How often have you heard “Don’t make a federal case of it”? What in the world could that mean? Everything’s federal these days—not least female modesty, or whatever passes for that once-prized commodity.
Here’s Wendy Murphy, sharing her delight that the White House has—finally!—come around to combating sexual violence on college campuses. Miss Murphy, I should explain, is a law professor, author, and former sex-crimes prosecutor who consults and lectures on, among other things, sex crime.
Moving right along, we find her celebrating a new “advisory” under Title IX of the civil-rights laws—the one used to police college policies relating to women’s participation in sports. The new “advisory,” announced by Vice President Biden at the University of New Hampshire, is big stuff. In a column for womensenews.org, Murphy says it will “compel university officials to do a better job responding to sex crimes on campus; an important concern given that 1-5 students is victimized while in college.” That’s a pretty improbable statistic until you reflect on the spaciousness of the words victim and victimized. It often seems 75 percent of Americans, not a mere 20 percent, are definitionally victims of one thing or another—bias, bullying, fast-food advertising, slighting remarks by strangers. And sex crimes.
When it comes to the latter, Harvard Law School—that citadel of right-wing male arrogance—and the University of Virginia are, from Miss Murphy’s perspective, quite reprehensible. They are “in trouble,” she reports cheerfully, “for requiring sexual-assault victims to prove their allegations by ‘clear and convincing’ evidence (about 80 percent proof) rather than the less rigorous ‘preponderance of evidence’ (about 51 percent proof). The new advisory makes it crystal clear that both schools have been violating women’s civil rights by applying the higher standard.”
What’s with these Ivy League guys anyway? Yale’s under investigation, too, for letting guys go too far. “Guys,” I said, which sums up the problem pretty nicely. It’s men (those brutes) who are rampaging through the ranks of unprotected femininity—unprotected due in large measure to academia’s collective decision to drop the hoary doctrine of in loco parentis, whereby administrators took seriously their responsibility for the safety and moral welfare of student bodies, male as well as female. That’s another story. Let’s get back to sex.
The beef on campuses such as Harvard is that males feel free to make free with chicks whenever and wherever the inspiration arises—often in coercive fashion. Now how does one suppose that situation ever came to be? Did it have something to do with the rise of feminism and the aggressive assertion by feminists of their right to do as they liked in the matter of sexual expression? Certainly the burgeoning of the abortion culture—wherein the decision to give birth or not to give birth rests with the woman alone—was central to the task of loosening old restraints. The message rang out loudly and clearly: No old-fashioned codes and restraints would hold back the modern woman.
Ohhhhhhh-k. God gave men two eyes, along with other vital parts. It doesn’t take a 20-year-old male very long to figure out when familiar rules no longer apply, and the imperative of inner joy and satisfaction takes over.
Not that Joe Biden is going to put up with that stuff, Mister. Nor a Democratic administration already in bed—wait, I didn’t mean it that way!—with an important constituency. Bring on the advisories, and let the Wotans of Harvard Law School tremble at the wrath of Fricka. Fat lot of good it’s going to do amid an atmosphere where to ask is to deserve, and to deserve may be—here and there, too often for the common good—to require.
What would make a difference in the male-female equation? Would anything? Certainly. The problem is, not enough Americans would like it. The Harvard Law School faculty would weep and wail and probably sue. Here goes, anyway.
The badly complexified relationship of men and women—on campus, off campus, in most places you can imagine—is the product of the collapse and abandonment of old norms governing that relationship. The norms were our collective inheritance from earliest times: secular to a degree, religious to a much larger degree, stemming from God Himself. Mutual respect was the lesson the old culture intended: not always learned, not always practiced when learned; nevertheless, taught with insistency by parents and churches. No government weighed in, save in a supportive capacity.
It’s all so long ago—40 years at least—that few recall with clarity the relational norms, biased toward honor, dignity, responsibility, obedience, and the like. Not that a willing push from within the culture couldn’t get things really going again. Things like . . . I quote at random St. John Chrysostom: “Virtue gives birth to love, and love brings innumerable blessings.” Hot dog—not even Joe Biden could have come up with that one. There may be more to it than this curiously depraved century of ours could ever imagine.