With students off-campus for the summer, the “campus rape crisis” enjoyed a similar hiatus. At the time of this writing the hiatus continues but the underlying crisis remains. The crisis is not in the competing true/false allegations of the parties involved, nor in the inability to define rape, but in the underlying hopelessness of lives denied authentic sexual meaning. The real crisis is the forlorn cry of a generation lost in the wilderness of the Sexual Revolution. The alleged rape is real, but it is the rape of sexuality itself.
An excuse for feminist outrage, the manufactured campus rape crisis is a facade behind which lies a ghostly terrain where not only “man,” and “woman,” but “sex,” and “love” are empty shadows of an earlier time. These words provide the context in which we communicate. Without the context of male and female clearly defined, authentic communication is impossible. Rather than meet as males and females, we instead meet as figments of our imagination, each what he subjectively chooses to be and the other the object we want them to be. Our human conversation begins with one falsehood facing another. Without the bond of real communication two people can share neither understanding nor common direction. A woman who pleads, “Love me!” cannot understand what she asks, nor can she be comprehended by a man who has re-created her in his own mind. In this emptiness of love unknown the charge of rape makes perfect sense.
Growing up entirely within the confines of the Sexual Revolution, today’s college students have no memory of life before it. Broken families and broken love stand equal beside parents united for life. The “love” they know is multiple choice. Select what works for as long as it works and move on. They really don’t know love at all. The campus rape movement is an outcry of this emptiness. It is the cry of those trapped in a world without meaning, a world seeking love without knowing love. It is not the oft heralded number of one in five college girls that have been raped. It is an entire generation, both male and female.
The campus rape movement is not a continuation of the Sexual Revolution but an inadvertent counter-revolution. It is inadvertent because its proponents consider themselves part of the revolution they challenge. It is a counter-revolution because it seeks meaning in a revolution that destroys meaning. Without help it will fail because it cannot see itself for what it is, for what all lies are, a mass of contradictions. The demand that women be respected falls flat in a culture that has already condemned respect as patronizing male chauvinism. A generation raised on the love of self, a “love” based on feelings of one’s own goodness, cannot understand a “respect” that begins with the denial of self and the consideration of the other. Nor can it understand what it means to respect a “woman” when there is no concept of woman larger than any particular woman, or, in the new transgendered world, even any particular man. The aggrieved women of the campus rape movement demand a recognition of womanhood they themselves do not acknowledge. They seek love without definition of either love or the object loved.
In such a world, one where love has no meaning and feelings are all-meaning, a woman who awakes with bad feelings, whether the morning after or any morning after, has indeed been raped. With sex reduced to good feelings there is no accounting for bad feelings. Yet their persistence remains a fact of life. But why do they continue to exist? Why should a woman feel violated by an act that our popular media elevates as the natural end of even the briefest affection? What has a man taken from a woman that leaves her less than what she was before? How can a man uniquely take anything from a woman if male and female are simple cultural creations? What is the injury that requires redress? Why does it hurt when there is no physical injury, when people are simply doing what people naturally do and cannot be stopped from doing?
A society that largely ignores the horrors of the ongoing Planned Parenthood exposé, embraces a new right to same-sex “marriage,” and celebrates a sixty-five year old former male Olympian cum faux female with a “reality” show cannot begin to answer these questions. The campus rape movement, trangenderism, and marriage without meaning are the end game of a sexual devolution begun two generations ago. They are the death rattle of sexuality, not its fulfillment. They are not aberrations of the Sexual Revolution but its natural, nihilistic conclusion. They are final proofs of sex undefined, not redefined. Rather than more sex, the Sexual Revolution has sold us the illusion of sex, substituting the life giving reality for a contradiction that is both sterile and septic. Today, more people than ever think they are having sex where there is no sex at all. A world built on such an illusion cannot define sexual offense when sex itself has no meaning. Rape is the crime of sex forcefully taken. The Sexual Revolution is an act of rape that has taken our sexuality itself.
In this light the cry of campus rape must be considered. Rather than cast ridicule upon campus coeds caught in a current fad, we must see young people seeking love in a barren world. Our disdain will only destroy those whose cries we mistake for a force energized rather than a force spent. It is not water we need to put out a blazing fire but a lifeline to throw to those drowning in a roiling sea of contradictions. Unfortunately, the rope we need suffers the mold and rot of neglect, having been unused for many years.
As the Protestant world disintegrates over a sundered and corrupted sexuality, the Catholic Church alone can restore its meaning. It has the answers. The Catholic Church alone understands the true nexus of sex, love, and men and women made in the image of God. It has the lifeline. But it lies unused. I am a Catholic who does not understand the muted response of the Church I see day to day, in my parish, in my diocese, and in my country. I do not understand the need for an encyclical on a global warming I cannot see while silence meets the catastrophe I do see. I need only look out my door to witness, within the confines of the block I live on, the devastation of sexuality gone awry, with its abortions, divorces, single motherhood, split families, and ever rotating relationships featuring the boyfriend/father of the moment. I imagine that most anybody looking out their door in most any neighborhood, most anywhere in this country, will, if they truly open their eyes, see the same.
Within the Church we have campaigns for coming home to the Church, calls for evangelization, and complaints about religious freedom. But these raise the questions: Come home to what? Evangelize what? Religious freedom for what? What do these things mean when the very meaning of love is assaulted under the guise of a corrupted sexuality, where the unreal replaces the real? Our true sexuality is basic to how we love each other and to how we begin to understand the trinitarian love of God. We cannot love and ignore its destruction, because it is the destruction of love itself. Love cannot exist separated from reality, because God is real. In a false world, only false gods and false love are possible. Without the authentic love of a true God there is no home to come to, there is nothing to evangelize, and there is no freedom worth preserving. Without love these become mere apparitions of something that was once real.
We are mistaken if we think the lie of modern “sexuality” can coexist with truth. In the Harry Potter stories, Harry arrives on the scene with the name of Voldemort, the name of evil, unspoken. Only in naming Voldemort can the battle against evil begin. It is the very nature of evil to insist it not be named. To not see this happening in today’s false and empty sexuality is to choose the lie, to fall prey to the calumnies of bigotry and discrimination meant to force our silence. Like the long dormant Voldemort, the lie has lain unchallenged for so long that it will rage and rule through many chapters and many books before truth ultimately wins. The longer we choose not to see, the more books we will have to write.
In the school year past a young woman on a college campus carried with her each day a mattress representing the burden of a rape alleged but not believed. It was our mistake to think she had not been raped. Her very sexuality was stolen. We are also wrong to think her unique. Her burden is the burden of an entire generation, a generation raised on the deceit that there is love in sex divorced from life. In response we can stoke their self esteem, as the modern world does so well, and leave them enslaved to the lie, or we can offer the truth and set them free. We can watch their counter-revolution rage and die without direction, or we can engage and give it purpose with the beauty of sexuality anchored in love and life. The thing we cannot do is hide our truth, let the lie live, and still love them.