They do indeed, as so well illustrated by the ongoing Judge Kavanaugh confirmation kerfuffle. Since we cannot say it any better, here is a quote from Heather McDonald’s article in the City Journal:
“The sexual revolution declared that the traditional restraints on the male libido—norms of male chivalry and gentlemanliness and of female modesty and prudence—were patriarchal and oppressive. Men should stop protecting women and putting them on a pedestal. Males and females were assumed to desire easy sex with equal fervor, and to be able to walk away from a one-night stand with equal complacency. With regard to students, adults should remain nonjudgmental and as far out of the picture as possible. Chaperones were relegated to the relic pile, as fusty as a mothballed corset. Starting in the 1970s, affluent parents often absented themselves from their teenager’s parties, leaving the house liquor cabinet unattended. Popular culture became hyper-sexualized.
“The results were not pretty: the male libido, free to act as boorishly as it wanted; females getting drunk to reduce their innate sexual inhibitions, unprotected by any default assumptions against casual premarital sex. Whether a 17-year-old Brett Kavanaugh took advantage of this putative sexual liberation, many other teenagers have, and in so doing, merely followed the new script for sexual relations.
“Those derided Victorian values of chivalric paternalism are now being reimported covertly on college campuses, however, where male students are deemed responsible for female well-being during drunken hook-ups, even if the male and female student are both equally inebriated. The #MeToo movement is going further, turning a drunken pat on the butt in a suburban kitchen into a criminal offense and a squeeze on the knee under a dinner table grounds for banishment. A panelist on The View complained that the “white men” on the Senate Judiciary Committee were “not protecting women.” One might have thought that the committee’s role was to protect the constitutional balance of power.”
To which one should add that if women are to be treated as men’s equals, why are they in need of such male protection? These days, they serve as police officers, combat troops, firefighters, Air Force fighter pilots, etc., so why do they require paternalistic oversight that shields them from life’s adversities and male misbehavior in their chosen occupations? Ironically, in all those battles for women’s equality in the military, opponents of male-female troop integration argued unsuccessfully that this was a bad idea because male soldiers would tend to be protective of their female comrades-in-arms, thus reducing their own effectiveness as warriors. But now, all of a sudden, we are told from on high that women, after all, are the weaker sex in need of male protection not just in combat, but at college parties. Sounds like Orwellian double think to us.
Equally important, if such new male protectiveness is where it’s at these days, why don’t the male Senators rise to the occasion, don their knightly armor and provide such chivalrous protection? Cat got their tongues? Evidently. Thus it took a woman — the inimitable Heather McDonald — to lay it all out and to remind us that social mores are adopted for a reason, and that we discard them at our peril. So we better learn how to think long and hard before we get rid of them just “because it feels good” at the moment.
As is our habit, every now and then we depart from our usual topics to comment on important matters of broader interest. And this topic surely falls into that category.