The “Rape Culture” Narrative Demeans Women, Demonizes Men, and Turns Universities into Witch Hunt Tribunals
The Feminist Movement, begun in America by Quaker-influenced abolitionist women who believed that men and women were equal under God and should be treated equally under the laws of the State, has ironically devolved into a new form of Puritanism (which once hung Quakers from trees), with an absolutist belief in women’s purity (“women never lie about rape”) and an equally absolutist belief that, since men as a class are guilty of oppressing women (and have been since the beginning of time), they do not deserve the benefit of the doubt and may actually benefit by being falsely accused of rape (it’s a teachable moment for these lesser beings).
Catherine Comins, assistant dean of student life at Vassar, quoted in a 2001 Time Magazine article “When Is It Rape”?, argued 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.”
That same Time Magazine article noted that activists “see rape as a metaphor, its definition swelling to cover any kind of oppression of women”. Hence “rape culture” has come to be a synonym for “patriarchy”. “Politically, I call it rape whenever a woman has sex and feels violated,” wrote Dr. Catharine MacKinnon in her 1987 book Feminism Unmodified.
The article further stated that “a Swarthmore College training pamphlet once explained that acquaintance rape ‘spans a spectrum of incidents and behaviors, ranging from crimes legally defined as rape to verbal harassment and inappropriate innuendo’. No wonder, then, that the battles become so heated. When innuendo qualifies as rape, the definitions have become so slippery that the entire subject sinks into a political swamp.”
The political swamp out of which this New Puritanism arose was created in part by one of the most important spokespeople of what came to be known as “second-wave feminism”.
Since the early 1960s, Robin Morgan was a leader of the radical feminist movement, in the US and internationally. Her 1970 anthology Sisterhood Is Powerful has been widely credited with helping to start the second wave feminist movement in the US, and was cited by the New York Public Library as “one of the 100 most influential books of the 20th Century”, along with those of Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx. She was also the editor of Ms. Magazine (a contributing editor since the mid-1970s and editor-in-chief from 1989 to 1994).
As the 1974 Iowa State University keynote speaker, Robin Morgan said that feminists hate men and that the movement wasn’t about equality but about women attaining power. In her book, Going Too Far: The Personal Chronicle of a Feminist (1978), Morgan wrote “I feel that man-hating is an honorable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them.”
The theological perspective of the New Puritanism was perhaps best articulated by the lesbian feminist theologian Mary Daly, who argued that sexual equality between men and women was not possible and that women, due to their superior capacities, should rule men. In a 1999 interview with EnlightenNext magazine, Daly argued “If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accompanied by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of males.”
Strangely, these obviously extreme versions of women’s empowerment and supremacy wove themselves into the very fabric of modern academic thought and, from the academy and its profound bias in gender studies and research, insinuated themselves into federal legislation in the form of laws, policies and agencies which protect women “victims” often at the expense of men, or – at least – without addressing similar needs in the male population (for instance, while the few balanced studies showed rates of domestic violence at equal levels directed against men as against women, there are no laws, crisis centers, hot-lines, or shelters for abused men in the US, nor has any man been acquitted of murder of a spouse because of prior domestic abuse while women often benefit from this “defense”).
While threading into mainstream institutions so surreptitiously that few have been aware of it, this profoundly gynocentric (focused on women’s issues) and misandrist (anti-male) perspective has been addressed and sharply criticized both by self-described “equity feminists” and by academic research.
These twisted strands of distorted feminism have found a home in recent amendments to the 1965 Higher Education Act and in Department of Education policies, which now require all universities and colleges that receive federal funding (which means all US institutions of higher education) to form administrative lynch mobs to hang out to dry those men accused of sexual improprieties – much as America’s early Puritans formed tribunals to “prove” the guilt of witches and other “heretics” to the accepted dogma of the time.
Feminism Becomes Its Own Enemy
The ground-breaking book, The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism by Katie Roiphe (1994), describes how the feminist movement has begun to cannibalize its own core values and become its own worst enemy.
When Katie Roiphe arrived at Harvard in the fall of 1986, she found that the feminism she had been raised to believe in had been radically transformed. At Harvard, and later as a doctoral student at Princeton, Roiphe saw a thoroughly new phenomenon taking shape on campus: the emergence of a culture captivated by victimization, and of a new bedroom politics in the university, cloaked in outdated assumptions about the way men and women experience sex.
Twenty-four-year-old Katie Roiphe is the first of her generation to speak out publicly against the intolerant turn the women’s movement has taken, and in The Morning After she casts a critical eye on what she calls the mating rituals of a rape-sensitive community. From Take Back the Night marches to rape-crisis feminists and the growing campus concern with sexual harassment, Roiphe shows us a generation of women whose values are strikingly similar to those their mothers and grandmothers fought so hard to escape from – a generation yearning for regulation, fearful of its sexuality, and animated by a nostalgia for days of greater social control.
To Katie Roiphe, feminism had always meant freedom – but she was shocked to discover that the same movement that had once promised women a voice was now being used to tell them what they ought to say and think and feel. The Morning After arose out of her frustration with today’s feminism and with the hypocrisy of a culture that idealizes freedom of speech but refuses to tolerate dissent.
Gynocentism and Misandry Become Mainstream
In 2002, Charlotte Hays (senior editor of The Women’s Quarterly), wrote: “that the anti-male philosophy of radical feminism has filtered into the culture at large is incontestable; indeed, this attitude has become so pervasive that we hardly notice it any longer”.
Feminist author bell hooks (Gloria Jean Watkins) has criticized separatist strands of feminism as “reactionary” for promoting the notion that men are inherently immoral and inferior. In Feminism is For Everybody, she argues that the anti-male strand of feminism led to an unnecessary rift between the men’s movement and the women’s movement.
Naomi Wolf in Fire With Fire contrasted “power feminism” with “victim feminism”, arguing that the latter promotes the “angelization” of women as victims that speak with a pure voice and inversely demonizes men as inherently amoral. Wolf’s analysis of victim feminism echos the criticism that Betty Friedan made of female chauvinism which she defined as “the assumption that women have any moral or spiritual superiority as a class”.
Sociologist Anthony Synnott argues that the reality of misandry is undeniable when one looks to cultural, academic, and media depictions of men. He states that “misandry is everywhere, culturally acceptable, even normative, largely invisible, taught directly and indirectly by men and women, blind to reality, very damaging and dangerous to men and women in different ways and de-humanizing”. He also criticizes modern scholarship on men as “dehumanizing” and lacking in awareness of statistical reality. (“Why Some People Have Issues With Men: Misandry”, Psychology Today, October 6, 2010).
Wendy McElroy, an individualist feminist, wrote in 2001 that “a hot anger toward men seems to have turned into a cold hatred”. She argued it was a misandrist position to consider men, as a class, to be irreformable or rapists. McElroy stated “a new ideology has come to the forefront… radical or gender feminism”, one that has “joined hands with the political correctness movement that condemns the panorama of western civilization as sexist and racist: the product of dead white males” (Sexual Correctness: The Gender-Feminist Attack on Women, 2001).
In 2001, novelist Doris Lessing delivered a speech at the Edinburgh Books Festival criticizing a “lazy and insidious” culture that had taken hold within feminism that reveled in flailing men. Lessing stated “I find myself increasingly shocked at the unthinking and automatic rubbishing of men which is now so part of our culture that it is hardly even noticed”.
Barbara Kay, a Canadian Journalist, has been critical of feminist Mary Koss’s discussion of rape culture, describing the notion that “rape represents an extreme behavior but one that is on a continuum with normal male behavior within the culture” as “remarkably misandric”.
In “Sexism, Misandry, and Male-Bashing” by Redstocking (Cassandra Woolf, 2012):
“I attended Fordham University as a sophomore the year they admitted women as freshmen and was often the only woman in my classes… Misandry, hatred and disdain for men in general, is probably the most underused word in progressive political debate. Although a lifelong feminist, I have always loathed knee-jerk male-bashing and defended men against stereotyping… Both men and women can be sexists; both men and women can be the victim of sexism.”
“All of us are crippled by such sexist attitudes. Preschools and elementary schools are a better match for most girls. Boys too often wind up on medication so they can conform to classroom rules and expectations. The idea that every man is a potential rapist or sexual predator is hideously sexist.”
Religious Studies professors Paul Nathanson and Katherine Young, in their 2001 three-book series Beyond the Fall of Man, agree that misandry as a form of prejudice and discrimination has become institutionalized in North American society.
Nathanson and Young argued that “ideological feminism” has imposed misandry on culture. Their 2001 book, Spreading Misandry, analyzed “pop cultural artifacts and productions from the 1990s”, from movies to greeting cards, for what they considered to be pervasive messages of hatred toward men. Legalizing Misandry (2006), the second in the series, gave similar attention to laws in North America.
As a result, we suggest, the worldview of our society has become increasingly both gynocentric (focused on the needs and problems of women) and misandric (focused on the evils and inadequacies of men)…We argue that ideological feminists have played an important role in creating the gynocentric worldview and disseminating it.
– Katherine K. Young and Paul Nathanson, Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture (2001).
Camille Paglia is professor of humanities at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and best-selling author most recently of Vamps and Tramps. Christina Sommers, is an associate professor of philosophy at Clark University. In her recent book, Who Stole Feminism, she accuses activist women of betraying the women’s movement. She wrote the book, she says, because she is a feminist who does not like what feminism has become. The two were interviewed on PBS in 1995. Both women consider themselves “equity feminists”, as distinguished from “gender feminists”. Following are excerpts of their conversation.
Ms. Sommers: The orthodox feminists are so carried away with victimology, with a rhetoric of male-bashing that it’s full of female chauvinists, if you will. Also, women are quite eager to censor, to silence. And what concerns me most as a philosopher is it’s become very anti-intellectual, and I think it poses a serious risk to young women in the universities. Women’s studies classes are increasingly a kind of initiation into the most radical wing, the most intolerant wing, of the feminist movement.
Ms. Paglia: Now, I think that what we need to do now is to get rid of the totalitarians, get rid of the Kremlin mentality. We’ve got to get back to a pro-art, pro-beauty, pro-men kind of feminism.
Ms. Sommers: I think she’s right to call it a kind of totalitarianism. Many young women on campuses combine two very dangerous things: moral fervor and misinformation. On the campuses they’re fed a kind of catechism of oppression. They’re taught “one in four of you have been victims of rape or attempted rape; you’re earning 59 cents on the dollar; you’re suffering a massive loss of self-esteem; that you’re battered especially on Super Bowl Sunday”. All of these things are myths, grotesque exaggerations.
Ms. Paglia: Well, one of the things that got me pilloried from coast to coast was when I wrote a piece on date rape for Newsday in January of 1991. It got picked up by the wire services, and the torrent of abuse that poured in. I want women to fend for themselves. That essay that I wrote on rape begins with the line “Rape is an outrage that cannot be tolerated in civilized society.” I absolutely abhor this broadening of the idea of rape, which is an atrocity, to those things that go wrong on a date – acquaintances, little things, miscommunications – on pampered elite college campuses.
I believe, for example, in moderate sexual harassment guidelines. I lobbied for their adoption at my university in 1986. But I put into my proposal a strict penalty for false accusation. I don’t like the situation where the word of any woman is weighed above the testimony of any man.
NOW does not speak for American women. It does not speak even for all feminists. The National Organization for Women, which Betty Friedan founded, but which soon expelled even her. They’ve been taken over by a certain kind of ideology. I’m in constant war with them as a dissident feminist.
Ms. Sommers: I think we have to save young women from the feminists. That’s at the top of my agenda. And I say that as a very committed feminist philosopher… The other more traditional feminist issue is probably the double-shift. As women, we’re doing a lot of things men traditionally did; they’re not doing what we traditionally did. And so women do bear more responsibility at home. But if we’re going to solve that problem, I think we have to approach men as friends in a spirit of respect instead of calling them proto-rapists and harassers.
Ms. Paglia: The time for hostility to men is past. There was that moment. I was part of it. As an open lesbian, I have expressed my anger to men directly… What we have to do now is get over that anger toward men, and we have to bring the sexes back together. Reconciliation between the sexes is the first order of business.
Origins and Hypocrisy of the “Rape Culture” Meme
[For a more in-depth historical perspective on the origin of this meme, see All Sex is Rape – All Men are Rapists: Patriarchy = Rape Culture.]
This is a summary of the article, “Guilty Until Proven Innocent: How the Government Encourages Kangaroo Courts for Sex Crimes on Campus“, by Cathy Young.
The federal war on campus rape is unfolding amid a revival of what Katie Roiphe, in her landmark 1994 book The Morning After: Sex, Fear and Feminism on Campus, dubbed “rape-crisis feminism” – a loosely defined ideology that views sexual violence as the cornerstone of male oppression of women, expands the definition of rape to include a wide range of sexual acts involving no physical force or threat, and elevates the truth of women’s claims of sexual victimization to nearly untouchable status.
This brand of feminism seemed in retreat after the hoax at Duke University drew attention to the danger of presuming guilt. Yet in 2013, the concept made a strong comeback with the Steubenville, Ohio high school sexual assault case that gained national attention.
This sordid saga arguably shone a spotlight on the dark underside of small-town high school “football culture”, which can breed a sense of entitlement and impunity in popular athletes. Yet the national press coverage, fueled by wild rumors of unspeakable brutalities and of an official cover-up, turned into a far more sweeping indictment of America’s “rape culture” – a term that suddenly migrated from the fringes of feminist rhetoric into mainstream discourse.
Like many radical theories, the idea of rape culture contains plausible elements of truth: Some traditional gender arrangements have indeed encouraged cavalier or even tacitly accepting attitudes toward certain kinds of sexual violence. But this history is only one part of a complex mix of cultural attitudes – a mix that has long included genuine societal abhorrence of rape as a violation of female personhood. It is a measure of this abhorrence that, when feminists in the 1970s challenged the unjust treatment of rape victims, the reforms they advocated – such as dropping resistance requirements that did not apply to other violent crimes, or barring the use of a woman’s sexual history to discredit her – were soon enacted with overwhelming support. Moreover, the social response to sex offenses has been complicated by many factors besides sexism, from a general human tendency to sweep sordid matters under the rug to the difficulty of proving crimes that occur in intimate settings; these factors have affected male victims, too. Feminist theory offers no convincing explanation for why a homophobic patriarchy would also fail to protect boys from adult male sexual predators.
And yet the “rape culture” trope has gained such sway that even a New Yorker writer, highly critical of activist zealotry over Steubenville, concluded that the problem of sexual assault could not be so pervasive unless there was a rape-enabling culture treating sex as “something men get – and take” from women.
But what do the numbers that appear to support a pervasive rape problem really mean? The Pentagon poll that found one in four active-duty service members have been sexually assaulted, defined sexual assault broadly enough to include a slap on the behind – and half of its self-reported victims were men. The 2011 CDC study, stating that one in five American women are victims of rape or attempted rape, treats all sex under the influence of alcohol or drugs as rape, with no distinction between unconsciousness and impaired judgment. The respondents were never asked if they thought they were assaulted; in a comparable survey, the federally sponsored 2007 Campus Sexual Assault study, two-thirds of the women classified as victims of drug- or alcohol-induced rape and 37% of those counted as forcibly raped did not consider the event to be a crime. (And these were college women in the age of mandatory campus date-rape awareness programs.) Notably, when CDC survey respondents were asked about victimization during the previous 12 months, men reported being “forced to penetrate someone” – an act classified as sexual violence other than rape – at the same rate that women reported forced penetration. Either “rape culture” goes both ways, and women also sexually assault their male partners with alarming frequency, or the CDC definition of sexual violence needs rethinking.
Much of this reaction was well-intentioned. Yet, in the end, rape-culture feminism promotes not only a toxic view of relationships but a skewed and dangerous view of justice. Its key tenets: 1) Women almost never lie when they report a sex crime, and to doubt them is to perpetuate rape culture; 2) rape is any sexual act in which the woman feels violated – unless she suffers from false consciousness and needs to be educated about her violation; 3) rape includes situations in which the woman agrees to sex because of persistent advances, “emotional coercion” or intoxication – or because she doesn’t have the nerve to say no; 4) no matter how willing the woman appears to be, it is the man’s responsibility to ensure explicit consent – or he may be guilty of rape.
The inroads these ideas could make in the actual justice system have been limited by constitutional protections for the accused, including the presumption of innocence, a high standard of proof, and the right to confront the accusing witness. But colleges are almost perfect laboratories for feminist rape prosecutions, even if the penalty can be no worse than getting expelled.
Campus Kangaroo Courts
The campus is a place where sex happens a lot – including sex in random, often drunken encounters rife with potential for misunderstanding and regret. The Online College Social Life Survey, collected from nearly 25,000 students on 20 campuses from 2005 to 2011, found that women and men alike drink heavily when hooking up with a casual partner: an average of five alcoholic drinks for women, six for men. When you try to criminalize much of this confused and confusing sex, subjecting it to second-guessing by secretive quasi-judicial panels operating under arbitrary rules and influenced by the deference to feminist orthodoxy that prevails on many campuses, the results will not be pretty.
Complaints from all sides about the way colleges handle sexual assault reports raise the question: Why should an offense as serious as rape be “prosecuted” by a college, rather than turned over to the police? The answer is that the vast majority of these charges would be unlikely to survive the most basic legal scrutiny.
Federal involvement is likely to exacerbate the pro-accuser bias on many college campuses. In addition to lowering the standard of proof from “clear and compelling evidence” to “preponderance of evidence”, the Department of Education/Department of Justice blueprint for colleges mandates training for administrators, faculty, and student jurors involved in handling of sexual assault complaints. In practice, the training often amounts to indoctrination in the “correct” view of sexual assault. In 2011, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education publicized Stanford University’s reading materials for student jurors (mostly excerpted from the book, Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, by domestic violence specialist Lundy Bancroft). Among other things, students were advised that acting “logical and persuasive” in one’s defense was typical of an abuser and that one should be “very, very cautious in accepting a man’s claim that he has been wrongly accused” since “the great majority of allegations are substantially accurate”.
The wheel has come full circle: Forty years ago, feminists argued that rape should be treated the same as other crimes against persons. Today the progressive position appears to be that since rape is harder to prove than other crimes (particularly when it is defined so that it does not require physical coercion, threats of violence, or incapacitation), it should receive special treatment.
New Rules Needed
Women clearly have a particular vulnerability to sexual violence; while feminists have a tendency to exaggerate both women’s fear of rape and men’s sense of safety, there is a very real gender gap. This female fear is often invoked as a tragic consequence of “rape culture” and as proof of the urgent need to combat it.
But there is a paradox here. Women’s fear of sexual violence is related almost entirely to the kind of attack – the proverbial stranger in a dark alley – that rape-culture ideologues tend to downplay as a stereotype and a distraction. (It is also relatively rare: Survey data indicate that a woman’s lifetime chance of being raped by a stranger is around 2%.) No less ironic, the same ideologues who deplore women’s lack of safety often scoff at safety precautions, insisting that we must “teach men not to rape” rather than teach women to avoid rape – as if there were a single crime that could be completely eradicated by “teaching” people not to commit it.
In the end, the “rape culture” crusade is not so much about rape as it is about remaking sex. It stigmatizes assertive male sexuality and promotes a sexual norm in which every act must be negotiated in advance and undertaken with a completely rational, literally sober mind.
There is nothing wrong with challenging traditional rules of courtship or sexual norms. Many advocates of explicit consent insist they are trying to promote better communication and prevent hurtful misunderstandings. But it’s one thing to make a persuasive case for more open communication about sex; it’s another to make this a question of sexual violence, denigrating different views of sexuality as promoting “rape culture” and using the power of government to enforce one’s preferred rules.
Since it’s extremely unlikely that most college students will pause for a “May I?” before each intimate act, or stop having sex under the influence, the real outcome of the new campus policies will be to make virtually every sexually active male student vulnerable to a sexual offense charge if his partner retroactively reinterprets the experience as nonconsensual. Aside from the obvious unfairness to men, this is hardly a prescription for healthy interaction between men and women – or for basic respect for justice.
More lawsuits from men victimized by this warped notion of gender justice may, if successful, help restore balance. It is no exaggeration to say that this is one of the pressing civil rights issues of our time – one in which the federal civil rights watchdogs are on the wrong side.
The Myths of the “Rape Culture” Meme
Myth #1: One in Five College Women are Raped
“It is estimated that 1 in 5 women on college campuses has been sexually assaulted during their time there – 1 in 5.” – President Obama, remarks at White House, Jan. 22, 2014
The January 2014 White House report, “Rape And Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call To Action”, began “nearly 1 in 5 women have been raped in their lifetimes”. Even if this were true, it makes a lie of the assertion that all those rapes occurred on campus.
This claim, first published in Ms. Magazine in a 1987 article, “Date Rape: The Story of an Epidemic and Those Who Deny It”, took the universities by storm because it seemed to expose a problem that nobody knew existed in such dimensions. But the study by Mary Koss of Kent State University, in collaboration with the Ms. Foundation, had serious methodological flaws, which have been repeated in a number of subsequent studies. Chief among them is asking questions about sexual experiences which the researchers would classify as rape, even if the women respondents did not consider it anything more than a minor relationship mistake or an ambiguous alcohol-fueled hookup.
According to Christina Hoff Sommers, philosophy professor and self-described “equity feminist”, the Koss study and the oft-quoted “one in four” statistic is based upon flawed data. One of the three questions used by Koss to calculate rape prevalence was, “Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn’t want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs?” According to Sommers and professor Neil Gilbert, this left the door open for anyone who regretted a sexual liaison to be counted as a rape victim, even if neither partner thought of the situation as abusive.
Other studies of the time, such as those by scholars Margaret Gordon and Linda George, found much lower measured rape prevalence, with their research simply asking women if they had been raped rather than asking behaviorally specific questions.
The 1 in 5 on-campus statistic is also extrapolated from a 2007 survey, the “Campus Sexual Assault Study”, which asked nearly 5,500 women at two large public universities about unwanted sexual contact of any form, from touching or kissing to forcible or drugged penetrative rape. The study’s title sounds sweeping, but Christopher Krebs, the lead researcher on the study, said in an interview that the results were never meant to apply nationwide – or even to other large public universities similar to the ones he studied.
“I think sexual assault is a phenomenon that is potentially unique at each university,” he said.
The survey’s origins were personal. Krebs, a researcher with the Research Triangle Institute, was teaching at a North Carolina university in the early 2000s when he heard disturbing stories from two students. Both said they had been given drugs without their knowledge and ended up in the emergency room, although neither was sexually assaulted. Krebs applied for a grant from the National Institute of Justice to study sexual assault on college campuses, hoping in part to find out how common drug-assisted sexual assault actually was.
While his study was funded by a division of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the report began with this disclaimer: “This report has not been published by the U.S. Department of Justice. To provide better customer service, NCJRS has made this Federally-funded grant final report available electronically in addition to traditional paper copies. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the US Department of Justice.”
Krebs and his colleagues picked the two universities they studied – one in the South and one in the Midwest, but which aren’t named in the study – because administrators at those colleges were interested in participating. “It wasn’t a statistical sample or a random sample or anything else,” Krebs said. They reached almost 5,500 women, with response rates of 42.2% and 42.8%. Of those who responded (and received the payment of a $10 Amazon.com gift card), 19% said they had experienced either an attempted or completed sexual assault since starting college.
That figure includes all “unwanted sexual contact” – a broad category that includes not just rape and oral sex but also “forced touching” or sexual battery. That means being kissed, touched sexually, or groped against your will, even over clothing, while under the threat of force or because you are too drunk to consent.
The researchers broke down the results: since the beginning of college, 13.7% of women were the victim of a completed sexual assault. In all, 3.4% of women had been raped under the threat of force, and 8.5% had been raped when they were too incapacitated from drinking or drugs to consent. Of those who reported incapacitated sexual assault, 49.8% thought they were partially or fully responsible for the outcome, 31% said they did not remember or know what really happened, and 66% said they didn’t think it was serious enough to report (these categories can overlap).
“Forced touching” was, somewhat surprisingly, much less common than rape: 1.6% of women said they were sexually touched, but not raped, under the threat of force, and 2.6% said they were sexually touched but not raped when they were too incapacitated to consent.
They also found freshman were more likely to be sexually assaulted than older students, and that students in Greek organizations were more likely to be assaulted than those who weren’t. They found that sexual assault assisted by date rape drugs was relatively rare (only 0.6%, with another 1.7% believing they might have been drugged).
The Krebs report noted a 2000 study, also funded by the National Institute of Justice (but headed with the disclaimer that the results represent the points of view of the authors and not the DOJ), based on telephone interviews with 4,446 college women at both 2- and 4-year schools, that found that 2.8% of women reported an attempted (1.1%) or completed (1.7%) rape since the start of the 1996 school year. Though acknowledging the inherent dangers of doing so, the authors then extrapolated that composite 2.8% datum to a full 12-month year and multiplied it by the 5 years that the average student attends college. By engaging in such mathematical acrobatics, the authors were able to state that “the percentage of completed or attempted rape victimization among women in higher educational institutions might climb to between one-fifth and one-quarter”.
In spite of the obvious problems with such data, the 1 in 5 figure has stuck – even though it didn’t appear in Kreb’s original report. For a later article in the Journal of American College Health, published in 2009, Kreb’s researchers used the same highly limited data to estimate the likelihood that women would experience sexual assault by graduation, which they put at about 19%, or nearly one in five.
At the same time Krebs and his colleagues were surveying students at two public universities, the Medical University of South Carolina was taking on a bigger project, also funded by the National Institute of Justice: a national survey of how common rape is during a woman’s lifetime. As in Krebs’ study, researchers were particularly interested in the role of date rape drugs.
Researchers surveyed a sample of 2,000 women from more than 200 colleges. Unlike Krebs’ study, they only asked about experiences that could be legally classified as rape – in other words, involving vaginal, anal or oral penetration. They found 13% of college women had been raped either before they entered college or while they were enrolled. They estimated nearly 5% of college women were raped annually. If it is assumed that a different 5% are raped each year (this is contradicted by other studies), then 20% (or 1 in 5) would be raped in a four-year college tenure.
One key finding was that college women who were raped while they were too drunk or drugged to consent were less likely to describe what happened to them as rape. More than two-thirds described it either as “unpleasant but not a crime” or as “a crime, but not rape”.
The 2007 survey also found that rates of campus rape (6.1%) were lower than rates of other violent crimes, such as aggravated assault (8.3%) and simple assault (28.5%), with non-sexual violent crimes comprising 87% of those reported by college women.
From a 2008 National Institute of Justice (DOJ) Fact Sheet:
Unfortunately, researchers have been unable to determine the precise incidence of sexual assault on American campuses because the incidence found depends on how the questions are worded and the context of the survey. For example, researchers did two parallel surveys of American college women during the same time and came up with very different results. The surveys, conducted between February and May 1997, asked only about sexual assaults that had taken place “since school began in fall 1996.”
One survey found a completed rape rate of 1.7%, while the other study found a 0.16% rate. Similarly, one study found an attempted rape rate of 1.1%, while the other study found a rate of 0.18%. Thus, the percentage of the sample that reported experiencing a completed rape in one study was 11 times the percentage in the other study. Researchers believe the disparity arises from the way the survey questions are worded.
Some researchers count as rape a wide range of actions, some of which may not be criminal. Responses to survey questions will depend on how a term is defined, and how a woman interprets the definition.
Regardless of which studies are most accurate, the often-quoted statistic that one in four American college women will be raped during her college years is not supported by the scientific evidence.
Surveys of college students confirm that many sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Researchers asked students why they did not report the incidents to law enforcement officers. The most commonly reported response – offered by more than half the students – was that they did not think the incident was serious enough to report. More than 35% said they did not report the incident because they were unclear as to whether a crime was committed or that harm was intended.
New Study Debunks 1-in-5
A study produced by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) of the US Department of Justice (DOJ), Rape and Sexual Assault among College-age Females, 1995-2013, by Lynn Langton, PhD BJS statistician, and published on December 11, 2014 provides more credible statistics.
The BJS conducted its survey in a similar way to previous studies like the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey and the 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study. But unlike those surveys, BJS had a high response rate (88% for eligible persons). The NISVS and CSA studies had a response rate of 33%-42%.
The BJS survey also approached the subject from a criminal behavior perspective, while the other two were presented as public health surveys. But in all three, questions were asked of respondents and their answers were gauged to determine whether incidents of sexual assault had occurred – meaning that even if a respondent didn’t explicitly say she was raped or assaulted, the survey might still consider her a rape victim.
While the two older studies asked questions about whether the victim had been assaulted while under the influence, the BJS did not. The survey found that the rate of rape or sexual assault for women has been declining sharply since 1997.
- The rate of rape and sexual assault was 1.2 times higher for non-students (7.6 per 1,000) than for students (6.1 per 1,000).
- For both college students and non-students, the offender was known to the victim in about 80% of rape and sexual assault victimizations.
- Most (51%) student rape and sexual assault victimizations occurred while the victim was pursuing leisure activities away from home, compared to non-students who were engaged in other activities at home (50%) when the victimization occurred.
- The offender had a weapon in about 1 in 10 rape and sexual assault victimizations against both students and non-students.
- Rape and sexual assault victimizations of students (80%) were more likely than non-student victimizations (67%) to go unreported to police.
- About a quarter of student (26% and non-student (23%) victims who did not report to police believed the incident was a “personal matter”, and 1 in 5 (20% each) stated a fear of reprisal.
- Student victims (12%) were more likely than non-student victims (5%) to state that the incident was not important enough to report.
- Fewer than 1 in 5 female student (16%) and non-student (18%) victims of rape and sexual assault received assistance from a victim services agency.
Reported crimes are much lower. Bureau of Justice Statistics data indicate that in 2012 the rate of rapes and sexual assaults was 1.3 per 1,000 Americans (0.13%) ages 12 and up.
US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), the driving force behind the Campus Accountability and Safety Act and one of the most vocal advocates for campus rape victims,has dropped the “1-in-5” statistic from her website, as well as any reference to the 2007 Campus Sexual Assault study from which it was derived. However, her web page still states that “a woman in America who attends college is more likely to be a victim of sexual assault than one who does not attend college”, even though that, too, has been debunked by the latest nation-wide DOJ study.
Currently, a woman in America who attends college is more likely to be a victim of sexual assault than one who does not attend college. In addition, according to the National Institute of Justice , an estimated one out of five women who attends college will be sexually assaulted during her time there. But unfortunately, too many universities and colleges across the country refuse to acknowledge that they even have a problem.
In an excellent 8,700 word article written in 2008, “The Campus Rape Myth“, Heather Mac Donald, details the “bogus statistics, feminist victimology, and university-approved sex toys” that have turned out institutions of higher education into Bacchanalian dens of iniquity. What follows is a summary:
Koss’s study [reported in Ms. Magazine] had serious flaws. But the most powerful refutation of Koss’s research came from her own subjects: 73% of the women whom she characterized as rape victims said that they hadn’t been raped. Further – though it is inconceivable that a raped woman would voluntarily have sex again with the fiend who attacked her – 42% of Koss’s supposed victims had intercourse again with their alleged assailants.
Equally damning was a 2000 campus rape study conducted under the aegis of the Department of Justice. 65% of what the feminist researchers called “completed rape” victims and 75% of “attempted rape” victims said that they did not think that their experiences were “serious enough to report”. The “victims” in the study, moreover, “generally did not state that their victimization resulted in physical or emotional injuries,” report the researchers.
Federal law requires colleges to publish reported crimes affecting their students. The numbers of reported sexual assaults – the law does not require their confirmation – usually run under half a dozen a year on private campuses and maybe two to three times that at large public universities.
Campuses do everything they can to get their numbers of reported and adjudicated sexual assaults up – adding new categories of lesser offenses, lowering the burden of proof, and devising hearing procedures that will elicit more assault charges.
The scarcity of reported sexual assaults means that the women who do report them must be treated like rare treasures. New York University’s Wellness Exchange counsels people to “believe unconditionally” in sexual-assault charges because “only 2% of reported rapes are false reports” (a ubiquitous claim that dates from radical feminist Susan Brownmiller’s 1975 tract Against Our Will). As Stuart Taylor and K. C. Johnson point out in their book Until Proven Innocent, however, the rate of false reports is at least 9% and probably closer to 50%.
So what reality does lie behind the campus rape industry? A booze-fueled hookup culture of one-night, or sometimes just partial-night, stands. College girls drink themselves into near or actual oblivion before and during parties. That drinking is often goal-oriented, suggests University of Virginia graduate Karin Agness: it frees the drinker from responsibility and “provides an excuse for engaging in behavior that she ordinarily wouldn’t”.
As anticipated, the night can include a meaningless sexual encounter with a guy whom the girl may not even know. This less-than-romantic denouement produces the “roll and scream: you roll over the next morning so horrified at what you find next to you that you scream,” a Duke coed reports in Laura Sessions Stepp’s recent book Unhooked. To the extent that they’re remembered at all, these are the couplings that are occasionally transformed into “rape” – though far less often than the campus rape industry wishes.
Now perhaps the male willfully exploited the woman’s self-inflicted incapacitation; if so, he deserves censure for taking advantage of a female in distress. But to hold the woman completely without responsibility requires stripping women of volition and moral agency. Campus rape ideology holds that inebriation strips women of responsibility for their actions but preserves male responsibility not only for their own actions but for their partners’ as well. Thus do men again become the guardians of female well-being.
But suggest to a rape bureaucrat that female students should behave with greater sexual restraint as a preventive measure, and you might as well be saying that the girls should enter a convent or don the burka. Putting on a tight tank top doesn’t, of course, lead to what the bureaucrats call “rape”. But taking off that tank top does increase the risk of sexual intercourse that will be later regretted, especially when the tank-topper has been intently mainlining rum and Cokes all evening.
The baby boomers who demanded the dismantling of all campus rules governing the relations between the sexes now sit in dean’s offices and student-counseling services. They cannot turn around and argue for reregulating sex, even on pragmatic grounds. Instead, they have responded to the fallout of the college sexual revolution with bizarre and anachronistic legalism. Campuses have created a judicial infrastructure for responding to postcoital second thoughts more complex than that required to adjudicate maritime commerce claims in Renaissance Venice.
Rarely have primal lust and carousing been more weirdly paired with their opposites. Out in the real world, people who regret a sexual coupling must work it out on their own; no counterpart exists outside academia for this superstructure of hearings, mediations, and negotiated settlements. If you’ve actually been raped, you go to criminal court – but the overwhelming majority of campus “rape” cases that take up administration time and resources would get thrown out of court in a twinkling, which is why they’re almost never prosecuted. Indeed, if the campus rape industry really believes that these hookup encounters are rape, it is unconscionable to leave them to flimsy academic procedures.
Modern feminists defined the right to be promiscuous as a cornerstone of female equality. Understandably, they now hesitate to acknowledge that sex is a more complicated force than was foreseen. Rather than recognizing that no-consequences sex may be a contradiction in terms, however, the campus rape industry claims that what it calls campus rape is about not sex but rather politics – the male desire to subordinate women. The University of Virginia Women’s Center intones that “rape or sexual assault is not an act of sex or lust – it’s about aggression, power, and humiliation, using sex as the weapon. The rapist’s goal is domination.”
This characterization may or may not describe the psychopathic violence of stranger rape. But it is an absurd description of the barnyard rutting that undergraduate men, happily released from older constraints, seek. The guys who push themselves on women at keggers are after one thing only, and it’s not a reinstatement of the patriarchy. Each would be perfectly content if his partner for the evening becomes president of the United States one day, so long as she lets him take off her panties tonight.
One group on campus isn’t buying the politics of the campus “rape” movement, however: students. To the despair of rape industrialists everywhere, students have held on to the view that women usually have considerable power to determine whether a campus social event ends with intercourse. Maybe these young iconoclasts can take up another discredited idea: college is for learning. The campus rape and sex industries are signs of how hollow the university has become.
By now, universities have traveled so far from their original task of immersing students in the greatest intellectual and artistic creations of humanity that criticizing any particular detour seems arbitrary. Still, the question presents itself: Why, exactly, are the schools offering workshops on orgasms and sex toys? Are students already so saturated with knowledge of Renaissance humanism or the evolution of constitutional democracy, say, that colleges can happily reroute resources to matters readily available on porn websites?
Members of the multifaceted campus sex bureaucracy never seem to consider the possibility that the libertinism that one administrative branch champions, and the sex that another branch portrays as rape, may be inextricably linked.
Myth #2: False Rape Allegations are Extremely Rare
Anti-rape activists routinely state that the rate of false rape allegations is 2%. Some will acknowledge a rate of 2% to 8%.
FBI reports consistently put the number of “unfounded” rape accusations (“unfounded” meaning that police investigation of a reported rape did not support the claim) at around 8%. That rate is, however, four times the average rate of unfounded reports for all FBI Index crimes.
A review of 556 rape accusations filed against Air Force personnel found that 27% of women later recanted. Twenty-five criteria were developed based on the profile of those women, and then submitted to three independent reviewers to review the remaining cases. If all three reviewers deemed the allegation was false, it was categorized as false. As a result, 60% of all allegations were found to be false. Of those women who later recanted, many didn’t admit the allegation was false until just before taking a polygraph test. Others admitted it was false only after having failed a polygraph test. (McDowell CP. False allegations. Forensic Science Digest, Vol. 11, No. 4, December 1985)
In a nine-year study of 109 rapes reported to the police in a Midwestern city, Purdue sociologist Eugene J. Kanin reported that in 41% of the cases the complainants eventually admitted that no rape had occurred. Kanin was a sociologist at Purdue University, and an early feminist who pioneered awareness and study of the concept of date rape. His study is still the most cited by other researchers , because it relied on an unequivocal recantation by the accuser to determine a complaint to be truly “false”.
In a follow-up study of rape claims filed over a three-year period at two large Midwestern universities, Kanin found that of 64 rape cases, 50% turned out to be false. Among the false charges, 53% of the women admitted they filed the false claim as an alibi. (Kanin EJ. An alarming national trend: False rape allegations. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 23, No. 1, 1994)
In the study of false rape allegations in the Midwestern town and state universities, more than half of the accusers fabricated the rape to serve as a “cover story” or alibi, following consensual sex with an acquaintance that led to some sort of problem for the accuser, such as contracting a sexually transmitted disease or becoming pregnant. The next most common reason was revenge, rage, or retribution (27% of the non-student and 44% of the student accusers). The Air Force study also found that spite or revenge and the need to compensate for a sense of personal failure were the primary motives for false rape reports.
According to a 1996 Department of Justice report, “in about 25% of the sexual assault cases referred to the FBI… the primary suspect has been excluded by forensic DNA testing. It should be noted that rape involves a forcible and non-consensual act, and a DNA match alone does not prove that rape occurred, only that sex occurred. Nor does a finding of no DNA match to the accused prove that rape did not occur – but that, of the rape claims brought to the police (which all parties agree is a small percentage of the total claims), at least 1-in-4 are false accusations or false identifications. So the 25% figure substantially underestimates the true extent of false allegations, most of which are never reported to the police. (Connors, Lundregan, Miller & McEwen, Convicted By Juries, Exonerated By Science: Case Studies in the Use Of DNA Evidence to Establish Innocence After Trial, DOJ, 1996)
Wendy McElroy, the editor of ifeminists.com, a research fellow for The Independent Institute in Oakland CA, and the editor of Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century (2002) wrote:
“Several years ago, I tried to track down the origin of the much-cited statistic that two percent of all rape reports are false. The first instance I found of the figure was in Susan Brownmiller’s book on sexual assault entitled Against Our Will (1975). Brownmiller claimed that false accusations in New York City had dropped to 2% after police departments began using policewomen to interview alleged victims. Elsewhere, the 2% figure appears without citation or with only a vague attribution to ‘FBI’ sources. Although the figure shows up in legislation such as the Violence Against Women Act, legal scholar Michelle Anderson of Villanova University Law School reported in 2004, “no study has ever been published which sets forth an evidentiary basis for the 2% false rape complaint thesis.”
In “Patients Who Make False Allegations: The Role of the Forensic Psychiatrist” by Richard C. W. Hall, MD, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of Florida, Gainesville:
Myers (Allegations of child sexual abuse in custody and visitation litigation: recommendations for improved fact finding and child protection. J Fam Law; 1989-90) notes that 45% of allegations of sexual abuse in the US are totally unsubstantiated. This is particularly true when they emerge in the context of an angry doctor/patient relationship, an ugly divorce, an angry child custody case, or a situation where a patient with a significant personality disorder is confronting a legal authority.
Knight (Simpson’s Forensic Medicine, 11th edition. Oxford University Press, New York, NY; 1991) notes that “the fact is that a significant proportion of allegations of rape and indecent assault reported to the police are found to be untrue. This is often hotly denied by women’s groups, but is an indisputable fact, proven by many subsequent admissions by girls that no such attack took place.”
When evaluating these allegations, the forensic psychiatrist must remain impartial, be aware of their own gender biases, and resist pressure by other members of the team who may have their own agendas to avenge some social wrongdoing or who identify too strongly with the accuser. They should respond methodically and cautiously. In the absence of positive forensic proof, the allegations must be looked at carefully and impartially. Conclusions should be reached only after carefully reviewing all objective facts and after a detailed history and examination. The accused should be given the benefit of doubt as it is almost impossible to disprove a negative.
Where clear-cut revenge is a motive, where patients are psychotic or delusional, or where the allegations occur at a time when the accuser is intoxicated with alcohol or drugs, particular caution should be exercised. If there is a history of repetitive allegations made against many figures in the past, the index of suspicion should go up. One must also consider the timing of allegations, particularly date rape, where a female sees a boy regularly, dates for several months, gives consent for intercourse, and then later makes accusations of rape or sexual misbehavior when the relationship ends. The investigator must always be cautious of a patient’s desire for revenge or mischief.
Factors To Be Considered:
- Is accuser creditable?
- Is story consistent and believable?
- Is there a motive for revenge or mischief?
- Have other allegations been made previously? Does a pattern of allegations exist?
- Has the patient been counseled in their charges by some professional who has vested interest?
- Is there any physical evidence of misdeed?
Myth #3: Men are Rarely Raped (except by other men)
If any unwanted or not fully consensual sexual activity is defined now as rape, then more men then women are victims of rape and most of their victimizers are women.
An article about college students published in the Journal of Sex Research Vol. 31, No. 2 (1994), noted that Muehlenhard and Cook (1988) found that 46% of women and 63% of men had acquiesced to unwanted sexual intercourse, while Muehlenhard and Long (1988) also found that more men (49%) than women (40%) had engaged in unwanted sex. Muehlenhard and Rodgers (1993) found that 34% of women reported having engaged in token resistance to sex, in which they said “no” when they really desired to have sex. US women acknowledge a 55% rate of consent to unwanted sex, which is consistent with the findings of 50% false rape allegations in university studies.
[Charlene L. Muehlenhard, PhD, the author of all those studies, is a Professor of Psychology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Fellow in Three Divisions of the American Psychological Association (Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, Society for the Psychology of Women, Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues), and a Fellow in the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality.]
According to a 2014 paper published in the American Psychological Association journal, Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 43% of high school and college-aged men say they’ve had “unwanted sexual contact”, and 95% of those say a female acquaintance was the aggressor.
Researchers found that 18% reported sexual coercion by force (including by use of weapon), 31% said they were verbally coerced into sex, 26% said they’d experienced unwanted seduction, and 7% said they were compelled after being given alcohol or drugs.
Dr. Bryana French, who teaches counseling psychology and black studies at University of Missouri and co-authored the study, says that male victims are often less willing to describe sexual coercion in detail, “but when asked if it happened, they say it happened”.
French said, “Seduction was a particularly salient and potentially unique form of coercion for teenage boys and young men when compared to their female counterparts.”
The Sexual Victimization of Men in America: New Data Challenge Old Assumptions is co-authored by Lara Stemple, Health and Human Rights Law Project, UCLA, and Ilan H. Meyer, Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law.
The authors assessed 12-month prevalence of sexual victimization from five federal surveys conducted, independently, by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 2010 through 2012. The review of these surveys provides an unprecedented wealth of new data about male victimization, challenging long-held stereotypes about the sex of victims.
In one of the studies included in the analysis, the CDC found that an estimated 1.3 million women experienced nonconsensual sex, or rape, in the previous year. Notably, nearly the same number of men also reported nonconsensual sex. In comparison to the number of women who were raped, nearly 1.3 million men were “made to penetrate” someone else. The CDC data reveal that both women and men experienced nonconsensual sex in alarming and equal numbers.
The study also included the 2012 National Crime Victimization Survey, which found that 38% of all reported rape and sexual assault incidents were committed against males, an increase over past years that challenges the common belief that males are rarely victims of this crime.
“These findings are striking, yet misconceptions about male victimization persist. We identified reasons for this, which include the over-reliance on traditional gender stereotypes, outdated and inconsistent definitions used by some federal agencies, and methodological sampling biases.”
The 2011 CDC analysis referred to in the 2014 report found that 6.7% of men (7.6 million) reported that they were made to penetrate someone else, and that 82.6% of male victims of “made to penetrate” events and 80% of male victims of sexual coercion reported female perpetrators, meaning they were raped by a woman, according to the current and broadly accepted definition of rape as any unwanted sexual encounter.
The CDC report’s statistics for the preceding 12 months showed that a higher percentage of men were “made to penetrate” (1.7%) than women were raped (1.6%), such that if you properly include “made to penetrate” in the definition of rape, men were raped by women at least as often as women were raped by men.
Biased Crime Data
Effective January 1, 2013, the FBI changed the definition of rape that is used in the collection of national crime statistics. The old definition was “The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” The new definition of rape is: “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
While this new definition of criminal rape for the first time eliminates the female-only blinders, it is still limited to penetration of the victim and excludes male victims “made to penetrate” a female perpetrator (which a 2011 CDC study indicates happens at least as often to men as rape happens to women).
Myth #4: Rape is Always Black & White, Never Gray
A 2014 White House report on campus rape states that, when women report unwanted sexual activity, “most often (about 9 out of 10 times) it’s by someone she knows – and also most often, she does not report what happened” because in half of all cases they “don’t call what happened to them rape”. They don’t call it rape because it involves an acquaintance, often alcohol, and ambiguous or vague consent.
In the 1994 book, The Morning After: Fear, Sex and Feminism, author Katie Roiphe asserted, “There is a gray area in which one person’s rape may be another’s bad night.”
Laura Sessions Stepp, Washington Post journalist, wrote a 2007 article on “gray rape” describing sexual encounters where usually both parties were very drunk and really didn’t know what they had said to each other the next morning. In such cases, consent by either party is uncertain, but the standard today is that only the man is held accountable for the consequences.
A research report in the May, 1988 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that undergraduate college women saying “no” but meaning “yes” was acknowledged by 39.3% of the women, with reasons being either practical, inhibition-related, or manipulative.
A research report in the March 1995 Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that 83% of token resistant women had more than one sexual intention during the episode, and the authors concluded that most token resistant behavior is a change of intention that is poorly recalled because of memory consolidation.
Myth #5: Rape is About Power, Not Sex
In 1994, Richard Felson, professor of Criminology and Sociology at Penn State, coauthored the book Aggression and Coercive Actions: A Social-Interactionist Perspective with James Tedeschi, professor of Psychology at the State University of New York at Albany, which argues that sexual fulfillment is the motive of rapists, rather than the aggressive desire to dominate the victim. Felson argues that rape is an aggressive form of sexual coercion and the goal of rape is sexual satisfaction rather than power. Most rapists do not have a preference for rape over consensual sex. Numerous studies support this theory:
- Dreznick MT (2003). “Heterosocial competence of rapists and child molesters: a meta-analysis”. J Sex Res 40 (2): 170–8
- Barbaree, H.E.; Marshall, W.L.; Lanthier, R.D. (1979). “Deviant sexual arousal in rapists”. Behaviour Research and Therapy 8: 229–239
- Baxter, D.J.; Barbaree, H.E.; Marshall, W.L. (1986). “Sexual responses to consenting and forced sex in a large sample of rapists and nonrapists”. Behaviour Research and Therapy 24 (5): 513–520.
- Hall, G.C.N.; Proctor, W.C.; Nelson, G.M. (1988). “Validity of physiological measures of pedophilic sexual arousal in a sexual offender population”. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 56 (1): 118–122
- Ron Langevin (1985). Erotic preference, gender identity, and aggression in men: new research studies. Psychology Press. pp. 39–76
- Wormith, J.S.; Bradford, J.M.W.; Pawlak, A.; Borzecki, M.; Zohar, A. (1988). “The assessment of deviant sexual arousal as a function of intelligence, instructional set and alcohol ingestion”. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 33: 800–808
The feminist theory of male-female rape is summarized by Susan Brownmiller’s statement from her 1975 book Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape: “Rape is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.” Some feminists assert that male domination of women in socio-political and economic domains is the ultimate cause of most rapes, and consider male-female rape to be a crime of power that has little or nothing to do with sex itself. However, a 1983 study comparing 14 indicators of male dominance and the incidence of rape in 26 American cities found no correlations, except one where greater male dominance actually decreased the incidence of rape (Lee Ellisa and Charles Beattie, 1983, “The feminist explanation for rape: An empirical test”, Journal of Sex Research 19: 74).
Ginny, a college senior who was raped when she was 16, suggests that false accusations of rape can serve a useful purpose. “Penetration is not the only form of violation,” she explains. In her view, rape is a subjective term, one that women must use to draw attention to other, nonviolent, even nonsexual forms of oppression. “If a woman did falsely accuse a man of rape, she may have had reasons to,” Ginny says. “Maybe she wasn’t raped, but he clearly violated her in some way.”
Catherine Comins, the assistant dean of student life at Vassar who had asserted that false rape allegations may benefit the falsely accused, also sees some value in this loose use of the term “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.”
On the other hand, self-declared equity feminist Camille Paglia has offered this advice to young women: “Don’t get drunk at fraternity parties, don’t accompany boys to their rooms, realize that sexual freedom entails sexual risks, and take some responsibility for your behavior. This might once have been called common sense (it’s what some of our mothers told us); today it’s called blaming the victim.”
The New Paternalism
The 21st century manifestation of this New Paternalism that protects women at the expense of men is the draconian imposition of campus rape tribunals, forced by legislation and government policies that were enacted under the now-debunked assumptions that 1-in-5 college women are raped, that there is a “rape culture” and a “rape epidemic” in the US and particularly on college campuses, that false rape allegations are extremely rare, and that women are timid about reporting rape because everything in the system is stacked against them and they are inappropriately doubted or dismissed.
This forced shift from criminal courts to college administrative tribunals, on threat of loss of federal funding or significant fines and public shaming as “rape colleges”, is the result of increasingly strident federal laws and policies – Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to the 1965 Higher Education Act, the Clery Act of 1990, the Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights of 1992, the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, the 2011 Dear Colleague letter from the DOE, the 2013 “Blueprint letter” from the DOJ, the Campus SaVE Act of 2013, and the proposed Campus Accountability and Safety Act – which have shifted the calculus of guilt from “beyond a reasonable doubt” to “clear and convincing evidence” to “the preponderance of evidence”, meaning slightly more likely to be true than false.
These laws and policies not only provide counseling and advisers to the women accusers without providing similar support to the accused, but deny the accused any of the constitutional due process protections that are the foundation of criminal law.
[Twenty attorneys wrote a letter to Dear Senators critical of the lack of transparency, fairness, balance and due process in the proposed Campus Accountability and Safety Act.]
DOE Dear Colleague Letter
On April 4, 2011, the US Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to every US educational institution which receives any federal education funding. It began:
Education has long been recognized as the great equalizer in America. The U.S. Department of Education and its Office for Civil Rights (OCR) believe that providing all students with an educational environment free from discrimination is extremely important. The sexual harassment of students, including sexual violence, interferes with students’ right to receive an education free from discrimination and, in the case of sexual violence, is a crime.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 … prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities operated by recipients of Federal financial assistance. Sexual harassment of students, which includes acts of sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX.
Sexual violence, as that term is used in this letter, refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent due to the victim’s use of drugs or alcohol. An individual also may be unable to give consent due to an intellectual or other disability. A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion. All such acts of sexual violence are forms of sexual harassment covered under Title IX.
(19 pages with 46 footnotes)
The most significant element of what amounted to a federal blackmail note was that, to prevent risking loss of federal funding, all educational institutions must establish a sexual harassment adjudication policy based on a “preponderance of the evidence” standard, and apply clear and explicit penalties for a “guilty” finding – up to and including expulsion from school.
This standard merely requires that it is “more likely than not” that someone is responsible for what they are accused of, and is the lowest standard of proof.
Given the seriousness of allegations of sexual misconduct – which range from sexual harassment to rape – the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) believes that this standard does not sufficiently protect the accused person’s right to due process.
Following the issuance of this letter, a flurry of criticism was published in media sources across the political spectrum:
Hans Bader, “Education Department shreds presumption of innocence in April 4 letter,” The Washington Examiner, April 8, 2011
Wendy Kaminer, “The SaVE Act: Trading Liberty for Security on Campus,” The Atlantic, April 25, 2011
Christina Hoff Sommers, “In Making Campuses Safe for Women, a Travesty of Justice for Men,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 5, 2011
Harvey Silverglate, “Yes Means Yes–Except on Campus,” The Wall Street Journal, July 15, 2011
Samantha Harris, “The feds’ mad assault on campus sex,” New York Post, July 20, 2011
Cynthia Bell, “Rape should be tough to prove,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 14, 2011
Caroline May, “American Association of University Professors expresses concern over Dept. of Education’s new mandates,” The Daily Caller, August 18, 2011
Peter Berkowitz, “College Rape Accusations and the Presumption of Male Guilt,” The Wall Street Journal, August 20, 2011
Cathy Young, “The Politics of Campus Sexual Assault,” Real Clear Politics, November 6, 2011
DOJ/DOE Blueprint Letter
On May 9, 2013, the United States Departments of Justice and Education issued a findings letter announcing a resolution agreement with the University of Montana, ending a joint federal investigation into the university’s policies and practices regarding sexual harassment and assault. The findings letter, which refers to the agreement as a “blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country to protect students from sexual harassment and assault,” explains the Departments’ interpretation of applicable legal standards and the terms of the agreement and defines sexual harassment as “any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature”. Below are excerpts:
US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
US Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights
May 9, 2013
The United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Educational Opportunities Section and the United States Department of Education, through its Office for Civil Rights, are pleased to confirm the resolution of their investigation and compliance review of the University of Montana’s handling of allegations of sexual assault and harassment at its Missoula campus…. The Agreement will serve as a blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country to protect students from sexual harassment and assault.
Title IX also requires universities to adopt and publish grievance procedures providing for prompt and equitable resolution of student and employee complaints alleging any action that would be prohibited by Title IX, including sexual harassment and sexual assault.
In addition, a university must take immediate steps to protect the complainant from further harassment prior to the completion of the Title IX and Title IV investigation/resolution. Appropriate steps may include separating the accused harasser and the complainant, providing counseling for the complainant and/or harasser, and/or taking disciplinary action against the harasser.
Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature and can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, such as sexual assault or acts of sexual violence. …that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to deny or limit a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the school’s program based on sex. …“severe or pervasive” sexual harassment can establish a hostile environment that a university must remedy and prevent from recurring.
In determining whether this denial or limitation has occurred, the United States examines all the relevant circumstances from an objective and subjective perspective…
This national “blueprint” for resolving Title IX sexual harassment complaints effectively undermined the 1st Amendment by banning speech, whether verbal or nonverbal, that another person finds subjectively offensive, effectively eliminating the legally normative “reasonable person” standard.
This was the basis of the infamous 1993 Water Buffalo Affair, in which a freshman male at the University of Pennsylvania was charged with racial harassment for shouting at a bunch of rowdy (mostly black) sorority women outside his dorm window who were preventing him from studying. It became one of the most important free speech issues in American history.
Campus SaVE Act
In spite of the broad concern over the erosion of due process rights, on March 7, 2013, President Obama signed the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (Campus SaVE) Act into law as part of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization.
The Campus SaVE Act is intended to increase transparency on campus about incidents of sexual violence, guarantee victims (but not accused) enhanced rights, set standards for disciplinary proceedings, and require campus-wide prevention education programs. The Campus SaVE Act amends the Clery Act, which addresses campus sexual assault policies within the Higher Education Act of 1965.
The Campus SaVE Act incorporated the “preponderance of evidence” standard articulated in the Dear Colleague Letter of 2011.
Harvard Under Fire – Harvard Law Professors’ Letter
Harvard University is one of the 90 colleges and universities under Title IX investigations, and one of many which instituted new sexual assault policies in an attempt to comply with the new standards.
On October 15, 2014, an open letter was published in the Boston Globe, signed by 28 Harvard law professors voicing strong objections to the school’s one-sided sexual misconduct policies. Among other things the professors said this:
“Harvard has adopted procedures for deciding cases of alleged sexual misconduct which lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process, are overwhelmingly stacked against the accused, and are in no way required by Title IX law or regulation.”
Among the signers of the letter are esteemed criminal law expert Alan Dershowitz, Obama mentor Charles Ogletree, and Prof. Elizabeth Bartholet, who directs Harvard’s Child Advocacy Program.
A week earlier, Dershowitz told Time magazine “Harvard’s policy was written by people who think sexual assault is so heinous a crime that even innocence is not a defense.”
Prof. Elizabeth Bartholet said that Harvard’s new policy comes “very very close” to California’s new “Yes means Yes” law, requiring affirmative consent for sex on campus, and that the new policy is unfair to the accused and “degrading and demeaning for women” because it assumes women need special protection.
Prof. Janet Halley said “When you drop the reasonable person requirement, then you’re saying, ‘No, it’s just if the person wakes up the next morning and says [the contact] was unwelcome, we’ll entertain a complaint about that.’ And that squanders the moral authority of sexual harassment law.”
Anne Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, said: “I think we owe these professors a sincere thanks for finally drawing a line in the sand. [The SaVE Act] has effectively put a gun to the heads of our colleges and universities to disregard constitutional rights. I think these professors are properly saying that we cannot allow our institutions to be taken down an Orwellian path where the Constitution takes a back seat to other considerations.”
[For a feminist law professor’s critique of the Harvard over-reaction, see: Sexual Assault and Justice: Can we reconcile the belated attention to rape on campus with due process? by Nancy Gertner.]
In December 2014, Harvard Law School was found to be in violation of Title IX for two cases dating back to 2010, and in early January 2015 the Law School exempted itself from the new University-wide sexual assault policy and drafted its own, more equitable and legally-defensible policy which is under review for approval by the DOE/OCR.
Penn Law Professors Castigate New Sexual Assault Policy
In a February 18, 2015 open letter signed by 16 tenured or tenure-track law professors at the University of Pennsylvania (nearly one-third of the entire Law School faculty), subtitled “Sexual Assault Complaints: Protecting Complainants and the Accused Students at Universities”, strong objections were raised to the trading away of fundamental due process protections for the sake of protecting potential sexual assault victims.
David Rudovsky, one of the signatories who also practices at a firm that specializes in civil rights cases, said: “What is problematic about the Penn policy and what colleges are adopting across the country is that they fail, almost all of them, to provide necessary due-process safeguards for persons accused of sexual assaults. We agree that there ought to be protections for persons who complain about sexual assaults. But…we know from experience that when you make shortcuts around due process, you tend to get wrongful convictions.”
Here is a summary of the letter:
Although we appreciate the efforts by Penn and other universities to implement fair procedures, particularly in light of the financial sanctions threatened by OCR, we believe that OCR’s approach exerts improper pressure upon universities to adopt procedures that do not afford fundamental fairness. We do not believe that providing justice for victims of sexual assault requires subordinating so many protections long deemed necessary to protect from injustice those accused of serious offenses.
As law teachers who instruct students on the basic principles of due process of law, proper administrative procedures, and rules of evidence designed to ensure reliable judgments, we are deeply concerned by these developments…
Our first priority should be to reduce the frequency of assaults… Universities must take more steps to deal with excessive use of alcohol and drugs, substances that all too often fuel the conditions that lead to contested sexual assault complaints.
There is also broad agreement that students need clear rules defining what constitutes consensual sexual conduct, but there are too often troubling ambiguities on questions such as what constitutes valid consent, and such ambiguities leave students vulnerable to sometimes unpredictable, after-the-fact assessments of their behavior.
we fully support procedures that ensure confidentiality in reporting incidents of sexual assault, counseling for victims, full and fair investigations by University officials trained in the dynamics of this type of offense, referral of cases to the police where such action is requested by the complainant and, where appropriate, informal resolution of complaints. Ultimately, however, a student who denies the charges is entitled to a fair hearing before being subjected to serious, life-changing sanctions.
It is not altogether clear, however, why the federal government requires such serious cases to be handled by campus tribunals staffed by academics, instead of by professional judges and lawyers. Perhaps it is time to funnel the more serious cases through the criminal justice process and to make that process much more accessible to and supportive of sexual assault complainants.
In addressing the issue of sexual assault, the federal government has sidestepped the usual procedures for making law. Congress has passed no statute requiring universities to reform their campus disciplinary procedures. OCR has not gone through the notice-and-comment rulemaking required to promulgate a new regulation. Instead, OCR has issued several guidance letters whose legal status is questionable. It is this guidance that purports to require universities to retreat from the clear-and-convincing standard of proof to a preponderance-of-the-evidence standard, which requires a finding of responsibility even if the factfinder is almost 50% sure that the accused student is not guilty.
We recognize that student disciplinary hearings are not criminal trials and therefore do not require all constitutional guarantees. What is required is fundamental fairness, including (1) the right to the assistance of counsel in preparation for and conduct of the hearing, (2) the right to cross-examine witnesses against the accused student and to present defense witnesses and evidence, and (3) the right to a fair and unbiased hearing panel.
Our concerns about fundamental fairness are not academic or theoretical in nature. There are documented cases of a rush to judgment on charges of sexual misconduct at universities, including the Duke Lacrosse case and the recent events at the University of Virginia. In the criminal justice system, there have been a large number of post-conviction exonerations of persons convicted of serious crimes, including many sexual assault cases. Due process of law is not window dressing; it is the distillation of centuries of experience, and we ignore the lessons of history at our peril. All too often, outrage at heinous crimes becomes a justification for shortcuts in our adjudicatory processes. These actions are unwise and contradict our principles. We can and should provide protection and support for those who are subject to sexual abuse, and at the same time provide a fair process that is calculated to yield a reliable factual determination. Ultimately, there is nothing inconsistent with a policy that both strongly condemns and punishes sexual misconduct and ensures a fair adjudicatory process.
Turning College Administrators into Judge, Jury and Executioner
[For a thorough legal critique of current Title IX mandates, see When the Megaphone becomes the Gavel.]
Based on the 1972 Title IX amendment to the 1965 Higher Education Act, which stated that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of gender, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance” (used primarily to advance access to women’s collegiate sports programs), the DOE’s 2011 Dear Colleague letter required that allegations of campus sexual assault as a form of gender discrimination must be investigated and adjudicated by college administrations, without requiring that they be reported to police agencies as a crime.
An 11,500 word article, “The College Rape Overcorrection” by Emily Yoffe, published in Slate on Dec. 7 2014 exposed the problems created by turning university administrations into tribunals.
Unfortunately, under the worthy mandate of protecting victims of sexual assault, procedures are being put in place at colleges that presume the guilt of the accused. Colleges, encouraged by federal officials, are instituting solutions to sexual violence against women that abrogate the civil rights of men.
And by federal requirement, students can be found guilty under the lowest standard of proof: preponderance of the evidence, meaning just a 51% certainty is all that’s needed for a finding that can permanently alter the life of the accused.
But to push back against Department of Education edicts means potentially putting a school’s federal funding in jeopardy, and no college, not even Harvard, the country’s richest, is willing to do that.
In “Campus Sexual Assault Bill Relies on Public Shaming of Colleges” by Anna Bahr, in the August 1, 2014 New York Times:
The Campus Accountability and Safety Act [sponsored by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Dean Heller (R-NV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CO), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Marco Rubio (R-FL)] … would impose significant financial penalties on colleges for noncompliance with new federal mandates to release data about sexual violence on campus.
Every college would be required to participate in the survey and publish results online, and the penalty for colleges that don’t report sexual assault crimes, as required by the Clery Act, would increase to $150,000 from $35,000 per violation.
In theory, colleges that mishandle sexual assault cases today are at risk of losing their federal funding (potentially hundreds of millions of dollars)… A loss of federal funding is so extreme for colleges that the punishment has never been imposed… The new bill proposes fines of up to 1% of a college’s operating budget. If Harvard were found responsible, for example, the university would be on the line for $42 million.
From “Devil’s in the details of Campus Accountability and Safety Act” by Wendy McElroy, August 13, 2014:
Both the fines and the expense of compliance take money away from education and could significantly increase tuition and fees. College Board, which tracks the cost of higher education, recently stated that “Average published tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities increased by 19% beyond the rate of inflation over the five years from 2003-04 to 2008-09, and by another 27% between 2008-09 and 2013-14.” The increase is higher than any other sector of the economy.
It is not possible to accurately ascertain how much of the jump is due to the non-education-related programs, administrators, staff and paperwork that government unrelentingly heaps upon academia… In February, the New England Center for Investigative Reporting provided details of the best figures available. “The number of non-academic administrative and professional employees at U.S. colleges and universities has more than doubled in the last 25 years, vastly outpacing the growth in the number of students or faculty. … [F]rom 1987 until 2011-12 … universities and colleges collectively added 517,636 administrators” even though enrollment has declined. The soaring overhead, along with a tsunami of regulations, are turning American universities into bankrupt social experiments rather centers of education.
Even worse, “a provision … lets the money be kept by the agency imposing the fine, the Education Department’s (DOE) Office for Civil Rights (OCR)”. This creates a huge incentive for OCR to be aggressively punitive or to accuse innocent universities of misrepresentation or substandard compliance. Even an inability to comply would not exempt institutions from fines. For example, they are required to enter into a “memorandum of understanding” with local law enforcement. If the latter refuses, then “[t]he Secretary of Education will then have the discretion to grant the waiver.” Not the obligation but the discretion.
Emily Yoffe (The College Rape Overcorrection) continues:
Any woman who is raped, on campus or off, deserves a fair and thorough investigation of her claim, and those found guilty should be punished. But the new rules – rules often put in place hastily and in response to the idea of a rape epidemic on campus – have left some young men saying they are the ones who have been victimized. They are starting to push back. In the past three years, men found responsible for sexual assault on campus have filed more than three dozen cases against schools. They argue that their due process rights have been violated and say they have been victims of gender discrimination under Title IX. Their complaints are starting to cost universities. The higher education insurance group United Educators did a study of the 262 insurance claims it paid to students between 2006 and 2010 because of campus sexual assault, at a cost to the group of $36 million. The vast majority of the payouts, 72%, went to the accused – young men who protested their treatment by universities.
One campus rape is one too many. But the severe new policies championed by the White House, the Department of Education, and members of Congress are responding to the idea that colleges are in the grips of an epidemic – and the studies suggesting this epidemic don’t hold up to scrutiny. Bad policy is being made on the back of problematic research, and will continue to be unless we bring some healthy skepticism to the hard work of putting a number on the prevalence of campus rape.
The one-in-four assertion would mean that young American college women are raped at a rate similar to women in Congo, where rape has been used as a weapon of war.
YES Means YES
Another response to this alleged but never proved “rape epidemic” on campus is the establishment of standards – and even laws, as is the case in California – that require “affirmative consent” at every stage of a sexual encounter. This means that, unless the woman states a clear and unambiguous “YES” to every sex act – from touching to kissing to fondling to oral to vaginal intercourse – the male partner can legitimately be accused of, and punished for, rape. Furthermore, if the woman is the least bit intoxicated on alcohol or drugs, then even a clearly-articulated “YES” does not mean “YES” and the man can be found guilty of rape.
As Emily Yoffe (The College Rape Overcorrection) writes:
To punish the alleged perpetrators of sexual violence, colleges have put in place systems that are heavy-handed and unfair. Efforts to prevent sexual violence from occurring are unfortunately no more enlightened. College students today are increasingly treated as a special sexual caste, who unlike their peers out in the working world can’t be relied upon to have sex without convoluted regulations that treat lovemaking as if it were a contract negotiation. Often, they are governed by a regimen called “affirmative consent”, an attempt by legislators and administrators to remove all ambiguity from sex.
At Ohio State University, two young people who want to engage in sexual congress might be well advised to first consult with the philosophy department and the law school. The university’s consent guidelines state, in part: “Consent is a knowing and voluntary verbal or non-verbal agreement between both parties to participate in each and every sexual act. Effective consent can be given by words or actions so long as the words or actions create a mutual understanding between both parties regarding the conditions of the sexual activity – ask, ‘do both of us understand and agree regarding the who, what, where, when, why, and how this sexual activity will take place?’ Regardless of past experiences with other partners or your current partner, consent must be obtained. Consent can never be assumed, even in the context of a relationship.”
The terrible irony of this extreme form of puritan sexuality is that college women are treated as if they have no personal agency when it comes to expressing their sexuality and hence no personal responsibility for the results, while young men are assigned as sole agent in making correct decisions in the heat of a sexual encounter (often muddled by alcohol in at least half of all such hookups) and solely responsible for the outcome.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a civil liberties group dedicated to defending constitutional rights on campus, says affirmative consent is both unnecessary and potentially pernicious. “Our laws already make sexual activity without consent illegal,” says its legislative and policy director. Affirmative consent makes sexual activity that is lawful off campus a punishable offense on it.
Carol Tavris a social psychologist and author of the feminist classic, The Mismeasure of Woman, and, with Elliot Aronson, Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me), says she is troubled by the blurring of distinctions between forcible rape (notably by predatory males), unwanted sex (where one party agrees to sex not out of desire but to please or placate the partner), and the kind of consensual sex where both parties are so drunk they can barely remember what happened – and one of them later regrets it. She says, “Calling all of these kinds of sexual encounters ‘rape’ or ‘sexual assault’ doesn’t teach young women how to learn what they want sexually, let alone how to communicate what they want, or don’t want. It doesn’t teach them to take responsibility for their decisions, for their reluctance to speak up. Sexual communication is really hard – you don’t learn how to do it in a few weekends.”
Tavris also believes holding only men responsible for their sexual behavior has pernicious effects on women because it supports a victim identity that is already too prevalent in our society. “It’s so much easier to be a victim than to admit culpability, admit your own involvement, admit that you made a mistake,” she says. “It’s much easier to say it’s all his fault. Look, sometimes it is all his fault. That’s called rape. But ambiguities and unexpected decisions are part of many encounters, especially sexual ones.”
Emily Yoffe (The College Rape Overcorrection) addresses the real, and willfully ignored, problem:
In the White House report, “Not Alone”, the Obama administration promises to develop new prevention strategies for campus sexual assault. But that’s going to be difficult if it continues to refuse to address drinking. Raynard Kington, president of Grinnell College and former director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, wrote in Inside Higher Ed in response to the report, “As a public health physician, I was surprised and disappointed that the word ‘alcohol’ literally does not appear anywhere in the chapter on prevention.”
A September article in the Chronicle of Higher Education noted that for the past 15 years, Department of Justice grants to study campus sexual assault prevention have specifically excluded focusing on alcohol. Why? Because DOJ didn’t want any emphasis on “changing victim behavior”.
The United Educators study of insurance payouts for sexual assault found that “Alcohol was a significant factor in nearly all of the claims studied.”
While women’s consumption is often considered a mitigating factor at campus tribunals, men’s consumption generally is not. This disparity is sex discrimination, says Brett Sokolow, president of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management. Sokolow has long fought for harsh penalties for accused men on campus. But in an open letter titled “Sex and Booze”, he writes: “If both are intoxicated they both did the same thing to each other. Why should only the male be charged if both students behave in ways defined as prohibited by the policy?” He has been called in to consult on cases in which schools have suspended or expelled the young man when both students were equally intoxicated. Schools that are doing so, he says, are creating male “Title IX plaintiffs”.
Sokolow also says schools err when they adhere to an unrealistic standard that consumption of alcohol renders consent moot. Criminal statutes generally require that for sex to be nonconsensual due to alcohol or drugs, the accuser be not just intoxicated, but incapacitated. Having had a few drinks does not mean people, even young people, lack the capacity to make decisions about their actions, however poor those decisions may look in retrospect. Sokolow notes, however, that at some colleges “boards and panels can’t tell the difference between drunk sex and a policy violation”.
In “You Can’t Just Accuse People of Rape“, Megan McArdle of Bloomberg News, writes on Dec 9, 2014:
Activists fighting rape are fighting for two things that actually work against each other. On the one hand, they want the harshest possible moral, social, legal, and administrative sanctions for sexual assault… On the other hand, they want the broadest possible standards for deciding that a rape has occurred, weighted very, very heavily toward including true assaults, rather than excluding false, ambiguous, or hard-to-prove accusations.
This is not a bargain that a liberal society will strike. You can have drastic punishment of offenses, or you can have a low threshold of evidence for imposing punishments; you cannot have both. If you broaden your criteria to include lesser offenses like “non-consensual kissing” or more cases where there’s a higher possibility that the accused was innocent, then you will encounter resistance to heavy punishment. The jury of public opinion will nullify.
Emily Yoffe (The College Rape Overcorrection) concludes:
What is to be done? How can the government and institutions of higher education address sexual assault, support victims, identify predators, and not unfairly punish innocent students?
A good place to start would be scaling back the powers of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which has overstepped its bounds in micromanaging university policies and enforcing draconian rules that infringe on the rights of the accused. And before making policy based on alarming statistics, officials should ponder a study’s limitations and read all the footnotes.
Rather than creating a separate (and unfair) system of justice, we should ensure the safety of college students the same way we ensure the safety of those who aren’t in college. Instead of universities writing expansive and elaborate sexual conduct rules, they should rely on the narrower statutes that govern criminal sexual assault and civil sexual harassment. “Affirmative consent” regulations should be struck. When universities do take action against a student for sexual misconduct, if the definition of misconduct is narrower, and if there is a return to a standard of “clear and convincing evidence,” as there should be, there will be fewer miscarriages of justice.
Any student who feels she has been sexually victimized should be able to turn to campus counselors who are sensitive listeners and not crusaders.
The prohibition about discussing the connection between alcohol and sexual assault should be lifted. Administrators ignore the role of alcohol in sexual assault at their peril, and at the peril of their students, men and women.
We also need to change the culture of discourse around sexual assault on campuses. To stand up for the rights of the accused is not to attack victims or women. Our colleges, like the rest of our society, must be places where you are innocent until proven guilty. The day after graduation, young men and women will be thrown into a world where there is no Gender-Based Misconduct Office. They will have to live by the rules of society at large. Higher education should ready our students for this reality, not shield them from it.
Men Begin to Find Their Voice and Fight Back
[For a more complete overview and analysis of the blowback against political correctness run amok, see The Pendulum Reverses – Again]
In the past several years, there have been more than 30 lawsuits against colleges by male students claiming wrongful expulsion or other damage due to what they claim were false accusations of sexual assault.
The higher education insurance group United Educators did a study of the 262 insurance claims it paid to students between 2006 and 2010 because of campus sexual assault, at a cost to the group of $36 million. The vast majority of the payouts, 72%, went to the accused – young men who protested their treatment by universities.
Two of those college men have recently spoken out about what it’s like to be accused of rape by a fellow student.
From “Brown University Student Speaks Out on What It’s Like to Be Accused of Rape“, Cathy Young writes in the Daily Beast on June, 8, 2014:
The alleged perpetrators in these accounts nearly always remain shadowy figures, their names protected by anonymity and their version of the events unknown. In a rare exception, Kopin decided to speak with The Daily Beast.
In April, Daniel Kopin was publicly accused of sexually assaulting his classmate. For the first time, he tells his side of the story.
Ten months after an evening that irrevocably changed two young people’s lives, Kopin, a 21-year-old former Brown University student, still sounds genuinely shaken as he recounts his reaction to an August 8 email that confronted him with a stark accusation: “Dan, you raped me.”
“But it became clear, as I looked over my facts, the text messages I had – as I racked my memory – it became clear that this was not true. What she was saying was not true.”
Kopin, accused by Lena Sclove of a violent sexual assault – did not volunteer to go public.
The decision was made for him by the student newspaper, The Brown Daily Herald, which identified him in an April 23 article detailing Sclove’s charge that the university had mishandled her sexual assault complaint. (Kopin, found responsible for “sexual misconduct” involving non-consensual sexual activity after an October 11 hearing, was suspended for a year and was set to resume classes next fall.) Publications like Slate and Salon picked up the story the next day with the shocking claim that Brown was allowing a rapist who had choked his victim to return to campus after a one-year suspension. In a May 6 appearance on MSNBC, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who has championed the cause of sexual assault survivors on campus, said that Sclove was not only “brutally raped” but “nearly choked to death”; while she did not name Kopin on the air, she asserted that “he should be in jail, not with a one-year suspension.” (While Sclove made a police report seven months after the incident, no criminal charges were ever filed against Kopin.)
By the time Sen. Gillibrand expressed her dismay that Sclove would have to attend classes with her attacker on campus, Kopin had already decided to withdraw from Brown, faced with a blitz of negative publicity as well as campus protests.
Kopin and his parents agreed to an interview and also provided the full record of documents from the disciplinary hearing.
Together, these documents and narratives paint a picture that illustrates the daunting, wrenching complexity of sexual assault cases involving people who know each other well and may have a sexual history together – cases that often involve emotional ambivalence, mixed signals, and radically different claims about what are supposed to be shared events.
On some points, Sclove’s and Kopin’s accounts coincide. Both acknowledge that in late July, Kopin told Sclove he wanted to end their sexual relationship, which had started about three weeks earlier, and return to a platonic friendship.
Both acknowledge on August 2, despite this decision, they began flirting at a party, engaged in physical displays of affection, and left the party to go to Kopin’s apartment with the intention of having sex. Both acknowledge that Sclove had an intensely negative reaction when Kopin put his hand on her neck while they were kissing and touching each other in the street. Kopin says that the touch was simply a caress, no different from the way he had touched Sclove before; Sclove has described it as a rough squeeze that was both physically painful and frightening (and led to a spinal injury identified several months later). Both agree that, after Kopin comforted Sclove and she calmed down, they proceeded to go to his place – and that, once they were there and seated on the couch, Sclove told Kopin she did not want to have sex.
At this point, their versions of the events diverge dramatically. Kopin says that he told Sclove he was absolutely fine with her decision and offered to walk her home – but she refused to leave and, moments later, began to kiss him and initiated sex. Sclove acknowledges in her written statement to the disciplinary board that Kopin told her she could go home; however, she writes, “I was far too in shock to walk back alone, but I didn’t want him to walk back with me, remembering what he had done the last time we were walking.”
She claims that Kopin pulled her into his lap, undressed her despite her repeated verbal protests, and had sex with her while she was too shocked, tired, and “fuzzy” from alcohol to push him off. She also says that at some point during the sexual assault, he choked her again. According to Kopin, he put his hand on her neck, in a “gentle manner,” while she was giving him oral sex – at which point she stopped and told him she did not want to be touched that way, and he apologized.
Both Sclove and Kopin agree on one startling detail: that at some point during sex, Sclove began to cry. In her initial statement to the disciplinary board, Sclove wrote that Kopin probably remained unaware of this. In his statement, Kopin wrote that he noticed Sclove was crying and asked if she was all right and if she wanted to stop – to which she responded by kissing him again and continuing to move “energetically” on top of him. (Obviously, it’s a different picture than the one Sclove paints of that evening.)
In her second statement to the panel, in response to Kopin’s account, Sclove seemed to acknowledge that Kopin asked her at that point if she would like to stop; but she insisted that, far from being on top of him, she was pinned underneath him and was “simply not responding”.
What is not in dispute is that shortly afterward, Kopin’s three housemates got home, heard sounds indicating a sexual encounter in progress, and knocked on the door to give Kopin and Sclove the opportunity to make themselves decent. The two grabbed their clothes and ran up the stairs to Kopin’s bedroom, where Sclove made it clear that she did not want to continue. She got dressed and left.
Sclove was, at the absolute least, ambivalent; even Kopin acknowledges that. Yet he is also adamant that, despite these moments of hesitation, she clearly demonstrated her consent with no coercion or pressure on his part – and indeed initiated much of the sexual activity. A couple of times during our conversation, he admits that having sex under those circumstances was probably not a good idea: “I’m responsible for that.”
All three of Kopin’s housemates, two men and one woman – the closest there could be to eyewitnesses in this case – provide a further accounting of the events of August 2. They testified that Sclove did not seem frightened or disoriented when she came back downstairs after getting dressed.
Also on the record was a text message Sclove sent Kopin after leaving his house, which made no reference to sexual assault but asked him to retrieve her underwear which was still on the couch (“Please find it before they do.”).
However, what is also clear from the record is that by the next day – Saturday, August 3 – Sclove was already distraught about the incident. Kopin has suggested that Sclove’s therapist encouraged her to see it as a sexual assault (based on her comment in the August 8 email, “I have seen my therapist twice, and she is 100% sure that this was rape”). Yet two of Sclove’s friends whom she contacted over the weekend, before seeing her therapist on Monday, confirmed in their statements to the panel that she told them she had been raped.
The record is also decidedly muddled on the key issue of Kopin’s alleged choking of Sclove. One of the friends in whom she confided that weekend wrote that, by Sclove’s account, Kopin “pushed her against a telephone pole” while they were kissing in the street and “put his hand on her upper chest/neck; however Lena felt like she was being strangled and got very freaked out”.
At the April 22 rally that led to Kopin’s “outing” by the Brown Daily Herald, Sclove asserted that a second woman had submitted a statement to the panel about being sexually assaulted by Kopin – a claim the Herald repeated. That statement is part of the record, though it was ultimately not admitted into the evidence. But, far from alleging sexual assault, the second woman’s testimony explicitly notes, in describing her hook-up with Kopin in February 2013, “It was consensual – in fact, he asked if he could kiss me.”
The woman also wrote that she voluntarily took off most of her clothes and that, while she almost immediately began to regret the encounter, she never told Kopin she wanted to stop. Her grievance against him boiled down to the claim that he “moved [her] body around into whatever positions he felt best in” and seemed interested only in his own pleasure, and that he pushed her head down too forcefully while she was giving him oral sex, causing her to stop and tell him that “that was rude”. Kopin, who disputes parts of this account, comments, “It was very strange to me to see a letter which basically says that I’m a jerk.”
To say that nobody knows what really happened that night on August 2 except for the two people involved is a cliché; but it also fairly sums up what can be gleaned about this case from the available evidence.
But if Kopin’s account is right, and he acted like a bit of a dolt, that doesn’t add up to “non-consensual sex” for which Kopin was found responsible by the Brown disciplinary panel, let alone to the brutal rape of which he stands convicted in the court of public opinion.
Kopin recalls that, shortly after he was notified of Sclove’s formal charges on August 20, he and his parents went to talk to a Brown official who told them that he would be suspended and that his life would never be the same. “I did not want to believe it,” he says. “But they were right.”
The disciplinary process, he says, was heavily stacked against him. Brown assesses sexual misconduct charges under a “preponderance of the evidence” standard – the lowest legal burden of proof. Theoretically, this means that fact-finders must find in favor of the complainant if they believe it’s even slightly more likely than not that the offense occurred; in practice, many say, it means a great deal of guesswork. That’s the standard by which the federal government has directed schools to judge such complaints ever since a 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter to college and university presidents, a precept reiterated in subsequent documents from the Department of the Justice and the Department of Education. (Until then, most schools had used the much higher “clear and convincing evidence” standard.)
Criminal defense and civil rights attorney Harvey Silverglate, who was retained by the Kopins but was barred from any role in the campus disciplinary process, says in an email, “Dan, because factually innocent of everything except some bad judgment, was suspended for ‘only’ one year, which quite often in today’s academic environment is the penalty for the innocent.”
While the case of Daniel Kopin and Lena Sclove, which is perhaps typical of the myriad short-term sexual relationships and drunken hook-ups that occur daily on America’s campuses (and is one of the reasons that young men and women go to college – to experiment sexually), another example – and one that has found international attention – is even more egregious, and demonstrates the damage that a false rape accusation can do to a young man. [For the full story, see A Model of Campus Gender-Based Harassment: The Columbia University “Mattress” Story.]
From “Accusers and the Accused, Crossing Paths at Columbia University“, by Ariel Kaminer in the Dec. 21, 2014 New York Times:
Paul Nungesser, who was accused of rape, says Columbia University is letting mob justice overrule its official procedures.
He has gotten used to former friends crossing the street to avoid him. He has even gotten used to being denounced as a rapist on fliers and in a rally in the university’s quadrangle.
His notoriety is the result of a campaign by Emma Sulkowicz, a fellow student who says Mr. Nungesser raped her in her dorm room two years ago. Columbia cleared him of responsibility in that case, as well as in two others that students brought against him. Outraged, Ms. Sulkowicz began carrying a 50-pound mattress wherever she went on campus, to suggest the painful burden she continues to bear. She has vowed to keep at it until he leaves the school.
Her story has been so compelling – and “Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight),” which doubles as her senior thesis for the visual arts department, so affecting – that large numbers of Columbia students have rallied around her. She has been honored with national awards. In October, students at more than 100 colleges carried their own mattresses (or pillows) to call attention to the problem of campus sexual assault.
Through all of it, Mr. Nungesser has hovered in the background like a specter. His name has been plastered on campus bathrooms and published in easily searchable articles. His face is visible online, too, in photos that detractors have posted as warnings to strangers.
Until now he has made no public statement. With graduation only a semester away, however, and his reputation, he says, all but demolished, he has decided to speak.
He says that he is innocent, and that the same university that found him “not responsible” has now abdicated its own responsibility, letting mob justice overrule its official procedures. The mattress project is not an act of free expression, he adds; it is an act of bullying, a very public, very personal and very painful attack designed to hound him out of Columbia. And it is being conducted with the university’s active support. “There is a member of the faculty that is supervising this,” he said. “This is part of her graduation requirement.”
Ms. Sulkowicz says that in August 2012, during an otherwise consensual encounter, Mr. Nungesser hit her, pinned her down and, despite her protests, raped her. Another woman accused him of following her up the stairs at a party for the literary society they both belonged to and groping her until she pushed him off. A third woman accused him of multiple episodes of “intimate partner violence” – emotional abuse and nonconsensual sex during a months-long relationship.
Mr. Nungesser said the charges against him, all filed within days of one another, were the result of collusion. The three women said in interviews with The New York Times that they decided to take action when they heard about one another’s experiences.
The groping case was initially decided against him, with a largely symbolic punishment of “disciplinary probation,” but he appealed. By the time the case was heard again his accuser had graduated and was unable, she said, to participate in the process. The decision was overturned. The university dropped the intimate partner violence charge after that accuser, saying she was exhausted by the barrage of questions, stopped answering emails over summer vacation. And in Ms. Sulkowicz’s case, the hearing panel found that there was not enough evidence. Her request for an appeal was denied.
To Mr. Nungesser’s accusers, the refusal to punish him in any way – as well as the myriad procedural errors, delays, contradictions and humiliations, both small and large, to which the women said they were subjected – is proof that the system was biased against them. If three separate complaints against the same man could not persuade the hearing panels, how could anyone believe that justice was served?
To Mr. Nungesser, the facts that campus hearings have a lower burden of proof than criminal trials and that he was not allowed to bring up communications between himself and Ms. Sulkowicz after the night in question were proof that the process was biased against him. If despite those odds, the hearings were resolved in his favor, how could anyone doubt that justice was served?
Nungesser, who is from Germany, says he believes sexual assault is an important cause for concern. “My mother raised me as a feminist,” he says, well aware of how those words will strike some people, “and I’m someone who would like to think of myself as being supportive of equal rights for women.”
Mr. Nungesser, an architecture major, spent the spring semester abroad, where he started dating a woman he is still involved with. During that time, Ms. Sulkowicz went public with her story; appeared at a news conference with Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, and on the front page of The Times; and helped inspire a national movement.
He says he approached Columbia’s administration to see if, under the circumstances, it might make more sense for him to spend his senior year in a study abroad program. But the application deadline had already passed, and his request for a waiver was denied.
Mr. Nungesser’s parents work modest jobs, and he says he would never have been able to afford Columbia had he not been awarded scholarships. But people assume he is just another rich foreign student, he says, whose family uses its wealth to buy influence.
In an interview, [Emma’s] mother, Sandra Leong, said the university left Mr. Nungesser in an untenable position. “He probably also is holding on for dear life because it’s a free education,” she added. “But ostracism is also horrible. It’s just a debacle.”
Columbia’s procedures for investigating sexual assault allegations have changed considerably since Mr. Nungesser and Ms. Sulkowicz’s case was decided. Accusers and defendants are now each allowed to bring a lawyer, for example; if they do not have one, Columbia is one of the only colleges in the country that will provide one.
But one fundamental goal of the process remains the same, says Suzanne B. Goldberg, a special adviser to the university’s president on sexual assault prevention and response. Unlike criminal trials, she explained, university hearings are designed to be educational experiences.
“I think that any university students who engage with a disciplinary process on these issues learn a lot,” she said.
Mr. Nungesser says he has learned that the university will abandon its own convictions if it is politically expedient.
Having avoided contact with each other for two years, the two adversaries are scheduled to graduate in the same ceremony in May. Ms. Sulkowicz said she may bring her mattress onstage and drop it right there. Mr. Nungesser is ambivalent about the day, wary of further displays but eager to move on to a place where this episode does not define him. He says he does not know where that will be.
Two Men Sue the University of Massachusetts at Amherst for Sex Discrimination
Two lawsuits say the University of Massachusetts at Amherst is overzealous in its prosecution and punishment of male students in Title IX assault hearings. The two lawsuits were filed by male students who were expelled for misconduct – one for sexual, the other physical (domestic violence) – allege that UMass denied accused male students the right to present key testimony or ask essential questions at their disciplinary panels. Both tell stories of male students who were already presumed guilty by university administrators.
On August 7, 2014, a former University of Massachusetts Amherst student who was expelled in the Fall of 2013 over allegations he sexually assaulted a female student is suing the school, saying administrators unfairly and mistakenly found him responsible and discriminated against him because he is a man.
The suit claims the university violated Title IX, a federal law banning gender discrimination on college campuses, when the student, known only as John Doe, “was met with overall hostility, dismissal and pre-judgment as ‘guilty’ before the decision was even rendered”.
The suit demands that the student be paid damages “in an amount to be determined at trial” and that the university reverse its decision and expunge his disciplinary record.
From “Is UMass-Amherst Biased Against Male Students in Title IX Assault Cases?” by Emily Shire, in the August 18, 2014 Daily Beast:
According to the complaint, John Doe and Jane Doe were at a party on September 13, during which people were drinking. Jane Doe approached him, and they traded texts. Jane Doe not only spoke in a “coherent and intelligible manner,” but her texts from the evening “demonstrated correct spelling grammar, and punctuation”. She texted her roommate to reserve their bedroom for the purposes of bringing back John Doe. The complaint outlines that before every sexual act, John Doe received verbal consent to proceed, from removing her shirt to intercourse.
According to John Doe’s account, the evening is an almost a textbook example of the “yes means yes” consent definition being considered by the University of California. “Every step of the way, he expressly asked her ‘Can I do this? Should I do this?’ She agreed every step of the way,” Andrew Miltenberg, one of the attorneys representing the young man, told The Daily Beast.
However, Jane Doe told friends the next day she could not remember what occurred the night before. According to Doe, she filed a written complaint on her friends’ urging. It devolved into a ‘he said-she said’ situation. That UMass found Doe guilty of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, and community living standards violations suggests that “yes means yes” will not resolve campuses’ fuzzy and confusing approach to consensual sex.
Doe was expelled and effectively thwarted from transferring to another university, even though, according to the complaint, “no police report was ever filed and Jane Doe’s complaint never classified the evening of September 13 as ‘non-consensual’, ‘rape’, or ‘assault’.”
Three days later, the university told the male student he was under investigation for threatening behavior, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and violating community living standards, the lawsuit said. He was immediately ordered to move off campus and was barred from the premises except to attend classes. He alleges he was even denied medical care at a campus clinic and had to incur hospital expenses for an STD test.
Two months later, the university held a disciplinary hearing. But the male student had not been given copies of case documents beforehand, key pieces of evidence were not presented during the hearing, the male student was repeatedly interrupted, and questions he had were ignored, the suit said.
Two days later, the student was told he had been found “responsible” for three violations: “sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and community living standards violations,” and he would be expelled. The student’s appeal was denied.
The suit said the student’s academic career is ruined, “his overall economic future is completely compromised”, and he has suffered adverse health effects as a result of stress about the case, the lawsuit said.
In many ways, the trial reveals how men and women are judged differently when it comes to the mixing of sex and alcohol. This is an issue that is not limited to UMass. “I think in a lot of cases, there are gender stereotypes of who should be responsible for drunk interactions involving students engaging in sex, and it always falls on the male,” Kimberly Lau, who is also one of the attorneys for John Doe, tells The Daily Beast. “It’s persecuting the male students and allowing females to escape scrutiny for voluntarily ingesting alcohol, as well.”
Lau has filed other suits involving misconduct accusations and drinking, and she has noticed a pattern of disproportionate blame on men. “Invariably, most of these cases involve both parties engaging in voluntary ingestion of alcohol. Inevitably, the male accused is not allowed to use it as defense. However, the female complainant escapes scrutiny for it,” she says. “We’ve seen cases where the male gets another charge of underage drinking on top of sexual misconduct. It begs the question why isn’t the female charged with something similar? It’s kind of just ignored.
The other case against UMass also reveals potential double standards in cases where males are traditionally assumed to be the perpetrators and females the victims. This past March, James Haidak, a second semester senior student expelled for physical assault in December 2013, filed a civil complaint in the US District Court. In his suit, Haidak alleges the school violated Title IX by denying him his “statutory right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex by selectively enforcing CSC [Code of Student Conduct] provisions against him while exhibiting indifference to CSC violations committed by” his accuser.
In spring of 2013, Haidak and his then-girlfriend, Lauren Gibney, were studying abroad in Barcelona under a third party, Academic Programs International (API). According to the complaint, Haidak’s mother received accounts from her son that his girlfriend was physically abusing him, which she says Gibney admitted to her in person.
On April 15, 2013, Gibney, who was allegedly drinking and depressed over a family member’s death according to the complaint, yelled at Haidak and grabbed his laptop. According to the complaint, the argument escalated to the point where Gibney “became physical, hitting and slapping” Haidak’s face, in addition to “strik[ing] him in the eye” and “kick[ing] him in the groin”. Haidak claims he held Gibney’s arms down to protect himself. Haidak says in the complaint he broke up with Gibney the next day, and she proceeded to file a report with API that Haidak had assaulted her, submitting photographs of “marks on her arms and wrists”.
In response to Haidak’s complaint, UMass filed a motion to dismiss the suit, painting a different account of the evening by citing accounts from Gibney on April 16, 2013, the day she spoke with UMass about the alleged incident. That account also does not state that Haidak hit her, though she describes him pushing her onto her bed and putting his hands around her neck. According to the motion to dismiss, Gibney stated “Everything is somewhat a blur to me but from what I can remember he was trying to hurt me in any way possible without actually hitting me.”
Haidak submitted a written account of the events on the night of April 15 along with photos of the eye injury he incurred from Gibney. The suit alleges that Berger had evidence that Gibney had violated the CSC by:
(i) physically assaulting Plaintiff both before and during the night in question; (ii) engaging in behavior which endangered both Plaintiff and his property; and (iii) providing a fundamentally dishonest account of the incident.
Yet, according to the complaint, Berger [Allison Berger, Associate Dean of Students and a separate defendant in Haidak’s suit] was “deliberately indifferent” to these allegations against Gibney.
“One of the reasons we allege gender bias is that he had made the school aware of physical violence he had suffered,” Haidak’s attorney, Luke Ryan, told The Daily Beast. “We believe the administrators engaged in sex discrimination against our client by disregarding allegations that he was a victim of domestic violence. I think their view was colored by rigid gender stereotypes.”
Despite the pending school trial (which was to take place the following fall semester), Gibney and Haidak continued their relationship. Haidak was told to have no contact with Gibney, but they texted and also engaged in consensual sex, according to the suit.
Yet Gibney also filed a restraining order against him. Her request was granted, but when she testified before the Eastern Hampshire District Court to extend that restraining order in October 2013, she said she “just wanted [the university disciplinary hearings] to be dropped. I didn’t want it to come this far”. The judge refused to grant an extension of her restraining order. UMass ultimately expelled Haidak.
Both Haidak and Doe have been unable to transfer to accredited four-year universities. They are effectively in a limbo, denied college degrees or opportunities to pursue them, and, thus are barred from many job opportunities and graduate school pursuits. In Haidak’s case, one staff member and four undergraduates were the deciders of his academic, and therefore professional, fate.
Andrew Miltenberg, a New York City lawyer who is representing John Doe in the UMass case, has filed eight such lawsuits and said the Obama administration has fueled an atmosphere on campus in which due process is taking a back seat to institutional self-preservation.
“I’m not an apologist for sexual misconduct,” Mr. Miltenberg said. “All I really want is for the process to be transparent and fair, and for the White House not to impose unrealistic standards on people, especially when it’s bowing to special-interest pressure.”
The result is that disciplining, suspending or even expelling male students accused of sexual assault is often the path of least resistance for universities, even if the facts of the case are ambiguous or police decline to pursue charges, said Sherry Warner Seefeld, president of Families Advocating Campus Equality.
She founded the group in July after years spent defending her son Caleb Warner, who was suspended from the University of North Dakota in February 2010 after a classmate accused him of rape. He was never charged with a crime, and police ultimately issued a warrant for the accuser for filing a false complaint.
Even so, the university, which used the lower “preponderance of the evidence” standard to find Mr. Warner guilty, refused at first to grant him a rehearing. The provost vacated the ruling against him in October 2011, but by that time he had entered another field and was no longer interested in finishing college, Ms. Warner said.
Ms. Warner, a high school history teacher in Fargo, North Dakota, said she receives phone calls every week from students and college employees describing a situation that “looks exactly like McCarthyism.”
Schools facing such lawsuits include Vassar College, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Wesleyan University, Columbia University, Drew University, and the University of Colorado Boulder.
In the Colorado case, the lawsuit says John Doe met a female student at a campus party and they went to his room to have what he described as consensual sex. She texted him the next night asking him to join her at another party, but he declined, saying he was out of town. She later described the encounter to her resident adviser, who called police.
Joe Cohn, legislative and policy director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, says that accusations of rape should be referred immediately to law enforcement and medical personnel, instead of having “the dean of the physics department, a professor in the English department, and a sophomore studying anthropology try to figure out if a date rape occurred”.
Indeed, the most severe punishment a campus committee can mete out is expulsion – a solution that, in the worst-case scenario, would merely put a rapist back on the street.
“The simple fact is that these internal boards were designed to adjudicate charges like plagiarism, not violent felonies,” said the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network in a letter to the White House. “The crime of rape just does not fit the capabilities of such boards. They often offer the worst of both worlds: they lack protections for the accused while often tormenting victims.”
While universities have a duty to address sexual-assault claims under Title IX, there are steps that can be taken short of leading the investigations, such as offering support and steering students to the proper authorities, Mr. Cohn said.
“As long as campuses continue to adjudicate these cases, we’re going to see tremendous injustices in both directions, places where it seems clearly someone was truly guilty and going unpunished, cases where people are being severely punished without reliable evidence,” Mr. Cohn said. “And we’re going to see a lot of those situations until we start rethinking how we’re going to address this issue.”
by Robert Riversong: may be reproduced only with attribution for non-commercial purposes
Dear Senators – letter from 20 attorneys critical of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (S. 2692)
Sexual Assault and Justice: Can we reconcile the belated attention to rape on campus with due process? by Nancy Gertner, feminist lawyer, retired federal judge and Harvard Law professor
The Pendulum Reverses – Again – The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses & Men Strike Back against Title IX Tribunals
HELP for DOE Regulatory Excess – A Senate Task Force Report Recommends Scaling Back the Mountain of Regulations Strangling Higher Education Institutions
Misandric Feminism vs. Progressive Gender Equality (excerpt of above)
Male Victims of Sexual Violence (also an excerpt of the first essay)
Yellow Journalism and the Meme of “Rape Culture” – Rolling Stone and U-VA Gang Rape
Dear President Sullivan – letter from 17 attorneys involved with campus sexual assault claims throughout America, detailing specific reasons why they “are concerned that the University’s Proposed Student Sexual Misconduct Policy is both vastly over inclusive in attempting to define prohibited conduct and ill equipped to guarantee a procedure for resolving allegations that is fair and impartial”.
It’s Time for a U-VA Apology – Op-Ed from a 25-year U-VA professor and his U-VA junior son
Journalistic Fabulism and Ideological Agendas – the Sabrina Rubin Erdely Story
Men are Twice-Raped – Domestically and Globally, Men and Boys are Victims of Sexual Violence at rates Equal to those of Women, and are Assumed to be Villains whenever a Woman Accuses
All Sex is Rape – All Men are Rapists : Patriarchy = Rape Culture
A Model of Campus Gender-Based Harassment – The Columbia University “Mattress” Story
A Case Study in “Politically-Correct” Reactionary Response – The Duke Lacrosse Team Stripper Rape Hoax
When the Megaphone becomes the Gavel – Two legal experts on sex discrimination law and procedure argue that the current Title IX mandates for America’s colleges and universities are legally unsupportable and both practically and ethically indefensible.
Two Over-Privileged Millennials Engage in Sex and Get F-cked – The Stanford “Model” Student and her Silicon Valley Mentor
The Rape Culture Meme – It’s to authentic human culture what genetically modified corn is to maize.