Flat White

Teaching sexual consent in high schools

28 March 2022

9:00 AM

28 March 2022

9:00 AM

Last month it was announced all Australian high school students are to be taught about sexual consent and coercion. Mandatory education programs are being rolled out across the country teaching boys not to rape. 

It’s mainly due to Sydney schoolgirl Chanel Contos, who burst into the limelight last year when she announced that a school sex education course had led her to discover she’d been raped two years earlier. As a 13-year-old she’d been ‘forced’ to go down on a boy at a party but it took a Year-10 school sex education course for her to realize what had happened to her. She started a website encouraging other girls to tell stories of similar sexual assaults and nearly 2,000 obliged. Ever since she’s been out there calling out male misbehaviour and lobbying for school sexual consent courses. 

This is just the latest front in the mighty feminist battle to rein in male sexuality and punish more rapists. I wrote recently about how the NSW parliament was misled by false statistics which were used to assist the smooth passage of enthusiastic consent regulations into law. At much the same time over 1,500 school kids were signing a Contos petition calling for enthusiastic consent to be taught in schools. 

Our compliant media dutifully pushed the fear-mongering as Contos met with members of parliament and other power brokers to make it all happen. We heard shocking stories of drunk girls waking up to discover males taking advantage of them, boys behaving badly, circulating photos of their mates having sex, etc. some truly unacceptable male behaviour. 

But gradually questions started appearing in online comments about why so many girls were finding themselves in these risky situations, why were so many vulnerable youngsters attending these alcohol and drug-fuelled parties?

Naturally, any suggestion that girls needed to take care of themselves were howled down. A principal of a Sydney girls school dared to suggest that along with more sex education in schools, parents need to be ‘having conversations regarding consent, the impact of alcohol, risk-taking behaviours, and self-respect’. Her sensible suggestion was treated with disdain by journalists who lined up enlightened souls to put her straight. The problem is ‘not about girls’ pronounced an executive from the Alliance of Girls’ Schools, but rather about the ‘underbelly of disrespect, privilege, and callousness displayed by young men towards young women’. 

‘This is a systemic, centuries-old societal problem,’ she explained. ‘Behaviour that endorses male sexual entitlement, lack of accountability, and a power imbalance.’

That’s it, you see. Feminism 101, all designed to tie in nicely with the ‘respect for women’ ideological claptrap already rolled out in the Respectful Relationships programs allegedly tackling domestic violence, which are currently indoctrinating children in schools – teaching them about toxic males and helpless females. 

Now sexual consent education will reinforce that message. I’ve just been sent snapshots taken from the brand-new curriculum being introduced in one South Australian school. Apparently, there’s flexibility in how the educators choose to address the topic but it seems most schools will take a similar approach.

It’s fascinating seeing how the educators twist themselves into knots to avoid any hint of victim-blaming. They’ve come up with a new slogan: ‘Vulnerability is not the same as responsibility.’ Look at this little scenario featuring Kim. Be warned, it’s pretty confusing because we aren’t given the gender of Kim, who uses the pronoun ‘they’. 

Kim is out drinking, and a man ‘they’ know offers ‘them’ a ride home but instead drives to a secluded spot, parks and wants to have sex. Our educators spell out the message very clearly: it’s the villain, the driver, who is 100 per cent responsible for his actions and whether or not Kim is safe. Kim is simply ‘vulnerable’ as a result of decisions ‘they’ have made to get into this situation.

Neat, eh? In this particular scenario we don’t know the gender of the potential victim, but the bulk of the responsibility/vulnerability examples given in the curriculum involve males taking advantage of girls who arguably signal sexual interest in various ways by: wearing low-cut dresses; or inviting a boy to ‘snuggle’ with them in a private room at a party. Here’s a classic example, featuring Jen and Luke. Note that it is taken from an American publication called Men Stopping Rape – which says it all…

The predominantly female teachers who will be guiding the students’ discussion of these scenes will no doubt work hard to convince the kids that the boy is inevitably 100 per cent ‘responsible’ while the innocent girl is simply ‘vulnerable’. 

Very occasionally they do present a girl as the baddie. Like the sexually aggressive Mila who is all over her boyfriend Luke and gets very indignant when he says he wants to take his time. ‘I said it was time to be a real man and do the deed,’ responds Mila. A rare toxic woman but overwhelmed by large numbers of pushy blokes who don’t take no for an answer, have sex with sleeping girls and boast about having sex to their mates. 

The curriculum does include one scenario, Ali and Josh, describing the situation of a girl who has sex because she fears her boyfriend might dump her if she doesn’t. That’s true to life – a very good example of a girl giving consent she may later regret. The great pity is there is so little in this curriculum about the many reasons girls might be ambivalent about consent. The central myth of the ‘enthusiastic consent’ dogma is the notion that girls/women know their own minds and clearly indicate their desires. The truth is males are forced to interpret the muddy waters of female sexual ambivalence, obfuscation, and confusion. The apparent ‘Yeses’ that are really ‘Maybes’ or secret ‘Nos’. 

This week I had a live chat on Thinkspot with a famous YouTuber, Steve Bonnell – also known as ‘Destiny’. Bonnell has made big bucks as video game Twitch streamer. but this clever, articulate young man is also a political commentator, debating all manner of issues usually from a leftist perspective. Funnily enough, just after our conversation Bonnell was banned from Twitch for ‘hateful conduct’ which might just have included our chat about sexual consent, which certainly would have got up the nose of the woke folk running social media.

Bonnell regularly challenges the new dogma on this issue, throwing down the gauntlet by declaring that women no longer have bad sexual experiences – if was bad, it was rape and the man’s fault. His argument is that men are being forced into a parental role – treating women like infants with no agency of their own. Bonnell also declares that if you invite someone to your house, you must expect them to see that as a sexual invitation. And that when it comes to stealthing, women shouldn’t have sex with anyone whom they wouldn’t be comfortable telling not to remove a condom. 

Naturally I agreed with him on these points, but amusingly Bonnell was very careful not to align too strongly with what he sees as my overly protective pro-male stance. I was intrigued to hear him talk about young women today, whom he claims enter every sexual encounter with some element of fear. As I pointed out, I’ve never felt like that and see this as a total failure of modern feminism. Whatever happened to feminism’s celebration of women’s female strength and independence? Remember Helen Reddy’s triumphant song – I am woman, hear me roar? 

Many of you will know Camile Paglia’s famous story about being in college in the 1960s when girls were still chaperoned and locked safely away from boys at night. She describes their fight to rid themselves of this protectionism, the fight for the freedom to risk rape. ‘I think it is discouraging to see the surrender of young women of their personal autonomy,’ she says, amazed that women are welcoming ‘the intrusion and surveillance of authority figures over their private lives’.

That’s the bottom line here. The sexual consent courses being introduced in our schools are simply the latest effort to convince young women that they are all potential victims, needing protection from dangerous males. Another step to creating a divided society.

Read more of Bettina Arndt on Substack.

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