Maybe we should be teaching men not to rape

I was talking to a friend the other night about college rape.

“They have these orientation workshops for the girls: Don’t drink too much, don’t go to parties alone, get a friend to walk you home,” she said. “But they don’t have workshops for the guys, telling them not to rape. Which would be a lot more useful, right?”

I keep thinking about this. I know at some schools, they have “No means no” workshops for the male students but they sound a little impractical, given the frequent violence and insane peer pressure involved. “Do I have your permission to kiss you?” may not cut it.

What they need to teach them is more along the lines of, “What do you do at a frat party when several of your fraternity brothers take an incoherently drunk and possibly drugged girl upstairs? What are your legal and ethical obligations to that girl? Who do you call? How do you stop it?”

I think some kind of anti-rape seminar should be mandatory for all male students, but especially fraternity members and college athletes, whose cultures are, if not rape-friendly, frequently rape-dismissive.

I’ve had guys tell me about college girls who were sexually wild, who wanted to have sex with several men at a frat party. My response is that while there are certainly women seeking those experiences, you shouldn’t assume that every woman who’s in that situation is fully voluntary — especially if it’s public. There is frequently an element of coercion and maybe it’s better to assume that kind of pressure, rather than consent.

And then we have the added complication of date rape drugs, which are far too common on campus. You might be assigning autonomy to someone who’s actually under their influence.

These are complex issues for young people to navigate. Schools should develop policies, teach them to the students, and actually enforce them. Far too many young college women are raped. It’s time we started teaching the men to stand up against it, too.

(H/t Car Accident Attorney John Yannone.)

Christmas Story

I’m going to post about some of my favorite Christmas movies, and hope you’ll offer up some of your own. Christmas Story (2007) is not the one you’re thinking of, with Ralphie and the Red Ryder BB gun (although I love it, too).

This is a Finnish movie about a young boy, Nikolas, whose parents die in an accident and he’s left an orphan. Because his village is very poor, no one wants to take responsibility for the child until the mayor comes up with a compromise: Each family will take care of him for a year. The story, of course, is that of St. Nicholas and how he came to be Santa Claus.


Oh, you know how men exaggerate about size:

On Monday at the UN climate talks in Doha, the US claimed credit for “enormous” efforts on climate change.

Jonathan Pershing, a senior negotiator for the US, said: “Those who don’t know what the US is doing may not be informed of the scale and extent of the effort, but it’s enormous.”

Whether the US has taken enormous steps on climate change is open to debate. What we do know is that we have a newly re-elected President who in his acceptance speech said “We want our children to live in a world without the destructive power of a warming planet”.

In order to tackle climate change, the US cannot continue on a path of relentless oil and gas drilling, as currently espoused in the President’s Energy plan, known as “All of the Above”, which advocates a mix of oil, gas, nuclear, renewables and the contradiction which is clean coal.

As Steve Kretzmann and I pointed out in the aftermath of Obama’s re-election: “The President cannot simultaneously fight climate change and support an All of the Above/Drill Baby Drill energy strategy.  It would be like launching a war on cancer while promoting cheap cigarettes for kids.  Leadership on climate requires understanding this.”

The first move

I find all this shit enormously annoying, because the Republicans never, ever negotiate in good faith — and the Democrats don’t really tell the truth. Wheee!

The problem is, unlike the Democrats’ calls for higher taxes on rich Americans, the GOP’s preferred Medicare cuts are deeply unpopular. So they’re trying to cow Democrats into proposing these cuts first — to effectively author both sides of the proposal — and provide them political cover.

“We’ve come down with ours. We’re still waiting for theirs. That’s the status of the negotiations,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in the Capitol Thursday, laughing off the GOP’s demand.

Though the expiration of the Bush tax cuts provides Democrats enough leverage to ignore the GOP’s demand for Medicare cuts altogether, conversations with Senate Democratic aides reveal Democrats will accede to some modest spending reductions up front, so that Republicans will agree to simultaneously increase the debt ceiling and avoid another economically damaging standoff early next year.

Complicating matters for the GOP is the paradox that it’s easier, both politically and legislatively, to realize savings in Medicare by making the program more robust. Democrats are prepared push those sorts of reforms in 2013 when the two sides set about seeking a broader package of entitlement and tax reforms. In contrast, the Republican aim in these budget negotiations is to forge ahead with proposals designed to weaken the program, not to reduce spending on Medicare per se.

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