“Sexual consent classes” are infantilising

There are certain groups of people – student union activists and the virtue signalling Left in general – who are determined to infantilise almost the entire population and create a nation of wobbly-lipped current or future victims who must be coddled and protected at all times by the self-appointed defenders of the vulnerable.

We see it with the increasing demands for professors to slap “Trigger Warnings” on texts that some may find offensive or distressing. We see it in the deadly serious attempts to ban clapping in favour of jazz hands (yes, really) at student meetings. And we see it with the insidious growth of so-called “safe spaces” or free speech black spots, it’s no longer a strange new phenomenon.

One of the most troubling manifestations of this regression is the new fad for universities to run mandatory “sexual consent classes” for students, organised on the assumption that young men are wild and dangerous creatures who need to be tamed and taught how to behave properly in polite society before being unleashed on campuses.

Even when these cheerfully-promoted sexual consent classes are not technically mandatory, they effectively become so because male students who dissent – asserting that they are human beings with no moral or cognitive impairment, thus rendering sitting through a class on how not to rape someone both unnecessary and insulting – are subject to vilification, persecution and harassment.

Fortunately, some liberty (and common sense) minded students are now waging a fightback, point-blank refusing to take part in these ludicrous exercises in male re-education or to apologise for their refusal. Spiked Magazine today profiles the case of a student from Warwick University, my alma mater, who did just that.

Lauren Southern reports the case of George Lawlor:

A new phenomenon has started on university campuses, one that should have emerged years ago. Men are publicly pushing back against demeaning contemporary labels. These labels paint men as intrinsically sexually driven beings who not only misunderstand consent, but actually disregard it. On 14 October, George Lawlor, a student at the University of Warwick, wrote a piece for the Warwick Tab about why he refused to attend ‘I *Heart* Consent’ training sessions – lessons that have been pushed on university campuses by the National Union of Students (NUS) in order to teach young men and women how to obtain consent before sex.

In his article, Lawlor states:

‘I feel as if I’m taking the “wrong” side here, but someone has to say it – I don’t have to be taught not to be a rapist. That much comes naturally to me, as I am sure it does to the overwhelming majority of people you and I know. Brand me a bigot, a misogynist, a rape apologist, I don’t care. I stand by that.’

Most zealots, unable to counter Lawlor’s points with any valid counterarguments of their own, choose to descend to personal insults and foul-mouthed invective instead.

For example, the blog Another Angry Woman wrote a hit piece (complete with prissy, virtue-signalling trigger warning that her article discusses “rape culture”) accusing Lawlor of looking exactly like a rapist:

In doing all of this, George Lawlor has achieved one thing, and one thing only: he’s made himself look like a rapist. His short article and selfie have worked wonders in demonstrating a lot of the little hints I look out for, after years of the unfortunate experience of having encountered rapists. Men who display these behaviours, I now avoid.

All this sound and fury distracts from the fact that the Consent Class-advocating, Student Union zealots have no right to judge half of the population and find them guilty of pre-crime. Universities exist to generate and impart knowledge. That is their function. Students go to university to receive said knowledge and earn their degree. Okay, and maybe to drink beer and socialise, too, but the main purpose is education.

It is not the job of the university to act as some kind of officious, overbearing surrogate parent to students who – we always seem to forget when discussing these depressing Stepford Student issues – are actually adults themselves, and should be more than capable of navigating their way in the world without being wrapped in cotton wool.

Imagine for a moment that the same situation was transplanted onto another group of people. Suppose that university authorities, concerned about Islamic extremism and the potential radicalisation of students, started to conduct mandatory British Values classes for their Muslim student populations. After all, most Muslims are not terrorists, but there is an “epidemic” of terrorism being waged by Islamic extremists. Therefore, wouldn’t it be a “safe” thing to make this very small imposition on all Muslim students in Britain, just to spread the message that suicide bombing is wrong?

If British universities implemented such a policy, student unions up and down Britain would go ballistic, accusing the authorities of racism and a wanton abuse of power. They would be right to do so – mandatory anti-radicalisation classes targeted at one segment of the student population would be an intolerable affront to civic rights, not to mention the right of Muslim students as paying university customers not to be singled out for public opprobrium.

Yet when precisely the same logic is ported across to the issue of rape and sexual assault, all male students are deemed potentially dangerous, totally lacking in morals and governed by base animal instincts which must be tamed and controlled by the wise and progressive minds of left wing campus do-gooders.

Is consent more complicated than the one-time utterance of “yes” or “no”? Absolutely. But most people with a functioning brain should be able to realise that much anyway. The remainder who go on to rape or sexually harass will not suddenly cease their behaviour when the memory of an NUS-organised consent class randomly pops back into their mind.

Thus, consent classes do little more than browbeat a bunch of students who would never consider inappropriate sexual conduct in the first places, while those who most need to take the lesson onboard sit there rolling their eyes or skip the class altogether.

And even if this were not so, it is not the place of universities to impart such basic tips for living in society as “don’t rape the person next to you” to their newly-arrived students. If young adults are turning up at university so worryingly undercooked that they require trigger warnings and safe spaces, or a refresher that “rape is bad, mmmkay?”, then they need to hold off on joining the real world for a while longer and go back  home while their parents finish the job of turning a baby into a walking, talking adult.

And it is home, of course, where life lessons about sexual consent should be taught in the first place. Not by universities who are bullied and cajoled into playing the part of surrogate parent, and not by preening, morally superior student union activist types who wear their progressive policies like they are this season’s coolest fashion.

Yesterday it was safe spaces and trigger warnings, today it is consent classes and tomorrow it will be something else. Freedom, autonomy and power are lost in increments, not all at once, and though the behaviour of these self-appointed student moral guardians is almost beyond parody it remains vital that we take seriously their attempts to infantilise our culture and turn us all into perpetually vulnerable wards of the state and potential criminals who must be re-educated as punishment for our pre-crime.


Samuel Hooper is a journalist and blogger. He is passionate about politics, free markets and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter here.

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