Monday, August 18, 2014

Degrees of Separation

While it's conventional wisdom in some quarters that men "creep" in secret, I've long had a suspicion that instead, they operated with the support of peer groups that the rest of us were simply not a part of. And this story on NPR this morning offered some support for that viewpoint. It also reminded me of when I was in college, especially when the researcher who was interviewed for the piece pointed out that the men involved: "typically saw themselves as college guys hooking up. They didn't think what they had done was a crime."

When I was in school, campus sexual assault seemed like a big deal. To me, anyway. It seemed that people were always talking about it, and any random discussion could turn to it in a moment's notice. Being something of a pedantic student, I tended to get myself into trouble by contesting the rape = violence angle, mainly through pointing to legal definitions of rape to buttress my own understanding that rape was about consent. As an example, I laid out an example of a man taking advantage of a woman who was too drunk to give consent. For me, this was clearly rape, yet just as clearly non-violent. A friend of mine sent me an e-mail letting me know that if I ever slept with a drunken woman, that I'd have his full support. I think my answer was something along the lines of: "What the Hell is wrong with you?! Didn't you see where I called that out as a felony?" While we never spoke of it again, it always sort of stuck in the back of my mind. In fact, the only thing that I recall about this guy, other than the fact that he was your stereotypical, pasty-faced, chubby geek, was that e-mail exchange.

Although I never thought about it until this morning, I now wonder if there were other people in my college social circle who felt that plying a woman with alcohol was an acceptable way to "hook up" with her. I was a notorious teetotaler, so the college party scene was completely foreign to me - which, in hindsight, could have allowed any number of my friends and acquaintances to live double lives completely out of my sight. I was always of the opinion that whatever was going on, I was far removed from it. Now, I'm not so sure. It may have been closer than I thought.

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