This image floated around social media over the week:
The print on the bottom right side of the image states that it came from Coastal Carolina University. A redditor contacted the school concerning the image and received this response:
Thank you contacting CHANT411,
The poster referenced in your email was created and distributed on our campus approximately 8 years ago and was very short lived – long before other campuses our size were having in-depth discussions regarding consent. Since that time, the conversation with our students about sexual consent has changed dramatically. Currently, educational initiatives regarding consent on the Coastal Carolina University campus include extensive online and in-person education.
If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us.
That is a typical response explaining nothing at all. The school uses a new poster now, one more confusing and ridiculous than the original.
More troubling is the sentiment behind that original poster. It is one seen in most of the feminist push behind consent laws. These laws presume male guilt and female innocence. They presume male agency and female incompetency. They assume only men can be rapists and only women can be victims.
I waited several days to allow feminists time to respond to the controversy. I found one mealymouthed defense on the Daily Dot. The author of the article spoke with a representative of the school:
Debbie Conner, the vice president for campus life and student engagement at Coastal Carolina University, confirmed to the Daily Dot that the poster originated from the university. Conner said it was published in 2008 by the Campus Assault Resource Education Support Coalition, made up of students, faculty, and staff at the university. “It went out of circulation in 2008,” she said.
According to Conner, this poster wasn’t widespread across CCU’s campus. “I don’t even remember this poster, and I’ve had a few people say that they printed probably 20 of them, and were on a few bulletin boards on campus, but it wasn’t a big campaign.”
Conner also says she isn’t sure what Coastal students’ reactions were to the poster.
“It was seven years ago… So, I have no earthly idea what people said about it, because it was not in my area of responsibility at the time. I don’t even remember that poster even being on the campus,” she said.
Conner believes the original post on Reddit was by a former Coastal student who had a photo of the poster. “I thought it was really interesting they were even talking about consent in 2007, 2008. It’s a little misguided as a poster, currently,” she said.
As far as why the poster is surfacing now, “I’m sure the conversations around sexual violence continue on social media and many other platforms that it can start quite a good discussion,” she said.
According to Conner, this poster is no longer used at the university.
“The most disconcerting thing for me is that it’s been posted and people don’t understand it’s not something we use or currently endorse on our campus,” she said.
Again, that is another hand-washing response that does not address the issue. As noted above, the new poster is a mess of the confusing rhetoric typically found in these policies. What does “enthusiastic” consent entail? If someone drinks, at what point does this void their consent? Does consent have to be given before every sexual act? What does “communicated clearly” entail?
Conner mentioned that the school no longer endorses the original poster, but she does not state to what extent. Likewise, Scott failed to mention how the school’s conversation about sexual violence changed. Both could solve the problem by simply stating that men can be victims and women can be rapists. Yet neither one stated that. Even the Daily Dot writer skirted the admission.
What makes this poster so ironic is that despite being almost a decade old it demonstrates the current feminist position. When one looks at the consent laws pushed by feminists, one does not find many mentions of male victims and female rapists. Yes, the language tends to be gender neutral, but more so in the way that one hears “troops” used for soldiers. It is vague enough to allow for female soldiers, but we all know “troops” is synonymous with “boys.”
So it is with the gender neutral language in the “reformed” posters. We all know the creators, typically feminists, are only concerned about women.
That is partly why the lack of feminist response to this controversy is so interesting. It is as if feminists reached the point where they no longer feel the need to pretend to care about male victims. That is a potentially good thing in the long run. No one needs phony platitudes.
In the short term, however, it creates a dangerous dynamic of holding men responsible for women’s behavior.