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FALLOUT OF THE REVOLUTION: “DATE RAPE”
Take a girl too young to understand what erotic desire is and subject her to several years of propaganda to the effect that she has a right to have things any way she wants them in this domain—with no corresponding duties to God, her parents or anyone else. Do not give her any guidance as to what it might be good for her to want, how she might try to regulate her own conduct or what qualities she ought to look for in a young man. Teach her furthermore that the notion of natural differences between the sexes is a laughable superstition that our enlightened age is gradually overcoming—with the implication that men’s sexual desires are no different from or more intense than her own. Meanwhile, as she matures physically, keep her protected in her parents’ house, sheltered from responsibility.
Then, at age seventeen or eighteen, take her suddenly away from her family and all the people she has ever known. She can stay up as late as she wants! She can decide for herself when and how much to study! She’s making new friends all the time, young women and men both. It’s no big deal having them over or going to their rooms; everybody is perfectly casual about it. What difference does it make if it’s a boy she met at a party? He seems like a nice fellow, like others she meets in class.
Now let us consider the young man she is alone with. He is neither a saint nor a criminal, but, like all normal young men of college years, he is intensely interested in sex. There are times he cannot study without getting distracted by the thought of some young woman’s body. He has little experience with girls, and most of it unhappy. He has been rejected a few times without much ceremony, and it was more humiliating than he cares to admit. He has the impression that for other young men things are not as diffi cult: “Everybody knows,” after all, that since the nineteen-sixties men get all the sex they like, right? He is bombarded with talk about sex on television, in the words to popular songs, in rumors about friends who supposedly “scored” with this or that girl. He begins to wonder if there isn’t something wrong with him. Furthermore, he has received the same education about sex as the girl he is now with. He has learned that people have the right to do anything they want. The only exception is rape. But that is hardly even relevant to him; he is obviously incapable of doing something like that.
He has also been taught that there are no important differences between the sexes. This means, of course, that girls want sex just as badly as he does, though they slyly pretend otherwise. And are not their real desires verifi ed by all those Cosmopolitan magazine covers he sees constantly at the grocery store? If women are so eager to read such stuff, why should it be so damned diffi cult to fi nd just one girl willing to go to bed with him?
But tonight, fi nally, something seemed to click. He met a girl at a party. They chatted, perhaps drank a bit: all smiles, quite unlike the girls who had been so quick about rejecting him in high school. She even let him come to her room afterwards (or came to his). It doesn’t take a genius to fi gure out what she is thinking, he says to himself. This is a tremendously important moment for him; every ounce of his self-respect is at stake. He is confused and his heart is pounding, but he tries to act as if he knows what he is doing. She seems confused, too, and he meets no more than token resistance (or so it seems to him). He doesn’t actually enjoy it, and isn’t sure whether she does either. But that is beside the point; it only matters that he can fi nally consider himself a man. Later on they can talk about what terms they want to be on, whether she will be his regular girlfriend, etc. Matrimony is not exactly uppermost in his mind, but he might not rule it out—eventually. He asks her how she feels afterwards, and she mumbles that she is “okay.” This sets his mind at rest. An awkward parting follows.
Later that night or the next morning our young woman is trying to fi gure out what in hell has happened to her. Why had he gotten so pushy all of a sudden? Didn’t he even want to get to know her fi rst? It was confusing, it all happened so quickly. Sex, she had always heard, was supposed to be something wonderful; but this she had not enjoyed at all. She felt somehow used. Of course, at no point does it enter her mind to question her own right to have been intimate with the young man if she had wanted to. Moral rule number one, we all know, is that all sex between consenting adults is licit. She just isn’t sure whether she had really wanted this. In fact, the more she thinks about it, the more certain she feels that she hadn’t. But if she hadn’t wanted it, then it was against her will, wasn’t it? And if it was against her will, that means…she’s been raped?
I sympathize with the young woman, in view of a miseducation which might have been consciously designed to leave her unprepared for the situation she got herself into. But as to the question of whether she was raped, the answer must be a clear no.
Let me explain by means of an analogy with something less emotionally laden. Consider someone who purchases a lottery ticket which does not win the prize. Suppose he were to argue as follows: “I put my money down because I wanted the prize. I wouldn’t have paid if I had known I was going to lose; therefore I have been deprived of my money against my will; therefore I am the victim of theft.” No one would accept this argument as valid. Why shouldn’t we?
For the very good reason that it denies the fundamental principle behind all personal responsibility. Those who want to make their own choices in life must be willing to accept the consequences of those choices. Consider the alternative: If every loser in a lottery were entitled to a refund there would be no money left for the prize, and so no lottery. For similar reasons, most civilized institutions depend upon people taking responsibility for their actions, keeping agreements and fulfi lling obligations regardless of whether or not they happen to like the consequences.
The grandmother of the young woman in our story was unaware that she possessed a “right” to sleep with any boy who took her fancy—or to invite him to her bedroom and expect nothing to happen. It was the male and female sexual utopians of the postwar period who said women should be allowed unlimited freedom to choose for themselves in such matters. Unfortunately, they did not lay much stress on the need to accept the consequences of poor choices. Instead, they treated the moral and social norms women in particular had traditionally used to guide themselves as wholly irrational barriers to pleasure. Under their infl uence, two generations of women have been led to believe that doing as they please should lead to happiness and involve no risk. Hence the moral sophistry of “I didn’t like it; ergo I didn’t want it; ergo it was against my will.”