When did we really get seious about teen sexual assault?

Going back to my other thread, I look back to my time in the 80’s. Obviously we knew it wasnt right to force yourself on a girl but… I cant say we were taught it wasnt either. Quite frankly the “No means No” thing, I cant remember hearing that until the 90’s. It seems we were given the idea that if a girl says “no” she just kind of, sort of, means it.

I mean look at the first “Rocky” movie where Rocky forces himself on Adrian. Look at “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” where Gerome has sex with the girl in her bathhouse and she tries to stop it. In “Animal House” the young woman falls over drunk and the college boy considers sex. I remember that scene in the movies and all the young men were saying “do it!”. In “Porky’s” it was ok to look at the girls showering. In “Zapped” it was ok to use your powers to lift a girls skirt or undo her top.

HERE is entire list of 80’s teen sex movies where we got our “education”: https://www.listchallenges.com/80s-sex-comedies

Also back then house parties were the norm. The drinking age in Kansas was 18. The “cool” parents let their kids have unsupervised drinking parties at their homes. They bought kegs. In those days I remember tshirts saying “Drunk Drivers Against Mad Mothers” and “Alcoholics Unanimous”. On TV MASH had the heroes almost always drunk and Hawkeye often forced himself on women. Fonzie once used his magic “snap” to make a bra pop off.

It wasnt right. It gave us lots of bad ideas about how to treat women. Lots of assaults and unwanted pregnancies happened. I’m glad things changed now that I have kids of my own.

So what about you all? What messages were you exposed to back then and when did it change?

My impression is the culture changed in the early 90s with third wave feminism. Date rape and marital rape became taboo and illegal. And I agree, the stuff they did in 80s movie wasn’t shamed at all, but as a 90s kid we knew it was wrong and illegal.

It really was the 90s that saw the big change from viewing rape as an offense against social norms to being a violation of the person’s right to bodily autonomy. Older rape and sodomy laws centered around violating social taboos, and while consent was there, it wasn’t considered the key factor. A good example of this philosophy is that a lot of rape laws didn’t consider it possible for a husband to rape his wife, there would either be a specific marital exception or the crime of rape would include language like ‘has sex with a woman who isn’t his wife’. It wasn’t until 1994 that marital rape was generally criminalized in the US, and even today some states require that it involve significant force. And this is an area where things are still evolving - it was only five years ago (2013) that FBI crime statistics considered male victims even possible.

The one that sticks out in my mind was “High Plains Drifter.” Clint Eastwood wanders into a one-horse town. This lady kind of deliberately bumps into him on the street. So he rapes her. IIRC, she protests like halfway through the rape and then decides she likes it after all. There are just so many fucked up things about that scene I don’t even know where to start. It’s basically saying that if a girl acts like she wants your attention, it’s okay to rape her because she secretly wants it.

I completely agree with OP. My childhood was a huge mix of contradictory messages. I decided to go with the “be respectful to women” option. Everyone I met thought I hated them, because I didn’t “flirt” the way I was “supposed” to.

I remember one day I was hanging out with a girl I liked and another friend. My friend kept chasing her around, trying to tickle her and grab her playfully. He told me that this is what I was supposed to be doing. I was really confused. I’m supposed to chase girls to get their attention? I’m supposed to touch them without their permission? WTF? I thought his behavior was boorish and disrespectful. I mean, fuck, the cop at school said we’d go to jail for that.

I matured about five years behind my peers because I could never comprehend the difference between groping and appropriate flirt-touching. (Is there even a word for that?) It still makes me angry.

The first time I really noticed someone changed the rules was in 2000, in college. I grew up getting shit on by basically everyone. It was really clear that the meaner and more hateful you were, the more girls liked you. And my old buddy Clint Eastwood backed me up. Anyone watch ‘Pale Rider?’ He’s an asshole the whole movie and he murders a LOT of people, and this woman AND her hot daughter are both swooning for him. So I’m like, okay, being respectful and kind got me nowhere. I’m gonna try being a dick now.

So i went around being hateful and aggressive to everyone I met. That did NOT go over well - at all. After I got a knock on my door from campus security I just withdrew from school entirely and joined the Army. To this day I still don’t really get how we went from “hateful = cool” to “hateful = dangerous” almost overnight. And - of course - I was the only one that didn’t get the memo.

Excellent post. I forgot about “High Plains Drifter”. Also in that movie he tells a woman she is sleeping with him tonite and she understands she has no choice in that PLUS she is married and the sex with Eastwood is better than her husband.

As for girls, yeah it seemed some guys were given the privilege of being able to pinch girls butts and nothing would be done while others did not.

My sex ed class in 1978 covered “if you touch someone and they move back, do NOT follow them. Stay away and apologize”. But we were also told to always double up on contraception, and there was definitely a message from many other places that you were supposed to “play hard to get” while actually being easy to get while also staying a good girl while having as much fun as you want because that’s what The Pill is for while…

Recently my mother was incensed that a poll found out about 15% of Spanish teenagers think it’s “normal” and “masculine” for a guy to be a possessive, jealous ass. I pointed out that the proportion seems to be about the same as when I was a teen, what was it back in her own teens? She thought and said “oh”. It’s as if there’s certain percentages which will always drift to a certain notion, but what’s different is which notions are presented as valid and desirable by media, newspapers, educators, etc.

Another thing that makes me mad is when people don’t recognize their privileges. When I try to talk to people about it, they act as if they don’t realize the rules really are different depending on whether you belong to the in-group or the out-group.

What I find interesting is how as a society sexual assault was minimized through the boys-will-be-boys attitude and the victim blaming, but as individuals we knew it was wrong. I was in college in the early 80s. There were a lot of parties and a lot of alcohol and some sex. I had conversations with friends about sex (some real, some imaginary*). But I’ve never heard a guy talk about groping a woman or pinning her down or tearing her clothes. Now, maybe I’ve just lived a charmed life and never been friends with a guy who would do things like that, but statistically that seems unlikely. So I have to infer that even guys who would force themselves on a woman knew better than to talk about it.

And as an aside to Urbanredneck, in the town in Kansas I grew up in the parents weren’t buying beer or hosting parties. Because you only had to be 18 to buy 3.2 beer, it was the high school seniors or the kids who had graduated the year before who bought the kegs. The parties were at the lake or in a pasture somewhere**.
*) The sex, not the friends.
**) Yes, I grew up in small town. Why do you ask?

The rules really are not different, and the reason people like Brett Kavanaugh commit assaults is they mistakenly think the rules ARE different.

Movies are an extreme exaggerration of real life.

I grew up learning that sex felt good, and that sex with someone you loved and loved you back felt GREAT! So try to find that, because the other thing was an also-ran at best. My education about appropriate behavior towards women came from my parents, not from movies or my peers. I saw Zapped! and thought it made no sense why they’d be ripping the clothes off of all these people, but it was funny and I liked seeing boobs. I was a late 80’s, early 90’s kid.

It’s about finding someone who’s into you as much as you are into them. If you move towards physical intimacy with someone and they pull back then you need to figure out what’s up, not keep pushing. Because forces need to be in balance. This is a more passive approach than many of my peers take, and it’s meant I had long dry spells in my life, which has been frustrating, but it’s better than the alternative.

My ex and I taught the kids the same thing. The goal was for the boys to learn restraint, and the girls learn to be direct and not play games. This was intentional. Society is putting out all kinds of messages about how boys need to be the aggressors, the pursuers, and girls need to be the defenders of their virtue and play hard to get. Our messages have been “communicate, be safe, be respectful” and the rest will sort itself out. We’ve had all our kids go through the Our Whole Lives sexuality education program at the UU Church and from middle school on they’ve had positive role models as well as resources to help them find their way. The LAST thing we wanted was for them to learn about sexuality from the Internet and the media.


What? No James Bond “The 27th ‘No’ in 2 minutes = enthusiastic yes” ?

I remember the rapey Eastwood scenes, Bond’s championed extracurriculars, and the many movie tropes where stuff that would have gotten me arrested plays out as a harmless ‘means to an end’ for the dude with no attention to any (and by implication, no) consequences to the girl. I even remember in my Official Polish Jokebook a joke to the effect of “If you’re being raped and there’s nothing you can do about it, you may as well relax and enjoy it.” I remember all of these things, and finding them funny/effective character development within context, precisely because they were clearly wrong-headed.

And yet, for some strange reason, I never got the idea that females were simply disposable cocksockets, and that their consent was meaningless. Would I have minded if I had the magic power to get with whatever girl I pleased? Of course not, and I would have made good use of it many times a day. But the real gear in my sex drive, then as now, was the need to be desired. If the desire wasn’t forthcoming, then any further advances struck me as pathetic.

So, with all that, I have to wonder if rapey dudes are anything more complex than sociopaths who will use any means at their disposal to shed responsibility for the choices they make, or at the very least people with limited empathy. They can say they wanted someone to overpower, preferably with someplace to stuff their wiener, and be deemed an animal by a jury; or they can turn on the water works and say Porkys/Fast Times/Animal House/Revenge of the Nerds made them think it would be okay and isn’t society really to blame and the jury should let him go and look to the real perpetrators of social injustice: Hollywood! (which is, ironically, also a legitimate place to look)

Good, helpful post, IMHO - thanks. As a father of a seven-year-old and a one-time, some-time Unitarian, I’ll have to look into Our Whole Lives.

ISTM that one underlying (or maybe more obvious than that) theme of this thread is the fact that all the examples we see of what’s right and what’s wrong are only examples.

I remember one or two people from math class in grade 9 who clearly believed that each example the teacher had given, and each new practice question in the book, was a free-standing unique construction, unprecedented, and unrelated to the next one. They were lost. When they raised their hands and said “I don’t get question k and question m”, I had some thought in my mind like “No, what you don’t get is IT.” Namely, the fact that you have to take all the examples you’ve had a chance to see, synthesize those examples into your own version of the truth, and then test your version of the truth by comparing it with everything and seeing if it works OK.

I personally was years behind my peers sexually, because ADHD causes a significant lag in social maturity. I had a delay in “getting it” intellectually, and a corresponding delay in “getting any”, IYKWIM. :slight_smile: That delay may actually be a permanent gap - I can’t tell anymore.

Too many people who really ARE “old enough to know better” continue as though they are immature, allowing their morality to be steered by a source external to themselves. No source, regardless of its reliability or its correctness, can be your ultimate guide - just as your math teacher can show you examples but can’t do the knowing on your behalf. Of course a person can be influenced by new ideas and can improve their principles over time, but a mature person cannot be ultimately guided by any set of principles or ideas (or people) that are external to themselves.