Friday, July 4, 2008

Teach our daughters not to lie about rape

Sexual assault education needs an overhaul. The prevailing view is that boys especially are in need of sexual assault education because boys often don't understand the boundaries of consent. As a result, sexual assault programs are geared to recondition male behavior; to the extent girls are addressed, it's to make them understand that they have the right not to be violated by males crossing the line.

This approach is woefully misguided. Pretending that boys alone have responsibilities when it comes to sexual relations is a recipe for false rape claims and invites girls to be freed of any responsibility for their own actions. Girls need to be taught about two areas in particular.

Consent: Clearly many boys and girls do not understand that consent really means consent. The test is this: Would a reasonable person in the position of the male understand by the female's outward manifestations of assent, by her words or conduct, that she is agreeing or assenting to engage in sexual relations? If so, there is consent. Period. If not, there's not. The female's subjective, secret intentions or private conflicted thoughts make no difference and can neither establish nor negate consent if her outward manifestations of assent are to the contrary; the only thing that matters are her outward and objective manifestations of assent.

A peculiar strain of feminism is teaching young women an expansive, and sadly inaccurate, definition of consent that says a woman is raped if she does not fully and enthusiastically consent to have sex. Sometimes a supposed "verbal" affirmation is tacked onto the definition. Such definitions are legally incorrect and wrongly suggest that the test for determining whether consent is present is based on a woman's subjective feelings or whims. If a woman doesn't "want" to have sex, it is rape, according to these definitions -- regardless of her outward and objective manifestations of assent. Such definitions, of course, could not pass due process muster since they leave the male no guidance to know whether his conduct is criminal. Such incorrect teachings cause some young women to misconstrue perfectly appropriate and legal sexual encounters and metamorphose them into purported "rape." These teachings also give young women license to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions.

Remorse: Girls also are not being taught that men and women view casual sex differently and that women feel remorse more than men following one-night stands. A new study shows this: "Overall women’s feelings were more negative than men’s [about one-night stand casual sex]. Eighty per cent of men had overall positive feelings about the experience compared to 54 per cent of women. . . . . The predominant negative feeling reported by women was regret at having been 'used'. Women were also more likely to feel that they had let themselves down and were worried about the potential damage to their reputation if other people found out. Women found the experience less sexually satisfying and, contrary to popular belief, they did not seem to view taking part in casual sex as a prelude to long-term relationships."

An understanding about women's feelings of remorse is important since girls should know before assenting to sex that regret is a common, indeed natural, feeling for women after-the-fact. This may provide some incentive for young women to more carefully consider whether they should manifest their consent; at the very least, an understanding that remorse is a natural byproduct for women of a one-night stand would help young women realize the source of their post-intercourse anger and perhaps keep them from misdirecting such feelings at the male. It is well to note that one of the common motives cited by experts for false rape claims is "remorse after an impulsive sexual fling . . . ." Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case, S. Taylor, K.C. Johnson at 375 (2007).

Sadly, the feminist party line likely would never countenance teaching girls the concept of remorse since it is altogether too similar to "guilt," a concept foreign to the feminist sexual assault metanarrative, unless, of course, it is male guilt. More importantly, feminists are loathe to admit that evolution and biology have made males and females different, and the concept of remorse would -- unfairly they would say -- provide an inherent limitation on women's freedom to engage in unrestricted sex while not so limiting men's freedom. That limitation on freedom would, they would think, destroy everything they are trying to achieve.

Conclusion: The combination of young women's lack of proper understanding about consent and the natural inclination for women to feel remorse over casual sex is a perfect storm for the concoction of false rape claims. Some young women objectively manifest assent to have sex while harboring secret, subjective feelings of conflict. Then afterward, feeling remorse -- which is more natural for women than men -- they transmogrify perfectly legal sexual relations into rape claims by convincing themselves that there was not the requisite "enthusiasm" or that they were "used." These sorts of rape claims are based solely on after-the-fact, false and belated, ex post facto hissy fits of regret. They are among the more dangerous kinds of rape claims to innocent men since they are difficult to defend.

Young women need to understand that they need not be "enthusiastic" in order for there to be valid consent to sex. (Have you ever seen a couple diligently trying to have a baby? They sometimes embark on intercourse in the most workmanlike fashion, as if they were loading the dishwasher.) Young women also need to be taught that their secret and subjective thoughts are meaningless to the issue of consent: if they don't want to have sex, they can easily get that point across. Finally, young women need to be taught that after-the-fact regret is -- well, regrettable and natural -- but that it has no bearing on whether their objective manifestations of assent led the male to reasonably believe consent was present.

When it comes to sexual relations, young women not only have rights, they have responsibilities. Sadly, they are not being taught that they have responsibilities because the feminists who dominate the public discourse about rape construe any talk of imposing responsibilities on females as "victim blaming," even though "victim blaming" has nothing to do with any of this. The result of such inane thinking is that we continue to see far more false rape claims than we should and far too many young women are refusing to maturely take responsibility for their own actions.