《纽约时报》美国校园性文化的“五十度灰”

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早在唐纳德·J·特朗普(Donald J. Trump)当选之前,女性歧视在他的竞选活动中就占据着主流,这自然是导致了人们的愤怒和恐惧。现在,他即将成为总统这一令人担忧的现实,以及他对一些内阁人选的选择,导致恐惧之情在这个国家的弱势群体以及那些捍卫他们最基本权利的人中间,开始成倍增长。

当然,女性歧视与针对女性的暴力这一问题在这个选举周期开始之前很久便存在着。但是,将一个不思悔改的歧视女性者拔擢到国家最高职务,其直接危险便是起到鼓舞作用;针对女性的侮辱或暴力行为会受到默许,对于受到官方惩罚的恐惧会减少。

这种危险在大学校园内尤其严重,在过去几年里,令人不安的迹象不断增加,对女性安全与尊严的态度开始出现退化。

关于强奸、性侵与其他形式的虐待的报告有很多(据一份最近的报告统计,2014年,近100座学校内报告了超过10起强奸案),研究表明,多达1/4的女性在大学有过遭受性侵的经历。

虽然强奸不是新事,但是“不征求另一方同意”在派对中强奸他人这种情况的盛行却是新事。我们从来没有见过像现在这样,对性侵和强奸如此公然、公开地鼓吹。2014年,乔治亚理工学院的一个男大学生联谊会因发送一封电子邮件被暂时关闭,邮件名为“勾引你的强奸诱饵”,结束语是“我想看到大家在接下来的几次派对上得手”。

这个问题涉及各种有害因素的组合:受害者不去报告、持续谴责受害者的强奸谬误观念的盛行,以及校园里的派对文化。后者即使不会导致性侵,也是性侵滋生的温床。

与这个问题作斗争的进展如何很难确定。2010年,在耶鲁大学,男大学生联谊会的兄弟们围着大一新生的宿舍游行,唱道:“说‘不’就等于说‘是’,说‘是’就等于肛交”。这个男大学生联谊会被关闭了五年,但是今年秋天,在俄亥俄州立大学、安大略西部大学和欧道明大学迎新时都出现了类似的口号和横幅。

这些例子表明,在一些男大学生联谊会和校园里的一些男性当中,产生了一种充满挑衅的运动,他们坚持认为性行为中的双方同意不仅是无关紧要的,也是令人不快的。

权利的削弱可以通过各种方式发生,语言操纵也是其中之一。这一校园问题的根源是“性”这个词使用方式的变化。“性”被视为一种行为,直到前不久,它通常是指一种人们共享的活动,类似的短语“进行性行为”也是如此。“同意”隐含在性这个概念当中。未经同意的性行为会成为强奸。

然而,大学校园里毒品和酒精的流行模糊了性和强奸之间的界限,以至于许多大学采用“非经双方一致同意的性行为”(nonconsensual sex)一词,来指一方当事人(通常是女方),在无意识或半清醒状态下发生的性行为。这些学校不是将性侵归类为强奸这样一种重罪;而是将其归类为非经双方一致同意的性行为,仅仅有违荣誉规章。鉴于丧失意识的女性不能说是或不是,她们既不能表示正面同意也不能表示消极同意。

“非经双方一致同意的性行为”这一概念有几个问题。首先,性就意味着同意。没有同意,性行为就不是性,而是暴力。因此,这个“非经双方一致同意的性行为”术语本身就是一个矛盾修辞法。第二,“非经双方一致同意的性行为”表明性行为由一方进行,而另一方只是给予或拒绝给予同意。在大多数情况下,这意味着男人从事性行为,而女人仅仅表示同意,反之却并不成立。第三,在女性仍被期待取悦男人的语境之下,“非经双方一致同意的性行为”这一概念没有考虑到持续困扰着性别关系的权力政治。第四,“非经双方一致同意的性行为”的概念同时揭示和否认了我们的文化中至少存在一种实际上认可不征求对方同意的性行为的特性。

为处理“非经双方一致同意的性行为”,一些大学试图实行正面同意政策。甚至有一种手机应用程序,可以记录女性的同意,并把它上传到云端存储,令其不能被篡改,甚至不能被当局之外的人看到。虽然正面同意肯定比没有同意更好,但在这些政策中隐含的自由主义的同意概念有几个问题。

首先,这种政策同样假定,性行为仅由一方进行,另一方只是给予或拒绝给予同意。此外,这种政策的风险是,“同意”被当做一个开关,一旦给予便不能被撤销,这在性方面是行不通的。目前的正面同意政策是契约模式的性行为,在这种模式下,各方先表示同意,然后在此基础上行动。但是,在性行为方面,这种《五十度灰》(Fifty Shades of Grey)的同意模式是不切实际的(在那部小说里,女主角从来没有签订合同,男主角也一直任意和她发生性关系)。

性不是一种合同。它是一种动态互动。此外,同意一种类型的性行为并不意味着同意另一种。

一个女人只是同意陪同一个男人回到他的公寓,这并不意味着她同意被扼死。一个女人只是在派对上喝醉了,并不意味着她同意在无意识的情况下发生性行为。毒品和酒精导致了“50度同意”。

例如,在俄亥俄州斯特本维尔市的一起强奸案中,几个高中橄榄球运动员性侵了一个丧失意识的女孩,旁观者还在开玩笑,说一些轻蔑的言论。一个行凶者的辩护是:“这不是真正的强奸,因为你不知道她是不是想要。”这种情绪清楚地表明,对于这些男孩们来说,如果一个女孩失去知觉,不能表示正面同意也不能给出消极同意,“性”对于她来说就不算强奸。这些男孩想象,他们丧失了意识的受害者可能是同意了,或许甚至还“想要”。

显然,在一种认可不经同意的性行为以及非经双方一致同意的性行为的文化背景下,“性”和“同意”两者都存在许多问题:一个人在什么情况下没有能力表示同意?对于醉酒的大学生来说,是否存在一个血液中酒精含量标准,表明他们不再有能力表示同意?男人和女人应当适用同样的标准吗?换言之,如果两个严重醉酒的学生有了性行为,他们是不是在相互强奸?

值得注意的是,酒后的男性强奸犯罪会承担的责任较少,因为他们喝醉了;而酒后的女性强奸受害者则会承担更大责任。酒后的性行为同意问题再次反映了酒精和强奸谬误观念的有害结合。此外,它揭示了“非经双方一致同意的性行为”暗示着性行为和性行为同意概念都在发生变化。

近几个月来,已经有一种趋势,旨在解决校园性侵文化:在威斯康星大学,六名女性站出来报告她们受到连环强奸疑犯侵扰的经历;根据杨百翰大学原本的规定,受害者报告酒精影响情况下的强奸会导致该受害者违反荣誉规章,现在该大学对这一谴责受害者的政策作出了改变;而且,为了遏止日益严重的与派对相关的问题,大学对于酒精的政策也在发生变化。在性侵已在大学校园中泛滥成灾的当下,这些都是小小的进步。

当然,“不”的意思就是“不”,只有“是”才意味着“是”,但是,正如我们所看到的,经过双方同意的性行为和非经双方一致同意的性行为这一问题要更加复杂。除了强调个人责任之外,我们还必须考虑到文化气质,在这种气质里,不经同意的性行为受到认可、强奸被轻描淡写为“非经双方一致同意的性行为”,而谈论性侵被那些即将领导这个国家的人认为是可接受的——只是“男孩毕竟男孩”和“更衣室谈话”。如今,这些问题更加迫切地需要引起人们的警惕。


作者:凯莉·奥利弗(Kelly Oliver)是范德堡大学的哲学教授,著有《猎捕女孩:从“饥饿游戏”到校园强奸的性暴力》(Hunting Girls: Sexual Violence from ‘The Hunger Games’ to Campus Rape)。


There Is No Such Thing as ‘Nonconsensual Sex.’ It’s Violence.


Well before the election of Donald J. Trump, the mainstreaming of misogyny during his campaign caused justified outrage and fear. Now, with the alarming reality of his coming presidency and his choices for a number of cabinet posts, that fear has been multiplied among the nation’s vulnerable, and those who stand to defend their most basic rights.

Of course the problem of misogyny and violence against women existed long before this election cycle. But the immediate danger that comes with raising an unrepentant misogynist to the nation’s highest office is emboldenment; the implicit condoning of degrading or violent behavior against women, and the diminished fear of punishment from authorities.

That danger is especially great on college campuses, where disturbing signs of degraded attitudes toward the safety and dignity of women have been increasing over the past several years.

The list of reports of rape, sexual assault and other forms of abuse is long (a recent report counted nearly 100 campuses with more than 10 reports of rape in 2014) and studies suggest that as many as one in four women experience sexual assault at college.

While rape is not new, the celebration of lack of consent at the heart of party rape is. Never before have we seen the public and open valorization of sexual assault and rape that we are seeing now. In 2014, a fraternity at the Georgia Institute of Technology was suspended for distributing an email with the subject line “Luring your rapebait,” which ended, “I want to see everyone succeed at the next couple parties.”

The problem involves a toxic combination of lack of reporting by victims, the prevalence of rape myths that continue to blame victims, and the party culture on campus that spawns sexual assault even if it doesn’t cause it.

Progress in fighting this problem is hard to track. At Yale, in 2010, fraternity brothers marched around the freshman dorms chanting, “No means yes, yes means anal.” The fraternity was banned for five years, but this fall, there were similar chants and banners welcoming freshmen at Ohio State University, Western University in Ontario and Old Dominion.

These examples suggest an aggressive campaign on the part of some fraternities and some men on campus to insist that consent is not only irrelevant, but also undesirable.

The erosion of rights can happen in a variety of ways, and manipulation of language is one of them. At the root of the problem on campuses is a change in the way the word “sex” is used. While sex is considered an activity, until recently, it commonly referred to an activity shared between people, as in the familiar phrase, “having sex.” Implicit in the concept of sex is consent. Without consent, sexual activity becomes rape.

The prevalence of drugs and alcohol on college campuses, however, has blurred the boundaries between sex and rape to the point that many college campuses have adopted the term “nonconsensual sex” to refer to sexual activity that occurs when one party, usually a woman, is unconscious or semiconscious. Rather than address sexual assault as the felony crime of rape, these campuses define it as the honor code violation of nonconsensual sex. Given that unconscious women cannot say either yes or no, they can give neither affirmative nor negative consent.

There are several problems with the notion of nonconsensual sex. First, sex implies consent. Without it, sexual activity is not sex but violence. Thus, the very term “nonconsensual sex” is an oxymoron. Second, nonconsensual sex suggests that one party engages in sexual activity while the other party gives or withholds consent. In most cases, this means that men engage in sexual activity while women merely consent, and not vice versa. Third, the notion of nonconsensual sex does not take into account power politics that continue to plague gender relations in a context where women are expected to please men. Fourth, the notion of nonconsensual sex simultaneously reveals and disavows that at least one strain of our culture actually values the lack of consent.

Some colleges have attempted to institute affirmative consent policies to deal with the problem of “nonconsensual sex.” There is even a cellphone app that records a woman’s consent, sends it to a cloud where it can’t be tampered with or even seen except by the authorities. Although affirmative consent is certainly better than no consent, there are several problems with the liberal notion of consent implicit in these policies.

Again, it is assumed that one party asks for sex and the other merely gives or withholds consent. In addition, the risk is that consent is treated like an on or off switch where once it is given it cannot be revoked, which doesn’t work for sex. Current affirmative consent policies are contractual models of sex wherein parties agree first and then act on it. But, this “Fifty Shades of Grey” form of consent is impractical when it comes to sexual activities. (In that novel, the heroine never signs the contract and the hero has his way with her nonetheless).

Sex is not a contract. It is a dynamic interaction. Furthermore, consent to one type of sexual activity does not imply consent to another.

Just because a woman consents to accompany a man to his apartment doesn’t mean she consents to being strangled. And just because a woman gets drunk at the party does not mean she consents to sex while she’s unconscious. Drugs and alcohol lead to “50 shades of consent.”

For example, in the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case, high school football players assaulted an unconscious girl while bystanders joked and made disparaging remarks about her. One perpetrator’s defense was: “It isn’t really rape because you don’t know if she wanted to or not.” This sentiment makes clear that for these boys, if a girl is unconscious, and neither affirmative nor negative consent can be given, “sex” with her doesn’t count as rape. These boys imagined their unconscious victim might be consenting, perhaps even “wanting” it.

Obviously, in the context of a culture that values lack of consent and nonconsensual sex, what counts as both “sex” and “consent” raises many questions: At what point does a person become incompetent to give consent? In the case of drunken college students, is there a blood alcohol level at which they no longer are able to give consent? And should the same standards apply to men as to women? In other words, if two severely intoxicated students have sex, are they raping each other?

It is noteworthy that drunken male perpetrators of rape are held less responsible because of intoxication while drunken female victims of rape are held more responsible. Again, the problem of drunken consent points to the toxic combination of alcohol and rape myths. Moreover, it reveals the changing notions of both sex and consent implicit in nonconsensual sex.

There has been movement to address the culture of sexual assault on campuses in recent months: six women coming forward to report their experiences with a suspected serial rapist at the University of Wisconsin; Brigham Young University changing its blame-the-victim policy that made reporting rape while under the influence of alcohol result in an honor code violation for the victim; and changing policies on campuses regarding alcohol in an attempt to stem growing problems connected with parties. These are small steps forward in what has become an epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses.

Certainly, no means no and only yes means yes, but, as we’ve seen, issues of consent and nonconsensual sex are more complicated. In addition to holding individuals responsible, we must consider the cultural ethos in which lack of consent is valorized and rape has been downgraded to nonconsensual sex, and where talk of sexual assault is considered acceptable — “boys will be boys” and “locker room talk” — by those who will lead this country. The need to be vigilant is even more urgent now.


Kelly Oliver is a professor of philosophy at Vanderbilt University and author of “Hunting Girls: Sexual Violence from ‘The Hunger Games’ to Campus Rape.”






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