Harden’s argument completely doubles back on itself. The book is supposed to start a conversation about how Yale’s sexual culture should change, but Harden’s real point is that he wishes we would just, please, stop talking about it. “If colleges can’t do anything to help students,” he writes, “I wish they would at least stop actively doing them harm” by teaching them how to masturbate and tell a partner what they want. He asks, “What interest should Yale have in the details of students’ sex lives?” In Harden’s universe, disrespect toward women and sexual assault are prevalent not because university high-ups aren’t setting rules and teaching values, but because we think and talk about sex too much. If we would just close the doors, everything would be fine.
Former Yale students Kathryn Olivarius and Claire Gordon also criticize the book:
[I]n our opinion, bunches of dudes weren’t misogynist dicks because of a talk by a porn star or a workshop on vibrators—the crux of Harden’s book. They were misogynist dicks because they grew up in a world full of misogynist dickishness, where women don’t have enough power yet to control our own image, and men consume thousands of hours of porn that makes humiliating women seem sexy. There are thousands of reasons sexism is still pervasive in America, but a lecture on “lip tricks” isn’t one of them.
Read Harden's preview of the book at the Beast here.