Letter To Antioch: Sexual Consent Policy

By John "Birdman" Bryant


To: Whom It May Concern

Date: April 13, 1994

Copy to: Alan E Guskin, President, Antioch College, Yellow Springs OH 45387; Antioch Record; The Antiochian

I recently received from Antioch College President Alan Guskin a little booklet which he wrote entitled "The Antioch Response: Sex[:] You Just Don't Talk About It", which is Mr Guskin's defense against criticisms of the Antioch sexual consent policy for students (referred to hereafter as the SCP) which -- after a 14-month gestation -- drew national attention and resulted in making Mr Guskin look like a clown and Antioch a Ship of Fools. Unfortunately, Mr Guskin's literary masterpiece did not do one heck of a lot toward dispelling the clownish pall he pulled over Antioch's assorted sexual organs, but then how could one expect a clown to undo clownishness?

The SCP is the dictum that "students must seek verbal consent from a sexual partner at each level of sexual interaction" (p 2). The mind boggles at how a 15-word sexual policy could have taken 14 months to formulate, and the situation surely conjures up the traditional picture of a mountain laboring to bring forth a mouse; but perhaps Mr Guskin regards his work as the labor of an Einstein bringing forth E=mc2. Somehow, I think Einstein's work will outlast Guskin's -- except perhaps in the comic pages. But what may in fact have happened is that the SCP is actually far more complicated, possibly consisting of ten volumes of small print written in legalese and bound in vellum, but which Mr Guskin has carefully avoided telling us about in order to forestall further mockery and possible pie stains on his clown's uniform.

Mr Guskin defends the SCP with three main arguments: First, it was the work of the students (tho from other things he says, this seems doubtful); second, that this is a new sexual age where, in the words of the poet, "New occasions teach new duties/Time makes ancient good uncouth"; and third, that "date rape and unhappy sexual encounters" are a real problem which need to be addressed. Now it does not take a rocket scientist to see that none of these "arguments" is an argument in favor of the SCP: Just because students formulate a policy doesn't mean that the administration -- which has ultimate responsibility for running the college -- should go along with it; just because it is a new sexual age does not necessarily mean that new rules need to be made as to how boys and girls go about getting it on, since rules of common courtesy are often transportable to novel social situations; just because date rape is a problem -- if indeed it is a problem to anyone except feminists with all-inclusive definitions, wild imaginations and anti-male political agendas -- this does not mean that it should be removed from the purview of the police and placed in the hands of the College's Keystone Kops; and just because students have unhappy sexual encounters does not call for the college to become involved at all -- unless perhaps they want to augment the faculty with Doctor Ruth.

In recent years, feminists and others of the left/liberal suasion have taken to saying of men that they "just don't get it" when it comes to the matter of sexual harassment, a special case of which the SCP is intended to address. While I have never been too clear on exactly what it is supposed to be that men "just don't get" -- a situation which the feminists et al would undoubtedly attribute to the fact that I am a man -- it appears that what the feminists are really saying is that it is necessary to have the State intervene in the man-woman relationship, a situation which would suit the feminists just fine, not only because -- as leftists -- they are boosters of Big Government, but most of all because they want to exert maximum power over the opposite sex, whom they hate as a matter of religious faith -- a faith which some say is witchcraft, but most agree is bitchcraft.

In spite of the 14 months of cussing and discussing which led to the SCP, and in spite of all the mockery and national disgrace which Mr Guskin and Antioch have received as a result of it, it is obvious from reading his booklet that Guskin -- if I may borrow a phrase -- just doesn't get it as to what is the problem with SCP. In particular, what Mr Guskin doesn't get is that the SCP constitutes an impermissible intervention by the State -- in this case, the Antioch administration -- into the sphere of private behavior. As a liberal, needless to say, Guskin sees nothing wrong with the government regulating the most private of behaviors; so while he is aware of objections to the SCP on this basis, he dismisses them in his booklet as if the SCP were not State intervention, but only some kind of "guidance" or "suggestion", which it obviously is not.

But there is much more to object to in the SCP than the matter of State intervention in private behavior. So even if Mr Guskin is insensitive to this objection, perhaps he will be able to "get" some of the other objections, of which there are many. Accordingly, in the spirit of eleemosynary concern and educational responsibility, I am going to set forth these objections in plain, straightforward and unadulterated language, with the hope that even someone as dense as Mr Guskin will be able to understand.

Let us imagine a scenario in which a young Antioch man has just embraced and kissed his ladyfriend (We will assume here that the young man's friend is female, tho we realize the unconscionably discriminatory implications of this assumption; and we will also assume that, under the SCP, he had first sought and received permission for his behavior). At this point the young man's tongue is undoubtedly to be found inserted several inches into the young lady's mouth, and the next logical move for our seductive sufferer of testosterone poisoning -- as I can testify from ample personal experience - - is to move one hand toward the young lady's fatted mammary gland -- also known as a tit -- while using the other for leverage to press the young lady's lower body into his presumably turgid Member. But alas! This logical sexual progression, which is as natural a progression as do re mi, must be placed on hold -- or rather on don't hold yet -- while the young man removes his tongue from the young lady's oral cavity in order to gain the wherewithal to say what the SCP might hold to be a Sweet Nothing, tho since the SCP makes something out of nothing, must therefore be called a Sweet Something, namely, "May I feel your tit and press my hardened Member into your soft Non-Member?"

At this point Mr Guskin should certainly be able to see the awkwardness imposed by the SCP, and would perhaps be willing to allow coded messages of request and consent to be transmitted, eg, two sharp thrusts of the young man's tongue being a request to feel the young lady's tit, and two light bites on the young man's tongue being the young lady's signal that the move was sanctioned. Unfortunately, however, even coded messages can get a bit complicated, as when the young man asks for permission to simultaneously feel the young lady's tit, press his Member into the young lady's mons veneris, and massage the young lady's anal cleavage. Perhaps Antioch could institute a course called Dating & Mating 101 in which both men and women are required to thoroughly master the Morse code.

This, however, is only the beginning of the problems with the SCP; for let us suppose that the young lady mis-hears the young man's request, as for example thinking the young man said that he wanted to feel, not her tit, but her shit: In this particular contretemps the young lady might believe her companion wanted to insert his finger into her anus and massage the remnants of her previous day's breakfast. Unless, therefore, this young lady were unusually tolerant of her partner's sexual proclivities, it might be difficult at this point to repair the relationship.

But misunderstanding is not the end of the problems which can arise with the SCP. Let us suppose that our young man is from the ghetto, while the young lady is a White Anglo-Saxon Atheist (As far as I know, there are no Protestants -- or for that matter any other religious believers -- at Antioch). If the man does what he ordinarily does -- ie, shows what he wants by body language -- the young lady will have no trouble figuring out what to do; but if he has to ask her for permission to do this or that in the language of the street, the young lady may think she was only consenting to readjust the pillow when in fact she has just given permission for a bisexual gang-bang with dogs and horses.

A further difficulty with the SCP is the determination of what constitutes "level of sexual activity". For example, if feminists are right that most men are Neanderthals, then there are only two levels of sexual activity -- in and out. But there is an equal difficulty at the opposite extreme; for suppose that the young man of our earlier example has finally gotten to the bottom line and is about to interdigitate the young lady's anus, and suppose he is also a biology major. Does he then feel compelled to ask separate permission for each penetration of the three anal sphincters? But besides the above difficulties, there is another and even more important one, and is raised in the advice an old friend of mine gave me many years ago when I was just starting to date. He told me that if I wanted to get a girl hot, I should "rub her box". Or in other words, if a man wants a girl to want his sexual advances, he has to "rub her box"; but according to the SCP, she has to want you before you rub her box, and making her want you was the whole point of rubbing her box in the first place. Perhaps we can conclude from this that Mr Guskin is not only a clown, but a Neanderthal ("In" and "out", remember?)

But if things are difficult for the one with the staff, then they have got to be at least as difficult for the one with the distaff. For suppose our young man and his ladyfriend are locked in amorous embrace, and the young man has -- as most young men do in such situations -- a raging hard-on, and further suppose that the young lady's hand finds its way to the man's crotch, either because the young man directs it there, or as sometimes happens in the present day, because the young lady's hands do a bit of exploring on their own. The question which this situation raises is, Who has to ask (or should have asked) permission, and what is the permission that should be asked? If, for example, the young man is responsible for the hand-ky panky, should he say, "May I have permission to press your hand against an elongated bump in my pants, which if you find to be somewhat wet, do not be alarmed, since I am not bleeding and in any event I have a handkerchief readily available?" Or should he ask the woman whether she would like permission to perform these selected maneuvers?

Now one thing which may be wrong with the SCP is that Mr Guskin may be attempting to impose a digital process on an analog world. To explain, an analog process is one in which the quantities vary continuously, while a digital process is one in which they vary in discrete amounts. What this means in terms of the SCP is that Mr Guskin is imposing digital rules (permission at every (discrete) step) on a process which does not have discrete steps, but is instead ipso facto continuous. Thus in traditional petting, a woman will begin to purr and move seductively if the man is making the right moves, with more purring and moving as the man does the right thing, but less if he does the wrong thing; ie, the woman gives her consent in an analog fashion. But Mr Guskin instead insists on a digital process where nature has always used the analog, presumably because, in all his academic wisdom -- to say nothing of an institutional preoccupation with digital computers -- Guskin has the hubris to think that Nature didn't know what she was doing, while he does. It is my thought that, if Mr Guskin's parents had followed the SCP, Mr Guskin would never have been born.

And that is the only good thing I can think of about the SCP.

PS I first wrote Mr Guskin on 31 May 91 about a matter closely related to the SCP, namely the college's Sexual Offense Policy, which I found -- quite frankly -- to be offensive. While I did not have an answer from Mr Guskin himself, I did receive answers to my letter from three or four politically correct Munchkins who work in the Antioch mailroom and have apparently assumed responsibility for answering Mr Guskin's mail. I was of course amused to see that my view of the PC crowd is correct -- few of my respondents could write or spell, and even fewer could think. However, if there are still Munchkins who are answering Mr Guskin's mail while he is running about in the center ring of his three-ring circus like a chicken with his head cut off, I will be delighted to receive their missives.

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