Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sex and Consequences

It is well-known that Yale was founded as an orthodox Puritan alternative to dissipated, heretical Harvard, and I am pleased to see that this founding impulse remains strong there. First, there was the blanket ban on faculty-student relations, and now, this wonderfully detailed guide to ways one might go about having sex there, to which are appended the variety of punishments one will face afterwards. Gawker has already pointed out many of the things that make this guide so useful, and also how it might be improved with the addition of more potential scenarios for the serious student of college sex, the one who desires a synoptic understanding of the subject. However, I'm a little disappointed to discover that all these scenarios frame "sexual misconduct" exclusively as a matter of discerning the nature of consent. Are there not other forms of "sexual misconduct" following from consent that we could also punish, if only we first elaborated them clearly?

For example [Ed. note - advance reading of Yale's scenarios will greatly assist in the understanding of these essential additions]:

Jib and Twizzle meet at an organic chemistry study group and experience immediate and undeniable...chemistry. Jib invites Twizzle upstairs afterwards, and they mutually and consensually throw themselves into one another's arms. So great is their passion for one another however, that as they press up against one of the centuries-old windows in Jib's dormitory room, the hinges give way, and both Jib and Twizzle are defenestrated.
This is malicious destruction of university property: although Jib and Twizzle reached positive, voluntary, unambiguous agreement to engage in sexual conduct together, they failed to gain the window's consent to these proceedings. Since the steam generated by their conduct makes it difficult for the UWC to determine which of the two was the presser and which the pressee at the time of the defenestration, the spirit of gender equity that animates the UWC's policies requires that both be charged with felony vandalism after they have recovered from injuries sustained in their mutually consensual fall. 

Oatmeal and Cholera are classmates who meet at a party, flirt, dance closely, kiss, spin around in concentric circles, exchange a series of primal mating calls, lick each other's faces, and agree to go home together. On the walk to Oatmeal's room, they send a few texts, letting Cholera's friends know not to be jealous, and asking Oatmeal's roommate to please sleep somewhere else. Once in the room, they discover that Oatmeal's roommate, Pest, does not want to sleep somewhere else. "It's my damn room," Pest remonstrates, and Oatmeal and Cholera "can go to a motel or screw on the lawn for all I care, but I have a physics exam tomorrow and I'm going to sleep in my own dorm." Oatmeal and Cholera look at one another, then at Pest, then at one another again. Using only their eyes, they mutually consent to and execute a plan to place Pest in a large trash receptacle, affix the receptacle's lid tightly with duct tape, and leave it in one of the closets overnight. Oatmeal and Cholera then proceed to have undisturbed sex all night long, and release Pest the following morning in time for his exam.
This is consensual sex: Oatmeal and Cholera reached positive, voluntary, unambiguous, even telepathic agreement to engage in sexual conduct together. They go out of their way to honor Pest's request to "sleep in my own dorm," ensuring that he has a quiet space to rest in preparation for his exam. However, Pest's disrespectful language and effort to disrupt the mutually consensual sexual congress of Oatmeal and Cholera is in violation of the UWC's policies on "cockblocking." The UWC penalty would likely be mandatory sensitivity training for Pest.

Clap and Harpie are strangers who have arranged to meet for sex, an activity neither of them has had time to attempt earlier due to heavy academic commitments, but which both are anxious to initiate because each has heard many positive things about it from the university. Having carefully reviewed the theoretical gender and sexuality literature available in Sterling Library in advance, they have already exchanged signed statements of mutual consent to sexual conduct which include detailed lists of activities to which they are amenable. They meet in Clap's room, and after a preliminary discussion of their preferred gender pronouns and mutual commitment to subverting the paradigmatic norm of patriarchal repression which is reified in the present hegemonic form of the genital-dependent sex act, they proceed to disrobe. But when they move to engage each other, they discover that neither of them knows how to proceed. Having renounced the gender binary and its social construction of genital difference, they find that basic forms of instruction available in books and on the internet are inapplicable to their situation. They agree to turn to Yale's sexual scenarios memo for guidance, recalling that it shares their commitment to gender non-specificity. After applying themselves to a close reading of the document, Clap and Harpie derive a series of steps to follow, including rubbing each other's shoulders, crying and embracing, looking up at one another questioningly, and pulling each other close and then hesitating. They follow this progression, but remain unable to initiate the sex act. They become increasingly frustrated as the night wears on and sex continues to elude them, and after exchanging a series of recriminating remarks about one another's intelligence, appearance, and sexual function, Harpie throws a shoe at Clap's head, and marches out of the room, slamming the door and waking other students residing on that floor.
Although Clap and Harpie demonstrated a strong commitment to positive, voluntary, unambiguous agreement to engage in sexual conduct together, they failed to engage in the conduct. Initial consent was followed by ambiguity as Clap's and Harpie's expectations from each other diverged. In the process of attempting to engage in the conduct, Harpie transgressed Clap's stated limits of acceptable sexual activity. In this case, there was no consent to receive a blow to the cranium from projectile footwear. The UWC penalty for Harpie would likely be expulsion, and it would likely counsel Clap to get counseling.


In the benighted past, it was difficult to pursue simultaneous careers in writing pornography and academic administration, but thanks in large part to the pioneering efforts of places like Yale, it is now possible to combine these interests into a single post, charged with the composition of administrative porn. Perhaps you can think of other incidents to be included in a second edition of this important memo? 


Alpheus said...

That Sexual Misconduct Scenarios memo actually has a long history at Yale. From the 1658 version:

Abftinence and Piety are fober, godfearing young Christians ftudying for Careers in the Church. One Evening, while conftruing the aroufing Story of Ruth and Boaz in the original Hebrew, their Eyes meet and the Spirit of Luft enters into their young, flawlefs Bodies. Their abject Fornication in a little-frequented Corner of the Library is brief but gratifying. Afterwards, Piety weeps. Neither can look at nor fpeak to the other from Confcioufness of Sin.

Abftinence and Piety reached positive, voluntary, and unambiguous Agreement to engage in Sexual Conduct. The UWC Penalty would be Flogging and the Pillory, followed by Expulfion. But the Lord is just, and His Wrath will not be so eafily fatisfied.

Miss Self-Important said...

Ha! But what is Piety doing at Yale? Godfearing Ladies muft not take up the work of Miniftry but should rather fanctify the Hearth with their godly example. Piety muft have fnuck out of her Father's home at night again to vifit the Boys in the College. There if not fufficient fcorn in the village of New Haven to chaftise thif waywardnefs.

Alpheus said...

MSI: Good point! (Perhaps Piety would feel more at home in fome heathenifh place like Providence Plantations.)

BTW, I can't adequately express how funny I found this post. No doubt that means I require counseling of some kind.

Miss Self-Important said...

In that case, I would require even more extensive counseling for having posted it. And Yale, the most of all for having occasioned it.