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Thursday, October 08, 2009

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joe

Consent is Sexy? Talk about proof that the modern sexual ethic does not work, at all, period. We have to have a T shirt campaign to discourage rape! And people think it is 'thought provoking'?!

Mike

Wow, it didn't take long after Fr. Spitzer's departure for things to go awry did it?

Ed Peters

I've not come across Dr. EC before this, but man, the guy should write more. He's a good pen.

Jackson

Why is the word "educator" replacing the word "teacher"?

Francis Beckwith

Consent is sexy? Who knew?

Paul

Sadly, my Alma Mater. A big thanks to Dr. Cunningham in holding down the fort.

Kmbold

This is so utterly sad and depressing. These young MVP whelps need to be smacked, but good. Empty-headed girls, be pure! You'll NEVER be sorry. "How will the young be saved? By prayer. Strive for the good. You can do it, with the help of God's grace. Don't settle for less.

Clare Krishan

I give my assent to "the abundance of positive representations of love" -- how about a pithier slogan?
FIAT
(Mary's consent at the angel's annunciation tells us everything we need to know, except for most folks the connotation conjures up 'automobile company' or 'ex-nihilo' currency creation favored by political administrations who like to avoid concepts like "consent" not something young men desire to imitate: ancilla Domini heroism)

Evan

While I don't disagree with Cunningham's concern, it's difficult for me to summon any sort of great objection to a campaign against rape like this one. Consent within the proper context is surely a praiseworthy aspect of sexuality. I don't see the problem with calling it "sexy". And the slogan, in a casual (though I wouldn't say "base") way effectively belittles the very idea of rape. Sounds great to me.

Certainly a campaign like this needs to be accompanied by work from the administration and the student body on teaching and instilling sexual morality. But there's nothing wrong with celebrating what is truly good (and sexy!) in order to combat such a pervasive problem as rape. I can't imagine that the victims of rape are opposing this as much as those who have enjoyed a life of no sexual violence done against them. In any case, it strikes me as counterproductive to stand in opposition to this. Critique it and stand alongside it with a further message, sure. But consent strikes me as pretty sexy over against the alternative.

Also, while both are sinful, a consenting couple that puts themselves in a damning situation is categorically different than a man who rapes a victim... who puts someone else in an awful position of pain and suffering against their wishes. The difference is between two perpetrators of sin and one perpetrator with an innocent victim who is scarred by violence. A moral response should be given to both situations, but the response is going to be different. And the response to rape is going to be one that attacks the acceptability of attacking one's brother or sister. That this campaign doesn't intend to express the fullness of a Catholic sexual ethic doesn't mean it's wrong in the specific thing that it intends to express.

A campaign against theft need not offer a full-bodied attack on greed; merely addressing the dignity of a neighbor's property and an opposition to its violation is a worthwhile response. A full response would include a more pervasive look at material possession and how we should act with regard to it, but a basic message against the violation of another's dignity is still a fair message to proclaim. And emphasizing the dignity of personal property might CONTRIBUTE to the sin of greed as much as emphasizing the dignity of consent might CONTRIBUTE to the sin of sexual promiscuity. But that's a risk that we need to counter with further conversation, not not with outright opposition.

The same might be argued for the pro-life cause. Certainly there's more to being pro-life than simply getting the baby out of the womb alive. But that doesn't discount our strong attempts to attack the problem at a pivotal point- the violation of an unborn infant's life through abortive procedures. It doesn't answer all of the questions of life issues, but it certainly tackles the problem at its most basic and obviously violent level. From there we can move on to saying more. But we can say, "All life is sacred" in good faith without always going on to clarify what ways of living would later attack its sacredness or dignity. Our present concern is to protect the most vulnerable victims, right? I see the same thing going on here with the anti-rape campaign.

Carl E. Olson

Evan: Thanks for the comments. I hope you won't mind if I quickly respond (I'm against a deadline) to a few lines. I'm not fisking your response, but simply want to reply to some specific points:

Consent within the proper context is surely a praiseworthy aspect of sexuality.

Proper context, of course, is at the heart of the issue here. One of my points is that a Catholic school should not be supportive of saying, in essence, that two consenting adults equates to a morally upright act just because it is legal. The proper context of sexual union is marriage. If a Catholic school won't support this truth, well, one has to question its commitment to Catholic teaching and to truth (not mutually exclusive, in any way).

I don't see the problem with calling it "sexy". And the slogan, in a casual (though I wouldn't say "base") way effectively belittles the very idea of rape. Sounds great to me.

Which brings us to the effective part of the issue. I don't see how such a campaign, based on a "casual slogan," could be affective in any meaningful sense. By the way, I learned this morning that there have been three cases of alleged rapes on the Gonzaga campus in the past two weeks, which is the same number of rapes committed from 2005-07. So, at the very least, it can be suggested that the campaign has done nothing at all to stop or hinder rapes. In addition, since it is well known that rape is a crime, I'm not sure how "belittling" it with such a campaign is going to make a rapist have second thoughts, especially since the threat of serious jail time surely must be of greater concern than offending people wearing t-shirts with casual slogans. It's about as effective, I suspect, as bumper stickers that say, "Visualize World Peace." Nice. Whatever. Nothing accomplished.

Certainly a campaign like this needs to be accompanied by work from the administration and the student body on teaching and instilling sexual morality.

We agree here. But, then, if the t-shirt indicates that the legalities of consent are more important than the imperatives of morality, the school is shooting itself in the foot; it will either present a schizophrenic message, or will simply downplay true moral theology and sexual ethics.

In any case, it strikes me as counterproductive to stand in opposition to this. Critique it and stand alongside it with a further message, sure. But consent strikes me as pretty sexy over against the alternative.

First, the obvious: opposition to this campaign is not support for rape. On the contrary, my opposition to such a campaign is based in the belief that while rape and consensual premarital/extramarital sex are different in degree and legality, they are both violations of the natural law and they both cause harm to those involved. You are correct in noting a key difference between the two: the willingness of the consenting couple compared to the violence done against and to the non-consenting victim of rape. I do not wish in any way to downplay the evil of rape. But we shouldn't downplay the emotional, psychological, and spiritual damage caused by sex outside of marriage. It's not as if these kids have to choose between one or the other, as though no alternative exists. They do have a choice, which is chastity. That is the alternative. A false dilemma is being perpetuated by the supporters of this campaign, and it is one that ends up hurting those who go along with its premises.

A campaign against theft need not offer a full-bodied attack on greed; merely addressing the dignity of a neighbor's property and an opposition to its violation is a worthwhile response.

And a campaign against theft surely would not say greed is the better alternative, would it? Or, in saying so, how would it justify not standing up against both theft and greed?

And emphasizing the dignity of personal property might CONTRIBUTE to the sin of greed as much as emphasizing the dignity of consent might CONTRIBUTE to the sin of sexual promiscuity.

But this is an incorrect analogy. The correct analogy, as I've noted above, is saying, "Greed is good," in trying to deal with theft. The right alternative to both is showing that respect for property and the dignity of others is good, and both greed and theft are bad. Likewise, respect for the dignity of the others, sexual purity, and the place of sexual union (marriage) is good, while rape and sex outside of marriage are bad.

But that's a risk that we need to counter with further conversation, not not with outright opposition.

What is wrong with outright opposition to falsehood?

You lost me in your comparison to the pro-life cause, except it appears to be a variation on the utilitarian approach used by those I quoted in the original post; that is, it's better to do something than nothing. Yet that argument doesn't hold well either practically (can it be shown that such a campaign works?) or morally.

Evan

By the way, I learned this morning that there have been three cases of alleged rapes on the Gonzaga campus in the past two weeks, which is the same number of rapes committed from 2005-07. So, at the very least, it can be suggested that the campaign has done nothing at all to stop or hinder rapes.

Or, perhaps, people are now more encouraged to report rape than they were in the past. You surely know that one of the huge problems with rape is the extent to which it is hidden. The rape incidents that have been closest to me personally were never reported to authorities, for instance. While this may not be the case at Gonzaga, I think it's rather shortsighted to point to some recent incidents that were actually (praise the Lord) brought to light as an argument against this campaign.


"You lost me in your comparison to the pro-life cause, except it appears to be a variation on the utilitarian approach used by those I quoted in the original post; that is, it's better to do something than nothing"

The approach is not simply "better something than nothing", but rather "This something is a true and worthwhile point to make". And this goes for the theft example as well... I don't buy your analogy that tries to pair "consent being good" with "theft being good". How are these two at all the same thing? Consent is a necessary but not sufficient good of Christian sexuality. Respect of property is a necessary but not sufficient good of Christian interaction with material life. Protection of live birth is a necessary but not sufficient good of Christian defense of life more generally. Theft is just bad, and is analogous to sexual promiscuity rather than sexual consent.

fr richard

I think this entry goes along nicely with the Oct. 3rd posting about the moral thought processes of many young people today:

http://insightscoop.typepad.com/2004/2009/10/i-would-pretend-to-be-surprised.html#trackback

Carl E. Olson

How are these two at all the same thing? Consent is a necessary but not sufficient good of Christian sexuality. ... Theft is just bad, and is analogous to sexual promiscuity rather than sexual consent.

Consent to sexual promiscuity and immorality is bad. Theft is bad. That was the point. To reiterate: to encourage consent to sexual promiscuity as a way to discourage sexual assault is problematic at best and morally vapid at worst.

Evan

My mistake. I didn't realize the t-shirts said, "Consensual Sexual Promiscuity is Sexy." For the life of me, I thought the shirts said, "Consent is Sexy."

Carl E. Olson

Sigh. Well, of course they don't: that would admit moral language and perspective into the matter and wouldn't be as snappy and slogan-ish, would it? But, really, is there a need to tell married couples about consent? The consent in question is obviously within the context of single college students having sex with various "partners." That constitutes sexual promiscuity. Now, if the shirts said, "Marital Fidelity is Sexy" or "Chastity is Sexy" or " Marital Relations is Sexy," we wouldn't be having this testy little conversation, would we?

Evan

1. Yes, it's unfortunately necessary to tell married couples about consent. Husbands can and do rape their wives. If such an idea is so distant from you that it doesn't cross your mind, well... I'm happy for your innocence, I guess. But some people don't have that luxury. While we're struggling with the dirty work of battered wives and raped women, maybe you can blog on something else rather than say that there's no need to convey such messages.

2. As to this campaign, though, the consent in question is obviously within the context of college students- single or not, I don't know- who are struggling with the tragedy of rape in their community. The problem that distinguishes rape from other issues of sexual morality is the violence that's being done. Get some shirts printed with your own slogans, by all means. But that's no reason to reject peoples' ongoing efforts against sexual violence.

Carl E. Olson

It's unfortunate, Evan, that you must now resort to attacking my intelligence, suggesting I'm clueless about the real world, and implying that I don't give a damn about rape and sexual assault. Please don't tell me what to blog about or not to blog about. If you don't like what I blog about, or cannot address my arguments, go somewhere else.

Mitch

Hmm Carl, I like the "Chastity is Sexy" t-shirt idea.

The JPII club at Gonzaga may have to think about that idea...

Evan

You're interpreting me too harshly, I think. There are plenty of people who don't think about rape within the marital context, and I don't think that their lack of recognition is a result of lack of intelligence, nor did I say it was a result of this.

Nor do I think that you "don't give a damn about rape and sexual assault." You seemed to misread me earlier about this as well- I said in a previous comment that you were doing something "counterproductive" and you felt the need to clarify that "opposition to this campaign is not support for rape." I know that. And I didn't say it was. Nor have I said that you don't give a damn about this stuff.

While the expression of frustration at your blogging here was certainly more personal, I certainly wasn't telling you what to do. Just telling you where your efforts might be better directed. I used the word "maybe." You, on the other hand, simply tell me to go somewhere else if I don't like it here.

Of the two of us, it seems to me that you're resorting to unjustified responses. And I'm not upset about it; I realize that this is a tense issue and that people will get emotional about it. But I think that if you re-read what I've brought up hear, you'll see that I'm being quite straightforward in what I'm trying to say. I'm not assuming what t-shirt slogans are "really" getting at. Nor am I assuming anything about the motives behind your responses to it or anyone else's. Nor am I opposed to the sorts of responses that you think would be better.

Evan

*brought up here, not hear. Apologies.

Mistaken homonyms are certainly not sexy. I think we can all agree on that.

Mel

MVP could have a clearer message that represents its mission other than "Consent is Sexy." When people have to wonder what it is they are promoting,then the marketing campaign has failed. If their mission is to raise awareness of the evils of sexual violence and rape, then come up with a slogan that hits to the point, not some inuendo that can be mis-construed.

Mike

Evan, please read the mission of the club on the flyer. It is meant to be "an advocate for all students" and it states that "sexual assault is a very serious issue on every college campus." This is clearly meant for the students.

I went to Gonzaga and I can tell you there were not very many married students. Now, unless the demographics have changed in the past 6 years, I imagine that a vast majority of the student body is still unmarried. With this being said, I am not sure how you can argue that the club is trying to reach the larger married community. This is definitely geared towards the vastly unmarried student body. Trying to argue that part of the message might be focused on married couples is a red herring.

Bryan

The real problem that this situation exposes I think is that it seems as though the main stream student at a Catholic College doesn't even believe that living chastely on their campus is even possible.

Todd

Well, I think Evan has a sound point. Taking the motto without any spin, "Consent is sexy" is decent enough. It includes sexual activity that falls short of genital contact, which is another needed message. In appropriate touching, staring, and verbiage is also upsetting, disconcerting, or distracting to many people as well.

"Consent" is an indispensible part of the rite for conferral of marriage. And as Evan pointed out, is an appropriate expression within marriage.

No doubt some sexually promiscuous people will see it as an encouragement, but Carl has already shown himself capable of grossly misreading others' comments on this thread.

Evan

Trying to argue that part of the message might be focused on married couples is a red herring.

Sorry if I was confusing matters... I'm not trying to say that this was geared towards married couples. I took Carl's question of the need to inform married couples about consent as a tangent (albeit one that was worth pursuing). I wasn't saying, however, that a supposed target audience of married couples was the reason for the campaign's reference to consent. I agree with you here that such an explanation would be a red herring.

As I said above, I take "consent is sexy" to present the necessary but not sufficient moral requirement of consent as a good... indeed a sexy... thing. By presenting it this way, the campaign is seeking to dismiss and belittle sexual violence as not only wrong, but uncool, unsexy, etc. It's an attempt to attack such violence with social pressure in addition to moral pressure.

Sort of like "school is cool" or slogans of that sort. They don't get at the heart of the value of education, but they go a long why in making a positive social impression about it.

Everett

Back in the day I was in a group called GUMAR (GU Men Against Rape). My guess would be that the goals of GUMAR and this new MVP were probably similar in the goal to educate regarding the fact that rape and sexual assault are problems on all college campuses, and to hopefully reduce those on Gonzaga's campus. We even did things that were probably vaguely similar to MVP's campaign, in discussing the necessity of consent with young men, and working on educating regarding sexual objectification. Additionally, we spent a significant amount of time talking about the problems of alcohol in relationship to sexual crimes. However, I left the group after a year, finding that a secular approach to the issue was mostly worthless. Unless you have natural law and a proper grounding in an understanding of the dignity of the human person, changing attitudes in these areas is extraordinarily difficult.

In my time at GU I was also in the Newman-Stein Fellowship (later renamed to JPII), and I would say our efforts including bringing Christopher West to campus and doing things like studying Mulieris Dignitatem were significantly more valuable. Given the importance of these Catholic teachings, you would think that the Student Life Department would be interested in furthering these causes, particularly because changing attitudes regarding the nature of human sexuality and the dignity of the human person would directly affect the rates of sexual assault. However, Student Life was apathetic towards NSF/JPII at times, and downright hostile at other times. Luckily we had a president in Fr. Spitzer who supported us. Without Fr. Spitzer, I wonder how much administration support truly Catholic organizations will receive. Luckily they have professors like Dr. Cunningham (and several others) who are excellent and will continue to nurture the faith of students.

Carl E. Olson

... but Carl has already shown himself capable of grossly misreading others' comments on this thread.

Coming from the Minister of Gross Misreadings and Misrepresentations, this is almost a compliment, albeit a weird and unwanted one...

Carl E. Olson

Thanks, Everett, for the helpful information.

Mark Brumley

Hmm. Consent is sexy?

If you mean it is more sexually pleasing to engage in an act of intercourse with someone who consents than it is with someone who does not, I suppose it depends on whether or not one is a certain kind of sexually deviant person. If you mean one should find consensual intercourse more pleasing than nonconsensual intercourse, regardless of whether or not in fact one does, then the statement is true enough. If one finds rape more pleasurable than nonrape intercourse, then one is very messed up. One is also unlikely to change one's disposition as a result of a t-shirt campaign that declares, "Consent is sexy", but certainly very messed up.

I suppose the question is, are we so far gone that it is more important on Catholic college campuses to declare consent to be sexy and risk appearing to advocate or reinforce the notion that it suffices that sex be consensual in order for it to morally good, than it is to come up with a way of popularizing the appropriate use of one's genital activities in marriage and not outside of marriage, and promoting the idea that rape is a grave evil?

Evan

"I suppose the question is, are we so far gone that it is more important on Catholic college campuses to declare consent to be sexy and risk appearing to advocate or reinforce the notion that it suffices that sex be consensual in order for it to morally good, than it is to come up with a way of popularizing the appropriate use of one's genital activities in marriage and not outside of marriage, and promoting the idea that rape is a grave evil?"

The risk of misunderstanding, I think, is quite a debatable point. And I don't think that Insight Scoop readers and Dr. Cunningham are a representative sample of interpretative conclusions. That's not to discount anyone's views, but to say that the risk you fear is exactly what's in question, and not what's being assumed. Also, no one's being stopped from popularizing or promoting whatever they want to. I don't see how campaigns emphasizing sex within marriage or chastity outside need to be at odds with the campaign that's under discussion here.

Mark Brumley

Well, Evan we'll just have to agree to disagree, again. Sorry. I don't think the risk of misunderstanding is debatable. I think the likelihood of misunderstanding is great. Nor do I think you are a "representative sample of interpretative conclusions"--to put it bluntly. And did someone say something about being prevented from promoting chastity? I didn't. That wasn't my point.

As for chastity campaigns being at odds with the campaign under discussion here, "consent is sexy" is simply an inadequate cammpaign for a Catholic campus. It sins by omission. If you don't agree with that, then we're probably too far apart on basics for a fruitful discussion here.

Andrew

I'm assuming guys are going to be wearing it. If that's the case, I'll go ahead and misunderstand the campaign to mean that a woman's consent to have sex with me is much sexier than her not consenting to have sex with me. Ergo, if you don't say yes to my advances, you are a not sexy. Either way, your self esteem is going to lessen as a result of me wearing this shirt. ;)

theRosyGardener

I saw a poster with this at my college and my first thought-- even though I was working at a domestic violence and sexual assault hotline-- wasn't "Rape is Bad," but "Are they encouraging people to have sex?" I think Andrew's on track with this one.

Mack

"Rising club." Ouch.

Drjs

A fascinating discussion, one that is not surprising once "sexual freedom" becomes conflated with "consent," exclusively measured by a woman's "choice." It is always assumed that the primitive male is a slave to sexual passions, with the clear voice of reason provided by the woman involved, who gets to aver that: a. a consensual act or rape occurred, b. the outcome, whether pregnancy or otherwise, becomes 'her' choice, with no choice (rights) for the man, just responsibilities. c. the sex act itself is an act of patriarchy, requiring the intervention of numerous social agencies to insure "equitable" outcomes, whatever that means.

Note the underlying gender feminist assumptions: 1. women are victims where sex is concerned; men are never raped or taken advantage of sexually or in relationship, 2. all accusations are true; and if contested, you become calumniated as an accessory or a Neanderthal in need of "re-education. All facts related to the larger issues of false accusations, cost or programmatic efficacy of date-rate "education" programs cannot be discussed. It's all about the "victim," and context be damned, even if only less than 1 woman in 1,000 was either raped or nearly so in 2005. (US DOJ statistics.)

Columnist Wendy McElroy has looked into false assault accusations over time, (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,194032,00.html) and has concluded that about 1/4 of sexual assaults, including rape are unfounded. Curious about how feminist assertions that only 2% are baseless versus some studies claiming almost 50% false rates, she examined rates over time. I don't think MVP is interested in these facts, let alone church teaching as you've pointed out, Carl. This is about VAWA funding, and femini$t intrusion into our educational institutions.

Please keep up the fight to insure we assume the best about our young men (and women) and hold accountable those who wish to slander or mislead them in the name of an ill-defined morality. If they wish to take the moral high ground, they must indeed take the high road, as our Church has taught for two millenia.

Evan

I'd be interested in seeing a link for the DOJ statistics. Presumably, if it's the DOJ providing the numbers, they're talking about prosecuted rapes rather than actual rape incidents. As I brought up before, one of the big problems about sexual assault is the extent to which it's hidden.

lome

Some guys will might as well stand up in the corner and ask any female that strike his fancy if she can go in bed with him? OR he might resort to rape?...

What is wrong with "Consent outside marriage is Ungodly?"
What is wrong with "Hell awaits you with your lustful thoughts?"

This is more in line with Sigmund Freud than Christ!
Lowering your student's standard instead of Guarding it is the Devil's cheap tricks...

Tom

I want to reiterate Mike's comment: at a campus like Gonzaga's (my alma mater, 2003), there can be no doubt that the target audience of the slogan is unmarried students, which is to say that the message is really: consent among unmarried students is sexy. Which is to say, this is an implicit blessing on fornication by a Catholic school's Student Life office.

Drjs

Evan:

Here's the link. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/rape.htm. It includes actual AND attempted rapes, both male AND female, so the rates for females are actually less. Many reports define their terms uniquely and use differing methodologies, making it difficult to extrapolate results, often losing the larger picture.

Part of the problem is not only the hi-profile media coverage of male on female assaults, (as women tend to be injured at higher rates than males) but the under-reporting of female-on-male violence. Most people are not aware that women initiate violence against men at the same rates as male-on-female, but men rarely report it. Both sexes initiate partner violence at about the same rates. Try http://www.safe4all.org/essays/vtbreak.pdf or http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm.

I do not contest rape never occurs, or that prevention and advocacy is not important. However, our Catholic Church teaches the natural complementarity between a man and a woman following the model of Christ and His Church. It's not about who's left standing. Or is it?

lome

Fornication with consent is a blessing?
Gay and Lesbians are acceptable because they are not sodomites?
Christians of all Denominations, We are all being tested.
Are you a sheep or a goat?
Do you have the truth of the Gospel in you or not?
See, we can't be neutral forever, here or across the veil,
Someone will ask you about, where do you stand?
Do you deserve heaven or hell? If I am wrong then that's fine. You will return to dust and be nothing. But If I am right, remember that our life on earth is just a drop compared to oceans of water.
Eternity in hell, suffering beyond comprehension. Forever!

Peter

I think this whole things is being over analyzed too much in both directions. Calling these kids "whelps" isn't mature in the slightest. It is true that there were a few sexual assaults at Gonzaga these past few weeks, but you fail to look at the whole picture. The crime rate in Spokane (Where Gonzaga is located) is higher than the national average in every crime category. Don't believe me, look it up for yourself. Also to say the campaign is failing because these sexual assaults are occurring is a little off point. It could be that the teachings of this club stopped MORE rapes or assaults from happening. You don't know, yet you are so quick to judge. "Once you judge, you cease to understand".

Think about this: In a catholic elementary school, the technique to stopping junior high students (6-8 grade) was the school nurse saying that condoms don't work, so you shouldn't have pre-marital sex. Great, now if some of these kids decide to have pre-marital sex, they won't be safe about it. How does that help us be more catholic, jesuit, or even humanistic?

Do some of you even know the Jesuit principles? What is being more humanistic than caring for those that were wrongly assaulted or even teaching people how to have a healthy relationship whether or not they do have sex. How can you misconstrue that to be a negative thing? Did you even know that the majority of Gonzaga students are not even Catholic?

While Gonzaga is still a Catholic school and should teach the message of the church, that doesn't mean it can't see the world as it actually is, not as how you want it to appear. If you're daughter got raped would you just pretend it didn't happen because the church says pre-marital sex is bad? Think about, that is what you are saying Gonzaga should do, be blind to it.

Another thing to think about: St. Ignatius was a womanizer, a drunk, and only cared about his self image and getting laid before he found God. For some reason, I have this hunch many of you didn't know that. And yes, he was forgiven by God for all of his sins. So why should you hold onto your biases about "empty headed girls"? These girls weren't asking to get raped or assaulted.

Just because I am catholic, doesn't mean I can't see that people have pre-marital sex. And for those of you who don't believe that we live in a "sexually charged" culture, you probably just don't see it. Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

For the record, I am not saying that I disagree with some of your arguments for why this club is a little controversial, even though some of probably think that I am. I am just asking you to look at it from both sides. Look at it from the perspective of the school. Look at it from the prospective of a student, or even a student that experienced a sexual assault. If your daughter was assaulted, wouldn't you want her to help others from not experiencing what she unfortunately had to? Look at it from the other side. It doesn't mean that you have to agree with it, but at least you considered where this coming from. I would say these boys had it right when they said to take off your blinders. Some of you need to take down your blinders to even understand the situation. A debate, controversial discussion, and even an argument have two sides. Best make sure you understand the whole situation from all sides before you start pointing fingers.

Didn't your mother tell you not to point fingers? Yet some of you do anyways. Doesn't the church say not to have pre-marital sex? Yet many catholics do anyways. Seems like the shoe can fit on both feet sometimes.

Carl E. Olson

Peter: Well, you put a lot on the table, but, alas, it is mostly empty calories. It simply doesn't make a lot of sense. You take on comments by one or two other readers, but don't really address in meaningful fashion any of the arguments or points that I make in the original post. That said, I do want to comment on a couple of your remarks.

You don't know, yet you are so quick to judge. "Once you judge, you cease to understand".

That's a nonsensical statement, never mind that it was the favorite quote of the late Fr. Len Sitter, S.J. We make judgments about people and situations everyday, on a continual basis. The real question is, "What constitutes a good or right judgment." Or, as Scripture says, "Open your mouth, judge righteously..." (Prov. 31:9); or, in the words of Jesus: "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment" (Jn. 7:24). Oddly enough, after issuing the quote, you issue judgment on various comments, thus ignoring your own principle.

Do some of you even know the Jesuit principles?

I can't speak, of course, for every reader and commenter here, but, yes, the various employees of Ignatius Press—especially Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J., but not limited to him—are quite familiar with Jesuit principles. Are you?

What is being more humanistic than caring for those that were wrongly assaulted ...

No one here said that we shouldn't care for those who are assaulted. This appears little more than a humorless, non-ironic non sequitur.

... or even teaching people how to have a healthy relationship whether or not they do have sex.

Are you saying that wearing t-shirts with "Consent is Sexy" on them is an act of moral pedagogy? Really? Is that how desperate and clueless we are supposed to be? And do you think that having sex before marriage is part of a "healthy relationship" (before answering, be sure to read what the Catechism says)?

So why should you hold onto your biases about "empty headed girls"? These girls weren't asking to get raped or assaulted.

Really now, who said they are/were? I would say your argument is tortured, but I don't discern an argument. Just wild assertions.

Just because I am catholic, doesn't mean I can't see that people have pre-marital sex.

And just because I am Catholic doesn't mean I don't know that rapists will commit rape. Doesn't mean I should accept rape as a good thing, or turn a blind eye, or argue that, hey, it sometimes happens. I continue to be mystified as to why, on one hand, we are told, "Hey, you can't stop college kids from having sex!", and then, on the other hand are told, "A t-shirt is going to help stop rapists." It doesn't make much sense to me.

And for those of you who don't believe that we live in a "sexually charged" culture, you probably just don't see it.

More wild, incoherent remarks. On the contrary, we do know how sexually drenched our culture is, which is one reason we don't think the "Consent is Sexy" campaign is helpful in the least. It is a sad and lame capitulation to the dominant amoral/immoral culture, and it does nothing to rightly address and assess the serious issues at hand.

I am just asking you to look at it from both sides.

And what if a rapist said, "I am just asking you to look at it--that is, rape--from both sides"? What would you think? Would you judge him for it? If so, would you then renounce your statement, "Once you judge, you cease to understand"? Regardless, your remarks indicate without any proof or suggestion, that you think (1) most of us here aren't opposed to rape or concerned about rape, and (2) that the "Consent is Sexy" campaign is a demonstrably helpful and good way to combat rape. Both assumptions are, to put it mildly, very problematic.

Some of you need to take down your blinders to even understand the situation.

Uh, you were the one who said, "Once you judge, you cease to understand." So why so much judgment? And why so little understanding?

A debate, controversial discussion, and even an argument have two sides.

On this we can agree. It doesn't mean, however, that the two sides are equally coherent or convincing.

Best make sure you understand the whole situation from all sides before you start pointing fingers.

Considering that you have ignored the arguments made by myself and others, and that you haven't actually made any arguments or logical assertions, I'm not sure where we can go from here.

Doesn't the church say not to have pre-marital sex? Yet many catholics do anyways.

Which means ... what? That Catholics are sinners? Agreed. That Catholics should strive to adhere to Church teachings? Agreed. The moral validity of "pointing fingers" (making judgments), again, depends on what is being pointed at and what points are being made. After all, you clearly judge (correctly) that rape is a bad thing. On what moral and metaphysical basis?

I would note, finally, that one of the seven works of spiritual mercy is "Instruct the ignorant." For what it is worth, that was the simple goal of my original post and many of my subsequent comments.

Thomas

I think Peter has good points, lacking a little in proof, but I see where he is coming from. I think Carl has good points too, however I think he misses the point that this is an open discussion, not a debate with a winner and loser.

Nobody is saying that rape and sexual assault are good. So why are people saying that something (this club) to combat this evil is in fact evil in itself?

To Carl: Why you would mis-apply the point of looking at an argument from both sides. Saying that to look at a rapist's point of view (an evil deed-doer) as a comparison to club against rape is a little disconcerting. I see what you are getting at, but find that a little bit of a stretch to make a point. Nonetheless, I really enjoy your input. You seem to spend a lot of thought on this issue and I find your opinion coherent and sound, but sometimes too far-fetched.

While I am new to this whole blogging thing, I am just curious why people post really rude, sometimes even down right stupid posts. What is all this poetry that doesn't mean anything? Just wondering...

Anyways, I think that people need to let things go. That goes for both Peter and Carl. Why does it really matter who wins if there is no really winner anyway? Why is everybody freaking out about the name of a club?

Everett

The reason this matters is because its a discussion about the nature and mission of a Catholic University. Many of us are alums of Gonzaga or other similar universities, and thus have a special concern for the mission of the University.

While superficially this is about a campaign that appears to be unproductive at best, and antithetical to what it means to be Catholic at worst. If we take a former Gonzaga campaign at face value, that its goal is to "Educate the People the World Needs Most," then we must therefore conclude that Gonzaga (or at least the people involved in Student Life) thinks that the people that the world needs are those who have consensual sex, regardless of marital status, rather than those who understand and act on the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Ultimately the goal of a Catholic institution is to evangelize the world, not capitulate to it.

Matt Sheldon

To the readers of this post:

I want to begin by saying that I am pleased that discussion is taking place on this issue. However, I do not feel that the MVP group and our mission is being understood based on what I have read.

Carl, it seems, likes to pick apart arguments one sentence at a time but doesn't give much credence to what somebody has to say as a whole and thus does not acknowledge the good things people say. This I believe he unfairly did with the article I wrote for the Bulletin on behalf of MVP. I feel he took some of the things I said out of context and thus does not acknowledge nor understand why MVP exists. You cited quite a lot from Dr. Cunningham's article. Why not mine?

Carl, you also wrote: "Dr. Cunningham has it quite right in saying, 'I would hope any young adult on a college campus would act on their own better judgment, rather than take their social cues from a T-shirt.'" I would like to point out to you that Dr. Cunningham did not write this. It was written by another Gonzaga student who disagreed with Dr. Cunningham's position.

I would recommend that in the future, you attempt to offer a more balanced point of view by citing people correctly and fairly and to try not to take what people say out of context in order to make it fit your argument. Try not to get too caught up in semantics; I think you (and the forum as a whole) might benefit from approaching these discussions more holistically.

Matt Sheldon

For those who are interested, here is the entirety of the article I wrote:

As president of Men's Violence Prevention (MVP), I am writing on behalf of the club in response to the issue that has occurred over the "Consent is Sexy" slogan that was published in the Bulletin two weeks ago. First and foremost, I want to thank Dr. Eric Cunningham for his viewpoint. It is important that discussions about these types of issues reach the students of Gonzaga University. While we acknowledge his opinion, we respectfully disagree with it.
First, we would like to bring attention to the fact that the "Consent is Sexy" slogan is not one that was created by the members of Gonzaga's MVP but is a national campaign aimed at raising awareness about the importance of mutual consent in all sexual encounters, from kissing to intercourse. Following the example of campuses, including but not limited to Columbia University and the University of Georgia, we chose to adopt the "Consent is Sexy" slogan campaign because we feel that the message is important and needs to be loud. We needed to have an obvious way of reaching the students to help raise awareness of sexual assault that unfortunately occurs on all college campuses, including Gonzaga. In working out of the Student Wellness Resource Center, we see the statistics about sexual assault on our campus, and we find them disturbing. We think that in order to bring these often hidden truths to light, we need to be able to grab the Gonzaga community's attention and let them know that relationship violence and sexual assault can happen to anyone, including students who may have chosen abstinence. "Consent is Sexy" definitely speaks volumes for itself in being an attention grabber, as is evident by this very discussion.
As a group centered around peer education, we emphasize the simple right to say "no." We teach techniques to students who might feel unable to speak for themselves for any number of reasons and to those who under certain circumstances might feel pressured into saying "yes." Our club does not feel our slogan creates an environment in which the latter will happen, but rather we think that we raise awareness that it can happen. In engaging students in open and honest discussions about the topic, we hope that any and all students will feel better prepared if any unplanned and undesired encounter were to occur. If we thought the slogan created any other type of environment, we obviously would not have chosen it. If the slogan does in fact create this type of atmosphere, we would be happy to change it as that was never our goal.
When comparing the mission of Men's Violence Prevention to that of our University, we find that the two align without conflict. The ideals of MVP are rooted deeply within Gonzaga University's mission which emphasizes being Catholic, Jesuit and Humanistic. While we understand that the Catholic Church does not condone premarital sex, we find it imperative that our University not turn a blind eye to the fact that it does occur on college campuses. Our club similarly neither condones nor encourages students to have sex, but accepts that they may and strives to help people make responsible decisions, especially surrounding the complex issue of consent. To that end, we do not think that the Student Life Department has deviated from the University's mission, and we, as students, greatly appreciate and applaud Student Life's continued support of our club as well as G+, Speak Up, HERO, SWRC and SART. We think that Student Life has adopted a humanistic approach to sexual assault and relationship violence by allowing our club to openly discuss these important issues and specifically men's role in them. Whether we like it or not, we live in a sexually charged culture. Recognizing this point, MVP has the primary goal of empowering people to stay in control of their sexuality and to maintain healthy relationships whether or not that includes abstinence. The ability to see God in all things requires removing the blinders that hide us from the reality of the world in order to be an open and active resource to others, no matter what life choices they have made.


For those who want to read all of Dr. Cunningham's article it is on the bulletin website under the opinion section for 9/25/09.

and the other response from a Gonzaga student not affiliated with MVP was posted on the following week in the same section.

Matt Sheldon

Now, I feel the need to say that I am not Catholic and am not strongly influenced by the teachings of the Church even though I respect them and have learned much more about them in my time at Gonzaga. If I were Catholic, perhaps my approach to the issue of sexual relationships would be different, but I am not and as the current president of MVP I am doing the best I know how. I want the readers of this blog to understand that myself and the members of MVP are only attempting to improve the safety for men and women in our community. Also, we are not just trying to address the sole issue of rape, but rather all non-consensual activity between men and women which includes but is not limited to: emotional and physical abuse, coercion, stalking.

This issue is indeed much more complex than can be discussed thoroughly in this forum, and as many of you seem to be removed from the campus climate we are currently experiencing here at GU, I humbly ask for your blessing to allow us to continue fighting the injustice of sexual violence as best we can.

Finally, I want to make clear that I am writing on my own behalf and my views do not represent to the views of Gonzaga's Administration or Student Life department.

Carl E. Olson

Thomas: Your comments are interesting, at best. I'm not sure why you don't comprehend simple, logical arguments. It is unfortunate, to say the least. I suggest you actually read my post before rendering your judgment on things you don't appear to understand.

Matt: Thank you for your comments. The central point and question of my post and this whole discussion (which has splintered into various directions) was stated at the top of my post: "Are t-shirts with the slogan, 'Consent is Sexy' a substantive, logical, or moral way to 'stand up against the injustices of rape and sexual assault'? I have argued that they are not. In making my argument, I quoted from Dr. Cunningham, yourself, and another letter writer; I have linked to all three letters. If I have misrepresented your stance or have been illogical in my argument, please demonstrate such is the case.

You write, "I feel he took some of the things I said out of context and thus does not acknowledge nor understand why MVP exists." Well, for starters, this isn't about feelings. I'm interested in the thought process, the logic of using a slogan, "Consent is Sexy", to combat sexual violence. I am not interested in questioning your motives or sincerity or good intentions; they are beyond my abilities to judge and aren't the issue here. I can, however, rightly question the moral and logical validity of the campaign.

Finally, you write: "I would recommend that in the future, you attempt to offer a more balanced point of view by citing people correctly and fairly and to try not to take what people say out of context in order to make it fit your argument. Try not to get too caught up in semantics; I think you (and the forum as a whole) might benefit from approaching these discussions more holistically."

With all due respect, your attempt at lecturing would hold more water if you actually provided evidence for your complaints and explained how and why the "Consent is Sexy" campaign is helpful, moral, and logical. If I have actually misrepresented someone's views (as opposed to mistakenly attributing a quote to the wrong person, which I happily acknowledge and have corrected in the original post), please provide the evidence.

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