For those of you familiar with my Facebook page today’s blog may look like a re-run. It isn’t.
Some content has been gently recycled but I added plenty of fresh, green, LEED-certified earth friendly material as well. I am approaching the subject again because of the enormous response it generated on Facebook. I hope to see a lively conversation here as well, so don’t disappoint me! Ready? Set? Go!
What does that word mean to you?
I’m really curious because I see a lot of posts on FB and all around the Internet railing against “feminism” but when you dig deep past the hysteria, poor grammar and blatant misogyny of some of this shit, the issue being decried is that men and women are treated differently and men are often disadvantaged as a result.
My work in divorce reform has shown me time and time again that this is absolutely true: men are at an extreme disadvantage when they are drawn into “family” court.
Take alimony, for instance. Men may have a leg up on us gals by making a few more cents on the dollar, but if the dollar and then some is all awarded to their ex-wife who refuses to work, who really cares?
As for child custody, it’s a no-brainer. Men are rarely awarded equal parenting time, despite the fact that before the divorce was filed they may have been ideal parents.
And then there is the whole issue of sexual assault. We are hearing a lot about this in the media these days, although the discussion seems narrowly limited to campus sexual assaults. Apparently nobody really cares if someone barges uninvited into the vagina of a factory worker.
My interest in this area began many years ago. I minored in Women’s Studies (Womyn’s for you hardcore feminazis) in college, partly because I was experiencing an awakening to the injustices of the world around me but mostly because there was no math requirement.
Because duh, girls can’t do math.
My education taught me a great deal about the history (herstory!) of women and the subjugation of my gender by men through denial of political, social, sexual and economic opportunities.
There was much I learned that shocked me – so much so that I was left with a niggling suspicion that maybe some of it wasn’t true. The most blatant example was the much-ballyhooed statistic that 25% of college women will be sexually assaulted.
One in four? That can’t be right.
As it turns out, it’s not.
Christina Hoff Sommers of the American Enterprise Institute exploded this myth in her book Who Stole Feminism? Sommers looked closely at the 1982 survey of 3,000 college women which generated this notorious statistic and found that the questions asked were far more telling than the answers given, including the question:
“Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn’t want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs?”
It’s the word “because” that troubles me.
Does this sentence mean he forced her to drink or take drugs and rendered her incapacitated?
Or does it mean he provided the alcohol or drugs and at a certain point she just put on her beer goggles and screwed the guy she thought she’d put firmly in the friend zone?
If you want to read more about Sommers’ examination of this false statistic, go here: 1 in 4 Rape Myth.
In September last year, California passed a law that should terrify all of us: the “Yes Means Yes” legislation that purports for the first time in national history to define sexual consent for college students, faculty or staff members. You can read it here: Yes Means Yes!
Again, this law does not apply to everyone, it is narrowly confined to college campuses because apparently nobody in our society needs extra protection more than those vulnerable and disadvantaged college kids.
The Yes Means Yes law requires “affirmative consent,” and such consent is impossible if someone is asleep (OK, that makes sense) or “incapacitated” by drugs or alcohol. An “incapacitated” person is defined by the statute as one who “could not understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual activity.”
OK, but according to whom? And what does that even mean? And if a woman is so incapacitated that she cannot consent to sex, how can she claim to remember her level of incapacitation after the alleged assault?
“Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time.”
Now this is what really scares me. Two kids can be perfectly sober, get it on, and afterward accuse each other of rape because they weren’t moaning “I consent to this sexual activity and am fully capable of doing so” from foreplay (for college kids foreplay is ripping their clothes off) to orgasm.
Orgasm for him, anyway, because that’s unfortunately the point at which sex is usually over.
If a young woman is “incapacitated” during sex and the man has been drinking with her, who raped whom? If both complete the act without a word, who raped whom?
The California bill was introduced by Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles who said, “Every student deserves a learning environment that is safe and healthy.”
True. Every student should be safe. Even the ones with penises.
Should my son go to college in California against my strenuous admonitions to avoid that state like Hilary avoids the .gov email system, he will go armed with a breathalyzer kit and a consent form, and I still don’t think he will be adequately covered to avoid allegations from a girl who may have changed her mind or become angry with him post-coitus.
I predict thousands of young men will be falsely accused of sexual assault under this new law within the Alice-in-Wonderland quasi-judicial college system that assumes guilt before innocence, has no constitutional protections, no real rules of evidence and which can expel the accused even when no basis is found for the allegations and even when the police investigate and determine there is no “there” there.
And that takes me back to my original question: what does the word “feminism” mean to you?
Perhaps I am naive, but I define feminism as believing men and women should have equal rights and opportunities in all areas of life (except making babies in our tummies – sorry, guys!), but I further believe those rights and opportunities come with equal obligations, expectations, and personal accountability for our actions.
And here’s the part I wasn’t going to write because it’s so difficult but I think I must. Here comes what some may refer to as T.M.I.:
I was raped when I was 17. That’s how I lost my virginity. Isn’t that special?
I attended a party my senior year out in the country. Hundreds of kids were running amok, drinking beer and dabbling in LSD and other fun drugs. Fun for them, I should say. Not for me.
At some point I got sick as we so often did back then, and after vomiting several times I crawled into a loft and passed out. I don’t know how long I was out when my sleep was interrupted by one of the kids I came to the party with.
He climbed on top of me. He did what he did. I think I remember saying no and pushing him away, but honestly I didn’t even know what was happening until the pain hit me and I realized I was no longer a virgin.
He knew exactly what he was doing and years later I found out I was one in a long line of other women he assaulted over the years.
That’s rape. One could certainly argue that I shouldn’t have put myself in that position, but I believe what happened to me that night meets the legal definition of rape.
You know what isn’t rape? Many of the other sexual experiences I had in my life: hazy nights of drinking and dancing and fun capped off with an clumsy, unsatisfying fumbling in the dark and awkward goodbyes in the morning.
Every young woman should be taught to respect herself and her body and to cherish her sexual freedom. We don’t need to be protected by outrageous laws like the “Yes Means Yes” law. We need to be educated from a young age that we are just as responsible for our sexual experiences as are the men we couple with. This is part of how I define feminism. Perhaps a better word is “humanism,” because I truly believe in equality between the sexes.
What do you think? Please sound off in the comments below.