Caught Between #MeToo and the Sexual Revolution

For her first college Halloween party, Margot dressed up like an angel in a white dress with wings on her back.  As she wandered from party to party, she may have had a few too many drinks.  At one point, she found herself dancing with a strikingly good-looking student named Daniel.  Later that night, she woke up on the floor in the coatroom, her white dress filthy, her angel wings broken, and...Daniel was raping her.

It turned out that Daniel was a serial rapist.  A recent Atlantic article reports that Daniel Drill-Mellum assaulted more than twenty women at the University of Minnesota before he was finally convicted.  He is now behind bars, serving a 74-year prison sentence.  But how did he get away with it for so long?

Several of Daniel's victims had reported being raped, but the cases were dropped.  As the Atlantic article explains, America's hookup culture has made the concept of consent so murky that police and prosecutors are often reluctant to press charges.  In almost all the reported cases involving Daniel, for example, the victim knew the assailant and willingly spent time alone with him.  Most of the victims also admitted to having too much to drink.  Police said it was just too difficult to prove that the sex was not consensual.  Police do not want to accuse a victim of lying, but they also do not want to falsely accuse and prosecute an innocent man.

As the sexual revolution has escalated into a sexual free-for-all, women are caught in the middle between the pressure to join the party and the consequences of men who expect that a woman's consent is a given — that the default response is "yes."

The result is a staggering disconnect between women's expressed desire to stop sexual impropriety and their own complicity in furthering the stereotype of the sexually adventurous woman.

For example, it is women who made 50 Shades of Grey, a novel that celebrates sadomasochism, into a national bestseller.  It is also women who have helped make hip-hop the most popular music genre in America (surpassing rock in 2017) despite lyrics like these from superstar Dr. Dre: "B------ ain't s--- but hoes and tricks."

And college coeds flock to role-playing parties with themes such as "CEOs and Their Secretary Hos," "Dirty Doctors and Naughty Nurses," "Professors and naughty schoolgirls," "Politicians and Prostitutes," and "Superheroes and Super-sluts."

Female students even participate in university-sponsored sex weeks.  Professor Nancy Pearcey writes, "Universities hold sex weeks where porn stars are speakers and sex toy companies display their wares.  Students attend workshops with titles like 'How to Have a Successful Threesome' and a discussion of oral sex called 'How Many Licks Does It Take?'  The message is: Don't be boring.  Be like porn stars."

Ironically, women have embraced — and are perpetuating — the very sexual culture that exploits them.

The end result is a generation of confused men with a sense of sexual entitlement.  A troubling documentary followed college students carousing at beach parties during Spring Break over the course of several years.  The director, Benjamin Nolot, found that female students were sexually violated at every single party.

Similarly, earlier this year, two fraternities at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania had to be disbanded as a result of leaked documents that contained graphic descriptions of sexual assault committed by fraternity members during parties, as well as references to members buying date rape drugs and having a "rape attic" in the fraternity house.

Young American women have bought into the lie that the sexual revolution would empower them, but their experience on the college campus is one of exploitation and disempowerment.

The heart of the problem is that the hookup culture tells women that they are not equal unless they can have sex like men — that they must be just as raunchy and promiscuous as men.  But this message has instead disarmed women, rendering them vulnerable and leaving them in a no-win situation on college campuses and beyond.

The #MeToo movement was fueled by abuses of power and sexual impropriety.  But women can't have it both ways.  By buying into the hookup culture, women have participated in the erosion of the social norms that used to protect them.  The only truly effective way women will be able to restore those norms is to rethink their acceptance of, and participation in, the dogmas of the sexual revolution.

Maria Martinez is an attorney in Texas.

Image: daily sunny via Flickr.

For her first college Halloween party, Margot dressed up like an angel in a white dress with wings on her back.  As she wandered from party to party, she may have had a few too many drinks.  At one point, she found herself dancing with a strikingly good-looking student named Daniel.  Later that night, she woke up on the floor in the coatroom, her white dress filthy, her angel wings broken, and...Daniel was raping her.

It turned out that Daniel was a serial rapist.  A recent Atlantic article reports that Daniel Drill-Mellum assaulted more than twenty women at the University of Minnesota before he was finally convicted.  He is now behind bars, serving a 74-year prison sentence.  But how did he get away with it for so long?

Several of Daniel's victims had reported being raped, but the cases were dropped.  As the Atlantic article explains, America's hookup culture has made the concept of consent so murky that police and prosecutors are often reluctant to press charges.  In almost all the reported cases involving Daniel, for example, the victim knew the assailant and willingly spent time alone with him.  Most of the victims also admitted to having too much to drink.  Police said it was just too difficult to prove that the sex was not consensual.  Police do not want to accuse a victim of lying, but they also do not want to falsely accuse and prosecute an innocent man.

As the sexual revolution has escalated into a sexual free-for-all, women are caught in the middle between the pressure to join the party and the consequences of men who expect that a woman's consent is a given — that the default response is "yes."

The result is a staggering disconnect between women's expressed desire to stop sexual impropriety and their own complicity in furthering the stereotype of the sexually adventurous woman.

For example, it is women who made 50 Shades of Grey, a novel that celebrates sadomasochism, into a national bestseller.  It is also women who have helped make hip-hop the most popular music genre in America (surpassing rock in 2017) despite lyrics like these from superstar Dr. Dre: "B------ ain't s--- but hoes and tricks."

And college coeds flock to role-playing parties with themes such as "CEOs and Their Secretary Hos," "Dirty Doctors and Naughty Nurses," "Professors and naughty schoolgirls," "Politicians and Prostitutes," and "Superheroes and Super-sluts."

Female students even participate in university-sponsored sex weeks.  Professor Nancy Pearcey writes, "Universities hold sex weeks where porn stars are speakers and sex toy companies display their wares.  Students attend workshops with titles like 'How to Have a Successful Threesome' and a discussion of oral sex called 'How Many Licks Does It Take?'  The message is: Don't be boring.  Be like porn stars."

Ironically, women have embraced — and are perpetuating — the very sexual culture that exploits them.

The end result is a generation of confused men with a sense of sexual entitlement.  A troubling documentary followed college students carousing at beach parties during Spring Break over the course of several years.  The director, Benjamin Nolot, found that female students were sexually violated at every single party.

Similarly, earlier this year, two fraternities at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania had to be disbanded as a result of leaked documents that contained graphic descriptions of sexual assault committed by fraternity members during parties, as well as references to members buying date rape drugs and having a "rape attic" in the fraternity house.

Young American women have bought into the lie that the sexual revolution would empower them, but their experience on the college campus is one of exploitation and disempowerment.

The heart of the problem is that the hookup culture tells women that they are not equal unless they can have sex like men — that they must be just as raunchy and promiscuous as men.  But this message has instead disarmed women, rendering them vulnerable and leaving them in a no-win situation on college campuses and beyond.

The #MeToo movement was fueled by abuses of power and sexual impropriety.  But women can't have it both ways.  By buying into the hookup culture, women have participated in the erosion of the social norms that used to protect them.  The only truly effective way women will be able to restore those norms is to rethink their acceptance of, and participation in, the dogmas of the sexual revolution.

Maria Martinez is an attorney in Texas.

Image: daily sunny via Flickr.