Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

A New Sexual Revolt Is Underway at British Universities

Could this be the start of an uprising?

credit: pedrosimoes7 / Fotercredit: pedrosimoes7 / FoterIt hasn't quite reached the boob-baring, free-lovin’ level of Woodstock yet, but a sexual revolt of sorts is underway on campus. In Britain, some male students are refusing to attend their university’s sexual-consent classes, and I reckon this could be the first salvo in a sexual uprising against the gender-studies prudes now running (and ruining) student life.

George Lawlor, a student at Warwick University, started a firestorm when he wrote a piece for a student newspaper called The Tab, headlined "Why I Don’t Need Consent Classes." Not only did he tell the "self-appointed teachers of consent" to "get off your fucking high horse"—even worse, in the eyes of the raunch-allergic feminists who staff Britain’s students’ unions, he posted a photo of himself holding a sign saying: "This is not what a rapist looks like."

Cue global media outrage. Pretty much every liberal broadsheet in Christendom asked, "Well, what DOES a rapist look like?," hinting that Lawlor, by virtue of the fact that he has XY chromosomes, does look like a rapist. A Guardian writer suggested every man in the world, including the Dalai Lama, should post photos of themselves holding a sign that says "This is what a rapist looks like." Because, yep, any man might be a rapist. Maybe every woman in the world should post a pic of themselves with a sign saying, "This is what someone who commits infanticide looks like"? No, best not — the women who do that are a tiny minority, as are the men who rape.

A few days later, another Warwick student, Jack Hadfield, announced that he, too, would not be attending campus consent classes. We are witnessing "the demonisation of men," he said, the promotion of the idea that "men are dangerous sex pests."

Then came The Tab’s poll on consent classes. Sure, readers of The Tab, Britain’s spunkiest student newspaper, which often raises a very arched eyebrow at the buzzkilling shenanigans of student unions, might not be completely representative. Yet it’s striking that of the 4,440 people who voted in its poll, 2,708 said they were against consent classes, with 1,732 in favour. That’s 61 percent who don’t think they need to be told how to have sex.

The big question is: Why didn’t this happen earlier? Consent classes have been taking place on campuses in Britain for more than a year, and they’re deeply patronising. In an irony that would make Orwell proud, or mad, they’re compulsory on some campuses, including Cambridge and Oxford. Compulsory consent education—you couldn’t make it up.

They treat students like children, telling these men and women, many of whom will have already had sex, how to express and recognise consent. They tell students that consent must be "active," "ongoing," and "sober." So no more drunk sex. Lawlor is right that students don’t need worthy lectures about "basic human interaction."

A new sexual revolution is overdue. From Britain’s consent classes to California’s affirmative-consent laws to the explosion of sexual-assault kangaroo courts on U.S. campuses, the sexual freedom of young people is being subtly but significantly corroded.

Their ability to experiment, to screw around, to negotiate the ups and downs of relationships for themselves—as adults have done for centuries—is being undermined by finger-waggers determined to throw their sexual encounters open to public and even pseudo-legal scrutiny.

Students’ sexual appetites are seen as "problematic"—the PC irritant’s favourite word. That’s why Robin Thicke’s "Blurred Lines" is banned on more than 30 campuses in Britain; why Britain’s National Union of Students rails against chat-up culture in student bars (including the making of "sexual noises"); and why American student leaders rage against fraternities and scaremonger about women’s safety: because they see sexual relationships as a minefield to be minutely policed.

The end result is a new climate of fear on campus: women encouraged to fear the drunken line; men fearful of being hauled before the legal-ish overlords of campus sex life authorised to rule on regretted sex, drunken sex, bad sex.

Where yesteryear’s youth struggled against priests and prudes and blue-haired ladies-who-lunched, today’s young people who want to find out for themselves what sex is all about, and to enjoy it guilt-free, will need to rise up against a new breed of bores: not nuns, but Dworkinites; not conservative old women, but pseudo-punkish student leaders who want saucy books trigger-warned and Safe Spaces to protect women from being approached by men who want sex. (Women want sex too, of course, but, as in Victorian times, you’re not allowed to say that.)

Today’s encroachment into students’ sex lives is actually worse than the religious moralism of old. At least those prigs only told us that certain acts were Wrong and we should hold back from doing them; today’s prigs think all sex that happens outside of their purview is by definition dangerous and that young men and women are incapable of negotiating even bar life, never mind sex life, by themselves.

Yesterday’s moralists warned us against being wicked; today’s moralists warn us not to do anything at all without first being advised by self-elected sexperts. The old prudish brigade said "Don’t do certain things"; the new prudish brigade calls into question our very ability to act autonomously.

So, yes, revolt. Do all the things you’re told not to: drink, fumble, enjoy, regret, cope—all the stuff adults have always done.

But can we please not turn this into a "men’s rights" issue? Too many of the revolters are presenting these first shoots of a sexual revolution as a case of brave men standing up to "feminazis" (man, I hate that word). Consent-class rebel Jack Hadfield’s talk about the "demonization of men" and some media commentators’ handwringing over wicked feminists gives the impression that men alone are damaged by the stifling anti-sex climate on campus. That is wrong. The new campus climate is as damaging to women as it is to men—more so, in fact.

It might hint that men are rough and untrustworthy, but it does something worse to women: reduces them to childlike creatures in need of protection against the whistles and chatter and larks of life. As Nadine Strossen said in the 1990s: Victim feminists don’t only resuscitate the Victorian notion of "man as voracious satyr"—they also rehabilitate a view of women as "sexual victim."

Rise up, students. Demand your right to have sex as and when you please, as drunkenly as you please. But don’t make this about men vs women, or even men vs feminists. This should be men and women united against the creeping official colonisation of ever-more areas of our private lives.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Suellington||

    Rise up indeed. Erect a stiff bulwark against the proggies.

  • Mindyourbusiness||

    What you did there, I saw it...

  • EndTheGOP||

    As long as they have compulsory classes for women where hey teach them not to falsely accuse men of raping them, which is a far bigger problem than the few men who do commit rape, then I have no problem with it. Whatever it takes to get these cunts to stop lying about being raped, I'm for it.

  • american socialist||

    ^^. YES!!! THIS! As long as he is not being sarcastic. The problem with modernity isn't rape, it's microaggressions against frat boys. Those poor guys.

  • Careless||

    You think that having men sentenced to prison for decades is a "microaggression"?

  • Loki||

    You think ...

    No. No he doesn't. Not now, not ever.

  • Brian||

    Racist.

  • Berha123||

    yes

  • MarkLastname||

    "Who cares about some sorority sluts getting raped by frat boys?"
    -unacceptable
    "Who cares about some 'frat boys' getting railroaded to prison to get raped by their cellies for a few years"
    -acceptable

    What we're getting is a nice illustration of the the 'progressive' definition of equality.

  • Mrs. Lemuel Struthers||

    Yes, siree. No one should lay down or prostrate themselves to this kind of treatment.

  • Intn'l House of Badass||

    We need to nail this now, before it spreads.

  • Lt. Viktor Burakov||

    Yup! Time to run it up the ol' flagpole and see who doesn't salute it.

  • Sevo||

    "Maybe every woman in the world should post a pic of themselves with a sign saying, "This is what someone who commits infanticide looks like"?

    Or, "This is what a slut looks like"

  • SimonJester||

    This sounds like a perfect Instagram account.

  • Suicidy||

    Only if they're hot. No uggos. Or fattys. And NO fatty uggos.

  • Mark6||

    ...or this is what a phony rape accuser looks like.

  • SimonJester||

    Well, here is SLAVERRAPIST O'Neill, mansplaining away rape culture. Fuck him, how dare he think "reasonably" about issues (Isn't "Reasonable" really just another word for "Patriarchal" and "Oppressive"?!). All men are rapists, and the fact that MISTER* O'Neill can't see that is just so problematic that ugh smh i cant even.

    *Mr, or Mister, is a variant on MASTER. Need I say more? Ugh. I seriously literally can't even...

  • Jimbo||

    I love the word "Feminazis!"
    I guess you're right about it not being too descriptive though: The Nazis used TRAINS to get jews and others to the death camps, the party crashing sex police want to BAN trains.

  • DenverJ||

    Swiss isn't around so:
    narrows gaze

  • american socialist||

    Hi Brendan,

    I'll join this revolution if and only if it involves repeated recitations of the works of Camille parliament and the rape fantasies of Ayn Rand. Sounds hot.

    I was a Leftist when I was at college, hung out in their circles, and knew plenty of libidinous women of mixed sexual orientation. None of those women I knew had any problem with rape counseling or empowering females to make their own sexual choices. Is this one of those movements that's designed to soothe the feelings of White men in fraternal organizations. Maybe we should start buying them mood rocks... They seem like sensitive sorts.

  • american socialist||

    Paglia... Not parliament. Fucking Steve fucking Jobs.

  • SimonJester||

  • Careless||

    "They probably drink corporate water!"

  • Brian||

    Racist.

  • MarkLastname||

    Note how "the right of half the human population not to be assumed to be criminal" gets converted into "the feelings of white frat men" here.

    Getting expelled/dragged through court/going to prison = feelings, and out of nowhere, he narrows it down to white frat boys, thereby making it as though some negligible, privileged, hated (and no doubt deserving to be fucked over) population might be wronged.

    "I mean, who cares about a bunch of obnoxious millionaire rappers getting harassed by the NYPD?"

    Thank you, amsoc, for providing us with an excellent case study of your mental disorder. It's not a rare disorder per se, but it is rare to see it as acute as it is in you, so you are much appreciated all the same.

  • JFree||

    Yes lets not make this a 'men's rights' issue. Or a men v women issue. Or a men v feminist issue. It is critical that protest be organized as completely and coherently as consent classes. Otherwise it is entirely possible that someone might mistakenly be confused about what the protest is about. Even more fundamentally, that the protest involves some slippery slope towards lack of control

  • MSimon||

    If it leads to the destruction of "higher education", I'm all for it.

  • EscherEnigma||

    We can't even get everyone graduating high school to know how to put a condom on, and you seriously think everyone is sufficiently educated on consent? You do know that there are people that really believe marital rape isn't a thing, right?

    Yeesh... There may be legitimate objections to mandatory "consent" classes. This "everyone already knows" clap-trap? Isn't one of them.

  • Careless||

    You do know that there are people that really believe marital rape isn't a thing, right?

    I'm unaware of anyone who thinks that out of ignorance. Quite a bit different, holding a belief out of different priors.

  • LarryA||

    Condoms aren't covered in the high school "Abstinence Only" model, but there's lots about consent and why you shouldn't, ever.

    Which seems to be the same model the colleges are using, except it's "because the feminists say so" instead of "because God says so."

  • MarkLastname||

    "there are people..."
    There are also people who think all human males should be eradicated off the face of the planet, and what's more, some of them are tenured faculty members at public universities. I suppose you think that means all women should be required to attend seminars explaining the the wrongness of eradicated half of the human population?

    "There are people who believe" must be the official preamble for the shittiest of shitty arguments; you;d think even the idiots would eventually learn to stop saying it.

  • West Texas||

    I opted out of diversity training at my last corporate job. I kept putting it off and calling in sick and making excuses for almost two years until I finally had reason to quit for unrelated reasons.

    Given how shitty that job was, I actually consider never attending that worthless little propaganda session as being one of my greatest accomplishments.

    Also, I ironically, the company went under and got bought out by a rival shortly after I quit, mostly becuase they cared less about making money and more about stupid shit like diversity training.

    I'm certain they'd also have a "consent workshop" in the worker curriculum if that shitty little company was around today.

  • Fairbanks||

    Different issue. Diversity training by companies is done to avoid lawsuits. Colleges do this stuff because they believe in it.

  • ||

    Heh.I think that's about right because in my experience no one with a 1/10th of a sensible mind takes it seriously. I attended 'diversity' courses/training while at the bank. Everyone including the person giving the course knew it was a total and absolute waste of time. Man did we mock it. Poor lady never had a chance to go over the material properly.

  • The Shrubber's Woodchipper||

    I am reminded of an episode of 'The Office', when it was good. New, gung-ho HR staffer gives ethics training. A female employee admits to a sexual relationship with a vendor who is giving discounted price in return. HR staffer informs corporate HR that this is something that need to be investigated. Corporate HR guy says that the purpose of the training was not to discover and investigate ethical lapses but to 'collect names on a piece of damn paper.'

  • Lt. Viktor Burakov||

    If you don't consent to a compulsory consent class, but are forced you to attend anyways, aren't you being raped in some way? They keep making the rules of life harder to navigate.

  • Garagefather||

    feminazi, feminazi, feminazi, feminazi.........

    feminazi, feminazi, feminazi, feminazi........

    feminazi, feminazi, feminazi, feminazi.........

  • fish||

    "Well, what DOES a rapist look like?"

    Lena Dunham?

    Wait....that's what a molester looks like. Sorry!

  • John C. Randolph||

    A molestor is a rapist, by definition. Not all rapists are molestors, though.

    -jcr

  • block30||

    Thank God people are rising up against the extreme left! So when do we overthrow the proggies over here?

  • Animal||

    Day after tomorrow. Nine AM sharp. Be there or be square.

  • ||

    The biggest pigs in the head and in bed are the finger-waving, self-elected moralists.

  • Stephdumas||

  • Georgia Peach||

    Love Takimag. Jim Goad is my fave.

  • Empress Trudy||

    One possible approach is to encourage lesbians to denounce other lesbians for sexual assault. That will implode the laws faster than anything else. And if you can find lesbians who are also non white that's even better.

  • ||

    The new campus climate is as damaging to women as it is to men—more so, in fact.

    Another entry in the Victim Olympics!

  • Lt. Viktor Burakov||

    I had this same impression from that line.

  • ||

    Huh. Lefty agenda thwarted again by human nature. Imagine that.

    Lefty idiots will keep running into this problem until they finally produce the new soviet man.

  • Johnx||

    This is ABSOLUTELY A MEN'S RIGHTS ISSUE!!!! Do you think this is the first attack on male student's on college campuses?? It's not!! Ever hear of "Yes meansYes" or "No means No" or "Title IX?" These are policies brought about through feminists playing the never-ending victim and spreading misinformation about rape on campus.(I'm sure you're heard of the infamous"1 in 5 girls on college campuses will be raped"? totally false)Feminists have been spinning the same record for so long and so loud that our liberal, mangina President here in the U.S. has threatened to defund any federally funded college unless they employ these totally unfair policies! The accused, who is always a male, does NOT go to court, he goes to a campus tribunal held on campus. He has no right to an attorney and has to prove his own innocence. The lowest level of evidence is used to find the accused guilty called a "preponderance of evidence". The U.S. is plagued by gynocentrism, feminism, and liberalism.For info on that go here http://www.amazon.com/Gynocent.....nocentrism
    If you don't know what effect feminism has had on our society, read this book http://www.amazon.com/WAR-AGAI.....ainst+boys
    Feminism has also plagued Britain and the U.K. also; even worse.

  • Johnx||

    I agree with the author that current male students should revolt against mandatory or even voluntary consent classes. They assume that all men are rapists which is sexist and BLATANT MISANDRY.Young men trying to decide what college to attend should beware of any college that has consent classes b/c it is a feminist school and you will be targeted like a piece of being dragged through a lion's den.

  • Warren||

    In Britain, some male students are refusing to attend their university’s sexual-consent classes

    Well thank Zuul. It's good to know there is at least in one corner of civilization a limit to how much stupidity in the name of Social Justice people are willing to stand for.

  • Careless||

    "This is not what a rapist looks like."

    Ok, I don't have a problem with the post, but what that guy did really was very stupid. And I write that knowing that men have an ability to recognize others as rapists that is superior to random chance (women don't)

  • John C. Randolph||

    I think I need to print up a ship load of t-shirts that say "fuck off, you guilt-peddling twat", and sell them on college campuses all over the USA and the UK.

    -jcr

  • mccarti||

    There is a new easy way to make cool cash.Email: atmmachinehackes It all about the BLANK ATM CARD. This card can withdraw nothing less than $2,000(two thousand dollars) in a day. This card works in any country and with any currency. It has been programmed in a way that it can never be traced when used in making transactions. Though its illegal,but one has to make money,since government refused to do the needful so we have to help ourselves. Though is illegal,there is no risk of being caught ,because it has been programmed in such a way that it is not traceable,it also has a technique that makes it impossible for the CCTVs to detect you..For details on how to get yours today, email the hackers on : atmmachinehackes gmail.com Tell your loved once too, and start to live large. That's the simple testimony of how my life changed for good...Love you all ...the email address again is Any one interested in the card should contact the programmer via his email address: atmmachinehackes@gmail.com

  • Loki||

    today’s prigs think all heterosexual sex that happens outside of their purview is by definition dangerous and that young men are all rapists in waiting and women are helpless infantilized victims

    FTFY.

  • Tony||

    I went to university in Britain and let me tell you the only time students weren't drunk was during class, if that. Establishing a definition of consent that strict is tantamount to requiring abstinence. Are we sure the Christians aren't behind this?

    Such courses are not entirely pointless though, as young people can be ignorant of where proper lines are. But rape is not exclusively or primarily a problem on university campuses. It's a bigger problem for people who don't go that far in their education. Educate kids about rape before they graduate high school, please.

  • ace_m82||

    Educate kids about rape before they graduate high school, please.

    Teach NAP? That's crazy talk! Your body is the state's, right? Teach them that individuals can't rape, only governments can (as long as they do it "for our good").

    Are we sure the Christians aren't behind this?

    My insider sources say "no".

    You see, control-freakism, either while claiming to worship a god or just worshiping government, gets you to the same place, tyranny. Either way, in the Progressive Era those calling for this type of nonsense often also called themselves "Christian", but usually worshiped government instead. You can't serve two masters...

  • Hank Phillips||

    If property is theft, wouldn't it follow by similar rules of inference that sex is rape? --Junior Antisex League

  • buybuydandavis||

    "But can we please not turn this into a "men’s rights" issue?"

    Does the author similarly disparage #blacklivesmatter?

  • MarkLastname||

    Ha! What a ludicrous comparison! Males are in no way analogous to black people. I mean, do males die younger than average, like black people? Drop out of high school at higher rates? Get convicted of crimes and get higher sentences than average? Or have higher rates of homelessness, suicide, and homicide, and unemplyment than the rest of the population...?

    Seriously, come on. I mean, come. on.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online