Tuesday, February 11, 2014

James Taranto: When Rapists Collide

That guy is a bushel of fun for us viper-tongued people.  On the other hand, he is also the pilot of the right-wing Wall Street Journal's Girls Have Cooties airplane, the one which flies over our skies dangling those long banners with anti-woman messages.

For more about his consistency on the question what women might be good for, if anything, check out my earlier posts on Mr. Taranto:  Why there is a war against men and how it is caused by women's sexual freedomWhy women's careerism (women not staying properly in the kitchen and the bedroom only) and the contraceptive pill are the reason for the death of traditional marriage.

And here he tells us why the weirder kind of evolutionary psychologists are correct about all women being gold-diggers and all men wanting the largest amount of promiscuous sex with the youngest and most nubile of women.

What has Mr. Taranto done now that would be worth our attention?  He has written about sexual assault and inebriation (being drunk), and he has written about it like this:

What is called the problem of "sexual assault" on campus is in large part a problem of reckless alcohol consumption, by men and women alike. (Based on our reporting, the same is true in the military, at least in the enlisted and company-grade officer ranks.)

Which points to a limitation of the drunk-driving analogy. If two drunk drivers are in a collision, one doesn't determine fault on the basis of demographic details such as each driver's sex. But when two drunken college students "collide," the male one is almost always presumed to be at fault. His diminished capacity owing to alcohol is not a mitigating factor, but her diminished capacity is an aggravating factor for him.

As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education notes, at some campuses the accuser's having had one drink* is sufficient to establish the defendant's guilt:

Stanford's definition of consent to sex imposes a concept that is foreign to most people's idea of adult consent and inconsistent with California state law. Stanford policy states that sexual assault occurs "when a person is incapable of giving consent. A person is legally incapable of giving consent . . . if intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol." In other words, any sexual activity while intoxicated to any degree constitutes sexual assault. This is true even if the activity was explicitly agreed to by a person capable of making rational, reasoned decisions, and even if the partners are in an ongoing relationship or marriage.

In theory that means, as FIRE notes, that "if both parties are intoxicated during sex, they are both technically guilty of sexually assaulting each other." In practice it means that women, but not men, are absolved of responsibility by virtue of having consumed alcohol.

Bolds are mine.

Let's not stop with the thought experiment that if both parties are intoxicated during sex, then they are both technically guilty of sexually assaulting each other.  Let's also notice that they might both be technically the victims of sexual assault because they cannot consent in the informed sense!

Why did I write that stupid paragraph?  Probably because it reveals the implicit assumption in Taranto's thinking that the sex he is writing about really is voluntary sex by both parties who just happen to be drunk out of their minds.  One person isn't pursuing the sex and the other person either resisting those attempts or too drunk to respond at all, but both people are eagerly driving their inebriated wagons towards sex, whether their sober selves desire that or not.  And both people are equally drunk in these scenarios, but obviously not drunk enough to be simultaneously unconscious because then no sex, voluntary or not, could happen.

Or to return to Taranto's drunken driving analogy, what if the two drunken drivers are not steering their cars towards collision, but one drunken driver chases the other drunken driver all over the town?  Are they both still equally guilty or equally innocent if the two cars ultimately do collide?

And what would Taranto propose as the solution to all these potentially mutual sexual assaults?  Can you guess, based on his general thinking on the topic of girls and cooties?  The answer: Women should return to sexual modesty:

One might argue, as City Journal's Heather Mac Donald does, that there are reasons to hold men in particular to high standards of behavior:
A return to an ethic where manhood consisted of treating women with special courtesy would be a victory for civilization, not just for college co-eds. The chivalric ideal recognizes two ineluctable truths: men and women are different, and the sexual battlefield is tilted in favor of males. On average, males are less emotionally affected by casual sex; if given the opportunity for a series of one-off sexual encounters with no further consequences, they will tend to seize it and never look back. . . . The less that a culture signals that men have a special duty toward the fairer sex, the more likely it is that the allegedly no-strings-attached couplings that have replaced courtship will produce doubts, anguish, and recriminations on the part of the female partner and unrestrained boorishness on the part of the male.
But as Mac Donald notes, contemporary feminists "embrace the Victorian conceit of delicate female vulnerability while leaving out the sexual modesty that once accompanied it." That they do all this in the name of equality is downright Orwellian.

What that boils down to is the recommendation that women shouldn't drink and that women shouldn't go out to any place where alcohol is provided to heterosexual men.  Because "sexual modesty" alone wouldn't do anything much towards fixing this problem**, as long as it is required of women only, and Taranto appears to argue that any intoxicated man has a get-out-of-jail-card by the very fact of being intoxicated.  Thus, the only solution that would work here is gender segregation in any activity where anyone might be drinking too much.

Finally, the obligatory statements:  It is not a good idea for anyone, including young men and young women, to get so intoxicated that one is unable to make sensible decisions or to practice basic mental or physical self-defense.  It is not a good idea for anyone, including young men and young women, to put their trust in the goodwill of strangers (which getting drunk in their presence means)

 *I haven't studied where that "one drink" argument comes from or if it actually is used somewhere.  But I doubt it is a very common argument.  Taranto appears to believe that all college sexual assault approaches are biased against the accused and that false rape accusations abound.  But others disagree.

**That whole historical field of sex and the Victorians is used here in the fast-food sense, without any research into whether the oh-so-sexually-modest Victorian women in fact were so, and if they were, whether that saved them from being sexually molested or raped or harassed.  Data on sexual assaults of some long gone era is hard to get hold of, and not the least because rape was a shame for the person who was raped and not a topic for general discussion.