The Learned Cluelessness of Women

October 25, 2012

Nathan Harden

I finally got around to reading Nathan Harden’s Sex and God at Yale: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad. Harden was a home-schooled kid whose education sort of petered out. He applied to Yale with his GED and was rejected. After doing a variety of odd jobs, he got into Yale on this third try at the age of 22. (The Admissions Director later told him that he’d simply worn her down.) In love at the time, he married, and the newlyweds set off for New Haven.

Harden’s status as a married undergraduate afforded him the opportunity to observe Yale’s sexual culture objectively. His report of that experience does not approach the quality of William F. Buckley’s God and Man at Yale, his inspiration for the book. He does chronicle a whole new level of radicalism on campus, though, and it’s shocking. I first became aware of Harden when I he blogged for National Review during Yale Sex Week. That series landed him a book deal and here we are.

One of the moments in his story that jumped out at me had nothing to do with the faculty or administration, but with fellow students. Studying abroad, he visited London and crashed on a female classmate’s couch while there.

The next morning I awoke to find myself sprawled out on one of the couches in the living room. Several of the girls who lived in the flat were sitting around talking…they had been out the night before and their conversation, naturally, turned to talk about boys. They started talking about the hookup scene back at Yale. Their conversation went something like this:

– Oh my gosh. Have you ever been with a football player?

– Yeah, they can be pretty awesome. They work out a lot.

– Yeah, and you know what’s best about them. They’re not that smart. If you go up to them at a party and just get them drinking, and start dancing with them and kissing them, they will totally end up sleeping with you. They don’t even know they’re being played. They have no clue.

– Ha-ha! Totally.

These are Yale women – arguably the smartest women in the country, so clueless about sex differences it’s dangerous. I once heard a wise woman say, “No matter how many times women tell themselves they don’t care, they’re still getting fucked.” 

Harden agrees:

I was amazed. Could it be possible, I thought to myself, that these girls don’t understand a fundamental fact about the human male? You normally don’t have to trick a man into having sex…Don’t [these girls] realize that’s why most guys show up at college parties in the first place?

…College girls are the special target of today’s radical sexual culture. It is a culture that asks of them everything and offers them nothing. It is presided over by a legion of academics who have been enamored of the sexual revolution ever since the Summer of Love. These academics enjoy calling themselves feminists, but they fail to see that the sexual revolution left many young women feeling powerless.

True, but even more disturbing, the culture leaves many women feeling a false sense of power. Their empowerment only gives them the opportunity to objectify themselves, not males, who rarely mind in any case. 

Sexual liberation never really empowered women in the way it was suposed to. A woman is truly objectified when men don’t even have to get to know her in order to get her into bed. Without any commitment to modesty or sexual restraint, the worthy cause of debojectifying women loses much of its gusto. I know it sounds very 1950s, but playing hard to get might not have been a bad idea for feminists, if power is what they were after. 

Feminists at the Yale Women’s Center talk about birth control as a form of empowerment…But they never talk about keeping one’s zipper up as a potential form of empowerment…It’s hard to be a randy sexpot and a deobjectified feminist at the same time.