By Rabbi Steven Pruzansky
The proposition that the world has gone mad seems to be beyond debate. The ubiquitous reality of radical Islamic terror has infiltrated every country, city and town across the globe. The will to eradicate it is increasing, albeit slowly. But it’s the culture wars that even more reflect how the world has gone topsy-turvy, and how those sweeping changes to our moral sensibilities pose an even greater to communal stability than a terrorist with a bomb, gun, or knife.
College campuses are challenged today in a variety of ways that tend to undercut the fundamental mission of colleges: education. The madness of March that has too many people preoccupied (on and off campus) with who “wins” this or that is one component, along with steady erosion in the quality of the college curricula. At one time, the objective of a university education was to ground a student in classical ideas and prepare the student for professional advancement and life in the real world. These days, education favors the faddish and the useless, and is less an effort to uncover eternal truths than it is a battle to stifle free discussion and suppress unpopular truths.
The morality on campuses has also deteriorated to a level that was unimaginable twenty or forty years ago when it already wasn’t that exalted. Relations between the sexes has, allegedly, become so strained that the liberal media speaks incessantly about a “rape culture” on campuses, wherein brutish men have their way with women in numbers approaching an epidemic. Or so it is claimed.
That the numbers don’t bear out the claim doesn’t detract at all from the repugnance of any assault on any one, but the numbers – and the logic – do not substantiate the claim. Just recently, colleges released their latest statistics and the colleges deemed the worst offenders, with the worst “cultures,” reported claims of assaults ranging from 10-20 annually on campuses with many thousands of students. Certainly, one is too many, but few of these claims involve the old-fashioned and execrable assault by a stranger in some dark alley. Some involve men taking advantage of drugged or intoxicated women (granted, some of the women drugged or intoxicated themselves of their own volition), and that too is appalling and should be prosecuted.
But most of them, judging by the media reports, involve the challenging “he said/she said,” with no eyewitnesses or corroborating evidence. Of those, the male(factor) contends, most are situations in which the couple had a romantic relationship that went sour after the intimacies in question. That is to say, the couple was dating, grew close (sometimes after a two-hour date, I suppose; people bond much more quickly these days), retired to someone’s quarters and quickly consummated their…friendship. Soon after the “friendship” ended, the woman, feeling used, as she was by the lecherous man, files a complaint for sexual assault.
There have even been occasions when the woman who later claimed she was “raped” spent the night, or several nights thereafter, with her beau, only to realize weeks later after their breakup that she had been assaulted. Yes, I am quite familiar with the literature about the psyche of the rape victim, and how it is quite possible to love, honor and cherish in the moment of passion that man who will be later accused of sexual assault. Certainly that is far, far from the common sexual assault cases I dealt with in my prior life as an attorney, in which women knew immediately they had been violated, went to the hospital /police, filed charges, picked out her assailant from a photo array, testified against him in court, etc. These types of assaults are actually quite uncommon on college campuses. That I am familiar with the literature on the campus type “assaults” detailed above doesn’t mean I buy any of it. I don’t.
If indeed there was a “rape culture” on American campuses no intelligent woman would want to attend college. The fact that more women attend college today than men itself belies the accusation. What is also true, and completely dismissed today by the elites and the sophisticates who have fabricated an entire industry, is that men and women approach intimacy much differently. Men are creatures who seek physical gratification in the first instance and who, lamentably, could find intimacy with complete strangers and be satisfied. Women attach a much stronger emotional significance to intimacy than do men, and look at love as, well, love. Many men (none that I know, but I hear things…) don’t even need to be “in like” much less “in love.” They just need to be attracted.
Whether this speaks well of men or not is not the issue. It has just been reality since the creation of the first man and is not going to change. Women simply feel a closer connection to the men with whom they are intimate than do the men with the women; hence the great, real and sincere hurt when those feelings are betrayed by the callous man who does his deed and heads out the door.
That might be despicable but it is not an assault, except on decency and values. Our Sages (see Sanhedrin 22b) were quite familiar with the more intense connection a woman feels with the man to whom she is amorous and with whom she feels complete, much more than does the man.
Naturally, this litigious society sees the solution to the campus social problem in the drafting of contracts or compacts to be signed by both parties (each accompanied by an attorney, obviously) before the commencement or display of any affection. Talk about taking the romance out of romance! This might obviate the problem of “he said/she said” litigation but not the greater problem of the psychological wound felt by the woman who is scorned by someone for whom she has feelings. Unrequited love is painful, and the feeling of being used and discarded is even more painful. No contract is going to change that but something else will.
Here’s a novel idea, one that has been tried before with great success but has fallen into desuetude, apparently, on college campuses. It will solve all these problems, the “rape culture,” the “he said/she said,” the feelings of rejection by the party who had an emotional connection with another person who just sought a physical connection. It’s called… abstinence, self-discipline, or chastity. It involves waiting until marriage to engage in intimate acts, and then in a relationship in which the couple genuinely loves each other. It is preceded by a joyous ceremony known as a wedding, which too involves contractual obligations that are grounded in mutual respect. Problem solved…
Undoubtedly, this will not please the men who take pride in their multiple “conquests” of women, nor will it endear the women (who evidently exist) who do not mind construing the sublime expression of love as something casual and cavalier. But it is something that women truly deserve and that men truly need, and can also benefit marriages. There is something special about intimacy that is reserved for one person, and one person alone, in a committed relationship sanctified by G-d and man. One who is serially promiscuous will never know that, and that is a shame. Blessing awaits those who wait.
Only a mad world rejects a solution that will work. Of course, it won’t happen, except among those whose lives are governed by religious mandate, but this problem doesn’t exist in those precincts to any measurable degree. (There are other problems, just not this one.) But self-control and defined boundaries will surely put an end to any misunderstandings, miscommunications and gray areas. There is a problem of “culture” on college campuses, but it is the culture of promiscuity and entitlement that poses the greatest dangers.
There are also times, like now, when the world’s madness is apparent through its heavy-handed assault on society’s sensibilities. The latest such insanity is the decree that so-called “transgenders” must be allowed to use the bathrooms of whatever sex they claim to be, regardless of their biological reality. Of course, sympathy for anyone suffering from such a malady is in order, especially since many professionals still maintain (privately, of course; the backlash would destroy their careers if their thoughts became public) that this is a mental illness. Even more extreme are the bizarre parents who are “letting” their children choose their sex when they come of age, not wanting to prejudice their choices by recording it on their birth certificate.
Different jurisdictions are handling this predicament in a variety of ways, but it is a sign of the times that, in some places, the activists have rejected permission given to the transgendered teenager to use a private bathroom, this in order to cause no discomfort to anyone. This suggestion was rejected because it is allegedly unequal, discriminatory, and other such buzzwords which, used indiscriminately, give ignorance and insanity a more prominent place in our society than reason and fairness. Why would a perfectly reasonable suggestion be dismissed in favor of allowing a 15 year old biological male to dress in a locker room with 15 year girls, itself an invitation to miscreants of the most sordid type?
What is reasonable is rejected because the elitists are not interested in equal access of any individual as much as they are in transforming social norms. There was a time when reasonable accommodation sufficed, and those handicapped in one way or another were content with that. That is fair. This is not. To inconvenience one hundred people to satisfy one person’s needs, who in any event cannot be satisfied, is not justice. It is tyranny. It is bullying, bullying the overwhelming majority of people, using the weapon of new forms of victimization, in order to promote a social agenda that is distasteful to the vast majority of people.
To be reasonable and judicious would also be a novel change in public affairs. The tyranny of the elitists and their condescension has unsettled a great many people in America, which is why the upcoming presidential election features too many cranks and crooks. People are disgusted with being told the emperor is fully clothed when in fact the emperor is naked, weird and decadent.
The growing unrest in America is multi-faceted but rooted in a common denominator: the attempted renunciation of traditional morality. The acolytes of that emperor should take heed. For the rest of us, it seems pretty simple. Men and women should keep their hands off each other unless and until they are married. Boys and girls should use their own facilities.
Life is simple but mankind complicates it.