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What Kind of Liberalism Won the Culture Wars?
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  • FriendlyGoat

    I graduated from a regional state (public) college a long time ago. It was in a relatively-conservative town in a relatively-conservative state and it had a famously-conservative president. When I was there, the women’s dorms and men’s dorms were on opposite sides of the campus. The women’s dorms had curfews and the college paid attention to whether any girls were absent overnight. There was absolutely no dorm room visitation between genders ever. The college also owned all fraternity and sorority facilities and leased them to the organizations.

    If the handbook had also basically told me. as a male student, that “if you are accused by a female student of engaging in unwanted intimacy or sexual pressure, the college will vigorously investigate, possibly give more leeway to her side of the story than yours, and maybe expel you, depending on the findings”——-I would have said, “Sure, I get it. We don’t mistreat the girls because it is not allowed”.

    While the dorm rules and arrangements have changed, conservatives who are now having a fit about “Yes means Yes” need to step back and try to remember who they once were and what they once were supposedly about on this topic.

    • Andrew Allison

      I beg (surprise, surprise LOL) to differ. Even if the handbook had said, “if you are accused by a female student of engaging in unwanted intimacy or sexual pressure, the college will vigorously investigate, possibly give more leeway to her side of the story than yours, and maybe expel you, depending on the findings”, there’s a vast difference between that and the guilty until proven innocent in the absence of due process currently rife on campuses. It’s especially interesting that it was the women’s dorms had curfews and bed checks on your campus — I sure wish I’d gone to a college where the women were so promiscuous as to require such constraints [grin]. On a serious note, there are two problems with “yes means yes”. The obvious one is the awkwardness of deciding just how often consent needs to be obtained. The more serious one is the guilty until proven innocent problem. It seems to me that “no means no” is a much better approach. The ambiguity of whether or not the act was consensual is the same, but the social intercourse (sorry, couldn’t resist) would be much less awkward.

      • FriendlyGoat

        The two problems you mentioned with “yes means yes” have been much discussed here at TAI before. I believe guys who stay mostly sober and hang out with girls who are staying mostly sober are just not going to have any big problem.

        Some other thoughts:

        Even though I found myself in a conservative place, it was not necessarily a conservative time. There is this odd juxtaposition of what I described in the college rules and the fact that I arrived at that college about two weeks after the famous Woodstock music festival. (No, I didn’t make it to Woodstock personally.)

        You raised something interesting about the fact that the college maintained curfews for girls but not guys. There was absolutely something sexist about that which would probably be criticized today. But “in loco parentis” of that time was “lock in the girls” and not try to impose it on the males out howling at the moon (but without any girls).

        • Andrew Allison

          We’re largely in agreement. The fact that it was thought that the women (isn’t the presumption that female college students are girls rather than women a bit sexist?) had to be locked up to protect them from randy goats [irresistible, sorry] was clearly sexist. But if, in fact, we are now in an era in which female college students are presumed to be able to look after themselves, why do we need “yes means yes”? Seems to me that the presumption of (male) guilt is at least as sexist as locking up the ladies. However, as you point out, the issue is not guys who stay mostly sober and hang out with women who are staying mostly sober. IMO, consent is a requirement, and if a girl is in any way impaired, she can’t be presumed to have consented. End of story.

          • rheddles

            if a girl is in any way impaired, she can’t be presumed to have consented

            And does a drunk driver who kills a pedestrian get off too?

          • Andrew Allison

            What part of unimpaired CONSENT is unclear to you?

          • JR

            Of course, that open up a for to what “unimpaired” really means? Two drinks an hour? Three? Four? Two drinks and two puffs of a joint? How about two joins? A pill of MDMA?
            My only point is that when you start trying to legislate the very minutiae of daily existence, you are opening yourself up to tyranny of interpreters. And since those who interpret are fallible, not to mention corruptible, we are starting to get to some bad places very seriously. Because when these interpreters (aka government) screws up, there is no punishment. How many people have been fired from EPA for the spill? I bet the answer is ZERO!

          • Andrew Allison

            I agree that “impairment” is hard to define — it isn’t just the number of drinks, etc., but their effect on the individual. Yes-means-yes doesn’t solve the impairment problem. What it does do is introduce a whole new set of the minutiae to which you, rightly, object (at how many stages of a potentially intimate encounter should the guy ask the girl for permission to proceed). In practice, it’s not too difficult to detect potential impairment (of either party to the encounter), and to proceed with caution.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I shouldn’t call them girls, I guess, being an older guy now. When I was there, of course, they were girls to us guys. Not “little girls” or anything demeaning, just girls.

            As for randy goats, you’re excused without apology. I actually have a male goat with female goats. He is a thought-provoking piece of work on the subject of boy and girl goats—–and then boy and girl people by extension.
            “Yes means Yes” is an entire gender imposing a new communication standard on the other gender. I predict it’s not too long before sixth graders everywhere are quite aware of what it means and how it replaces other ambiguities.

          • Andrew Allison

            That was then, this is now you old goat [grin].
            We are in violent disagreement (about which we can agree to disagree) about communication standards. IMO it’s very simple: non-consensual sexual activity of any kind is rape, and an impaired woman cannot be considered to have consented.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Well, I agree that “non-consensual sexual activity of any kind is rape, and an impaired woman cannot be considered to have consented”. But I like “Yes means Yes” as a communication vehicle too. We are adding a cautionary step of something a guy is expected to clearly hear—–AND—–an obligation on a female who may want a lot of intimacy to say so. You never know, this may be a social fad that just dies out, but if it doesn’t, I like the straight-forwardness of it all. It can replace “she is just hoping he will put the moves on her” and “he is trying to put the moves on her when she doesn’t really want that at all”. I think that’s progress.

          • Boritz

            “I shouldn’t call them girls…”

            This modest bit of hand wringing over terminology is endearing, especially in the time of Trump. I have heard biology majors (who tend to be pretty close to 100% liberal) offer the following reductio: When I say animal, of course I include man, and when I say man, of course I include woman.

            This could be expanded by: and when I say woman, of course I man girl unless, of course, this attributes to girls potentials appropriate only to age specific groups but that is not in any way meant to be ageist but only age “appropriate” while not intending the word appropriate in any way to denote a normative standard that impinges on the rights of traditionally excluded groups in WASP (or Catholic) society.

            If that is what you meant then we’re in agreement too. Any why would the author think Liberalism won the culture war anyway?

          • FriendlyGoat

            As to “girls”, I was just answering Andrew who brought up the politically correct (I hate that term) sensitivity of calling women girls. My mind was back in college, as I told him. We all seemed to know what a “girl’ was to us then—–but, for purposes here, I’m an old man no longer in college. So I walked that back.

            Your last question, though, is a GREAT question. I do not believe the culture wars are over and I do not believe that the legalization of same-sex marriage was any definitive conquest of the conservative side.

            To me there are more culture wars than one. Certainly, contraception, interracial marriage, reproductive choice and same-sex marriage are one kind, where the central issue is whether a “moral majority” (like Jerry Falwell once led) can limit the rights of other individuals in their major life decisions.

            But there is another culture war going on all the time which largely centers around what some have erroneously called “freedom of speech” issues. To me, that one is about how far down the drain we wish our societal communication norms to go. Let me just say that us old folks all know the difference between The Andy Griffith Show and the range of what is on broadcast TV, cable, movies and Internet today. It is a mixed war. Contrary to some perceptions of us, there are some liberals (me, for instance) who wish we had a mechanism for retaining higher standards on what we show each other. And there are some conservatives (maybe a lot of them) who by participation in ownership of entertainment businesses are leading the charge downward and celebrating the free-enterprise aspect of that.

            So, I agree with you that the author’s claims about the culture war are shallow at best.

    • bob in sc

      Colleges should not be in the business of investigating crimes.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Colleges should be in the business of preventing crimes against their students, and I believe they moving that direction, even in the face of criticism for doing so.

  • TheCynical1

    Feminists and social conservatives have more in common than they think.

  • Andrew Allison

    Is it just me, or is “Citing the public’s widespread sense of amusement or indifference toward the hacking of Ashley Madison (a dating site for adults looking to have affairs whose users’ identities were exposed), de Boer argues that the culture remains overly moralistic and judgmental.” absolutely nonsensical?

    • Fred

      I don’t think it is from his point of view. He thinks the indifference and amusement, rather than outrage and condemnation of the hackers, is the result of a feeling among the public that the AM denizens deserve what they get, which he sees as “Victorian.”

    • FriendlyGoat

      No, it’s not just you. I’m politically liberal to the core and I think we need the Ashley Madison site like we need invasive cancer. It’s not so much a matter of being moralistic and judgmental. It’s more a matter of sadness at what so many people are willing to do to hurt their spouses and the realization someone is capitalizing on it.

      • Andrew Allison

        Whilst delighted that we are, once again, in agreement, I think you may have missed the point of my comment, namely that the indifference to the revelations is the antithesis of de Boer’s argument. I’m also unclear about how signing up with AM is more hurtful to a spouse than any other infidelity. Is it infidelity or it’s discovery that’s hurtful? In other words is it the betrayal or discovery of the betrayal that’s hurtful to the spouse?

        • FriendlyGoat

          Well, a spouse who never finds out about the other’s spouse’s affair enjoys the bliss of ignorance. I’m sure it happens that way on a permanent basis from time to time with some couples. But I rather think that cheating usually is sooner or later discovered, or even admitted, and then it hurts.

          The way I get this is that de Boer is surprised members of the general public are laughing or indifferent to the hack because we members of the general public are moralistic and want cheaters to be embarrassed. His comments struck me as suggesting we should be liberal enough to condone affairs as normal and even somehow appreciate Ashley Madison as a cool website while minding our own business. Maybe I’m misreading him, but I think he’s on the tacky side of life and I wish he was not suggesting that this is what real liberals are about. Many of us aren’t.

          • Andrew Allison

            I share your impression of what de Boer is suggesting, and think that it’s ridiculous. If we were moralistic, we would be outraged, not amused.

          • Hominid

            Many? Nah! It is what nearly all Libs are about – unreality, selfishness, and irresponsibility.

  • Harry Heller

    If one accepts the proposition that the verminous “elite” in the US today is simply bent on a radical reconstruction of the Old Order – defined as white, Eurocentric, Christian, Constitutionalist, capitalist, propertarian (oriented towards private property and gain – which is still the case today and always will be, but “officially” this is now looked down upon), heteronormative, biologically immutabilist, and oriented towards natural and against legal justice and for “tough measures” (Dirty Harry, not John Kerry) – then all these seemingly bizarre contradictions resolve themselves. This relation of Power towards the People who still prefer the Old Ways also explains the Trump phenomenon. Trump is boorish, intellectually incurious, and overly impressed with himself, but The People like him not only because he is someone who is – finally! – discussing the Great Unmentionable (“Why, again, should we continue to allow ourselves to be colonized by Third World failures?”), but because he to some extent embodies those Old Ways, reminding many of their gruff-but-Real-People fathers, uncles, etc., MEN of an earlier and, in the Age of Obama the Affirmative Actionite, astronomically superior generation.

    Trump is a relic of the Old America, still alive in the post-60s New America of Obama, “Call me Cait”, and endless vistas of Mexicans. What’s not to love?

  • jeburke

    Meh, I’m not convinced. The phony campus rape crisis is just another way to steamroll any dissent from “progressive” politics. Think of it as an extention of the early 70s feminist protests against the then-“rape culture” that featured such things as Susan Brownmiller promoting street fighting classes for women the better to protect themselves from not only rapists but mashers, gropers and sidewalk wiseguys. It’s all about casting men as aggressive, boorish and dangerous. The logical extention of this is to make every 18 year old boy who steals a kiss or presses his loins against a dance partner a kind of criminal. Far from a throwback to sexual conservatism, it’s more radical rot.

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