled by a culture that finds it humorous, not horrific. Based on a few high profile cases, people seem more likely to pull out their phones for pictures than to call the cops.

On top of everything else, crowd dynamics (maybe mob dynamics is a better term) make a big contribution. I suspect that many of the people involved in Steubenville type situations "know" that using a blacked out woman as a sex toy is wrong and would probably say so in an interview or on a survey, but then put them in a crowd of their bro's and...


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:02 PM
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179: For the avoidance of doubt, there is no question in my mind that both desire and consent were present in each of the cases in question.

I am endorsing your recommendation of "enthusiastic consent" as a cultural norm for all the reasons previously discussed - to eliminate the gray areas, and also concurring with the view that such a norm will, until such time as it is firmly rooted, produce false negatives.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:05 PM
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I sort of like the idea of using confetti as an unequivocal, objective, start signal. Along the lines of Lebron's chalk toss.

http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/chalk-toss


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:06 PM
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179: You're being too hard on Knecht. There were plenty of times when I consented, but was such a jumble of emotions/insecurity/feeling in over my head that it couldn't necessarily be called "enthusiastic".


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:08 PM
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Here's your ID, here's your room key, and here's some confetti to do with as you will.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:08 PM
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Maybe not "plenty" - I associate it with being naive, young and in college, which is something I got over.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:09 PM
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Further to 181, in the era in question, there was a strongly established norm among Deep Redstatian teenagers (with their fear of Jesus and their angry daddies) that Nice Girls did not communicate enthusiasm about that. So there was a certain ritualistic aspect to the seduction process that was quickly dispensed with as soon as the boundary was transgressed. I imagine that a strong cultural norm of enthusiastic consent as a precondition to sex would quickly lead to the abandonment of the old ritual, if it even still exists.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:12 PM
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The juxtaposition of 156, 168, 171 and 183 is a large part of the reason why I think this issue is basically impossible to solve with anything like the current college party culture.

A simplified but fair description of college party culture is: people knowingly getting much drunker than they ever would in normal life and pushing the limits of their tolerance in the hope of a creating a chance sexual encounter that would be unacceptable or scary absent the drunkeness. In that environment drawing a line between improperly getting a woman near blackout drunk without her full consent to (presumably) lower her sexual inhibitions, and properly allowing her to get herself near blackout drunk with her full consent in order to lower her inhibitions, is going to be extremely hard to draw and creates a large room for maneuver for predators.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:13 PM
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180

Yes, which is why I think framing raping an unconscious woman as 'uncool' rather than just wrong might have more traction. No frat bro would think it hilarious to film a friend beating up an unconscious woman, because that would be a douchey, cowardly thing to do, even (especially?) by the bro code. If we make the same apply to raping unconscious women, we've done a lot, or at least something, to decrease 'rape culture.'


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:15 PM
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I guess the logical response to 183 is that those boys shouldn't have been having sex with you either because you weren't mature enough. This is the reasoning behind the age of consent, after all.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:15 PM
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Yes, they were bastions of maturity themselves.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:16 PM
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183: Well, he's in case 2 -- I'm not being hard on his behavior as a young man, which by his own account was unexceptionable. I'm being hard on his implication that it can be genuinely hard to tell if your sex partner wants to be there, having sex with you, but that this is just a natural hazard and there's nothing to be done about it.

If you had sex with someone while they couldn't tell if you wanted to be there, they shouldn't have done it. You weren't going to evaporate into a puff of smoke if they didn't do it right then. This isn't a suggested legal standard -- I'm not talking about arresting people because their partners were insufficiently enthusiastic. But a norm saying that you should back off and clarify if you're unsure of what your partner wants is perfectly workable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:17 PM
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Oh, sure, and they might easily have clarified and I clearly agreed. I'm just saying that enthusiasm is not necessarily in the repertoire early in one's career, especially in the adrenaline of being with someone new.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:19 PM
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Yes, which is why I think framing raping an unconscious woman as 'uncool' rather than just wrong might have more traction.

This is plausible, but how do you go about doing that in practice? The law enforcement bureaucracy spent the better part of three decades trying to reframe drug use as uncool, with zero success.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:20 PM
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The guy I know who definitely raped someone was certainly under the impression that the use of alcohol to lower resistance was OK and that 'taking advantage' was merely frowned upon by society in a 'boys will be boys' way. He also obviously felt that he had done nothing that most men in his position wouldn't have done, which is why he was so casual in mentioning it to me. I'm kind of bothered that he felt OK saying it to me, but he did it in a letter I suspect was written while drunk, so maybe my character isn't as shitty as all that.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:21 PM
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I'm being hard on his implication that it can be genuinely hard to tell if your sex partner wants to be there, having sex with you, but that this is just a natural hazard and there's nothing to be done about it.

That wasn't my point at all. My point was that if the male of the species uniformly adopted the enthusiastic consent standard tomorrow, a whole lot of consensual sex would cease happening (primarily among teenagers, but not just) until the female of the species adjusts to the new norm. Then we got into a discussion over the meaning of "enthusiasm", which I though you were defining too expansively, to the point where it would include situations that could not be cleanly separated from date rape.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:24 PM
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192: Again, I probably need a more precise word than enthusiasm. By enthusiastic consent from a partner, I'm talking about being reasonably certain (and of course mistakes are always possible) that the partner's response to "I really want to have sex with you now, but it's up to you. We can just stop here and that's fine, it's your decision," would be to go forward with the sex. (Not that anyone ever needs to say anything that Antioch-college awkward in those words, and so on. Just identifying the concepts.)

(And I feel like I'm claiming to have been all maturely in control of my sexual decisions and all that, which I wasn't any more than the average; by the standard I'm suggesting, I certainly had sex at least once or twice which I wanted to have but that probably should have involved backing off and clarifying. The same sort of nervousness, immaturity, and naivete you're talking about.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:26 PM
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The OP isn't about using alcohol to lower people's inhibitions, it's about using alcohol to *physically/mentally incapacitate*, or taking advantage of that effect of alcohol. This is where I disagree with 168 - as long as consent is definitively there, I don't think it's anyone's job to decide whether it would have existed under less inebriated circumstances.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:27 PM
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181: I don't see where pushing the line over to the definition of "enthusiastic" instead of "consent" does much. How about red or green LEDs on one's smartwatch?


Posted by: biohazard | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:28 PM
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197 to 187


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:29 PM
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My point was that if the male of the species uniformly adopted the enthusiastic consent standard tomorrow, a whole lot of consensual sex would cease happening (primarily among teenagers, but not just) until the female of the species adjusts to the new norm.

I doubt it. If the sex is really consensual, I think you're talking a few more explicit conversations rather than actually not getting laid. (And if it's not really consensual, obviously it shouldn't be happening.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:30 PM
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No frat bro would think it hilarious to film a friend beating up an unconscious woman, because that would be a douchey, cowardly thing to do, even (especially?) by the bro code.

I wish I believed this. Some frats, certainly. Some frats, probably? I don't know. I really hate fraternity culture, though of course there are people who get good things out of it and all that. And I'm not thrilled about sororities either, but my feminist theory class was full of smart, vocal sorority presidents who'd flourished in their single-sex environment....


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:30 PM
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I don't understand how 197 is disagreeing with 168.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:31 PM
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198: I think "enthusiastic" means in contrast to bullied consent, or consent after being worn down from verbal pressure.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:31 PM
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I doubt it. If the sex is really consensual, I think you're talking a few more explicit conversations rather than actually not getting laid.

No, no, no. People don't like explicit conversations. They're awkward.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:32 PM
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198: Because in situations like the one in the original post, the defense tends to turn on whether a woman who's nearly passing out has clearly communicated non-consent, or whether she's consented by failing to extricate herself from the situation. Enthusiasm/active participation is a lot harder to lawyer over in the same way.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:32 PM
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Oops, 197 agrees with 168, should have written "171" in place of "168" in 197.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:34 PM
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204 is right. I'm incapable of not being awkward, especially when being explicit.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:34 PM
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How about red or green LEDs on one's smartwatch?

The app's name is "Tinder".


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:34 PM
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I think you're talking a few more explicit conversations

= "the female of the species adjusting to the new norm", in my parlance.

How big an adjustment that represents depends on where we set the bar for "enthusiasm". I was reckoning that it should be set a lot higher than "kissing / touching you back", and dramatically higher than anything in the repertoire of the Deep Redstatian girls of my youth.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:36 PM
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I don't think that's an adjustment that only females would have to make.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:37 PM
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197: Eh. I was the one in the conversation, and I was predisposed to think well of this guy, and while I don't remember his wording now, at the time I was listening to exactly what he said I thought the implication was clear. I may be doing him an injustice, but I don't think I am.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:37 PM
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I wonder what the Feds could do to eliminate the first-mover problem for universities and give them a reason to respond without protecting themselves.

Maybe establish a per-capita standard and question high and low deviations rigorously? "In a college of your population, we'd expect to see this many rape and assault prosecutions, plus or minus this number. If you report many more than that, we're going to wonder what is going on at your campus. If you report many fewer than the standard per capita number, you need to tell us why in some manner better than 'our students would never'. Your federal grants are all at stake. Thank you and good night."

My agency never lets me write the letters to the public.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:38 PM
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On the what does drunkenness contribute subthread . . . In my experience, it can make the drunk potential date-rape victim viscerally resent and reject their friends or bystanders' attempts to try to police what's going on or even just check in.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:39 PM
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Yeah, I mean, if you got a creepy vibe from that comment, it probably means he's a creep.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:40 PM
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209: So, set the bar at confetti?

Seriously, I'm not talking about anything more complicated than being convinced that your partner wants to be there with you doing what the two of you are doing, and where you're not convinced, doing what's necessary to make it clear. I figure that most situations where clarification was necessary, it wouldn't be a significant obstacle, and if the clarification derailed the sex, no great loss.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:41 PM
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188 -- on the "make it uncool"' strategy, Sublime, the ultimate bro band for SoCal bros, had their "date rape" song come out in, what, 1997? Don't think it can be more explicit than that. And yet.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:41 PM
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I don't think that's an adjustment that only females would have to make.

Right, for sure. 195 referred to the hypothetical situation where the male of the species has already unanimously adopted the new standard, and modified its behavior accordingly.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:43 PM
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213: Yeah. Risk-taking can become a fiercely defended right and imperative when ethanol is added.


Posted by: biohazard | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:43 PM
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I don't understand why there'd be a first-mover problem. I'd be more likely to send my child of either sex to a school if I knew it was harder than average on rapists.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:43 PM
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The problem is figuring out whether a lot of rape prosecutions means harder than average on rapists or wow, there are a lot of rapists at this school.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:45 PM
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I mean even here we have a front page poster who openly admits to being a member of RAPS.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:48 PM
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I was thinking of the problem Knecht describes in 53, that if you don't think about it much, more rape prosecutions looks like an especially rape-y campus. Fewer rape prosecutions looks like fewer rapes. Until everyone is at about the same rate, the vigorous prosecutors will look bad.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:48 PM
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Seems to me the first cause is more likely since it depends on a few administrative people differing from the mean, rather than an entire student body. But I suppose a high number of prosecutions could be a sign of both. I'd care less about number of rape prosecutions than the expulsion/prosecution ratio.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:50 PM
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I mean even here we have a front page poster who openly admits to being a member of RAPS.

Reptile American Princesses?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:50 PM
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Maybe the answer is to mandate transparency.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:52 PM
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I'd care less about number of rape prosecutions than the expulsion/prosecution ratio.

"Sorry, Biff. We know the evidence against you isn't clear-cut, but there are millions in NIH grants riding on the outcome of your case."


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:52 PM
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Like LB said.

So have the Feds define the second half of 220. Unless you have a radically different culture or are single gender, we assume the number of rapists is [some number]. Now you better tell us why the number of prosecutions is much different than that, if it is. That way colleges have no incentive to try to hide in the ambiguity of rape rate and rape prosecution.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:52 PM
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But if you mandate transparency, you give colleges a strong reason not to look very hard. Can't transparent what you never found out about.

226: Like the NIH still gives out that much money.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:54 PM
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226: seriously though, summary expulsion of anyone accused of rape would be a better system than our current one (at least until people found out that that was what was happening).


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:55 PM
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Mandate transparency on everything, even claims a college chooses not to investigate.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:56 PM
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The unwillingness of UK universities to get involved in investigating crimes of the level of seriousness of rape isn't some ancient traditional thing; it's a mid-90s consequence of a specific case in which a university had taken disciplinary action against a student who was later found not guilty of rape. The ensuing Zellick report (which must be about the last document in the world not to be online) basically tells universities not to get involved in investigating serious criminal offences. Lesser criminal offences, common assault and so on, are not really covered by that and universities continue to investigate them.

But this creates the problem that you have a number of people making true accusations of rape who cannot get a successful criminal prosecution (for evidentiary reasons, for police incompetence reasons, for police resource reasons, whatever). On average, this will mean a lot of rapists head back into the university community alongside the people who complained about them and without even minor administrative restrictions on their behaviour (eg "don't sit near the complainant at lectures"). A university process which didn't find people guilty of rape in a criminal sense but which, if it made a finding, could be used to limit someone's behaviour, might actually be a good thing. But then we all see that the American system is not so great either...

On the changing culture approach, I've seen a lot of attention paid to this in the UK press: http://www.goodladworkshop.com - which seems to be designed to hit a similar culture to frats, though there's something a bit creepy about all the masculinity-talk.


Posted by: OPINIONATED ZELLICK REPORT | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 1:57 PM
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Mandate transparency on everything

Especially all walls (interior and exterior) in the frat houses and athletic facilities.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 2:00 PM
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One easy, if terrible, way to solve the problem would be a rule saying that if anyone is accused of rape, and one or both parties was drunk, the rapist is automatically expelled without further process. That would lead to horrifically unfair results in individual cases but also would eliminate the drunken culture that permits easy rape very very quickly, by making having sex with a drunk person dramatically more dangerous than a sober one.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 2:00 PM
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I guess this problem will largely disappear when there are cameras everywhere watching everyone all the time.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 2:04 PM
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You can't just go around expelling people from college as a first step, and say they can maybe come back if proven innocent. We all know that to go to college in the US nowadays, people go into life-changing debt and expect a return.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 2:08 PM
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If the sex is really consensual, I think you're talking a few more explicit conversations rather than actually not getting laid.

I squarely disagree with this. I had a 7 year, on again/off again relationship with a woman, the final 2 years of which she would have gladly taken me in (in every sense) had I merely broken up with BOGF (a good idea on its own merits). But she never made that explicit until she was informing me that she wasn't going to wait any longer*. That's on a very different scale from the encounters we've been talking about, but it was also a much more serious matter. Yet she still preferred avoiding the explicit discussion to coming right out and getting the thing she wanted (which, in this case, included sex).

I mean, look, I actually think it would be a totally acceptable tradeoff if the world featured somewhat less awkward consensual sex and a lot less nonconsensual sex. But I don't think we should fool ourselves that the former isn't being traded off if the expectation becomes explicit verbal consent. Especially since, let's face it, in these borderline situations (as opposed to blackout drunk ones), the question can be very manipulative: it's not as if the askee is going to feel confident that she can say "no" without a cascade of negative consequences (ranging from the very mild missed opportunity up to outright harassment). Sure, some of those consequences only come in a situation where "no" was the right answer (anyone who would call you a tease doesn't deserve to have sex with you), but that's presuming all sorts of self confidence and emotional maturity that doesn't typically exist.

My understanding is that enlightened topless Europe is much closer to this ideal, but I think we'll get to single payer healthcare before we get American society to teach its daughters that they have a right to consensual sex, and that no male has a right to pressure them into sex.

*I had no idea she was "waiting" because insecurity and, again, lack of explicit discussion.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 2:10 PM
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172 to 236.first parenthetical.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 2:12 PM
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I guess this problem will largely disappear when there are cameras everywhere watching everyone all the time.

The Steubenville case suggests the presence of a camera will merely aid the prosecution, not deter the crime.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 2:12 PM
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237: Well, I would have needed a place to stay, you see...


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 2:14 PM
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236: I'm not following exactly what happened (that is, you were dating BOGF during this seven year period? Did you ever have sex with this woman? As a result of the conversation where she said she wasn't going to wait?), but you're talking about a situation where you didn't successfully have sex (or not as early as the two of you would have liked) without a norm like the one I'm suggesting. Which doesn't make it sound like the norm I'm suggesting was the problem, or would make anything worse.

Also, remember I'm not requiring explicit verbal negotiations generally. I'm requiring (as Queen of the World) explicit verbal negotiations only where ordinary inarticulate fumbling leaves either party in doubt as to whether the other party wants to be there. That might derail some mutually desired sex sometimes, and there's no figuring out how much without doing actual social science. I just don't believe it'd be all that much, and the sort of people whose sex lives were substantially affected would probably benefit from figuring out what they want.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 2:17 PM
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I'm really not quite sure why this thread has been upsetting me so much, but it's honestly ruined my day. (And yet I can't stop reading it.) I think somehow it's bothering me that the whole discussion is happening the wake of comment 1. Which is irrational, since that's not related. But for some reason this conversation is bothering more than it should.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 2:22 PM
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I think the first two sentences of 236.3 are straight-out wrong. Maybe there would be a transition period like knecht suggests, but the outcome would be less non-consensual sex, and more consensual sex. There is no trade-off. Women know now that if they go out drinking, or if they act too slutty, that the stakes are high and they might end up raped. This has an inhibiting effect on hedonistic behavior that wouldn't be there in LB's regime.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 2:22 PM
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My understanding is that enlightened topless Europe is much closer to this ideal

The pre-coital conversations about consent there can be awkward, too.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 2:22 PM
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236: Right. I just recently found out someone has been "waiting" for a half-century. She was afraid I'd find her boring and so managed to have both sides of a long and involved rejection conversation all by herself. Kinda makes me root for the multiverse concept.


Posted by: biohazard | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 2:29 PM
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242: I really hope you're right in the long run (and I think you are). It would confirm everything I want to believe about human nature. But I do think there'd be less consensual sex in the short run, and more less of it than I think LB thinks there would be, and acknowledging that will help eliminate nonconsensual sex (which is probably more important than any long-term effect on the amount of consensual sex).


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 2:32 PM
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so managed to have both sides of a long and involved rejection conversation all by herself.

Eggplant, did you catch this? Don't do this shit.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 2:37 PM
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And if you do, you'll need to go 51 years to get the record.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 2:44 PM
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245: We really need someone to speak up from the junior Redstatian female demographic, or whoever it is we're worried about not getting laid here.

But the situation where this kind of norm would derail consensual, mutually desired sex is pretty specific: couple mutually making out (that is, if one party isn't actively participating in the kissing/touching, this does not qualify as consensual sex (barring explicitly negotiated kinkiness, I suppose)); Party A does something making a move toward intercourse; Party B reacts in a way that leaves Party A unsure as to whether Party B is into it; Party A asks explicitly if Party B is into it; Party B, unable to admit their true desires, says no and leaves. I mean, that's possible, sure, and would probably happen at least sometimes. But I can't see it happening all that much.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 2:50 PM
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As I said above, I honestly, and I think I say this with some admittedly outdated knowledge of bro culture, think that something like what LB means by "enthusiastic" or at least "clearly affirmatively displayed consent, honestly understood to be consent" is, right now, the standard level of consent most men expect before having sex. This doesn't mean that there might not be amiguities or hesitations or whatever but I do think that most people believe that they have a reasonable basis for thinking that their partner is happily consenting to the encounter before doing so. The problem is that a small but bad minority of men do not share this view, and the college environment is particular gives them ample room to act without being caught.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 2:53 PM
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I think you're right about what most men (even bros) expect in terms of their own personal sexual behavior, but that there is a fairly large class of men who think that anything-short-of-provable-rape is not wrong generally, even if it's not their personal style.

Not everyone in the frat is themselves going to be looking to have sex with passed-out or nearly passed-out women, but they're all going to know that Chip does, and they'll treat it as a naughty idiosyncrasy of his and support and enable him, rather than being disgusted and trying to stop him. That's the change in the culture I think would help -- Chip himself is pretty rare, and is probably beyond reaching, but his frat brothers who know what he's doing may not be.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 2:59 PM
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There's a real breathalyzer cum chastity belt marketing opportunity here.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:03 PM
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244 to 242. I think 242 is doing a weird thing of separating lust from emotion, as if, were we only rid of the risk of rape, everyone would have NSA sex all the time. I mean, I suppose that's possible - the Pill had unforeseen consequences* - but I think it's more likely that first sex with a new partner will always be fraught, and that many people will always feel inhibited and choose no sex over explicit discussion.

My HS GF and I were fooling around** for nearly a year before we had an explicit conversation about it (we were both Catholic, so even fooling around was fraught). I think she'd agree that consent was enthusiastic, but the bottom line is that, were explicit discussion a prerequisite, I don't know if we ever would have gotten beyond kissing and groping.

*my understanding is that the inventors of the Pill had some notion of consequences, but feminist revolution was a bit more than they foresaw

**that is, various forms of non-PIV sex


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:04 PM
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248: I don't buy the idea of "true desires". I think it's more Heisenbergian than that.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:06 PM
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252: I think you are misreading LB, if you were both participating in the necking, no convo.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:06 PM
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The thing is, people who can't suck it up to indicate that they want to have sex at all are out of luck regardless. I'm only asking people to talk explicitly where they can't get their shyly demure body-language unambiguous enough to convince their proposed partners that they're happy to be there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:07 PM
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Not everyone in the frat is themselves going to be looking to have sex with passed-out or nearly passed-out women, but they're all going to know that Chip does, and they'll treat it as a naughty idiosyncrasy of his and support and enable him, rather than being disgusted and trying to stop him.

And give him a lovable nickname like "Trapper John", even.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:08 PM
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253: Well, say that the explicit inquiry breaks the mood and Party B puts their shirt back on and leaves; the Heisenbergian point is a perfectly valid one. Again, it could happen, and probably would at least sometimes. I'm just thinking not enough to worry about much.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:12 PM
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251: Somehow, this reminds me of the scene in Airplane! with the flight attendant inflating the autopilot.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:13 PM
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240.1: We never had sex, for different reasons at different times. Only a portion of the 7 years overlapped with BOGF, but the 2 years above referenced most certainly did, and featured fooling around, but she was drawing a line at actual sex, waiting for me to abandon BOGF for her (which, again, I should have. I'm sure I'll be over this at some point before I die).

you're talking about a situation where you didn't successfully have sex (or not as early as the two of you would have liked) without a norm like the one I'm suggesting.

My point is that, given the choice between sex & happiness with an explicit discussion of emotional state and expectations, or else neither sex nor happiness, the choice was for the latter. Mind you, this wasn't a failure of frankness so much as (I think) a desire that I'd do what she wished without being pushed, but that's precisely the point: in addition to a general fear of explicit discussion*, there's a sense of "I shouldn't have to say it" that makes the conversations you seem to view as near-frictionless into stumbling blocks.

*and I know you don't mean Antiochan scripts or even lengthy conversations


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:13 PM
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252.FN1 -

The inventors of the pill were almost exclusively funded (all the way through the testing phase) by Katharine McCormick, so I'm guessing that they may not have thought revolution was going to come but they had a good idea that some pretty serious feminism was involved.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:15 PM
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"breathalyzer cum"

Rub it on your face and see what color it turns.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:16 PM
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252: But your first time is like one time. LB is not calling for sitting down with a group therapist to hash out your feelings, or filling out forms, just that you be sure that the other person is willing. It's just not that hard, even for teenagers. There's a problem with rape culture not because we face all kinds of delicately ambiguous situations about consent, but because as Halford pointed out, there are predators who use this willingness to tolerate ambiguity as cover for their predatory activity.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:17 PM
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254: I'd argue that we're really good at convincing ourselves of what we want to believe, like that the necking was mutual.

I mean, I know that LB has talked in terms of clear non-consent ("not kissing back"), but she also suggested that knecht might be culpable in 4 of 6 instances. Can I say with 100% certainty that, if I'd said the first time it happened, "I want a handjob", it would still have happened? No. I know that I never would have pushed the matter beyond verbally expressed nonconsent, but I can't say with any certainty that I wouldn't have ignored subtler signs. And the whole point (as I understand it) is to empty out that no-man's-land of subtler signs.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:20 PM
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250 -- I think it's a little different than that. At least in the somewhat bro-ish frat house I was in, I don't think anyone would have remotely condoned a guy who was routinely known to be molesting passed out girls without their consent -- such a guy would be an unmistakable creep. But you're in an environment where there's a lot of drunken sex going on between people who are near passed out drunk, including sex that's totally consensual and agreed to but which people tacitly understand to be a "bad" idea (because it's cheating, because the guy knows the girl probably wouldn't go out with him absent the drunken horniness or vice versa) that's fun in the moment but will be regretted somewhat in the light of day. In that environment it would be extraordinarily easy for a guy to full-on rape a passed out girl without other guys knowing, especially given one's natural tendencies to not think ill of one's friends. I don't THINK anyone I knew had actively nonconsensual, as opposed to just very drunk and "crazy" sex, but I can't be sure sitting here today.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:20 PM
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260: I think I was hazy on that; I knew they weren't undirected scientists, but I don't think I realized just that level of intention.

I'd still argue that, if people had had any idea what it was going to do, someone would have found a way to shut it down.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:23 PM
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But your first time is like one time.

If we're talking PIV, I've had 2 first times. Neither was remotely questionable, but we're not talking about foregoing a few out of thousands of opportunities. Hell, had I communicated better with the aforementioned missed opportunity, I'd have had, I dunno, 25% more sex in my entire life?

Again, my whole point is that I think you and (to an extent) LB are handwaving the friction of awkward conversations. Which, frankly, is kind of hilarious in this crowd.

You know, a good portion of adultery is basically avoidance of explicit conversation with the person with whom you are (or have been) most intimate in the world.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:27 PM
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I much more side with the enforcement crowd. It's fun to come up with rules, but what really needs to happen is for colleges to realize that their funding depends on stopping sexual assaults on campus. Do that, and the whores who run universities will figure out a way to stop it.

It would also be pretty great to see a crusading prosecutor bring up a booster on charges that he knowingly funded rape by contributing to a university, but that might be a stretch.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:31 PM
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she also suggested that knecht might be culpable in 4 of 6 instances.

I would say that Knecht suggested that he might be culpable in four of six instances, and then clarified when I pressed the point. And that I gave him a hard time precisely because I think it's harmful to represent 'whether the person you're having sex with wants to be doing it' as a generally hard question to answer.

Can I say with 100% certainty that, if I'd said the first time it happened, "I want a handjob", it would still have happened? No. I know that I never would have pushed the matter beyond verbally expressed nonconsent, but I can't say with any certainty that I wouldn't have ignored subtler signs.

I totally fail to understand this. Apparently you didn't say "I want a handjob", and yet also apparently you got one. I can't figure out how that happened unless (a) she put her hand on your cock (in which case you can count that as enthusiastic consent); (b) you moved her hand to your cock, and she figured out what you wanted and jerked you off (you're still in good shape here); or (c) you moved her hand to your cock and jerked yourself off with it, either as she resisted or went limp (this option, which I sincerely doubt happened, is the problem). Someone who is actively participating in sex with you, you're allowed to believe they're doing it out of their own free will, unless you threatened or coerced them into it. (Is it absolutely impossible that someone will perceive a threat or coercion where none was intended? No, that's not impossible, and it happens sometimes. But we can't fix every problem in the world all at once.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:35 PM
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It's fun to come up with rules, but what really needs to happen is for colleges to realize that their funding depends on stopping sexual assaults on campus.

This does not seem to be the case?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:40 PM
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268.last: I think that (b) is arguably closer to nonconsensual that it is to confetti.

I think it's harmful to represent 'whether the person you're having sex with wants to be doing it' as a generally hard question to answer.

I agree in principle, but reflecting on my past, I feel as if you're eliding "reluctant" as a category. If we're drawing bright lines, I want Reluctant on the NO side of the line, but I don't think that it's unheard of as a step to consensual sex. I would probably categorize my loss of virginity (to BOGF, of course) as reluctant, but I certainly wouldn't call it nonconsensual.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:42 PM
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Again, my whole point is that I think you and (to an extent) LB are handwaving the friction of awkward conversations. Which, frankly, is kind of hilarious in this crowd.

Really not meaning to require an awkward conversation before touching anyone. I'm honestly all about the inarticulate fumbling. As I have confessed here before, I managed to get things started with Buck only by wearing a completely ridiculous outfit and refusing to get off his couch and go home until he broke down about 3 a.m. and kissed me, rather than by some more reasonable means like either kissing him first or verbally indicating that I'd like to.

From the point of view of an enthusiastic consent standard, the only time you need an awkward conversation is if you're actually unsure of whether the other person wants to keep going.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:44 PM
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I don't understand 269. I am, however 2 legit 2 quit.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:45 PM
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I mean, it doesn't seem to be the case that funding does depend on stopping sexual assaults on campus. Does it? Colleges can't realize that it does if it doesn't.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:47 PM
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It would be great if it did!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:48 PM
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270: Reluctant can certainly be a category, but not an unchangeable one -- if the person you're with is reluctant, you stop until they are no longer reluctant. I mean, I guess this is where lost opportunities for sex come in, where you have a partner whose reluctance evaporates in the face of inarticulate pushiness but would reassert itself in the face of an explicit conversation. But honestly, I think that's exactly what's not much of a loss. Heck, you might have stayed away from BOGF if she had respected your reluctance.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:49 PM
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274 was my point.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:50 PM
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I know I've said this before, but my first time was with my HS girlfriend who kept saying she just didn't knooooooooow what two girls could possibly do together and so I finally got out a book and read aloud while we made out, after which weirdly something immediately happened. I've always felt that was improperly coercive of me, but on the other hand I didn't want her to be able to say I'd been the one who made the first move and so I never was. I don't feel like I assaulted her, but I was being manipulative and that's far from ideal. But I guess so was the whole relationship. I'm totally one of those who thinks nobody decent would want me and therefore anyone who does must be confused.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:51 PM
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read aloud while we made out,

This sounds really hard. Or like truly impressive ventriloquism skills. I mean, drinking a glass of water is one thing...


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:53 PM
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I think if you already expect partners to actively consent then enthusiastic consent probably isn't that different from your existing standard. (Even if that active consent is never totally verbally articulated, which by the way is, I think, an oddly legalistic & logocentric approach.)

It's people who think that someone might be "passively" consenting, or "unenthusiastically consenting" etc that are out of step, and I also think lots of them are creepy rapists under cover of bad social norms.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:54 PM
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264: Honestly, I don't know about this. Maybe I'm just wrong, but the coverage of college rapes, and stories I remember hearing, largely seem to involve either actual witnesses or at least an 'open secret' atmosphere. Maybe your particular frat was genuinely not a bad place? Again, I remember particular houses being notoriously scary or not-scary (not that no one ever got raped by someone without bad group affiliations, of course.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 3:59 PM
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Heck, you might have stayed away from BOGF if she had respected your reluctance.

Believe me, this has occurred to me. OTOH, me insisting on maintaining my virginity was utterly pointless, so it was handy to be rid of that.

I initially read 277.1 as suggesting that Thorn had an instruction manual handy.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 4:31 PM
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A lot of drunk college sex in both sexes is about maintaining deniability, I think. "Oh, I was totally drunk!" There's a certain "I am not a slut" thing among college age women and "I am not a rapist, just a PUA" among college age men (not to mention the lovely misogynistic "I wouldn't have fucked her if I hadn't been drunk.")

Also, PUA culture is about seduction and denying that it can be coercive; a lot of young guys think they are great at seduction but really they are great at getting women drunk. What they are not good at is figuring out is that being drunk doesn't mean you consent to everything, even if you are conscious enough to "give consent."

Who among us at 18, drunk, could have reliably discerned the nuances of "enthusiastically consenting" versus "drunkenly consenting" versus anything else?

(The previous is not a comment about the OP link, by any means. That appears to have been outright rape of a very drunk woman by a non-drunk or at least not-very-drunk group of men who have no damn excuse.)


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 4:39 PM
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281.last: I couldn't come up with any interpretations that made any sense, honestly. I guess that's one!


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 4:53 PM
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282 is exactly right.

I seriously think sometimes we need a course in high school called "Basic Boundaries" alongside Sex Ed and Home Ec, that makes explicit a lot of the forces at play in relationships, and what healthy relationships look like according to me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 5:30 PM
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280 -- yeah, I dunno. You could be right and we're definitely not going to settle this empirically. Still, my guess would be that the bulk of campus sexual assault gets done in the drunken madness, plausible deniability setting rather than in super open obvious ways with lots of witnesses. Obviously the latter does happen (as in the OP) but I suspect it's not the biggest problem and that the bulk of sexual assaults happen in somewhat more hidden circumstances.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 5:31 PM
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284 -- maybe you could convince the Unitarians to let you design a course.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 5:32 PM
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284: Maybe you could throw in a holocaust refresher at the same time


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 5:46 PM
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I seriously think sometimes we need a course in high
school...that makes explicit a lot of the forces at play in relationships, and what healthy relationships look like

It may please you to know that the first module in sex ed class at my daughter's hippie-dippy school (sixth grade) covers not the names of sex organs or the mechanics of conception, but the hallmarks of healthy (and unhealthy) relationships.



Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 5:49 PM
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282 is very true.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 5:50 PM
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I find a lot of discussion surrounding alcohol totally confusing, because it's essentially impossible for me to get very drunk (I'll puke first). So I just don't understand what anyone is talking about. I don't think I've ever been drunk enough that it would compromise my consent.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 5:54 PM
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290 is like a different world.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 5:58 PM
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because it's essentially impossible for me to get very drunk (I'll puke first).

It's like you've never heard the phrase "boot and rally".


Posted by: Ghost of Heebie, 1996 | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 6:07 PM
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It's been at least last month since I've had enough to drink that I couldn't remember the end of the night. Because class reunion.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 6:15 PM
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I've never heard the phrase "boot and rally" either. We also went home after the boot.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 6:17 PM
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I prefer to toot it and boot it


Posted by: YG | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 6:36 PM
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I assume that is what the kids are calling vodka enemas.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 6:39 PM
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278: It's like you've never even heard of breasts. Or breaks. Or something. I felt guilty about it even at the time! And it was just a novel, not Ikea instructions or anything.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 6:40 PM
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I was actually like Unfoggedtarian - my body did not want me to drink alcohol, and in high school I would generally secretly puke up my first beer. Fortunately I persevered. (I completely forgot this until just now.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 6:41 PM
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Yeah, my life also might have been different had I started drinking in college rather than not really bothering until I was already with Lee.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 6:52 PM
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286: The UUs have a pretty good sex ed course that talks about relationships, mechanics, and 'most everything else.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 7:03 PM
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not Ikea instructions or anything

Or the Chilton Manual for a Subaru Outback.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 7:03 PM
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300: somewhere in the archives I blogged about AYS.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 7:08 PM
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I was a notoriously unreliable puker in high school. I may have made it to a toilet or an inconspicuous place in the yard or something 10-15% of the time, but the overwhelming majority of the time that I got piss drunk (which was every weekend), I would puke somewhere very inappropriate. On people. In cars. All over the dining room table in a crowded room. Etc. I always had about 0.5 seconds warning between starting to feel sick and actually puking.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:02 PM
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Didn't people start to avoid going out with you after a while?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:05 PM
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Also, I'm having trouble understanding what felt inappropriate, much less like arguable assault, about 277. (Inappropriately coercive because you... read a book?) But I'm probably just misreading what happened.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:05 PM
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urple, I'm sorry this is a rough thread for you. I feel a little bad for getting annoyed last time the parents of young kids were talking about how hard it is to read about bad things that happen to young kids, because I feel like I don't get a pass on that and I'm a little bitter I guess that others do. But heebie's 1 was awful and upsetting. I just have my priorities skewed.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:06 PM
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304: you would think so.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:06 PM
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Have I mentioned this? At one of our breakup points, BOGF basically made me start drinking as a condition of getting back together*, partly on the premise that I was all uptight and emotionally repressed.

Now of course the truth was that I was perfectly in touch with the emotions telling me I shouldn't be dating her, but it was IMO a good thing that I finally (at 21.5 y.o.) started to drink.

*why did I go along with this? No idea. This was after my 3rd act of infidelity** in a ~6 month period, as per 266.last. As a reminder, I've never even been tempted to infidelity while with anyone else.

**2nd as far as she knew


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:07 PM
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305: It was a really sexy book. Nobody could plausibly resist sex while hearing it read. I'd tell you what book it was, but that would be irresponsible.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:08 PM
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305: It was probably not all that sexy, though I think lurid keyaki had fond memories of it. I don't know. The part that seemed morally bad on my part was that she and I both knew I'd rather be sleeping with another of our friends who as far as I know never did end up hooking up with any women even though COME ON. So I had this girlfriend who considered herself straight and I liked her because we were friends but wasn't particularly attracted to her physically and so it was a really bad setup on many levels. And I knew she wanted as much plausible deniability as possible, and so I forced her to make the first move on every level (which it turns out straighter girls seem to like to do in more neutral situations like kissing) because I never wanted her to be able to say she'd been forced into it by the pushy dyke. But then I manipulated her into doing things anyway, which seemed just as bad.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:13 PM
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How did you get the nerve to do all that extracurricular sex sober? And how did you get caught twice if you weren't making drunken errors?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:14 PM
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309: "my HS girlfriend who kept saying she just didn't knooooooooow what a Canadian and a bear could possibly do together"


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:15 PM
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Turning straight people gay for fun and profit sounds like by far the best part of being gay.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:19 PM
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You could do the same in reverse if you were as awesome as I am, Paleo Boy.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:22 PM
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Though anorexic probably counts as paleo enough that I can't count cheese privilege or anything. However, YOLO!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:24 PM
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Admittedly I'm attractive, muscular, and radiant enough that I've probably unconsciously turned many straight men gay without even having to read a book together.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:27 PM
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Well, duh, straight men are barely literate. You have to grade on a curve there.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:29 PM
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(Someone needs to make me go to bed, but presumably not in a hot way.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:29 PM
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Speaking of gay people, I was reminded again how fast things have evolved in our society, reading "The Lathe of Heaven". I don't think this is part of a damning depiction of the society -- if anything, the society in the book is highly sexually permissive and free, albeit environmentally catastrophic and warlike.

"Well. Something like this came up last year in Arizona," said Miss Lelache. "Man under VTT tried to sue his therapist for implanting homosexual tendencies in him. Of course the shrink was simply using standard conditioning techniques, and the plaintiff actually was a terrific repressed homo; he got arrested for trying to bugger a twelve-year-old boy in broad daylight in the middle of Phoenix Park, before the case even got to court."

Obviously we still have people who think "homosexual" and "insane homosexual pedophile" are synonyms, but this is a writer legendary for being politically progressive and inspiringly open-minded.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:35 PM
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I know the thread's moved on, but it's always worth noting when the "people should just call the police" discussion comes up is that police forces vary wildly in their competence to handle rape, and Mariska Hargitays are few and far between. It's often the difference between having your assault swept under the rug and being flat out blamed for it.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:48 PM
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SVU is the best wish-fulfillment tv I've ever watched. It's so nice to be able to turn on TNT and know that there'll be some fictional person caring about sexual assaults. And I'm neither kidding nor drunk about this. But seriously, I don't know about easy answers for any of this.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:51 PM
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311: I was a free spirit in my youth.

AISifu'sNewAcronym, I had a dalliance at Notre Dame (non-cheating) that featured some dude saying of me, "Man, JRoth was wasted!" Someone else knew that I didn't drink and said so, and the first guy said, "Whoa, nobody's that fun sober!"

321: From the moment it premiered, I've never gotten away from the notion that the prurient appeal far outweighed any justice it might portray.

Which reminds me: the solution to all these issues has already been proposed by Twisty Faster: consent is revocable at any time. That certainly removes any gray area (or at least puts it so far on the side of consent that no plausible rapist could have a defense).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 8:58 PM
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Mariska Hargitay was also in Lake Placid. That was a pretty great movie, unless you demand plots that make any sense at all.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:05 PM
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322 last is the current law. I mean, it's difficult to enforce in practice for evidentiary reasons, but if you're having fully consensual sex and all of a sudden the woman clearly says stop and you don't, you better believe you are legally (and of course morally) a rapist.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:05 PM
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I've never gotten away from the notion that the prurient appeal far outweighed any justice it might portray.

I do think audiences differ. Honestly, cheesy as this may sound, I do think it's a societal good to have a major tv show that takes sex crimes seriously in an at-least-sometimes nuanced way. Admittedly, it's the first tv show I ever followed and doing that (like doing all the campus-community activism detailed above) was clearly mostly about dealing with my own shit, but there are good stories along with the problematic ones there, and I'm not sure where else they'd end up without a show like that. But I also confess that Mariska in that role is not without her physical charms, and that actually that's an understatement. But here I get to claim my exemption for people like her and Rose Byrne who seem decent and at least somewhat attraction-worthy in interviews.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:05 PM
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Isn't that inherent in the nature of consent? I mean, what would the alternative look like -- you say you're willing to fuck someone, change your mind, and they get to say "Sorry, no takebacks, it's in the rule book," as they go ahead and rape you?

Yes, consent is revocable, obviously, but I don't see how that's a solution for anything rather than the baseline.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:06 PM
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268 is almost exhaustive but it leaves out "disguise yourself like a dolphin."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 9:13 PM
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Course 101: "Crossing the boundaries of decency: The Holocaust and Toxic Sexual Relationships"
Instructor: Heebie

Sounds great. Where do I sign up?


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:00 PM
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The problem is figuring out whether a lot of rape prosecutions means harder than average on rapists or wow, there are a lot of rapists at this school.

According to statistics, Sweden has a sexual assault rate (66/100,000) 33 times that of India (2/100,000), and one of the highest in the world.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:07 PM
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290 is like a different world.

Preach it brother.

I feel a little bad for getting annoyed last time the parents of young kids were talking about how hard it is to read about bad things that happen to young kids

There's always gin and trying to take some comfort in the fact that it's a good thing that most don't have to deal with it firsthand.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:12 PM
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320 -- Right, so the US DOJ's visit here ended up with consent agreements on procedures and training with (a) the University; (b) the City police; and, finally, (c) the county attorney's office. You still have to fix jurors and their archaic ideas, but that'll happen.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 10:47 PM
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Gah, this subject frustrates me so much. I don't really have anything more to say about it at this point.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-15-14 11:32 PM
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The number of rapes has significantly declined since 1975:

http://filipspagnoli.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/rape-statistics-us.jpg

http://filipspagnoli.wordpress.com/stats-on-human-rights/statistics-on-violence/

It is possible that there is a real epidemic of sexual assault confined to colleges. My gut says that things were worse back when I went to college just like the binge drinking was worse back then.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 5:26 AM
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It's not obvious to me that binge drinking was worse among women in 1975.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 5:49 AM
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I wonder if the increased publicity around college rape, which makes us feel bad, isn't actually a sign of changing culture. Women are speaking out about stuff now because they realize it's wrong and they don't feel as stigmatized at speaking out, and all of the garbage which is making us see rape as entrenched is actually what's getting dragged into the light as part of major cultural shifts underway.

This didn't get nearly enough attention, and strikes me as very plausible.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 6:01 AM
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335: Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised at all by that. Changes in the background culture draw things out into the open. Again, I get all my knowledge of the world from fiction, but think how Ned brought up "Trapper John" as an endearing nickname in a book from the '50s, think of half the jokes in Animal House -- I think things really are getting better. Better doesn't mean anywhere near good enough, but still better.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 6:18 AM
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324 and 326 misunderstand. Consent is revocable the following month. Any time.

It would be nice if 335/182 were the case.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 6:19 AM
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When Trapper John was replaced by B.J. Hunnicutt, society improved. Still, no matter how hard he tried, Winchester couldn't replace Frank.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 6:24 AM
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I mean, it's not Shakespeare, but Larry Linville was a great character actor.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 6:25 AM
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337: Oh, honestly. I mean, Twisty's Twisty, but if you're talking about a legal standard, that's just silly, and if you're not talking about a legal standard, I don't see what the purpose is.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 6:26 AM
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The enthusiastic consent conversation just reminds me of the marriage counselor who wanted us to play a fun game in which each partner was assignedva week in which s/he was required to initiate sex three times and the non-initiating partner was required to put out. Needless to say, this sounded to me like the opportunity to have six unwanted sexual experiences in a 14-day period and I respectfully declined.


Posted by: Duchess of Rothesay | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 6:55 AM
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the opportunity to have six unwanted sexual experiences in a 14-day period

This is even worse than the Nigerian bank scam.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 7:00 AM
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337, 340: The purpose might be, or perhaps a consequence might be, the abandonment or vitiation of methodological individualism and contractual social relationships in favor of the harder work of maintaining favorable personal and social/community ties. Or choosing a protective community.

Even a simple contractual fuck might include open or hidden subclauses promising future or long term exchanges agreed upon in the paradise by the dashboard lights. This is not only to be considered under the rubric of "fraud."

I have often said that seduction or an inequality of capabilities of "consenting adults" is way underrated in rape discussions. Power and skill imbalances are not all equalized on an 18th birthday.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 7:02 AM
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You could try bargaining. Maybe two times in a month.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 7:02 AM
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And a "buyer beware" standard is callous and would lead toward reactionary attitudes and social norms about women's sexual activity.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 7:05 AM
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341: if things were that bad, why were you even in counseling at that point?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 8:05 AM
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Now I have Meatloaf songs in my head. I wish I could say that it was bothering me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 8:13 AM
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There is a lot of recent (more, perpetual) discussion about Intersectionality and conflicts/coordination between socialism and feminism (etc.). And certainly Marxists have much to learn from feminists, anti-racists, and I think especially pot-colonialists. But here I think is a place where feminists can gain from the Marxist analysis.

Yes, workers have agency and are free to sell their labor-power, but obviously under material/social conditions and historical circumstances that constrain that freedom tremendously and set up the dialectic.

Certainly feminism realizes that women's agency in sexual choice is constrained and controlled by the patriarchy, but I think, as is also the case with racism and colonialism, they go too far in assuming away contingent circumstances to avoid being patronizing or protective or insulting ("false consciousness.")

"It's my own fault I believed the asshole." makes no more sense than "Well, I took the job knowing the problems." There can be radical power imbalances and deceptive and dis-empowering, but socially acceptable, techniques of oppression.

Should this be under the category of "rape?" I don't see why not, since a local community of peers should most often be arbitrating the dispute. Which goes to the OP.

And the law is an ass, does not protect worth a damn, and dis-empowers by removing support systems. If no extra-legal community that is adequately protective is available, certainly possibilities can be imagined and created, as in separatism.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 8:56 AM
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"It's cold and lonely in the deep, dark night.
I can immanentize the eschaton by the dashboard light."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 9:01 AM
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Marxists have much to learn from feminists, anti-racists, and I think especially pot-colonialists

Have you ever looked at the nature of Western hegemony? I mean, really looked at it?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 9:38 AM
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325: I bumped into Mariska Hargitay on Madison Avenue once, and she looked great and, unlike most TV/movie people, as tall in person as the directors make her look.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 12:10 PM
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Good genes in that woman.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 12:24 PM
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Now I have Meatloaf songs in my head

It's Meat Loaf. Which leads the NYT to call him, on second mention, Mr. Loaf.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 12:28 PM
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353: Or not. It ought to be true, though.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 1:07 PM
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Jesus is kinda known for making stuff up.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 1:24 PM
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He never really turned water into wine. Turned milk into apple juice once, though.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 1:26 PM
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THAT WASN'T APPLE JUICE!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 1:32 PM
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But did he turn wheat into marijuana or vitamin pills into cocaine?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 1:35 PM
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I wonder if the increased publicity around college rape, which makes us feel bad, isn't actually a sign of changing culture. Women are speaking out about stuff now because they realize it's wrong and they don't feel as stigmatized at speaking out, and all of the garbage which is making us see rape as entrenched is actually what's getting dragged into the light as part of major cultural shifts underway.

I think this is mostly right. What's going on with rape on campus seems a lot more like focused attention on a longstanding, neglected problem than discovery of a new problem.

Possibly also useful to note that the horror stories that the NYT has been running are about looking for the worst fuckups among umpty-however many colleges and universities and hundreds of thousands of students. Doesn't make them any less horrible, but the reflexive leap to "administrators suck" is misguided. Any job that humans perform is often done badly, because a substantial fraction of the human race is incompetent, vicious, or both. Doesn't mean there aren't also lots of people doing good work, or that higher ed institutions are systematically worse at dealing with sexual assault than the rest of the society they're part of.

And sexual assault is just fundamentally hard. It's very often handled badly by people who do that work full time. It is good and necessary for higher ed to be pushed to put more resources and effort into handling it better, but that's more about driving needed cultural change than willful disregard for victims.


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 2:59 PM
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Like some of the commenters on Romenesko's site, I could swear on the eyes of my children that I read that in the Times. I'm going to use that to get dismissed the next time I'm called up for jury duty.

Turned milk into apple juice once, though.

See, this is how rumors get started. Jesus merely let his wine sit through malolactic fermentation (which goes the other way, of course), but people like to embellish.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 4:41 PM
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360.1 to 354.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 4:41 PM
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For the record, I read and believe 354 but I'm going to repeat the "Mr. Loaf" story regardless.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 4:47 PM
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I am sure there is more attention to and reporting of date rape than there used to be, but anecdotally it also seems like there's more Spring Breakers style excess and shadiness that leads to more date rape opportunities.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 5:58 PM
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I didn't know that Richard Feynman was a classic pickup artist. His lesson of negging:

http://restructure.wordpress.com/2009/08/07/sexist-feynman-called-a-woman-worse-than-a-whore/

http://xkcd.com/1027/


Posted by: simulated annealing | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 10:59 PM
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Also.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-16-14 11:26 PM
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I'm in a small minority in finding Feynman unendurable. I don't question that he was a great physicist, but I'm not qualified to discuss that, so I can only go on his popular stuff. I find his style grating, his attitudes, not just to women, patronising and offensive, and his humour almost totally lacking.

I suspect his reputation as a communicator stems from the fact that he was among the first, that prominent scientists writing for the general public were less common than they are now. 34 years Post-Cosmos, I wonder if he's get a contract.

Still a great physicist, but.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-17-14 1:31 AM
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366: I'm sort of with you on Feynman. I read Surely You're Joking and What Do You Care What Other People Think? when I was a teenager, and I liked them well enough at the time, but looking back I'm ambivalent, especially when it comes to his attitude toward women. (Also Cornell, which he seems to have hated.)

I was fascinated by the part in SYJ where he borrows Klaus Fuchs's car to drive down to Albuquerque where his wife is in the hospital where she died (I forget if he drove her there or if she had already been brought down and he just followed), but mostly because my great-grandfather also died in a hospital in Albuquerque at approximately the same time. Probably different hospitals; my great-grandfather was at Lovelace, while my impression from Feynman's account is that his wife was most likely at St. Joseph's.

(Lovelace later bought out St. Joseph's and turned it into a branch of the Lovelace system. In any case, that's where my dad died. I was there.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-17-14 1:56 AM
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366: He's still easily the best physics writer I've ever read, Tyson included.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 07-17-14 4:39 AM
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366: Totally with you. I TAed a "Intro to Science" type class where SYJ was assigned reading. Just once, I wanted a student to write that Feynman (by his own account) sounded like a complete dick and that they felt sorry for anyone who had to work with him. There was a small nod in the direction of "well, he wasn't very nice to women, was he?" from the lecturer.

A well-intentioned family member got my father a Feynman book every Christmas (because what does one get a physicist for holidays?). I think he read them all, but when I asked whether I should read them, I got the a very unenthusiastic, "Well, if you've run out of anything else to read, I guess."


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07-17-14 4:45 AM
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370

QED is amazing. It not only conveys how we know what we know but a sense for the underlying mathematics.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 07-17-14 4:52 AM
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371

SYJ, I think, has the very touching account of his brief relationship with his first wife (Arlene, the one who died of TB during the war) and I find it hard to condemn the man, especially for having a bad attitude to women, after having read that.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-17-14 5:05 AM
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372

I mean, the title of the second book, "What Do You Care What Other People Think?" is something Arlene said to him, and half the book is about him trying to live up to her advice.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-17-14 5:06 AM
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373

If women weren't so mortal, I'd have a better attitude toward them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-17-14 5:21 AM
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374

I can condemn people just fine, regardless of personal tragedy in their lives -- more people than not have something. If you end up cutting people slack for that, you never get to be self-righteous at anyone about anything. (And what fun would that be?)

Feynman talking about women, though, never pissed me off that badly. Not sure how to put this: yes, incredibly sexist. But it reads to me more like a man with no filters reporting the ordinary background level of misogyny in the culture he's operating in without normal polite censorship. He's certainly not a feminist, but I think he looks awful because he actually talks about interacting with women rather than treating interactions with women as a part of life that's beneath notice.

Sort of like how Kipling looks horrifically racist compared to contemporary writers because he talks about characters who aren't white and they don't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-14 5:24 AM
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375

Maybe Arlene was being ironic and he missed the irony because of the sad.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-17-14 5:38 AM
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376

Agree with 374.1, and I like the comparison with Kipling...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-17-14 6:26 AM
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377

If women weren't so mortal, I'd have a better attitude toward them

O ! DO not die, for I shall hate
All women so, when thou art gone,
That thee I shall not celebrate,
When I remember thou wast one.

But yet thou canst not die, I know ;
To leave this world behind, is death ;
But when thou from this world wilt go,
The whole world vapours with thy breath.

Or if, when thou, the world's soul, go'st,
It stay, 'tis but thy carcase then ;
The fairest woman, but thy ghost,
But corrupt worms, the worthiest men.

O wrangling schools, that search what fire
Shall burn this world, had none the wit
Unto this knowledge to aspire,
That this her feaver might be it?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-17-14 6:28 AM
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378

But you should care what other people think, or you won't learn when you're wrong. You're not obliged to accept what they think, but unless they're e.g. Michelle Bachmann, you should at least consider it.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-17-14 6:35 AM
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379

It makes sense in context.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07-17-14 7:31 AM
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380

Mrs D had an uncle who was a very prominent physicist indeed, and he apparently said that the experience of meeting Feynman in person after having read his work was very like being Salieri meeting Mozart in the film/play Amadeus. He simply couldn't believe that all this wonderful stuff was produced by this horrific, moronic asshole.


Posted by: derauqsd | Link to this comment | 07-17-14 2:54 PM
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381

Also Cornell, which he seems to have hated.

One of the things I actually mostly agree with him about.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07-17-14 3:07 PM
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