Sexual-assault reduction classes are a form of victim blame

Florida Atlantic University now offers a course titled “Flip the Script”, which aims to reduce sexual assault on campus. It is estimated that undergraduate women have a greater than one-in-10 chance of experiencing rape or attempted rape. Flip the Script teaches these women to look for the signs that could lead to rape as well as how to prevent it. The course boasts impressive statistics, having been found to be responsible for a 31 percent reduction in rape. Even so, it is a form of victim blame.

As we all know, in the UK and America, classes aimed at tackling sexual assault have become all the rage among liberals. Huge numbers of young men are now encouraged to take consent classes to learn about the nuances of sexual communication. Perhaps some blokes need such lessons, but Flip the Script takes us in a direction that we should not welcome.

No one should have to take lessons in how not to get raped. This is no more sophisticated than telling girls not to wear skirts on a night out, or flirt with the guy by the bar. It puts the onus onto potential victims to ensure that they are not attacked. It suggests that the main thing between getting raped and not raped is knowledge. It literally says “you can flip the script”, as if getting raped was a choice of destiny.

Furthermore, sexual-assault reduction classes could cause serious psychological harm to victims. Imagine if you did not have time, or the inclination, to take one of these courses (Flip the Script is 12 hours long). The implication could be that you could have done something to stop this from happening. This is a horrible idea for victims to have to contemplate.

Again, people should not have to do courses to stop themselves being raped, nor should anyone assume that awareness training can stop the chances of being assaulted. It may merely be that awareness training encourages segregation of the sexes, which lessens the chance of these attacks.

The proliferation of these courses is no good thing. Not only do they victim blame, but they potentially exaggerate the level of campus assaults, scaring off young women who might want to go to university.

Having been an undergraduate only eight years ago, the furore around consent has always looked utterly hysterical to me. On behalf of a few bad men, we now talk down to the whole male population as if they’re predators, encouraging their rehabilitation by way of ‘consent classes’, which appear to teach common sense.

Campus assaults are often portrayed as epidemic, but I believe this is because we’ve conflated serious attacks with the results of sexual miscommunication, mostly caused by alcoholic inebriation. It has been found that alcohol is involved in 96 percent of college sexual assaults. The UK and US have dreadful drinking cultures, so it is no wonder that sexual relations have deteriorated, which by their very nature require the cognisance of both partiesThis is not the whole picture, but cut booze out of the equation and we might be looking at a completely different profile of life on campus.

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Even Jordan Peterson’s followers must beware of groupthink. My thoughts on his talk at The Hammersmith Apollo:

Yesterday evening I went to see Jordan Peterson speak at the Hammersmith Apollo. I’ve been a huge fan of Peterson ever since his Channel 4 interview with Cathy Newman, which has always seemed like a pivotal, slightly euphoric, moment in the culture wars, not so much between the political Left and Right, but between the Far Left and common sense. Like many, I felt a (rather evil) satisfaction as Peterson demolished so many of the Lefty arguments we’ve become sick of hearing, thrown at him by Cathy Newman.

One of Peterson’s famous bits of advice is to be wary of group identity in favour of individualism, which is why the first part of his show caused me alarm. It felt like something of a rally, as he was introduced to the stage by Dave Rubin – an American political commentator, seemingly on the same ideological spectrum. As compère, Rubin did an excellent job stirring the audience up, and when Peterson entered the stage much of them hypnotically rose to their feet and applauded. I watched in horror; it was as if someone had shoved a mirror in front of my face. Am I in a cult? I wondered. Is it possible I have been so concerned about left-wing collectives that I, myself, have inadvertently become part of another? Perhaps…

Thankfully, the talk settled and the Jordan-mania calmed down, too. Even so, I do think – myself included – that Peterson followers must watch out for their own ‘cultish’ tendencies. Understandably, many are sick of being demonised by the scary Left and thus see a saviour in Peterson, who serves an important existential purpose – batting away overly-promoted sociological constructs (patriarchy, privilege) that could have sinister consequences. But this shouldn’t mean taking Peterson’s every word as gospel, nor view him as a type of messiah. This thinking merely makes us the type of group we purport to fear. We must keep a critical mind, and be prepared to disagree with Peterson (and I’m sure he himself would agree on that…)

Back to the event, anyway. Peterson has an amazing mind, and is a hundred times cleverer than me – so excuse my criticism, but I did find his talk too free-flowing, like his 12 Rules book. It needs more signposting; often I do not know how we got from A to B, or if we’re even on Z, in terms of his thought processes. Like I say, I love the guy, so none of this is to slight his analyses or conclusions, just how they are packaged and pulled together. From my perspective, Peterson is best when he’s being interviewed or debating, which focuses the discussion. I also like his parenting and life advice, as I am a sucker for self-help. Who isn’t, ey?

Overall, I found it astonishing that Peterson’s event has come to exist at all. It says a lot about how scared people are to speak their minds that we now need famous figures to do it for us. Peterson and pals aren’t actually saying anything radical, merely speaking common sense. It is just that common sense has become the new controversy.

Part of the reason men and women especially need Peterson is his academic understanding, as we are locked in ideological warfare. The Left often misinterprets science or creates pseudo-intellectual arguments to advance itself (last week I read an ‘academic’ article arguing that white women tears are a type of racism…), thus there’s a new demand for opposing heavyweight intellectuals. This is why Peterson works so well, who’s able to use multivariate analyses as if it were a huge baton to hit idiots with.

The talk did make me wonder how prevalent far-Left ideology actually is, as I stared at the droves of people there – ‘the silent majority’. I suspect the SM is way bigger than the SM thinks, and has been mobilised greatly because of the internet. The internet has so much to answer for in terms of social fractures. It has meant that individuals from completely different geographies are now thrown into dialogue with each other. We have got to the point where Jane from Dorset is now debating with Stacy the Guardianista on Twitter. They are so far apart by virtue of their locations that it shall be almost impossible for them to reach a middle ground. This is we can never achieve a rational, constructive dialogue, instead our TV debates are raging wars between Left and Right. (I confess I have gone a bit free-flowing in this paragraph, hypocritically after my earlier critique).

Can Peterson sew the world back together? Perhaps! Ultimately he serves an important function, providing an alternate view to Left-wing groupthink. Peterson believes individualism is what can save us all, but at the same time I hope no one misinterprets that advice as encouragement to retreat from their opponents, which would only polarise debate further. If there’s one thing his audience figures suggest, it’s that lots of other people have the same thoughts, which is all the more reason to break up from each other and talk to the opposition, lest we become guilty of groupthink! We must not be so afraid to tell others of our opinions; we must take heart from the bravery of Peterson.

Why should we feel hope over fear?

Now that Donald Trump has been confirmed to come to the UK on Friday 13th of July, Sadiq Khan of course had to Tweet to showcase his virtuous credentials, posting: “If he comes to London, President Trump will experience an open and diverse city that has always chosen unity over division and hope over fear. He will also no doubt see that Londoners hold their liberal values of freedom of speech very dear.”

It is an irksome statement in many ways, not least because it is anti-diplomacy. 

Khan’s worst offence, though, is his love of ‘liberal’ platitudes; the usual guff we have become accustomed to hearing… “hope over fear”, “unity over division”. 

Much of these terms have been said in the wake of terrorist attacks and other violence. They do little to solve either of these dangers, which loom over us all the time. They are a means of suppression, in a sense; a way to delegitimise people’s natural concerns while London goes down the bin.

Khan is currently on track to become one of London’s most hopeless mayors ever, because of his obsession with cheesy soundbites. Too often he sounds like he wants a job at the Guardian, rather than to be a tough London mayor.

As everyone knows, the biggest crisis Khan has to solve is knife crime, which mainly affects young men. To be fair to him, it’s a tough one to fix – mainly born out of socioeconomic circumstances – and the mayor is trying.

Even so, he is so distracted trying to please left-wing feminists, censoring bikini outfits and the rest. All the while, people keep being stabbed to death.

These dangerous times are why Khan is wrong to lecture on “hope over fear”, which he says to divert attention from his lack of ability to solve violence. “Hope” has ultimately become a synonym for “I don’t know what to do”.

Moreover, this idea that we should choose “hope” is utterly daft. Being fearful or hopeful is not some sort of decision; fear is sometimes a reasonable response to an unreasonable situation. It’s an evolutionary reaction that drives us to take action. Were leaders more fearful, perhaps we would have solved the housing crisis, knife crime and much more right now.

There is another flipside to fear, too, which makes Khan wrong to ridicule it. Fear is something that politicians do need to instil at times. 

One of the UK’s biggest problems is that our politicians are not strict enough. They sound more like sex therapists – “love not hate”, “let’s hold hands” – than leaders. 

The result is that the public becomes unruly and undisciplined. This explains why we have so many protests these days driven by crazy millennials. It may even partially explain rises in violent crime. There is no sense of authority around.

The public has ultimately started to wield power over our politicians, even using Twitter as a democratic tool. They create the fear instead.

I don’t want Kim Jong-Un in charge, incidentally, but we do need firmer leaders. They must act more like the teacher at school you respected; who was strict, but right.(Remember, the teachers who were too nice always got bullied.)

Leaders who continuously spout “hope over fear” messages are ultimately not respected.  They are not inspirational, either, because they are not talking at an individual level. 

If you ever watch motivational speakers, they say the word “you” a lot. This wakes people up; they think “who, me?!”

But I digress. Khan cannot simply go on spouting cheerful soundbites, and expect this to please the public. Not least because there is no “hope” if you are dead from knife crime, or lying in a hospital bed with a slashed stomach.

Frankly, Khan should look to London’s own problems, instead of lecturing Trump on Twitter.

There are a lot of reasons I can protest the American president. I didn’t like how he pretty much molested Macron last week, for starters. 

But because I choose “hope over fear”? No, no. I experience fear. 

And until the mayor does something radical, who can say they feel anything otherwise?

My night speed dating

 

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Because I am an extremely adventurous single person, I decided that I would try speed dating last Friday. Maybe, just maybe, the man of my dreams would pay £20 to meet me, I convinced myself.

The event took place at a bar in Mayfair, giving me hope that it would be full of millionaires ready to talk to whisk me off to a life of diamonds and sustainable fishing. But the venue was actually more like that bar in Eastenders – Sharon’s Den, or whatever it’s called now (is Sharon even still alive?!)

Arriving at the venue, we were not so much greeted, but ignored by the organiser – a grumpy bloke in a t-shirt who boasted that speed dating “never started on time”. He wore a whistle and marched around the venue blowing it. Aside from being quite startling, this made me realise that I have never liked anyone with a whistle.

I won’t lie – the speed dating set up is very manageable if you’re a woman. You sit on a chair while men come around and try and impress you, each of whom have varying levels of sweat on their hand. The dates lasted four minutes, after which the grumpy bloke would blow the aforementioned whistle. Sometimes he went a bit psycho if you didn’t pay attention, which rarely I did – distracted by conversations about swimming and plumbing, among other things.

Speed dating has A LOT of rules. For instance, you can’t get drunk or talk about controversial topics, which is mission for me because I use Brexit as a litmus test for a man’s testosterone levels.

The rule list also said DON’T LIE. I’m terrible at lying anyway, so that wasn’t a big problem. Apart from when my dates asked me if I would write about the evening (because I am a journalist). One even checked in case I had a spy camera. I said I would only write about speed dating if it went badly.

Not that it did go badly, but it wasn’t great either. For starters, four minutes is actually really quick, however painfully slow that Madonna song featuring Justin Timberlake is. It’s not enough time to eat a baguette, let alone digest a person, and no sooner was each date over than I had to decide whether I wanted second course – or just to be friends. Mostly I didn’t even want the aperitif.

Ultimately speed dating made me feel sad! There were some really nice men there – and women – but it all felt a bit like being the last Ferrero Rocher in the packet. I would only do it again on the condition it was longer – a la Long Dating – or had a great mixture of Ferrero Rocher. Maybe what I’m really saying is I want Cadbury’s Heroes.

But overall, it was a fun evening. Afterwards we went out in Soho, resulting in the worst hangover of my life, that meant I spent the next day vomiting and wondering whether to call 999 (can you kill yourself vomiting?). All of this reinforced the fact I need to stop clubbing, find a husband and settle down. Just not through speed dating.

Can’t society accept I’ll never like the mornings?

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Over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed a strange and disturbing trend among my friends.

We all used to be the same page about social activities. But increasingly everyone’s gone mad for the mornings, and decided that they’re the best time to do things.

Don’t they know I’m a vampire? I sometimes wonder. Seemingly not, as the invites keep coming for brunch, which I’ve always viewed with a degree of suspicion – even though I love eggs. Because not even the finest egg in Britain can make me scramble out of bed.

When it’s not bottomless brunches, it’s equally alarming events, such as morning raves, that have drawn in the masses. Nowadays people are even doing exercise on the weekend, because they’re raving mad.

I thought things couldn’t get any worse until I went to a ‘breakfast gig’, where I danced with a salmon bagel in my hand. “What am I doing here?” I wondered, my eyes too sleepy to appreciate the lead singer of a famous rock band, right in front of my face. I know he was thinking it too.

We were both victims of a new fashion that demands young people centre their social events around the morning, for reasons unknown to me.

All my life, I’ve despised mornings. Sometimes I feel I receive unfair judgement for this disposition. Rising early in your spare time may even be a type of virtue signalling, that gives the impression of an organised, saintly character. We night owls look slovenly by comparison.

But I’m not lazy; I’m just not wired up in such a way as to enjoy fierce light and Phillip Schofield. My productivity soars as the moon sets. During my childhood getting up in the morning would make me feel physically sick. Such an inclination was made worse by adults around me, forcing breakfast down my face. “It’s the best meal of the day”, they lied. Cornflakes? Please!

The night was different. It was my time, and I thrived on episodes of Casualty. Thanks to my liberal parents, this bliss went on for years until a traumatic adventure to boarding school for a week, where I was ordered to bed at 9pm. I felt as if I was in a straightjacket.

While I snuggled in my oppressive duvet, I dreamed of a future where there would be a divided universe, in which night riders and morning movers could live side by side, accepted in their own right. So that never again would I get a look of disgust for the confession I woke up at 12pm on a Saturday (this face doesn’t make itself!).

As I moved into adulthood I found that my sleeping habits became socially acceptable; especially at university, where I could disguise them under tenuous ‘carpe diem’ philosophy. But then I came out into the real world, and people started to become really, really sensible. And it became all about 10am, rather than pm.

Is everyone drunk though, seriously? For as far as I can tell there is nothing alluring about socialising in the forenoon. Particularly with brunch, as – call me Captain Conventional – I can’t help thinking that dinner is way better. Even if there are no eggs.

It does seem to me that ‘daylife’ is increasingly being made into a thing. I’m no creature of convention, but I am conventional in my opinion that nighttime is the right time to do (social) business. I need the darkness; it soothes my pupils and hides the bags under my eyes. You snooze, you don’t lose.

Besides it’s not easy for us night owls, with work already demanding so much of our physical capabilities. Waking up at 7am five days a week is hard enough; the thought of more makes me insides crumble. Who do people think I am? Bear Grylls?!

I’m just a girl who needs a morning snooze; let socials not be a nightmare.

Am I the only Londoner who wants a Tube Chat badge?

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“Don’t talk to strangers!” I was always cautioned as a child. Which, to be fair, most youngsters are told. But I was terrible. I’d chat up anyone. Whether they were snorting drugs on the street, or trying to read the newspaper, no one was immune to my four-year-old banter.

“It’s dangerous,” said my teacher eventually. I’d asked a hairy man on Goswell Road how his day was going (fine, incidentally), putting the safety of Rainbow Class at risk. ‘Stranger danger’ was always the excuse for why we didn’t talk to big, bad people out in public. And throughout childhood, I thought this explained all of society – and why no one chatted.

But then I grew old, and wise (sort of), and realised that I was being indoctrinated with a terrible social etiquette rife in this country – where talking is perceived as a sort of sneeze, that could harm others. This problem is perhaps the worst in London, where the prevalence of Tinder, Bumble and other dating or friend applications say it all about our ability to interact with others.

Luckily, some sociable soul has distributed a badge on the underground today, similar to the “Baby on Board” one, that simply reads: “Tube chat?” Meaning that anyone who fancies a discussion on their commute can now let it be known. I can’t wait to pick up my own “Tube chat?” badge, so that I might find a northern line companion who shares a love for hula hoops, dogs and – who even knows – Riverdance.

I thought everyone would be equally excited, but the internet is awash with killjoys scoffing at the badge and calling it a “weirdo magnet”. But maybe that’s because they know deep down that they are the true weirdos, or that the current situation is quite weird – that friendliness levels have come to such a standstill in our society.

Whether it’s the cold winter weather, or laziness fuelled by technology, everyone’s gone quiet on each other. Shyness is epidemic, so much so that it has become destructive. In January this year, the BBC streamed a documentary on loneliness, which hit home what a huge impact non-communication has. Statistics for single people in London seem to rise all the time. The truth is: they could start falling if we learnt how to start simple conversations.

That’s what they seem to do in the countryside, at least, where I feel like Amal Clooney when I go home to visit my parents. Everyone wants to know how me and my grey hairy friend are doing. Sidney the border terrier, that is.

Of course for many, this sort of lifestyle doesn’t appeal. “It’s too quiet; there aren’t enough people!” Some say of the countryside. But in the capital, there is such little engagement, it’s as if you’re alone anyway.

So I’m not sniffy about the new badge. It’s actually quite a constructive invention, that acknowledges that there is a real need for more sociability in our society. Strangers can be dangerous, but as a general rule – it’s more dangerous never to speak to one.

It’s the Euros tomorrow. Great

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My God I hate football. It’s the one thing that makes me think humans and dogs aren’t so far apart; both transfixed by the site of a ball going up and down a field. When will they tire? Nobody knows.

I find everything about it aversive: the sound of a crowd chanting and cheering, the monotony of watching the (aforementioned) ball going up and down the field, and the fact that no one ever seems to score. Don’t even get me started on the players. For all of their collective intelligence, they may as well be Beano characters.

I rationalise the emergence of football through evolutionary theory; as the sport seems to have filled a primitive need. Where men would once unleash testosterone, killing enemies at war, they now get a kick out of shouting at Vardy, Rooney and (who’s that other one I read about inThe Daily Mail): our modern day gladiators. However, this theory only offers some consolation – for I am still baffled by the attention this game of balls and boneheads receives.

With my football allergy, the last few weeks have been utterly miserable – as it’s coming up to the Euros, which I’m starting to think people care about than the EU Referendum! To give you an example of how obsessed everyone is with this event, note the recent activity of a Southampton school – which has decided to let pupils finish in time for the England v Wales game next Thursday. At two o’clock.

I remember my school letting me finish early when I was a whippersnapper, to watch 2003’s Rugby World Cup. It was the most boring thing on earth, and not at all beneficial to my education.

I thought about the sexism of it all, having to live in a society that places such value on male sport – almost as if events were religious ceremonies. And the assumption that everyone, everywhere, cares.

Such expectations are unfair – because there are other events that people are more interested in, which don’t get the same coverage, or consideration. The Eurovision Song Contest is the highlight of my year, but no one’s going to let me have some time off to celebrate Jedward – let alone talk about the festivities.

Football, that’s fine though. Talk all you like about that and you’ve scored.

I’m happy to get a red card, anyway, if that means I can sit out of the proceedings. The Euros are the latest example of something football-sceptics are dreading; weeks of conversation, adverts and marketing about a game we don’t find particularly ‘beautiful’. It’s annoying at best, oppressive at worst. Not everyone likes football; spare a thought for us this year.