I’m an idiot.
I should know better by now than to read the New York Times, but I do it anyway. I should have more self-control than to be taken in by clickbait titles. But, my curiosity overwhelms my reasoning and I’m drawn in.
That’s how I came across an Op-Ed piece entitled, “Who Gets to Define Campus Rape?” written by two Sociology students, Miriam Gleckman-Krut and Nicole Bedera of the University of Michigan. It is a reaction to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos deciding to review a 2011 decision by the Office of Civil Rights to impose a “preponderance of the evidence” on colleges that adjudicate claims of sexual impropriety as civil rights violations.
The general premise is that men don’t matter and that women should have the power to freely accuse and destroy men without any checks or barriers.
Who should have the right to define rape: survivors who have experienced sexual violence or those who are accused of perpetrating it?
Correction: Who should have the right to define “rape”? The accuser, who is not placed at hazard by the process? Or the accused, who is placed at hazard by the process?
The correct answer is neither one. The party that defines rape is the party that enforces the rule against rape. Feminists like to jump out of the box and frame the argument in a way that they cannot lose.
That is the core question raised by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s decision this month to replace Obama-era guidelines on how universities handle sexual misconduct complaints. In a strongly worded speech, Ms. DeVos made clear that she believed the previous administration had used “intimidation and coercion” to force colleges to adopt disciplinary procedures that deprived accused students of their rights.
The Obama-era guidelines were likely issued in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act of 1946, which requires notice and hearing via a period in which the public can comment on the proposed rule before the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights can issue the rule.
Why do feminists have such trouble with due process?
To come to these conclusions, Ms. DeVos and her staff appear to have given special consideration to the concerns of men accused of sexual assault. After one hearing about campus rape policies, Candice Jackson, the top civil rights official in the Department of Education, said, “The accusations — 90 percent of them — fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk, we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.’ ”
Ms. Jackson has since called these remarks “flippant,” but they reveal a gross misunderstanding of sexual assault. Ms. Jackson essentially intimated that she believes either that alcohol-facilitated sexual assault and intimate partner violence are not real or that, at the very least, they are not harmful enough to merit disciplinary action. No wonder Ms. DeVos thinks many sexual assault complaints on campus are baseless. According to Ms. Jackson’s incorrect logic, almost any college man facing disciplinary proceedings would be falsely accused. And yet there is plenty of evidence that false accusations of rape are rare.
Stating that 90% of rape claims surveyed were the result of a drunken tumble and hurt feelings is “flippant.” Rattling off that “false accusations of rape are rare” is not flippant because it’s not like you go to prison, have your rights stripped away, are forever branded a felon and a sex offender.
Obama-era policies did not malign men. What they did was make it easier for victims to come forward. A 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter from the Obama administration advised universities to change the standard for how to determine guilt from proof that was “beyond a reasonable doubt” to a “preponderance of evidence” — or, more colloquially, more likely than not.
Publicly accusing someone of a felony without proof of their guilt is defamation per se. Despite the feminist whining about “rape culture” in a country that, for a large part of its history made rape punishable by death, having one’s name associated with felonious crimes is inherently detrimental to a man’s reputation.
Before 2011, most colleges had already voluntarily made these changes. There are several good reasons for that. The “beyond a reasonable doubt” evidentiary standard usually applies to criminal charges — and college tribunals are not criminal courts. Colleges can’t determine whether or not an assailant will go to prison. But they are required to keep students safe and promote equal access to education under Title IX, the civil rights law that secures nondiscrimination on the basis of sex or gender in federally funded educational programs. Sexual assault complaints are essentially civil rights disputes, and a preponderance of evidence standard is what is legally appropriate in civil rights cases.
Colleges shouldn’t adjudicate felonies. If a college suspects a felony has been committed, they should contact the police. College is not its own little pocket universe. A person kicked out of college for a “civil rights dispute” based on a woman saying “he raped me” will not be dealt with by the public as a “civil rights violator”; he will be regarded as a “rapist” without ever having received the benefit of the protections that defendants are entitled to before having that label attached to them (to use the subpoena power, to take depositions, to call witnesses in his own defense, to speak on his own behalf, to submit evidence in his own defense, and a neutral trier of fact).
Feminists are calling Brock Turner a rapist, even though he was never convicted of rape and did not commit rape as defined by the state of California (finger-popping is not sexual intercourse).
The preponderance of evidence standard is also survivor-centered. When judging whether someone has been raped, it’s almost impossible to assert that a sex act constituted violence “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Many survivors struggle to produce what campus hearing boards would consider evidence, especially when it comes to acquaintance- or date-based sexual assaults in which alcohol made it impossible for someone to physically resist. Sexual assaults also commonly occur away from third-party witnesses, limiting the potential for corroborating testimonies. Finally, trauma can make survivors seem disorganized to campus administrators who are untrained.
The standard for rape is not “violence beyond a reasonable doubt”; The standard at common law is sexual intercourse, obtained by force or coercion, and lack of consent by the victim. Physical resistance is not required to prove a rape.
The burden of proof affixed to a crime is typically commensurate with the weight of the crime and the severity of the penalty associated with the crime. A man is not carried off to prison when he is falsely accused of rape and kicked out of college, but feminists, as pointed out with Brock Turner above, have no problem playing fast and loose with the label of “rapist.” The ordinary person will not distinguish “rape as a civil rights violation” from “rape as a felony.” And that’s a problem. Even taking the typical penalty for rape off of the table doesn’t address the social stigma sufficiently to justify a reduced burden of proof.
The difficulty in providing hard evidence has long presented a devastating barrier for victims’ access to recourse and remedies, and it discouraged survivors from coming forward. The Obama administration responded to survivors’ needs by lowering the burden of proof necessary to gain access to institutional support. That more survivors than ever are reporting their sexual assaults to their universities shouldn’t lead us to the conclusion that more college students are being raped or that more students are lying — just that more feel comfortable coming forward.
Feminist Barbie: Evidence is harder than math.
Of course, being accused of sexual assault hurts. And there are things that we can and should do to help accused students — namely, providing them with psychological counsel. But accused men’s pain does not excuse rape, and men shouldn’t be the ones defining it. Most rapists, even those who have been criminally convicted, will never label themselves as such. More broadly, there is a tendency on the part of college-age men to define sexual assault according to their own standards, not according to campus guidelines.
Psychological counsel? Are you fucking kidding me? How about providing the accused with a lawyer, you miserable fucking assholes? How about protecting a man’s rights before torpedoing his college career and his reputation? It doesn’t matter whether or not a criminally-convicted rapist labels himself as such or if any felon personally rejects the idea that they are a felon. The law and the state have attached the label to him AFTER it overcame the presumption of his innocence and AFTER he had the opportunity to defend himself against being labeled as a rapist.
The ramifications of sexual assault are severe. Especially when they don’t receive services, survivors often experience post-traumatic stress, depression and suicidal ideation. They are at a higher risk of chronic health conditions, future sexual victimization and lowered academic achievement. Though they vary, the approximations of how many women have been sexually assaulted in college are always high.
That should be the education secretary’s biggest concern.
“Catherine Comins, assistant dean of student life at Vassar, also sees some value in this loose use of “rape.” She says angry victims of various forms of sexual intimidation cry rape to regain their sense of power. “To use the word carefully would be to be careful for the sake of the violator, and the survivors don’t care a hoot about him.” Comins argues that men who are unjustly accused can sometimes gain from the experience. “They have a lot of pain, but it is not a pain that I would necessarily have spared them. I think it ideally initiates a process of self-exploration. ‘How do I see women?’ ‘If I didn’t violate her, could I have?’ ‘Do I have the potential to do to her what they say I did?’ Those are good questions.”
– Catherine Comins, assistant dean of student life at Vassar to Time Magazine, June 24, 2001
I add the Comins quote because it captures attitude of authors and of feminists in general: They do not give a damn about what happens to men. Despite the propaganda of women being more empathetic than men, these women don’t give a damn when an injustice is done to a man based on the word of a woman. They are silent when Brian Banks has his life destroyed based on a false accusation. They are silent when Emmett Till is murdered based on a false accusation. They are silent when Kevin Baruxes is thrown in prison for 7 years or when Howard Dudley is thrown in for 25 years.
As Comins states above and the authors intimate, Feminists don’t care about injustices done to men by women, they care about power.
This not an attitude unique to feminists. When men articulate their problems, concerns, or fears, they are answered, by women in general with standard feminist pablum about “women have it worse than men, so shut up” and “well, it’s ONLY 2-10% of false rape accusations, so shut up.”
The chance of being attacked by a shark are 1 in 11.5 million, but when the lifeguard spots a shark fin, everybody runs out of the water.
So I offer women the same thing Comins and the authors of this opinion offer when I see women suffer some injustice. When I read about “woman beaten by boyfriend” she should seek psychological counseling. When a woman gets raped, especially by an acquaintance or a date, it should “initiate a process of self-exploration” about what it is she finds so personally appealing about rapists. Woman gets killed by her boyfriend or husband, just like men should be taught not to rape, women should be taught not to fuck murderers.