“Who can tell me why Dr. Ford’s testimony was necessary? Sandra?”
The girl in the second row said, “Because, at the time, people didn’t believe rape victims.”
“Very good. Can you tell me why?”
Sandra frowned. “Because they didn’t want to?”
Her teacher smiled. “You’re not wrong, but can you tell me why they wouldn’t want to?”
“Because it’s a hassle. They had to conduct an investigation and proving rape can be nearly impossible, depending on the circumstances.”
“That’s true, but it’s also true of any other misconduct, and no one was complaining about conducting those investigations. Why were accusations of sexual misconduct specifically so controversial?”
“Privilege.” The answer came from a brunette closer to the back of the room.
“What kind of privilege?”
“Male privilege. Specifically, white male privilege. At the time it was common for men to feel entitled to sex. They didn’t believe a woman wouldn’t want to have sex with them.”
“They didn’t want to believe a woman wouldn’t want to have sex with them,” came from yet another corner of the room.
“That’s an excellent point, Jake. Care to take it further?”
“Well, at the time, a man’s sexual life was a kind of status symbol. The more women he slept with – and the more attractive they were – the higher his social standing. Men at the time were still bragging about their conquests.”
“Why did you use that word?”
Jake stuttered. “It-it’s in the book.”
Jake started flipping through pages until he found what he was looking for: “Brian proudly displayed his tattoo, to which he added a mark for every conquest.”
“Very good. Now let’s discuss that word: conquest. Who can tell me the origin of that word. Ashley?”
“Well, it comes from the word ‘conquer,’ meaning ‘to defeat in battle’.”
“That’s correct. So why would anyone apply that word to sex?”
“Because at the time there was still a widespread perception that women didn’t want to have sex – or, at least, didn’t want to have it as much as men wanted it.”
A snicker rippled across the classroom.
“All right, yes, we can laugh at it now, but many people honestly believed it at the time Dr. Ford made her accusations.”
“But that doesn’t make sense How could they believe that women didn’t want sex but, also believe that women couldn’t be raped because they really want it?”
“I think you’ve just reached the nexus of the entire discussion. It doesn’t make sense. People aren’t rational, and in many ways, they were even less rational in the first part of the 21st century than they are now. Jacquie also hit on an excellent point when she mentioned privilege. Privilege isn’t rational. A sense of privilege isn’t rational. And yet it dominated the first centuries of our country’s history.”
The bell rang and the students all started packing up their things.
“Excellent discussion today, everyone. Don’t forget to read chapters 11-13 for tomorrow. I expect an equally enlightening talk about the contents of those chapters.”