Yet more evidence that modern American college campuses truly are bastions of creeping Neo-Victorianism: The national organization governing sororities, the National Panhellenic Conference, actually ordered its 16 chapters at the University of Virginia to stay away from Boys' Bid Night last weekend. Bid Night is one of the biggest fraternity parties of the the year, and the NPC was evidently concerned about girls' safety, given that frats are often assumed to be hotbeds of sexual assault (although the most egregious example of this at UVA has been debunked.)
The NPC is a private club, and is within its rights to infantilize its members, I suppose. Still, it deserves harsh criticism for promoting the alarmist notion that all college girls are in constant danger of being raped, as well as placing restrictions on them that are fairly obviously sexist. I fully support the decision made by some sorority sisters to flout the decree, according to Bloomberg:
"They are treating us like children and punishing us for being women," said Whitney Rosser, a senior from Lynchburg, Virginia, and a member of Alpha Phi. "We're angry because we are being told we are not allowed to go out instead of addressing the deeper issue of why sexual assault happens."
The movement to prevent assault is now dividing women on college campuses. The sorority protest in Charlottesville evokes the late 1960s, when women battled college administrators for social and sexual freedom. The women's rights movement of that time helped end strict dorm curfews and curbs on interaction with men imposed to protect women's virtue.
The NPC's efforts are right in line with the message of a new documentary on campus rape, The Hunting Ground, which would have us believe that college women are antelopes in a den of lions. If the circumstances were actually as bad as the alarmists say, of course, telling women to stay indoors on party nights would still be a bad approach. I certainly wouldn't want to roll back 50 years of gender progress, even if the danger was real. But keep in mind that the resurgence of neo-Victorianism at campuses nationwide is largely due to bad numbers; at UVA specifically, a discredited story is to blame. There is no good reason to impose antiquated, sexist, infantilizing restrictions on college students.
In response to mountingly intrusive attempts to protect women from rape—such as affirmative consent, and UVA's new rules for fraternities—I've jokingly remarked, what's next, chastity belts? Now I'm worried that some college administrator is going to think I was giving advice.