February 10, 2014
NEW FRONTIERS IN SEXISM: The Misguided Campaign to Protect Women.
An unusual article appears in the Education Life section of Sunday’s New York Times. The headline is disturbing: “If She Can’t Stop Him, YOU CAN. Bystander intervention may be the best hope to reduce sexual assault on campus.”
The strong implication here, and in the article, is 1) that rape is out of control on our campuses, and 2) that women, confronted by so many would-be rapists, can’t do much about it, or shouldn’t have to. So, 3) bystanders appear to be the best hope of intervening to save women from rape.
The article lists a few possible rape-averting interventions: turning on the lights or the music off at parties, spilling a drink on the guy, or perhaps saying to the potential rapist, “This woman doesn’t want to talk to you, but there’s another woman downstairs who likes you.” (There would be no other woman downstairs). According to the article a female friend might say to the rape target, “Here’s the tampon you asked for,” thus decreasing the sexual ardor of the nearby rapist-to-be.
This a very bleak view of men and not a very positive one of women either.
Women are depicted as fragile flowers, so passive and unable to cope with campus parties that they need outside protectors playing weird tricks to ward off sexual assault. The article, like the feminist campaign behind it–from college skits to an advertising effort–has nothing to say about how women might take action themselves, such as not getting blind drunk in the company of solo males they don’t know well.
Even raising that point makes you some sort of sexist troglodyte, I think. But hey, when women on campus can’t even deal with a semi-nude statue, maybe they really are fragile flowers. Probably they should just get married after high school and stay home with kids, where it’s safe.