More in loco parentis: Princeton puts out guidelines for consent while dancing

In the title, when I say “loco”, it’s a double entendre, for what Princeton University has done is completely loony. Not that it’s surprising for universities these days! What happened is that on November 9, Princeton’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resources, and Education office shared on Facebook a poster about “consent on the dance floor” aimed at those those attending the following Friday’s Orange and Black Ball (OBB). (The Facebook page is that of UMatter, Princeton’s organization that is “a campus-wide prevention initiative designed to empower all members of the Princeton University community to care for themselves and others.”)

Apparently “others’ includes dance partners, for here’s the advice Princeton gave to potential dancers:

So dancing is the latest issue about which students need paternalistic advice.  This resembles “affirmative consent” rules enacted by many American colleges (and by some state laws), some of them mandating that at every step in an act of sex, the partner ask for consent about what he or she (they mean “he,” of course) wants to do (e.g., “can I kiss you?”, “can I touch your X?”, “can I take off your shirt?” and so on).  I believe that it’s okay to ask once, at the beginning of an encounter (and also ensure that your partner is not over-the-top drunk), and then expect that your partner will stop you if they don’t want to go on; but I can’t think of a more distracting thing to do during sex than repeatedly asking for permission to do everything. I can only imagine how that would change the mood.

But with dancing, well, that’s not sex, and it’s in public. The poster above suggests not only that you ask someone if they want to dance, which is fine, but to hector your partner with repeated questions like “Hey, are you still into this? We can stop if you aren’t!”  Well, isn’t that obvious? And isn’t it annoying?

This is a further attempt of colleges to infantilize students by telling them how to behave, and since it’s clearly aimed at men—nearly all of these are, as men are invariably considered the sex responsible for consent—and as a way to protect women who, after all, should know that they can refuse to continue dancing with someone (see this relevant piece in Quillette). Have there been repeated problems of women being forced to dance with men because they didn’t know how to say “no”? Are Princeton women that timorous that they’d dance themselves to exhaustion rather than saying “no”? Remember, this is in public.

I’m glad I’m not going to college right now. Here are a few comments on the public Facebook page:

63 Comments

  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    This is just more pure stupidity on the subject of sexual harassment. When dancing?? Princeton, is this the best you can do? You think sexual harassment is about dancing? Just put this sign up around campus and all will be cured.

    • Posted November 27, 2017 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Or, such faux concern will result in better con men.

  2. Craw
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    May I thrust?

    • prinzler
      Posted November 27, 2017 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      ROFLMAO

      How polite!

    • Liz
      Posted November 27, 2017 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      Are the women supposed to ask also? Do you mind if I massage your lower back? Is it okay if I move to your shoulders?

    • Filippo
      Posted November 27, 2017 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      May I “throttle up” (a la space shuttle launches)?

  3. Posted November 27, 2017 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Dancers need to leave room for Jesus.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Nobody puts Baby in the corner.

  5. Marou
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Surely the University is doing this simply to give it some legal protection if accused of failing in its duty of care. I blame the lawyers.

    • Filippo
      Posted November 27, 2017 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      Does anyone know if the courts have held that universities (like many if not all K-12 schools) have “in loco parentis” responsibility for students? Undergrads only? Surely a late-20’s Masters/Ph.D. student neither requires nor desires this.

      • Posted November 28, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        How old are undergrads in the USA? In the UK, they are usually between 18 and 21. 18 is considered to be adult, although Universities do (or at least did in my day, which was quite a long time ago) recognise that the first year students are new to this game of taking responsibility for yourself.

  6. Posted November 27, 2017 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    I guess a somewhat enlightened sect of Baptists have taken over at Princeton. Regular Baptists just prohibit dancing.

  7. Craw
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    This is an Ivy league school, right? And yet on the Trump tweet thread people are wondering how anyone can fall for Trump’s dumb tweets!

    • Davide Spinello
      Posted November 27, 2017 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      +10^6

  8. Bob Murray
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Well dancing is the vertical expression of the horizontal intention!

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted November 27, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      Next thing you know, they’ll ban upright sex in the dorms, ’cause it looks too much like dancing.

    • Posted November 27, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      These days most young folks’ dancing doesn’t even involve physical contact.

      • Simon Hayward
        Posted November 27, 2017 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        The way things are going neither will sex!

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted November 27, 2017 at 10:40 am | Permalink

        I dunno, I hear there’s a fair amount of “grinding” (or “juking” or “freak dancing”) goin’ on out there with kids today.

        (I wouldn’t know personally, since I haven’t been on a dance floor since 1992 — owing to the PTSD incurred by watching the Clintons and Gores dance to Fleetwood Mac at the DNC.)

        • Craw
          Posted November 27, 2017 at 10:48 am | Permalink

          Jeez man. Trigger warning.

        • darrelle
          Posted November 27, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

          I remember the bump. We were doing that on dance floors in the mid 70’s. Alas, we didn’t think of anything like “grinding.”

        • Liz
          Posted November 27, 2017 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

          I’m not young but that’s how we would do it in high school, college, earlier weddings, and I guess sometimes now. I haven’t been dancing since 2016 when I was at a wedding. The last wedding I was at didn’t have a deejay and there wasn’t any audible music. I’ve been jonesing for a sock hop type of dance or some type of dance with good music. Actual dance clubs don’t have good music in my opinion.

      • Posted November 27, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

        I was a punk. Physical contact in the dance floor usually resulted in hospitalisation.

        • darrelle
          Posted November 27, 2017 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

          There was a time when I used to go looking for mosh pits. I was never one for intentionally trying to hurt people, but there were some like that in any pit I’ve been in.

  9. Posted November 27, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Not to go all nucler [sic], but the last comment on the presented FB comments did.

  10. alexandra Moffat
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Jeeez- that may work better than birth control. If followed, which is doubtful.

  11. BobTerrace
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    May I take another breath?

    SMH

  12. Matti K.
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Pilots go through a checklist, before they take off and when something unexpected happens during flight. I’m fully confident that responsible lovers are ready for a similar procedure before and during their common “flight”.

    • prinzler
      Posted November 27, 2017 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      Flaps up?

      Check.

    • Posted November 28, 2017 at 5:58 am | Permalink

      Gear up?

      Check.

      Engage full thrust.

  13. BJ
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    We used to joke about having someone sign a consent contract with a checklist of all possible acts and fetishes that would be acceptable to each participant over the course of the encounter. It really seems like we’re headed there now.

    Only that won’t be good enough. We’ll now have to bring multiple forms to be signed at every stage of the encounter, lest someone changes their mind during the, um, process. “I’ll need your initial and the current time and date here. You cannot sign off in advance, as that would not be affirmative consent. My lawyer, who’s in the corner, will explain if you find any of this confusing. Also, please check, initial, and print the date and time for item 27, regarding your consent to my lawyer watching. I’m just being safe!”

    • Craw
      Posted November 27, 2017 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      You will need consent to mention some of those acts in the consent form. Triggering.

      • BJ
        Posted November 27, 2017 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

        Foiled again!

  14. Posted November 27, 2017 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    I don’t dance so I’m perfectly happy to see other peoples ability to dance undermined.

  15. Liz
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Dancing is about the music and rhythm. Asking someone in the middle of dancing if dancing together is still okay is a little silly. It’s actually a little bizarre. I guess they won’t be playing “Put Your Head On My Shoulder” by Paul Anka. I didn’t read them but now I’m curious about the suggested guidelines for sex.

  16. J. Quinton
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    I’ve been partner dancing for a little over a decade and a half. This list was obviously not made by someone who does any partner dancing. It’s armchair philosophizing at its worst.

    Some of the women (and men) I know who no longer wanted to dance with their partner simply walked away. For f@%! sake, how hard is that?

    I’ve had numerous dances where I’m like “please god let the song end soon” but good sportsmanship meant that having a sucky dance didn’t warrant up and leaving. But that’s in the context of me being a more veteran dancer and dancing with newer people, so they should have as much dancing experience — especially dancing with experienced dancers — as they can get. That improves their dancing and hopefully they stick around and become a better dancer. In the long run, suffering through a lackluster dance improves the dance scene.

    In other words, even getting to the point where a person wants to leave you in the middle of a dance — which is the underlying assumption with the whole consistent consent thing proffered by Princeton — would already put that person in a position where they’re being dangerous or being an asshole or gropey. The type of person who isn’t going to read this and take it as actionable advice in the first place.

    So this is basically like the TSA of a dance scene. It’s security theater.

  17. KD33
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Sure it’s not a spoof? Reads like 90’s-style irony to me.

  18. Simon Hayward
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Dancing is something that (at least for those of us who are rhythmically compromised) should only be considered in the window between being drunk and being horizontal. My wife has resigned herself to this outlook (which, in fairness, she knew about in advance). I’m not sure I’d remember instructions under those circumstances.

    My daughter tells me that next year I’ll have to dance at her wedding (probably stone cold sober, a scary prospect), under those circumstances, is permission implied, or are we to provide consent forms at family gatherings too?

  19. Simon Hayward
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Dancing is something that (at least for those of us who are rhythmically compromised) should only be considered in the window between being drunk and being horizontal. My wife has resigned herself to this outlook (which, in fairness, she knew about in advance). I’m not sure I’d remember instructions under those circumstances.

    My daughter tells me that next year I’ll have to dance at her wedding (probably stone cold sober, a scary prospect), under those circumstances, is permission implied, or are we to provide consent forms at family gatherings too?

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted November 27, 2017 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      Not sure how I managed to double post that – sorry

  20. helenahankart
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Why do I get the feeling that Islamic gender segregationists are having a bloody good laugh at our expense?

  21. helenahankart
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Well, you know what the fundamentalists say. Liberal and gratuitous sex may lead…to dancing

  22. Posted November 27, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Obviously this is dumb. However, I am left with one question: Was the creator of this poster motivated by a perceived need to protect dancers from each other or protect the university from lawsuits of the “failure to adequately protect dancers from each other” variety?

  23. prinzler
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Before asking a question, shouldn’t one ask “Can I ask a question?”

  24. Craw
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    A bit off topic but we had a lot on the craziness at another campus: TESC. Some interesting new doings. http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/39326/

  25. Christopher
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Anyone catch the NPR interview this morning, where a woman, a California representative I believe, stated that consent was NO LONGER ENOUGH. Yes, consent is no longer enough, because if there is a power differential then it is apparently rape. This statement was made during a discussion about Clinton and how young Monica was. So, you cannot have sex if you are not coequal in age or level of power. Or perhaps I misunderstood it. I hope I did, or I’m never dating again! Granted, I’m pretty powerless; I could only aspire to be a beta male…

    • Craw
      Posted November 27, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      You didn’t. This is part of the old Andrea Dworkin line. I heard that exact argument frequently in the 80s.

      When Louis CK apologized there was something that few noticed in his statement: he had power over them because they admired him. You can no longer get legitimate consent from someone who admires you!

  26. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    An interesting cross-lingual pun.
    “loco” is Latin for “in place of”, but Spanish for “crazy”.
    (Latin for crazy is “rabides” or “insanis”).

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted November 27, 2017 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps you can help me: the phrase is “in loco parentis”. I’ve lost my Latin scholar connection and for a long time I’ve to modify the loco with “muy” or “poco” to form a pun by ‘mongrelization’ but I can’t write “poco loco in parentis” I guess it’s impossible. Or is it?

  27. Jake Sevins
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    “I’m considering moving my left hand 14cm toward your shoulder and I’m wondering what your thoughts are about this.”

    She swoons at delight, overcome by his politeness.

    (I’m working on my first romance novel.)

    • Liz
      Posted November 27, 2017 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      “Her hair was falling in her face. She could only hear the leaves rustling outside on a crisp autumn afternoon. With her eyes closed, her hand, dazed and lazy, grazed his soft, smooth locks. She was present with each breath but so far away. His voice shakes her back to alertness. ‘Hey, are you still into this? We can stop if you aren’t?'”

      • BJ
        Posted November 27, 2017 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

        Wow, that was so hot!

        But, seriously, brilliant job.

        • Liz Strahle
          Posted November 27, 2017 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

          Thanks!

  28. helenahankart
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Have you seen the Quillete take on “women as victims”? Worth a look. Rather like the attached piece on affirimative action–folk think that you can just remove an offending bit of culture without thinking about what that bit is attached to
    http://quillette.com/2017/11/22/women-victims-four-women-respond/

    • Craw
      Posted November 27, 2017 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Good article. Pluckrose is one of the 4.

  29. Matt Bowman
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Remember those high school dances, when a fast song ended, and a slow song started, and the dance floor emptied, and the kids scattered back to the four walls of the gymnasium? Well, anyway, the only people getting rejected on the dance floor are boys and men, at least most of the time, and I think that is probably still the case. I think that it is true that some guys are jerks on the dance floor and get too grabby or thrust themselves at everything that moves (e.g., freaking). I’ve seen clothed sex on the dance floor. Usually women and girls watch out for each other, save each other, pull each other away, and sometimes dance with guy friends to help ward off goons. The biggest problem that I see with this ask at every beat of a song rule is that the music will be too loud to hear.

  30. Curt Cameron
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    I’m surprised that the assumption here is that the poster is really about dancing. To my mind, it’s pretty obviously using dancing as a metaphor for sex. And using a school dance as an opportunity to present the idea.

    Right? I hope I’m right.

    • Craw
      Posted November 27, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      I had the same thought, and my comment 2 was based on that, but it’s just as crazy. “Frequent checking” really does imply the kind of thing several commenters have mocked here. (“May I lick the other side?”)

  31. Stephen Barnard
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    He: Would you like to dance?
    She: OK.
    He: Hey, are you still into this?
    She: You suck at dancing.
    He: I need a safe space!

  32. Kevin
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Reminds me of Catch 22.

    Paraphrased:

    She: “I’ll dance with you, but I won’t go to bed with you”
    He: “How do you know I want to?”
    She: “You mean you don’t want to go to bed with me?”.
    He: “I mean, how do you know that I want to dance with you?”

    Ther’s always space on the dance floor for verbal misunderstanding.

  33. Posted November 27, 2017 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    “Do you want to do this?”
    “Are you sure?”
    “You still wanna do this?”
    “Are you sure I’m not coercing you into dancing?”

    Sounds like someone wants to not dance.

  34. FB
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    Not completely crazy if they were thinking about the students in the asperger/autism/social awkwardness spectrum.


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