Americans have long turned to the "Dummies" and "Complete Idiot's Guide" series to fill in their know-how gaps. Each edition provides explanations and tips in easy to understand, systematic fashion.
The tongue-in-cheek titles succeed because they're written for "idiots," not by idiots.
The same can't be said for a sinister frat-boy guide that recently grabbed national headlines. It involved a member of Phi Kappa Tau at Georgia Tech, whose email schooled his brothers on tried-and-true steps for seducing women.
To take advantage of them, he notes, you must get them drunk. Once she's sufficiently soused, dudes should hit the dance floor (his note included explicit instructions for groping and grinding).
He continues with lurid exhortations to "escalate" the experience. Lest his pupils get the wrong idea, the sexual sensei warns "NO RAPING," only to sign off, "In luring rapebait."
I felt icky just typing that.
It would be easy to dismiss this as the ravings of a college doofus. Except that he was so supremely confident his bros would welcome his "50 Shades of Grope" that he pressed send. His misogynistic rant offers a grotesque reminder that rape culture remains a big man on college campuses, often embodied in Greek-letter organizations.
Research consistently has concluded that frat boys are more prone to sexual assault than other college men — and also more likely to believe that women like it rough and secretly long to be ravished.
And that trusty social lubricant, booze, plays a role in up to 81 percent of rapes.
It's enough to make us college dads of daughters — one in four coeds suffers a sexual assault — convulse with dread.
Compounding the problem these days is that, increasingly, each new college class arrives practiced in sexual violence. A study published last week in JAMA Pediatrics found that nearly one in 10 Americans aged 14 to 21 admit using coercion or force for sexual favors. Four percent copped to attempting or executing rape.
It's why most, if not all, colleges try to catch and reprogram as freshmen hit campus.
The University of Florida freshman orientation program teaches students what constitutes sexual assault. And its "U Matter, We Care" program humanizes potential victims by emphasizing the worth of each student.
Similar "bystander" training and intervention programs, including an online module, "Unless There's Consent," and "Mentors in Violence Prevention" training, are in place at the University of Central Florida, where my coed attends.
Research backs these efforts. While a 2007 study reconfirmed frat boys are more likely offenders, it found that likelihood diminished when Greeks took rape prevention courses.
Jen Day Shaw, associate vice president and dean of students at UF, and a sorority member herself, rightly notes most collegians join Greek-letter groups not only for partying, but also for leadership and networking opportunities and community service.
Yet, the fact remains some depraved Don Juans see frats as a means for luring rape-bait.
"Certainly, it's [college] no longer the ivory tower," Shaw says. "It is a reflection of what's happening in society."
And we'd be dummies to forget that.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun