A New York Times story profiles the alleged rise of college women embracing and “propelling” today’s hook-up culture. But these casual encounters can spell trouble, raising the question of whether alcohol-fueled sex is rape.
It is by now pretty well understood that traditional dating in college has mostly gone the way of the landline, replaced by “hooking up” — an ambiguous term that can signify anything from making out to oral sex to intercourse — without the emotional entanglement of a relationship.
Until recently, those who studied the rise of hookup culture had generally assumed that it was driven by men, and that women were reluctant participants, more interested in romance than in casual sexual encounters. But there is an increasing realization that young women are propelling it, too.
According to the story, ambitious female students have no time to devote to romantic relationships. A boyfriend would be a burden on the climb up the corporate ladder.
These women said they saw building their résumés, not finding boyfriends (never mind husbands), as their main job at Penn. They envisioned their 20s as a period of unencumbered striving, when they might work at a bank in Hong Kong one year, then go to business school, then move to a corporate job in New York. The idea of lugging a relationship through all those transitions was hard for many to imagine….
Their enthusiasm for casual sexual encounters seems to require alcohol.
… Women said universally that hookups could not exist without alcohol, because they were for the most part too uncomfortable to pair off with men they did not know well without being drunk….
Alcohol complicates the legal question of what constitutes rape. In one anecdote, Haley hooked up after drinking too much, and later “realized” she might have been raped.
Only later did Haley begin to think of what had happened as rape — a disturbingly common part of many women’s college experience. In a 2007 survey funded by the Justice Department of 6,800 undergraduates at two big public universities, nearly 14 percent of women said they had been victims of at least one completed sexual assault at college; more than half of the victims said they were incapacitated from drugs or alcohol at the time.
The close relationship between hooking up and drinking leads to confusion and disagreement about the line between a “bad hookup” and assault….
Here’s a good question for parents to discuss with their college sons and daughters.
I think the answer depends on what a judge or jury decides. But, as the mother of a son who was accused of rape by his ex-girlfriend learned, it’s important to know that in cases handled on college campuses, there is no presumption of innocence.
In fact, Title IX, that so-called guarantor of equality between the sexes on college campuses, and as applied by a recent directive from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, has obliterated the presumption of innocence that is so foundational to our traditions of justice. On today’s college campuses, neither “beyond a reasonable doubt,” nor even the lesser “by clear and convincing evidence” standard of proof is required to establish guilt of sexual misconduct.
These safeguards of due process have, by order of the federal government, been replaced by what is known as “a preponderance of the evidence.” What this means, in plain English, is that all my son’s accuser needed to establish before a campus tribunal is that the allegations were “more likely than not” to have occurred by a margin of proof that can be as slim as 50.1% to 49.9%.