George Will has suddenly become the champion of sexual liberty, it appears. He was on Fox News Sunday, denouncing big government for its interference in people’s sex lives.
You asked, can we trust the government to do its job? What isn’t its job nowadays? I just made a list of it. It’s fine-tuning the curriculum of our students K through 12. It’s monitoring sex on campuses. It’s deciding how much ethanol we should put in our gas tanks. It has designed our light bulbs and it’s worried sick over the name of the Washington football team.
Monitoring sex? Is Will standing up against the various attacks on consensual sex that are going on around the country? Is he mad because Students For Life at the University of New Mexico attempted to shut down “Sex Week” because they disapprove of—and are trying to monitor—other students’ sex lives? Is it Alabama is so invested in monitoring the sex lives of teenagers that they passed a law basically requiring teenage girls to be put on trial should they wish to have abortion? Is he mad about the 5th Circuit Court allowing an abortion law in Texas that clearly only exists to punish women who chose consensual sex?
Nah, of course not. He’s pissed about California’s new law requiring campuses to define consent as, well, consent. I explained it here, should you want to read in more detail, but the TL;DR version is this: The only people who will be negatively affected by the law are men who want to get away with forcing sex on unwilling women, i.e. rapists. For men who do not enjoy raping, only having sex with the willing is not only not difficult, but standard operating procedure.
So that’s where conservatism stands, circa 2014: Consensual sex is evil, but a man’s right to force non-consensual sex on a woman is sacrosanct, no matter how much damage it causes. After all, it mostly just hurts women, right, and they aren’t really people at all.
But really, there’s a common thread between the attacks on reproductive rights and the casual support of men who enjoy forcing sex on the unwilling. I mean, it’s misogyny, duh, but more specifically the thread is a desire to hurt and punish women for enjoying freedom and particularly for enjoying their own sexual freedom. After all, most campus rapes happen either in dating or party situations, something conservatives harp on relentlessly, blaming women for being alone with dates (perhaps even to have—gasp!—sex) or going to parties. There are exceptions, but most campus rapes happen because a woman is considering some kind of consensual sexual encounter with a man and he springs a rape on her instead. The common theme here is dishing out punishment to women who choose to live independently, particularly if they’re open to having consensual sex. Rapists on campus are a kind of vigilante sex police, attacking women who have consensual sex and creating trauma and misery for them. Rape has this in common with abortion bans. In the end, it’s all about making women suffer for daring to think they own their own bodies.
So yeah, the notion that George Will is standing up for freedom against the sex police is the funniest shit I’ve ever heard. Rape apologists are the sex police, the kind of people who think that a woman has it coming if she chooses sex. Affirmative consent laws, like legal abortion and accessible birth control, are fundamentally about sexual freedom, because they make it easier to choose consensual sex with less fear of horrible things, from unwanted childbirth to rape, happening to you.