How to get evolution right
A few years ago, Trojan ran a series of TV and print ads to promote condom use. The ads featured bars, beaches and other social gatherings where all the women were young and pretty, and all of the men — save the one with a condom — were depicted as pigs. The campaign's primary caption? "EVOLVE."
The sexual revolution was supposed to free women from an oppressive patriarchy, unhappy marriages, prudish sexual expression, cramped body image and a host of other tyrannies. Fifty years later, let’s tally the benefits:
Young people between the ages of 15 and 24 account for half of new sexually transmitted diseases each year, and 1 in 4 sexually active female adolescents has an STI. Since abortion was legalized in 1973, 57 million babies have been aborted. Unmarried women account for approximately 85 percent of all abortions, and over half of all abortions are performed on women under age 25.
What kind of mentality could characterize a public health crisis, millions of abortions, children ingesting chemicals and people rutting indiscriminately like animals as "evolution"?
The latest chapter is the Obama administration's efforts to crack down on sexual assault at colleges and universities. The ironies here are bitter, indeed, for the generation whose parents and grandparents have trumpeted the advantages of our sexually "evolved" society. For if the health of our youth has not been advanced by our current attitudes toward sexuality, neither do the processes now mandated on college campuses protect our young people's legal rights.
In its 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter, the U.S. Department of Education correctly identifies sexual assault as a crime. But the DOE nevertheless insists that schools treat it as a disciplinary matter, foregoing the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard of proof in favor of the much looser "mere preponderance of the evidence" (or "more likely than not") standard.
Activists' insistence that "these are not criminal proceedings" is specious. The ongoing presence on campus of a young man found guilty of sexual assault will constitute a "hostile environment," so he must be expelled. Try explaining to a new college, graduate school or prospective employer that you were kicked out of school for sexual assault.
How can innocent people prevail under such a system? To their credit, some men who claim they were falsely accused and deprived of due process are fighting back in 41 lawsuits against their former institutions.
Perhaps the greatest irony is that we've been told for decades that "you can't legislate morality," and yet now we use the legal process in place of morality. Here's a novel idea: What if we -- that is, the grownups -- could admit that much of the so-called sexual revolution did not, in fact, produce societal evolution? What if we had the courage to ask our young people to avoid indiscriminate sexual encounters, drunk or sober?
That may not be "evolution." But it would be real progress.
Laura Hollis writes for Creators syndicate.