by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Shannon Watkins of the Martin Center explores the recent fixation on a college campus “rape culture.”
For several years, colleges have been battling an alleged campus “rape culture.” Before taking their first class, almost half a million students are taught that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted in college. As a result of this and other efforts on the part of faculty and administrators, many women are led to view men as potential predators.
In her new book Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus, Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis criticizes the higher education establishment’s crusade against rape culture—and the notion that there is even such a thing. She also questions the assumption that women are incapable of avoiding unwanted sexual attention, and that they therefore need to be coddled by campus bureaucrats.
Kipnis is a feminist, but many of her views are unorthodox—especially since today’s mainstream feminism is strongly associated with the fight against so-called rape culture. While this fight is meant to help women, Kipnis contends that it is undermining fundamental feminist principles of autonomy and gender equality.
The author argues that today’s campus climate represents a “regressive” step back to a prohibitive and paternalistic era in which women were viewed as helpless and blameless. She says that nowhere is this more evident than in Title IX investigations.