And here again is the trouble with how we talk about sex, consent and sexual violence in the United States. There are so many ways to flirt and have really enjoyable casual sex without being predatory, but we never talk about them. The importance of listening to the person you’re interested in having sex with and being alert to non-verbal cues certainly isn’t being taught in schools, and this kind of thing generally isn’t modeled in pop culture. So we have a vacuum about relationships and healthy sexuality. And that vacuum gets filled by banana brains like George Will, Caitlin Flanagan and the people on Fox News who can shout the loudest, people who believe that much of what’s called sexual assault is actually just “regretted sex,” a product of the “ambiguities of hookup culture.”
Which is why we now have young men telling Bloomberg News that they basically view their female peers as rape bombs just waiting to explode and ruin their lives. “Some men feel that too much responsibility for preventing sexual assault has been put on their shoulders,” according to one of the men interviewed for the piece.
This is what happens when we when we publish stupid piece after stupid piece blaming women’s behavior for sexual assault, when we don’t encourage young people to communicate openly and regularly during romantic and sexual encounters, when we don’t teach affirmative consent or really any kind of sex education.
Certainly, some small number of people—insecure people who perhaps have not yet learned that Ivy League schools confer degrees on plenty of idiots every year—may react inelegantly upon hearing that you went to Harvard, Yale, or Princeton. But it is not your job to anticipate and preemptively manage another person’s emotional response to your biography. If you tell people you went to Harvard and they respond by freaking out, that reflects poorly on them.
I’m human. I’m trying to do the best I can, trying to support someone who has worse to deal with than I could ever dare imagine. Maybe some men would do better. Perhaps others would do worse. She carries it, she battles it, and she experiences the worst of it. But we’re both burdened by it.
But Ms. Navarro’s fluctuating hours, combined with her limited resources, had also turned their lives into a chronic crisis over the clock. She rarely learned her schedule more than three days before the start of a workweek, plunging her into urgent logistical puzzles over who would watch the boy. Months after starting the job she moved out of her aunt’s home, in part because of mounting friction over the erratic schedule, which the aunt felt was also holding her family captive. Ms. Navarro’s degree was on indefinite pause because her shifting hours left her unable to commit to classes. She needed to work all she could, sometimes counting on dimes from the tip jar to make the bus fare home. If she dared ask for more stable hours, she feared, she would get fewer work hours over all.
I get angry with myself. This is nothing but snobbery, I think – latent anxiety about the trappings of class. As if my son had deliberately turned his back on a light Victoria sponge and stuffed his face with cheap doughnuts. I am aware, too, that I associate tattoos on men with aggression, the kind of arrogant swagger that goes with vest tops, dogs on chains, broken beer glasses.