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.)

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