In a piece on these pages this week, Naomi Schaefer Riley contemplates the warnings she will give her future college-bound daughter about the dangers to women on college campuses and the wisdom of not trusting anyone.
It was excellent advice — but it’s not just women who have to be careful at college.
As the mother of a young son, I, too, am starting to plan some advice — about the dangers to guys of false accusations of sexual abuse. It’s a real issue, and a scary one.
My message to my future college-bound son would be: Don’t expect anyone to give you the benefit of the doubt. The tale of the Rolling Stone piece about a gang-rape-that-wasn’t at a University of VirginiaPhi Kappa Psi fraternity party is a case in point.
The magazine’s big, splashy, graphic article led to protests, rallies and a shutdown of UVA’s fraternity system, even as the investigation was still ongoing. Yet the whole story soon began to fall apart as reporters questioned its plausibility. This week, police essentially cleared the UVA frat of the accusation.
As in the case of the Duke lacrosse team years ago, everyone simply accepted — with zero evidence — that the brothers of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity were rapists. They were guilty merely because of the accuser’s word. Never mind the boys’ claims of innocence.
My son will spend his life hearing from me that women are — or should be — equal to men, that “she can do anything you can do.” But when he gets to college, he’ll find out that’s not always the case.
In fact, men are held to higher standards than women — most notably, by the very women and “feminists” who demand equal treatment between the sexes.
Consider: If a man and woman are both drunk at college, the onus is almost certainly on him to head off any possible sexual interaction between them.
That they are both intoxicated does not matter: If he wakes up the next morning with regrets, her feelings may be hurt — but if she wakes up with regrets, he may soon find himself facing expulsion or maybe even jail.
It’s not right, and it’s not fair. The feminist in me hates that women are treated as less capable — less responsible for their actions — than men. As a mother who has a daughter as well as a son, I worry about what this says to each of them.
Yes, I’m going to push my son to be more responsible than the average 18-year-old kid on his own for the first time, and to watch out for these kinds of situations. I certainly hope he’ll never be anyone’s falsely accused target.
But telling him to “be careful” in this way doesn’t seem like enough. In fact, it feels very much like “blaming the victim.” Fact is, there is little to nothing the Phi Kappa Psi boys could have done to protect themselves. Has anyone even offered them an apology?
The UVA boys were failed by the university — and by all of us who uncritically believed the Rolling Stone story, simply because we hold men and women to different standards.
The boys deserved better. It’s time to treat guys and gals equally.