The “tragedy” of hook up culture. And scare quotes.

One of the upsides of reading IWF’s blog (the downside being the constant retching) is that it points you in the direction of gems like this one. Robert P. George and John B. Londregan, professors in Princeton’s Department of Politics, say that sex on college campuses is a “tragedy.” They also really, really like scare quotes.

…Princeton, where we teach, is a wonderful university; but like other colleges and universities there is a dark side to its social life. Our students are bright, enthusiastic, and eager to learn. Most did not come to college bent on boozing and hooking up. Many feel deeply ambivalent about these aspects of campus life. Yet, they find little support on campus for the “alternative lifestyle” of living by traditional moral virtues.
…Whether it is a private institution such as Yale or a public one such as the University of Delaware, the truth is that things begin going badly for them right off the bat. Princeton is all-too-typical. As part of the freshman orientation program, students are required to attend an event entitled “Sex on a Saturday Night.” It consists of a series of skits ostensibly designed to discourage “date rape.” For years, critics have contended that the play, which features vulgarity and suggestive conduct, does nothing to serve this laudable goal; rather, it reinforces the campus culture of sexual permissiveness, primarily by shaping students’ expectations to include sexual license as normal.

Let’s not even get into the fact that date rape is in scare quotes – though I think that reveals volumes about where these two are coming from. What’s interesting is that right off the bat, George and Londregan assume that young people don’t like hooking up and sex – it’s the dark side after all – and that all that’s stopping them from living a life of morality is the lack of a college-funded chastity center. (They recommend calling them “Love and Fidelity Centers.”)

Most universities have established non-academic centers of various kinds that provide educational, social, and counseling support. Princeton is again typical. We have the Women’s Center, the International Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Center, and the Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding. Whether or not one agrees with the ideological bent of some of these centers, at least they represent the University’s effort to meet what are perceived as the needs of certain segments of our student body.

Hmm, the last time I checked being a woman or being gay isn’t ideological – it’s who you are.

Conspicuously absent, however, are centers or programs offering meaningful support for students who desire to live chastely. “Sexual health” offices do not supply the need because staff members see their roles, not as promoting self-discipline and high moral standards, but as providing “non-judgmental” advice about how to have sex while avoiding pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and infections.

Perhaps – and this is just a guess – these folks providing scary non-judgmental advice simply don’t think it’s their place to preach “morals” (I think they’re rubbing off on me with the scare quotes!) to adults capable of making their own sexual decisions. But George and Londregan are having none of it. They not only think that there needs to be virginity centers on campus – they believe they need to be led by university officials, not students who presumably can’t be trusted not to fuck their way through school.

Students are strapped for time and don’t have the experience or professional skills to provide the level of guidance and support that their peers need when it comes to important questions of sexuality and morality. Universities know this–that’s why at Princeton, for example, in addition to the student gay Pride Alliance, the Queer Graduate Caucus, LGBT Task Force, and the LGBT Staff and Faculty Group, there is the University’s LGBT Center, with a full-time paid University staff member committed to LGBT support and activities. For the same reasons, there needs to be university support for students who want to live and conduct their relationships honorably in the face of the hook-up culture.

What really gets me – outside of the frightening idea of dudes like George and Londregan heading up a center telling young women anything about sex – is that these professors that claim to have students’ best interest at heart use incredibly shaming language throughout this article. After all, if students who don’t have sex are acting “honorably,” what does that make those who do have sex?
So just a quick message to George, Londregan and all the virginity movement shamers out there: There’s nothing wrong with having sex. There’s nothing immoral, abnormal, or dishonorable about it. (Also, mind your own business and stop thinking about your students’ sex lives. It’s creepy.)

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