The Atlantic: Is It Possible for Two People to Simultaneously Sexually Assault Each Other?

a young couple kissing
Flickr/Yulia Volodina

A column in the Atlantic this week explores how two students could be accused of simultaneously sexually assaulting each other according to current campus policies.

Columnist Caitlin Flanagan explored a lawsuit in which two students were accused of simultaneously sexually assaulting each other. She pointed to a Robby Soave tweet, in which he explained how the scenario played out. “Male and female student have a drunken hookup,” Soave tweeted. “He wakes up, terrified she’s going to file a sexual misconduct complaint, so he goes to the Title IX office and beats her to the punch. She is found guilty and suspended.”

Perhaps it is the manner in which universities wrangle with sexual assault allegations that have produced this unusual environment for intimacy. Additionally, alcohol often complicates issues of sexual assault. Some campuses have policies that state that an intoxicated student cannot consent to sex. So what happens when both parties in a hookup are intoxicated?

Flanagan argues that the current state of policing sex on campus is “repressive.”

Is it possible for two people to simultaneously sexually assault each other? This is the question—rife with legal, anatomical, and emotional improbabilities—to which the University of Cincinnati now addresses itself, and with some urgency, as the institution and three of its employees are currently being sued over an encounter that was sexual for a brief moment, but that just as quickly entered the realm of eternal return. The one important thing you need to know about the case is that according to the lawsuit, a woman has been indefinitely suspended from college because she let a man touch her vagina. What kind of sexually repressive madness could have allowed for this to happen? Answer that question and you will go a long way toward answering the question, “What the hell is happening on American college campuses?”

You can read the entirety of the column here.



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