A new sexual revolution is sweeping the country, and college students are on the front lines. Women use fresh, smart methods to fight entrenched sexism and sexual assault even as they celebrate their own sexuality as never before. Many “woke” male students are more sensitive to women’s concerns than previous generations ever were, while other men perpetuate the most cruel misogyny. Amid such apparent contradictions, it’s no surprise that intense confusion shrouds the topic of sex on campus.
Vanessa Grigoriadis dispels that confusion as no other writer could by traveling to schools large and small, embedding in their social whirl, and talking candidly with dozens of students – among them, both accusers and accused-- as well as administrators, parents, and researchers. Her unprecedented investigation presents a host of new truths. She reveals which times and settings are most dangerous for women (for instance, beware the “red zone”); she demystifies the welter of conflicting statistics about the prevalence of campus rape; she makes a strong case that not all “sexual assault” is equivalent; and she offers convincing if controversial advice on how schools, students, and parents can make college a safer, richer experience. The sum of her fascinating, fly-on-the-wall reportage is a revelatory account of how long-standing rules of sex and power are being rewritten from scratch.
Vanessa Grigoriadis is a contributing editor at The New York Times magazine and Vanity Fair. Her new book is Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus.