A coed awoke in the wee hours last Saturday morning and found a young man beside her in bed. The police report does not say that her door had been broken down, or even that her dorm room had a door, but the laws of physics and probability suggest that the same young man was very likely in her room, and perhaps even in her bed, when the coed fell asleep. But passions cool and a single bed grows narrow as the night grows long, so by the wee hours the young man was no longer wanted and the coed told him “to leave.” She was, it seems, in the same mood as Lady Macbeth when that grand dame said,
“Stand not upon the order of your going,
But go at once.”
The young man complied, or at least the police tell us that he “stood up.” We do not know if he did this out of courtesy, fear, or because he could think of a pleasanter place in which to greet the morning sun. Whatever he was thinking, the young man made the mistake of “standing upon the order of his going,” and the order of his going is now being described by the coed as sexual assault. That is to say that, rather than go at once, the young man initiated some sort of sexual contact without obtaining explicit permission, any previous permissions having long since expired. Had the lad paid closer attention to his Shakespeare, he might have been saved a world of trouble by recollection of this line, spoken by another heroine of the Bard.
“Now will I charge you in the band of truth,
When you have conquer’d my yet maiden bed,
Remain there but an hour, nor speak to me.”
There was a time when a gentleman who had conquered a maiden bed would have thought it unseemly to remain but an hour and then bolt out the door without a word, and it may well be that this young man is now known to the police as “the suspect” because he thought he was such a gentleman living in such a time. We are not told what liberties he attempted, but it appears the attempt was half-hearted, since it terminated when “the victim pushed him away and he left the room.” Perhaps he waved his tomahawk in her face; perhaps he attempted something more in the way of a clumsy farewell embrace.
As is usual in these reports, the brief scenario is followed by these declarations:
“Sexual assault is not the fault of the victim. Only a perpetrator can prevent sexual assault.”
This is, of course, true in those cases where the victim is assaulted as she walks through a park, and where the perpetrator launches his ambush from behind a clump of rhododendrons. But I cannot see that it is altogether true in a case such as this appears to have been, in which lust curdled to disgust and two stupid kids were left wishing they had stayed home on Friday night. On the slim evidence we have been given, I would say the coed and the young man are both victims–victims of themselves–and that the coed and the young man are therefore both perpetrators too.