The Truth About the Antioch Rules

Shayla just posted this comment on the Antioch Rules post and it’s so awesome I’m moving it into a post so more people can see it:

Remember Riot Grrrl, and then remember how the media ran with it and twisted it and made it into this crazy thing? That’s what you should do with what you think you know about the “Antioch Rules”. As I remember it, it came about after 2 or 3 people were raped one semester. It had been in effect for 3 years or so before the media discovered it and blew it into a big, horrible, giant set of permissions and oversight.


As we all followed it, it broke down to this: if you weren’t both mutually going for it, you had to state your intentions aloud, and the other person had to answer. Pretty much “I want to kiss you” and then (possibly)later “I want to have sex with you”. It gave people too shy to speak their mind an opportunity to say no, and it CERTAINLY didn’t stop any consensual sex from happening. Or orgies, etc. It was completely orientation/gender neutral, and in my time there I only heard about a few people being brought to the SOP, only one was a straight man.


Keep in mind this is a tiny campus, full of mostly smart weirdos, with no fraternities or college sports teams, narrative evaluations instead of grades, unlocked doors to the dorms, unisex bathrooms full of condoms, dental dams AND finger cots, a few single gender dorms but mostly co-ed even in the rooms, situationist food co-ops, beer-drinking pagans, frequent admin building takeovers, protesting the Contract With America, incessant discussions about gender politics, the coming apocalypse, mayan linguistics, etc. It just asked that you really think and talk about what you wanted to do in a sexual context with someone, to set the ground rules, essentially.

Mostly it was the boys at Antioch who would receive aggressive unwanted attention, since an unattached, attractive straight man was basically a unicorn. The SOP protected them as much as everyone else. When it swept through the media and everyone assumed this “protect the delicate flower of womanhood” shit I remember we were all horrified. And that SNL skit was an abomination.

Interestingly when Rohypnol (Roofies) hit campus and swept through in the mid 90s, they were never used there as a date rape drug, just something that you took and drank and it made you SUPER wasted.
/end rant

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “The Truth About the Antioch Rules

  1. mmm

    regarding the skit & riot grrrl’s exploitation in the media; it’s sad really to think about how anything remotely related to feminism is generally berated and reviled in certain public domains (e.g. amid certain “friends/men,” media, work) i remember in a “gender and sexualities” course during my junior yr of college, the professor asked the class “what does feminism bring to mind?” some of the answers were – “atheist,” “lesbian,” “fascist,” “tom boy.” it just further proves that we are in a post-feminist (or post-colonial for that matter) age

  2. mmm

    I mean we are not* living in a post-feminist age!

    blaaah sorry

  3. Actually, the Antioch rule seems like a great rule for life for everyone.

    • Christine

      OK, as someone who taught at Antioch College until it closed, and was involved with maintaining the SOPP (Sexual Offense Prevention Policy), I do have some knowledge of the policy and the campus.

      BTWI think the unattached straight boys at Antioch would be thrilled to know that they were the target of so much lust…really, there were lots of straight boys there and although some were surely getting some action, not all were.

      Until Antioch closed in 2008 (it will reopen in 2011), the SOPP was very much alive and well and taken very seriously by students. I never understood what was so problematic about making sure everyone involved in a sexual experience was there consensually. And instead of ruining the moment, it seemed to me that it enhanced it (Can I take off your shirt? You sure can!). Although it was reduced to a joke by the media, I know some of us thought it was a great idea and wanted to be part of a community that would have such a policy.

  4. Pingback: The ’90s Woman Alphabet « 90sWoman.com

  5. Pingback: A Professor Weighs in on The Antioch Rules « 90sWoman.com

  6. i love this post. thanks, shayla!
    (PS. FINGER COTS. WOW. super advanced.)–kara

  7. Schala

    in a “gender and sexualities” course during my junior yr of college, the professor asked the class “what does feminism bring to mind?” some of the answers were – “atheist,” “lesbian,” “fascist,” “tom boy.”

    Atheist is funny. Given that a very small % of US residents are. Probably more people are devout feminists (advocates and working for feminists orgs etc) than there are avowed atheists which is about 2%(according to census).

    It seems they took negative stereotypes (atheism is still seen as bad) and painted a broad brush on feminism.

    Tomboy and lesbian can be more accurate to SOME currents of feminism (mainly 2nd wave), which say, Michigan’s Womyn Music Festival, is representative of. Though the people asked might have been unaware of and considered it a general characteristic of feminism as a whole, which is incorrect.

    Btw, re atheism. In other countries it’s not seen as inherently negative. In Canada, the 2006 census (do every 5 years ending in -1 or -6) said that 17% of Canadians had given no specific faith (and they count Pagan faiths and Native American faiths). Assumed to be agnostic or atheist.

    And most people here in the province of Quebec don’t go to any church, even if they do declare a religion. Especially French-speaking people (77% of the residents). Therefore agnosticism, atheism or not caring about faith, is not seen as being amoral or bad…it’s just normal.

    I do wonder how the SOPP affects people with social deficits like people with Asperger Syndrome or social anxiety. People who already can’t approach or tolerate crowded gatherings where socialization is expected.

    Frankly if it was me and I had to initiate to meet someone, I’m not sure if it would be easier there with those rules or elsewhere, only that it’s VERY hard elsewhere (even just to make friends). Got any anecdotes from aspies who are there? Possibly all orientations and genders if possible (cause it might vary).

  8. I just came across this discussion as I am writing a piece about my time at Antioch when I was instrumental in writing this policy. I agree with Shayla’s assessment of the Antioch situation at that time (and what a time it was!), and we were all truly searching for something real we could trust. And, speaking for myself, I was also really hurt that the admin didn’t seem to be acting quickly enough on the accusations of rape. And yet…..while I still stand by the idea that there should be some communication in sexual contact, lest we get ourselves into trouble, again, speaking for myself, much of the rage that was channeled into writing this policy and this quest for feeling empowered was misplaced, at best, and truly reckless, at its worst. While I am honored to have been part of a community that encouraged young people to take so many risks and have so much say in governance, I am not proud of my work on that policy. Setting aside the final outcome of what may or may not happen in those lucky Antioch students’ beds, for me, my motivation was more about my own needs to find a voice than to offer something truly skillful. Granted, I was a kid, but still…..

    PS: What a great site!

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