March was a tough month for the University of Ottawa, after being involved in two sexual incidents.
The first one, were the offensive comments posted on-line by fellow Student Federation members against their newly elected president (Link) Anne-Marie Roy; and the second one, an on-going police investigation of a possible sexual assault at Thunder Bay by members of the Gee-Gees Male Hockey Team (Link) who were visiting Lakehead University’s Thunderwolves for a game.
At the same time, The Globe and Mail, published two related articles, one where it refers the story of the so named “Duke University Porn Star” who is receiving death threats after being exposed as an adult movie actress and a personal essay of another university student who decides to become a prostitute, both in order to pay their tuition.
All of these articles orbit around the same idea, adult women at university being sexual.
But the problem is not that women are being sexual at University, nor the existence of a “rape culture” at a University. Obviously the problem is neither being a woman, or being sexual.
At University, multiple factors collide simultaneously: Adulthood, for the first time in their life a person is not under direct supervision of their parents, nor teachers, nor principals, by the time they attend university a person is supposed to be a responsible adult, this is challenging now that younger and younger students are attending first year courses, and sometimes the parents expect a supervised environment. Tribal behavior, students pass from being the elite of high school to be the lowest bacteria in the hierarchy, and as a survival mechanism, most of them come together in groups or join tribes, in order to achieve some sense of belonging, it’s human nature, but within a group comes peer pressure and herd mentality, attitudes and behaviors are not thought by the same processes when in a group. Finally hormones combined with stress and close quarters, these last ones don’t need explanation.
But again, the University is not the problem. The problem is that we are raising an sexually ignorant generation in schools and high-schools, leaving them ill prepared by the time they need to assume the responsibility of their own behavior, including their sexuality. And this ignorance does not refer to the biology, the mechanics, or the theory on how to use a condom, it is much deeper. Self-esteem, self knowledge, respect to yourself and other persons, feelings, relationships, gender identity.