It is certainly not a “rape culture,” but just how satisfactory is the college sex scene for women today? Although feminists want to deny it, the sexes are different, and today’s promiscuous, profligate, licentious campus hook-up culture favors men, who for the most part can be more casual about sex (not that that’s good for them), while women generally become more emotionally involved.
To begin with, many college women today probably feel compelled to have casual sex in order to compete in the collegiate meat market, to function in the hook-up game, or to have male companionship at all. There are more women than men on many college campuses nowadays (thanks in part to Title IX decimation of men’s sports on many campuses), so the sex ratios are unfavorable for women. This is true even in the 50-50 divide at the most selective campuses, such as in the Ivy League. To favor women, the odds have to be better than 50-50.
In addition, privacy, more important for women than men, is diminished in the quasi-collectivist coed dorms and bathrooms of today, where bowls of condoms may well be on prominent display, sending the signal that free sex is fully condoned by the college “authorities,” such as they are, and probably giving some sensitive women the feeling that they have wandered onto the set of a pornographic movie. Orientation materials and student events promote and trumpet sexual license of all kinds, and many campuses have sex fairs in which various erotic diversions, including sado-masochism, are displayed, enacted, and commended to the young people.
“Free love” has been promulgated since the French Revolution in one form or another but became more widespread in the twentieth century. Famed anthropologist Margaret Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa, published in 1928 but with a long shelf life, presented a picture of young Samoans having breezy, no-fault sex starting in adolescence and with no societal disapproval. In later decades feminist Erica Jong promoted her ideal of the “zipless f-word.” Many young women are encouraged to think that full liberation would mean having sex with the easy nonchalance of a man and the eagerness of the Tahitian maidens greeting the sailors of the Bounty.
For example, Amanda Knox reveals in her memoir, Waiting to Be Heard–about her horrendous experience of being falsely imprisoned for murder while a student in Italy–that she determined to use her time abroad to experiment with anonymous sex. “Casual sex was, for my generation, simply what you did,” she explains, and relates how friends back home would tease her for her relative reticence. “Hellooo, Amanda. Sex is normal,” she could hear them saying. But her experiments left her feeling only emptiness. Ironically, the poor flatmate who was to become the murder victim at the hands of a local hanger-on, wisely instructed her, “Amanda, maybe uninvolved sex just isn’t for you.”
Furthermore, since God intended sex not to be recreational, but part of marriage, men tend to achieve sexual fulfillment rather easily, especially when they are young, while women often do not. A 2013 story in the New York Times revealed that in one college study 40 percent of women reported achieving climax during their last casual hook-up, while 80 percent of men did. (This was presented as a matter of “inequality.”)
So it may well seem to some women that the contemporary college scene offers them a sex life that is coerced, at least in some ways and to some extent; emotionless, without affection and certainly without commitment or even the promise of a second hook-up; and without the much-touted promised ecstasy. No, it is not a culture of rape, but in some ways it is, just not the kind of rape feminists mean.