by Doctor Science
The current issue of Christian Century has several articles about dating, sex, and relationships. One is about College chaplains on the hookup culture, with commentary by six chaplains from across the spectrum of American colleges: state schools, Ivy League, Christian, small, and large.
What really astounded me was how resolutely all the ministers ignore men. Some of them mentioned the attitudes or difficulties of male students, but only in passing. *All* of the anecdotes about particular students they have counseled involve women. They talk about the problems "hookup culture", promiscuity, or objectification makes for *women*, but as far as men are concerned their ministry seems to be "boys will be boys".
TRIGGER WARNING: discussion of rape and rape culture in post and comments.
For instance, in the framing:
Mark Regnerus, a sociologist, argues that a numerical imbalance between the genders has enhanced the social power of men. Women now significantly outnumber men on college campuses and in other venues where young adults meet. Since men are relatively scarce, they have the upper hand—hence the creation of a campus culture that caters to male desires. "What many young men wish for—access to sex without too many complications or commitments—carries the day," says Regnerus.None of the ministers really discusses whether young men, as this statement suggests, no longer fall in love, or whether they find that what they "wish for" is not, in reality, what they actually want. Male behavior is seen as a problem for women, but almost as though it's an inhuman force, not as something done by adults with souls and emotional needs.
Nowhere is this clearer than in the statement by Vance Rains of Florida State University.
In recent weeks, I've met with three women who have each woken to discover that they had sex the previous night but have no memory of it. In each case, the women had been drinking. In each case, a date-rape drug may have been used. In one case, the sexual partner was a male "best friend," whom the woman had assumed she was safe with. In another case, the woman went home with an acquaintance. In the third case, the woman went home with a total stranger. Each woman felt a combination of anger, personal responsibility and shame.When I first saw this I couldn't believe what I was reading. What he is describing is not "hookup culture", it is rape culture. The women he is talking about have been *raped*. And he seems to (sort of) recognize it:
These women, and so many others, describe a campus culture in which men expect to have sex on any given night, even if it requires pressure, manipulation or the use of illegal date-rape drugs.But Rains doesn't say, "rape". He goes on to write about the problems the raped women experience -- especially their shame over their loss of what they call "purity" -- and about the need to
promote a healthier sexuality in general and to address the pressure that is placed on women in particular-- even though it is not "women in particular" whose behavior is most problematic.
To be honest, I can't tell from Rains' article if he even realizes that he's talking about rape, and that efforts to change the situation should start by focusing on the rapists and their enablers. It's a Golda Meir moment: at one point when she was Prime minister of Israel, there was rape epidemic in Jerusalem. The idea of a curfew for women, to protect them, was suggested. "No", Meir famously said, "we need a curfew for *men*, the women aren't doing anything wrong." Her suggestion did not go over well.
I don't know what chaplains can do to change male attitudes toward sex and rape; I don't know if things like Ten Real Rape-Prevention Tips (example: "If you are in an elevator and a woman gets in, don't rape her.") would be something they can use. But I do know that ignoring men's problems, needs, and feelings will *not* work. Less of "boys will be boys", and more of "boys will be adults" might be a good approach.
We shouldn't think it reasonable for men and women to be in relationships, but for the relationships to be only the woman's problem -- or job. It takes two to tango, and both partners really need to learn the steps.