A question of consent and confusion

I would like to ask my American readers to leave now, as I am going to discuss some thoughts about sex which might offend the puritan.

I am very happy that I am over 50 and married, because if I was a young man I would be very much confused by now. According to polls a lot of young people in America these days believe that complimenting a woman or asking her for a date is sexual harassment. And you can’t read the news these days without reading some report on there being a “rape culture”, with an implied or even outspoken presumption that all men are rapists.

Fact is that the overwhelming majority of men are not rapists, by any reasonable definition of the term including all forms of non-consensual sex. While it is certainly true that rape is under-reported as a crime, even if you consider a 90% rate of under-reporting, that would raise the rape rate in the USA from 30 per 100,000 population to 300 per 100,000 population. Which still leaves over 99% of men being not rapists. In Germany some time ago there were some cases of sexual harassment committed by immigrants, which led to the far right claiming things like “all Muslim men are rapists”. The liberal left loudly protested against such a sweeping and obviously untrue statement. I’m still waiting for the same reasoning to be applied to the defense of white, non-immigrant men.

I totally applaud the movement of outing pigs like Harvey Weinstein up to and including the point where they should go to prison for any rapes they committed. However I do think there are important values enshrined in our justice system, like people being considered innocent until proven guilty, which I see somewhat in danger in some of the cases. There have been cases where the falsehood of a rape accusation could be proved in court, although of course that takes years and by the time the media career of the accused is long dead. Thus a presumption that all men are rapists is not only unfair, but actually a danger to the rule of law.

What must be confusing for young people is that at the same time harmless flirting is being criminalized, the access to sexual images and even sex has never been easier. Doubly confusing if you hear that the changes to laws about prostitution in many European countries are called “liberalization”, while the puritans in the media complaining about men’s sexual advances are also called “liberals”. You end up with a view of the world where there are “good girls” which you better even don’t look at, better not talk to other than professionally, and certainly never touch, and there are “bad girls” on porn sites, webcam broadcasts, Tinder, in strip clubs or brothels (NSFW). I’m sure some people concluded that the crime of the Presidents Club was to have invited the wrong kind of girl to their party.

There is a strong correlation of that with economic inequality. The “good girls” are generally richer than the “bad girls”. In other words, they are the same girls, they are just on different levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and so they differ in the relative importance they place on money and on being treated like a lady. Instead of blaming all men and starting a gender war, maybe we could come a lot closer to universal respectful interactions between men and women by introducing universal basic income.