*This blog is now defunct. I have moved to A Voice for Male Students. See you there! Thanks for your support. - TCM*

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rape Hysteria by Students, Part 1 / Misandry in Education

It’s going to take a while to come close to describing the extent of the rape hysteria in education, and how it often translates into a form of misandry – sexism against men and boys – and often leads to a presumption of guilt against men and boys who are wrongly accused of rape. Since this is a very controversial issue and we’ll be dealing with a lot of information, I’d like to list some core values upfront that I hope we can all agree on:

1. There exists in the world both victims of rape and victims of wrongful accusations of rape, and both deserve our compassion and support. To that end, there is a balance to be maintained between the rights and dignity of accusers and the rights and dignity of the accused. The presumption that accusers by default are liars, or that the accused by default are guilty, is a form of prejudice (prejudice meaning pre-judging) that ultimately harms both sexes.
2. Men and women have the right to advocate for victims of rape and victims of wrongful rape accusations. It is not sexist to say that some women lie about rape any more than it is sexist to say that some men rape. What is sexist is the idea that we should exclude and silence an entire class of victims from the discourse on gender equity. 
3. Most men do not rape. Most women do not lie about rape. What this means is that generalizing about rape as part of “male culture” or “normative masculinity,” or about rape lies as a part of “female culture” or “normative femininity,” or any other phrase used to tar either sex with a broad brush, is not only not constructive, but also veers very closely to hate speech. That does not mean that both rape and false accusations of rape are not problems; they are problems. What it means is that such behavior is not the norm for either sex, and we need to work toward respecting each other by remembering that.

I think this is a fairly reasonable and balanced set of values. And starting from those values and discovering and owning up to where we stray from them will be the litmus test in addressing the phenomenon of misandry against men and boys in education. In every case of misandry, simply reverse the sexes and ask yourself if it would be acceptable. And if we cannot say that such a role reversal is morally justified, then something in academia needs to change.
It is my belief that the indifference and hostility in education toward men and boys wrongly accused of sexual misconduct started out as a genuine concern for victims of sexual assault. But somewhere along the way that compassion and advocacy for women transformed into a zero-sum game that divided men and women into separate and antagonistic sides, where those who came to dominate the discourse insisted that one “side” alone should prevail, and where advocacy for victims of rape too often came to include silencing an entire class of victims: those who are wrongly accused. Critics of those who advocate equality for men and boys often falsely characterize them as wanting to turn back the clock. On the contrary; we do not need to do away entirely with advocacy for women. What we need to do is keep a lot of what we have while progressing beyond some of the unhelpful and quite frankly sexist ways we go about it.

Given the stigma and ostracism that often afflicts those wrongly accused, and the persistence with which it will follow them (especially in the internet age), false and mistaken accusations of sexual assault have the power to destroy their means of educating themselves, making a living, creating loving and committed relationships, and becoming successful and productive members of society. Men and boys who are wrongly accused of sexual assault are spit upon, they are harassed and intimidated with threats of violence or death; some are chased, some are killed, and others kill themselves. In short, wrongful accusations have the power to ruin not only individual lives, but fracture communities. Therefore, it is something we need to take seriously. If you wish to learn more about victims of wrongful accusations of sexual misconduct, please visit the Community of the Wrongly Accused, the world’s largest blog giving a voice to victims of wrongful accusations.
The real problem with rape hysteria is not the hyper-awareness of the incidence of rape; it is the presumption of guilt against the person accused and the destruction of their due process rights that often come with it. For this video on rape hysteria by students, we’ll be focusing on what I believe to be, by comparison, more moderate forms of misandry, and while I believe that some of what we will discuss here, depending on your perspective, just slightly crosses the border into misandry, I believe it’s important to discuss it, because when we start talking more about faculty and administrators, we will see where the students are getting some of their ideas.

Anarticle in the Baltimore Sun tells us, YOU ARE ACCUSED of a shameful crime. Your accuser is unnamed. The time, place and circumstances of your crime are unspecified. No evidence is presented. You are condemned.

This isn't Kafka. At Brown University, a very liberal liberal-arts school in Rhode Island, a ''rape list'' scrawled on the wall of a library women's room names ''men who have sexually assaulted me or a woman I know.''

The list, started in October, names 30 men. As soon as janitors scrub the wall clean, someone writes the ''rape list'' on it again.

Lisa Billowitz of Brown Against Sexual Assault and Harassment calls the list ''an act of desperation in an attempt to get Brown to act responsibly and provide us with a system where we can air these grievances publicly as opposed to bathroom walls.''
Well if that is true, then she got the first half of it right. The second half was to condemn the idea of publicly branding 30 male students as rapists without anyone knowing whether they were innocent or guilty. But that’s not something she does. If anything, she makes rationalizations for it.
Anotherarticle in the Baltimore Sun asks, Are nearly all male students at the University of Maryland "potential rapists"? Women in a feminist art class here apparently believe so. About 10 of them plastered the campus with fliers last week listing the names of virtually every male student under the heading, "NOTICE: THESE MEN ARE POTENTIAL RAPISTS." Their decision to walk the murky line between libel and free speech sent the campus into an uproar. Yesterday, reporters, photographers and TV crews flocked to the sprawling campus in search of outraged students on both sides of the issue. University officials are trying to determine whether some members of the "Current Issues in Feminist Art" class or their teacher violated their codes of conduct, said Roland H. King, the university's spokesman.
The project began as a response to several sexual assaults on campus in the past year. To alert women to the pervasiveness of rape, the art students prepared fliers with names culled from the campus directory. Everyone with an identifiably male name, such as Tom or Mohammed or John, ended up on an alphabetized list. The women also set up large posters containing all of the names on the grassy mall at the center of the campus, where masked women put on an anti-rape play. They call themselves the Women's Coalition for Change but have not revealed their names.
Mr. King said it is unclear whether teacher Josephine Withers was involved in the project, which was not listed on her outline for the course. She did not return phone calls yesterday. The school administration considers the display "inappropriate" and an error in judgment, Mr. King said, but the case also raises thorny issues about free speech. "It certainly touches on key First Amendment issues that colleges face all the time, which is the balancing of individual rights with the right of free speech," he said. "One of the things that defines a college or university is that it's a forum where, more than in society at large, you can debate ideas. To do that, you have to include the people at the fringes as well as people at the center." When the students attached names to their display, he said, they moved into a "very gray area."
Sophomore Matthew Nowlin, 20, an aerospace engineering student, briefly considered suing when he found his name on the "potential rapists" list, fearing that his character had been impugned. It didn't take long for him to feel the ramifications of being included on the list. A woman who walked past him later that day looked at him with "fear in her eyes," he said. Now, he just wants an apology from the lists' authors. Yesterday, Mr. Nowlin helped organize a small rally on campus to talk about sexual assault. "I want to turn away from the anger this has caused and turn us back to the issue of violence on campus," he said. The anger, however, is the point, said several women who strongly supported the display but said they were not involved in it.
Erin Lane, 22, a senior economics major, and several of her friends discussed the project outside the Food Co-op in the student center. "A lot of people are very upset by it, but I think if a man was secure he wasn't a rapist, he wouldn't be threatened by this list," Ms. Lane said. "I think it's admirable that men in this school have been saying the word 'rape' and are being angry at the same time," said Jessica True, 23, a freshman from Takoma Park. "We're forced to accept the fact we're potential rape victims everyday," said Kelly Maron, 20, a sophomore from La Plata studying art and women's studies.

Question: what if a bunch of guys got together on campus and posted fliers around the university saying, “NOTICE: These women are potential rape liars,” and listed the names of many female students on campus they never met and knew nothing about. What if a female student who saw her name publicly put on such a list actually was a victim of rape? How would she feel? I would imagine that she would probably feel devastated at the lack of humanity.

And also, what do they mean by “potential”? I have seen these actions defended by those say that such statements are justified because, theoretically, everyone can perform the motor functions of the act of rape. Well, first of all, that’s factually incorrect, because it’s including the disabled and the handicapped among them. But beyond that, the word “potential” has different meanings. There is the potential of one’s body, but there is also the potential of one’s character; their strength of will and conscience. And call me crazy, but when it comes to rape, I don’t think everyone has it in them. And I think it’s bordering on sexism, if not the essence of sexism, to say that everyone does, so long as that “everyone” is all men.
But beyond that, it bears mention that the word potential doesn’t just mean “possible.” Let’s go to Thesaurus.com and search for synonyms. And guys, as I’m going through each of these, imagine that each synonym is immediately followed by “rapist” immediately followed by your name.
Words that mean the same as potential: abeyant, budding, conceivable, dormant, embryonic, future, hidden, imaginable, implied, inherent, latent, likely, lurking, plausible, possible, prepatent, probable, quiescent, thinkable, undeveloped, unrealized, within realm of possibility.

Language, as we all know, is not finite or fixed; it is, as they say, socially constructed. It can be read many different ways, and they know this. Indeed, since many of these Feminists likely study the postmodernist philosophies of deconstruction in the humanities (and in Women’s Studies in particular), they should know this better than anyone. When Feminists seek to raise our consciousness on the nature of sexual harassment and hostile environments, they often tell us that it does not matter how the message is intended; it only matters how it is received. And since they know that many will perceive the word “potential” not just to mean that it is possible for those they name to rape, but that it is likely for them to do so (a message which is reinforced by the big word “NOTICE” right in front of their name), they should certainly know better.
And we have to ask: how does this really help victims of sexual assault? It doesn’t. It doesn’t help anyone.
A similar event occurred at Oberlin college. The Toledo Blade, an Ohio publication, tells the story:
Earlier this year at Oberlin College, a group calling itself “Take Back the Night” posted signs across campus identifying a freshman as “Rapist of the Month.” The freshman, an 18-year-old studying philosophy, recalls the day the signs went up. He was getting his mail when he noticed students crowded in front of a bulletin board. They were reading a sign – a sign calling him a rapist. “My initial reaction was complete shock, complete disbelief,” says the freshman, who requested his name not be published. “My friends gathered around and said, ‘Hey, what’s this all about?’” He tore the sign down, along with several others on campus. The next few days were spent denying the accusation – to fiends, acquaintances, and the media. “I haven’t even dated at Oberlin,” he says. ‘I don’t drink. I don’t do drugs. I couldn’t have gotten myself in that kind of situation.’ Adds friend Stacy Tolchin: ‘"He’s probably almost boring."
Campus officials investigated but failed to find who posted the signs. The rumor is that it was a case of mistaken identity: the signs had the right first name but not the last. Many students at the small liberal arts school south of Cleveland say the signs went too far. ‘They tried and convicted him right there,’ freshman Ryan Maltese says. ‘For the rest of his time here, whenever he approaches a woman in any kind of romantic atmosphere, it’s going to be in her mind: ‘Did this guy rape someone?’’
Such tactics are not surprising, says junior Ted Chapman, sitting in the courtyard outside the Student Union. He says tensions have been so high the last couple of years that he has virtually quit dating. Friend Dave Roscky nods in agreement. Nearby, sophomore Emily Lloyd says men are missing the point. “So many women get their lives totally ruined by being assaulted and not saying anything. So if one guy gets his life ruined, maybe it balances out.” The man next to her, a long-haired freshman in glasses, disagrees. ‘All I can think is what would I do if my name was up there on that sign?’ he says. ‘What would I do?’ Ms. Lloyd shoots back: ‘Do you know what you’d do if you were raped?’ There is a tense silence as the freshman studies the grass in front of him. Finally, he looks up. "Well, I know one thing," he says, "I wouldn’t put up a sign."
“It balances out?” Here we have another woman who, just like Assistant Dean of Students Catherine Comins, believes that it does not matter if men have their lives ruined by false accusations of rape. It’s all justified – and why? Because some women are victims of rape. It should go without saying that both victims of rape and victims of false accusations of rape deserve our compassion and support. But this is not what this woman, nor what this particular group calling itself “Take Back the Night” believes.
At the University of Ottawa in Canada, a poster on the Women’s Resource Center welcomes male students to the campus by saying this:
“Steps to Preventing Rape. #1: Men should keep to well-lit areas. #2: Men should wear bells around their necks at all times. #3: Men should be accompanied by protection officers. #4: Men should refrain from putting drugs in women’s drinks. #5: Men should avoid attacking women.” And lastly, in all caps: “REAL MEN DON’T RAPE.”
So how long has this poster been up? A student newspaper at the University ofOttawa called The Fulcrum tells us inthe opening line: “FOR YEARS, A large poster hung in the window of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa’s Women’s Resource Centre (WRC) that made the following (among others) misandric statements on ‘steps to preventing rape.’” It then gives us a link to the photo of the posters.
Why do people do bad things? Usually, because they can. Those who posted this thought that the academic environment was such that messages of denigrating men would be tolerated. And they were right. For how many years exactly was this poster up? We don’t know. But too many. And let’s stop and think for second: if we were to live in a world where people who believe, say and do things like these were completely unopposed, what kind of world would that be? Is that a world we would want to live in? I hope we all see what is going on here: male students are being publicly insulted, humiliated, and ostracized, and they are told that they deserve it based upon their genetic code. And again, we have to ask: how does this message help victims of sexual assault? How does this help anyone? And if it’s not about helping victims of sexual assault, we are well within our rights to ask: what is it about?
On the other side of Canada, at Simon Frasier University, the Women’s Center hosts what they call the Male Allies project. On their website it says, “Though still in its conceptual form, the male allies project is the brainchild of the women’s centre designed to bring self-identified men together to talk about masculinity and its harmful effects on both men and women. We know that many men are concerned with the way masculinity denigrates women by making them into sexual objects, is homophobic, encourages violence, and discourages emotional expression. It is the hope of the women’s centre that the male allies project will help men address these concerns in conjunction with other men and allow them an opportunity to reimagine what masculinity could be.”
I wonder, what would it be like if we were to replace the “male and female” with “white and black”? What would that sound like? “The black allies project is the brainchild of the White People’s Centre designed to bring self-identified blacks together to talk about the social construct of blackness and its harmful effects on both whites and blacks. We know that many blacks are concerned with the way blackness encourages gang violence, the rape of white women, promotes drug use, theft, and general thuggery. It is the hope of the White People’s Center that the Black Allies project will help blacks address these concerns in conjunction with other blacks and allow them to reimagine what blackness could be.”
Where and when would you imagine a promotion of such a perspective taking place? Maybe in the South during the era of Jim Crow? Moving on.
At Princeton university, a female student who was an alleged victim of an earlier rape and a sex-assault victim advocate falsely accused a man of rape at a Take Back the Night rally, and her friends started a gossip campaign against the man she accused. But after he accusation became public and a formal investigation of her complaint turned up nothing, she printed a retraction in the campusnewspaper The Daily Princetonian,which is available online. I think it deserves to be quoted at length:
I wish to make the community aware that some of the statements I have made recently on the editorial page of The Daily Princetonian and at the Take Back the Night march have been incorrect. I believe it is absolutely essential that I clarify my story so that no unfair accusations continue to be made by myself or others against any of my fellow classmates or other members of the university community. Despite my comments to the contrary, I never brought any official charges of sexual harassment or assault against any Princeton student. Consequently, no student has ever been dismissed or suspended from Princeton University as a result of a sexual harassment or assault offense committed against me.
I never intended for anyone to be hurt by my statements and I wholeheartedly apologize to anyone who either took offense or felt as if they were personally injured by my letter and speech. Rather than attempting to achieve any type of revenge toward my alleged assailant, I made my statements in The Daily Princetonian and at the Take Back the Night march in order to raise awareness for the plight of the campus rape victims. Although I want sympathy and support for my fellow victims, I do not want to create an uncomfortable academic or social environment for any other Princeton University student. Because of these comments, a certain individual has been wrongly accused and is being pursued for a crime he did not commit. Although I have never met this individual or spoken to him, I would like to utilize this public forum to specifically apologize to him. In fact, the student I identified as my assailant in conversation with many members of this community was not the person who raped me. He coincidentally left Princeton on his own accord around the time I was raped but his leaving the university for personal reasons and my rape are completely unrelated.
I urge students who are knowledgeable of this situation to cease blaming this person for my attack. In several personal conversations and especially at the Take Back The Night march, I have been overcome with emotion. As a result, I was not as coherent or accurate in my recounting of events as a situation as delicate as this demands. I hope this letter definitively clarifies all questionable aspects of my story. Two years ago I made the decision not to prosecute the true assailant. Now I do not have the right to make unfounded statements about others. Therefore, I once again apologize to any individuals who have been personally injured or verbally attacked as a result of my statements. This statement is one I have chosen to make voluntarily. Thank you for listening.
Well, we do have to give her some credit for coming clean. At the same time, not only has she done incredible harm to an innocent male student by making a false accusation, she has done harm to victims of sexual assault.
There is something that needs to be said about gatherings and demonstrations by activist groups in general that applies in these cases. And that is whenever you immerse yourself within a peer group many of whom dogmatically believe every claim of victimization by a member of that group, and who you know will accept unquestioningly anything you say, so long as you claim to be a victim, there is a temptation among the less stable to get swept in the moment and just start saying anything that comes to mind. But you have to make sure that if you point the finger at someone in the middle of a frenzied mob of people, and accuse them of a crime (especially a crime of violence), once you point the finger at someone, there’s no going back from that point. She herself says that she got swept up in it, saying, that she was “overcome with emotion” in “several personal conversations and especially at the Take Back The Night march,” which interfered with her ability to make sound judgments.
Which leads us to a problematic mentality that is an undercurrent among some of these advocates, and the Boston rape crisis center (which supports the Clothesline Project, another anti-rape demonstration) just comes right out and saysit better than I ever could, saying “The Clothesline Project is there to provoke a reaction - but the thing about emotional reactions to traumatic events is that there’s no wrong reaction.”

Assuming that this center is speaking literally – and there’s no reason to assume otherwise - if someone is falsely accused of rape and they lose their jobs, their friends, or their marriages, would this rape crisis center support the idea that it gives them the right harass and intimidate every woman that claims to be a rape victim? No wrong reaction whatsoever? Tell that to the young man at Princeton who was pursued, ostracized, and persecuted because he was falsely accused of rape by someone who was “overcome with emotion” at Take Back the Night rallies that there is no wrong reaction. Tell that to the rape victims at that university who will now have a harder time being believed because of it.
There is an attitude among some that so long as they are victims of a traumatic event, or not even that – so long as they adopt the label of victim (no proof required) - they immediately shed all of their adult responsibilities, and no matter how much harm they cause to innocent people – whether men or women – they think it’s all ok. But it’s not ok. And with that being said, let’s talk about the Clothesline Project in our next video, where we’ll discuss more rape hysteria by students, before moving on to faculty and administrators.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Duke Lacrosse False Rape Case / Misandry in Education

For our first video/blog post on misandry as it occurs in the spoken and written word in education, we’ll focus on one of the most anti-male universities on the face of the West: Duke University. In the hopes of starting this series on common ground, we’ll talk about Duke’s 2006 false rape case, a story which many people know a little about, a few know a lot about, and none know as much as Brooklyn University professor K.C. Johnson, who co-authored the book Until Proven Innocent, a highly-recommended chronicle on the infamous false rape case, and blogs at Durham-In-Wonderland. Although racism against the falsely accused students is also a critical element of the story, I’m going to focus on the prejudice and the presumption of guilt on the basis of gender which, as we have seen and will continue to see, affects all men and all boys in education, regardless of color.

Seligmann at an ATM during the "rape."
In 2006 at Duke university, three male students who were members of the university lacrosse team were falsely accused of raping a stripper at a party. At the outset, the accused denied the charges. There were multiple problems with the accusation. The accuser changed her story and the names of the men she accused many times. The DNA found on Crystal Mangum, the accuser, did not match the men she accused. The stripper who came to the lacrosse house on the night of the party declared to reports that she never saw a rape occur, and that Mangum had told her to put marks on her to make it appear she had been assaulted. By the time the case was over, there were so many problems with the accuser’s story, and so much evidence in contradiction to it, that instead of acquitting the three young men, the district attorney, in an extremely rare move by our justice system, declared them innocent.

Wanted: bearers of Y-Chromosomes
But before they were officially declared innocent, and even while much of the evidence pointed to their innocence, these three students were subjected to a brutal hostility that had come to characterize far too much of academic culture. Some students paraded a banner reading “castrate,” others distributed what amounted to wanted posters throughout the campus with pictures of the lacrosse team. Protestors showed up outside the lacrosse house banging pots and pans, and elsewhere walked around carrying signs saying "don't be a fan of rapists." At one point, a lacrosse player was surrounded by protestors and ordered to confess. Instead of protecting the students’ due process rights, the Duke president Richard Brodhead pandered to every political interest, looked the other way in the face of a bloodthirsty crowd that presumed their guilt, suspended the team and fired the coach.

The Listening Statement
Many faculty and administrators in education in general go out of their way to appear gender-sensitive, and to speak out against prejudice. But in this case, and in many others as we will see, when that hatred is directed at men and boys, no one employed at the university seems to notice, much less care. On the contrary, as Duke protestors were shouting “confess” “confess,” banging pots and pans and carrying banners reading “castrate,” 88 Duke published in the campus newspaper that came to be known as the “Listening Statement” laced with a presumption of guilt against the three accused, and turning a blind eye to the presumption of guilt espoused by many of the protestors. An excerpt from the statement reads:

Regardless of the results of the police investigation, what is apparent everyday now is the anger and fear of many students who know themselves to be objects of racism and sexism; who see illuminated in this moment’s extraordinary spotlight what they live with everyday. The students know that the disaster didn’t begin on March 13 and won’t end with what the police say or the court decides. Like all disasters, this one has a history…to the students speaking individually and to the protestors making collective noise, thank you for not waiting and for making yourselves heard.

Lynchings: a historic male privilege
Indeed, this is a story of prejudice and hatred based upon one’s possession of a particular genetic code. And it does have a history, but not the one Duke professors are referring to. Our society has a dark history of overreacting to accusations of rape, too often to the point of assaulting men and boys who are wrongly accused. From the hanging trees of the south during the days of racial repression, to the overprotectiveness of fathers that sometimes results in the assault and murder of their daughters' boyfriends. Contrary to the lies of certain gender ideologues, we have always lived in a culture that is hypersensitive toward certain forms of male sexual impropriety, even to the point of reacting with gender-based violence

This is what they call "taking a stand
against gender-based violence." Notice
anything strange?

Protecting female students from retaliation when they make allegations of sexual assault is a key concern of education administrators, and is reinforced by a directive by the Department of Education. But no such concern is voiced in education for men and boys who are wrongly accused, to the point that students can openly advocate gender-based violence and male students in not an individual, but a community effort. The very act of castration is a form of violence directed against males. What these students are essentially doing is using hate speech to advocating a hate crime, and they are doing so out of the presumption that those accused are guilty because they are male. Although academia has an evolved understanding about recognizing and preventing retaliation against female students, the Duke case demonstrates that it is it is still in the Stone Age in doing the same for men and boys who are falsely accused of rape.

In Until Proven Innocent, Professor K.C. Johnson recounts the words of coach Mike Pressler: “the faculty was a hell of a lot worse than the students. It was appalling. These are our educators” (104). Dr. Johnson documents cases in the chapter “Academic McCarthyism” where faculty used their bully pulpits to sway their classrooms against the three accused students. Here’s a few passages:

In late March, [professor] Reeve Huston opened a class by saying that he needed to break his silence on the lacrosse episode and talk about what he had concluded from his research on the topic: there was a long-prevalent problem of alpha males assaulting black females in America and there had been a sexual assault at 610 North Buchanan.
As the professor spoke, Ryan McFayden text-messaged Rob Schroeder, asking if they should walk out. Huston plowed ahead, declaring it obvious that ‘an ejaculation had occurred.’ Senior  Casey Carroll had had enough. He got up and left the room. McFayden, Schroeder, Jennison, and Breck Archer followed their teammate. As they left, Huston said, ‘Don’t worry, this won’t affect your grade.’ The female lacrosse player remained. She later reported that Huston had devoted the entire session to his ‘analysis’ of the case.
Down the hall from Huston’s class, several other players were taking professor Sally Deutsch’s course in U.S. history…Deutsch departed from the syllabus and announced that she would discuss how white men, especially in the South, have disrespected and sexually assaulted black females. ‘We all knew what she was doing,’ lacrosse player Tony McDevitt later recalled. ‘A couple people asked questions to try to get her off track, but she persisted. It lasted half an hour.

Even after it became clear that the three young men were likely wrongly accused, some faculty just wouldn’t let it go. After Duke president lifted the suspensions of falsely accused students Reade Seligman and Collin Finnerty, professor Karla Holloway resigned her position on the Campus Cultures Initiative in protest. Throughout the spectacle, in order to appease various political interests, the Duke administration made public statements that leaned toward a presumption of guilt against the three young men accused. As an example, Joe Alleva, Duke's athletic director, said, "Unfortunately, they're young men, and sometimes young men make bad decisions, make some bad judgments. And that's what this whole thing incident is about." While many of them stated that they will not stand for sexual assault, not a single one of them publicly stated they would not stand for false accusations of rape.

Seligmann on CBS
The behavior of the faculty and administration led Reade Seligmann, one of the falsely accused who was filmed on a security camera at an ATM at the time of the alleged incident, to say on CBS, “I chose Duke to be my home for four years. And to see your professors go out and slander you and say these horrible, untrue things about you, and to have your administration just cut us lose for, for, based on nothing. Duke took that stance that ‘we wouldn’t stand for this behavior [i.e. sexual misconduct].’ They didn’t want to take a chance on standing up for the truth. I can’t imagine representing a school that didn’t want to represent me."

Years after the event, not a single professor has apologized, and some of the have moved on to administrative positions. On January 17, 2007, 87 Duke faculty signed what came to be called the Clarifying Letter in which they claimed that they really didn’t mean to prejudge the three accused, that they had been misinterpreted, and that they really weren’t specifically referring the case at all. If that is true, one must wonder what exactly they were referring to in the Listening Statement when they said, “this disaster?” In the Clarifying Letter, they assert that the “disaster” is “the atmosphere that allows sexism, racism, and sexual violence to be so prevalent on campus.” But if they were commenting on that supposed atmosphere and not the case itself, why did the author of the Listening Statement, Wahneema Lubiano, in her original email to faculty inviting them to sign the ad, say, “African &African-American Studies is placing an ad in The Chronicle about the lacrosse team incident”? Why were the students whose quotations they claimed to listen to referring to the case specifically, and implying the guilt of the three accused

If the faculty were truly concerned with not pre-judging the students accused and adding to the hysteria and public hatred directed against them on the basis of their birth group, why did they wait until 8 months after the fact, at which point the case was 2/3 of the way over, when most of the evidence that had come out strongly in in favor of the defendants? Why didn’t they clarify their statement when people were still banging pots and pans, carrying castrate banners and distributing wanted posters, when such a clarification would have done the most good? And if they truly stand against prejudice on the basis of race, sex, or class, why don’t they care about the fact that the greatest amount of prejudice was directed against the three young men? If the faculty care so much about listening to their students, why aren’t they listening to all of them?

The answer, of course, is that the Clarifying Letter is not about a re-affirmation of the values of equality and diversity that, like many such faculty, the faculty at Duke claim to possess but don’t; it’s about covering their behinds, because as of January 2007, now that the evidence is strongly suggesting the three young men were falsely accused, and that people speaking for 5 academic departments and 10 academic programs had publicly had earlier urged the community to presume their guilt, the university could be in serious legal trouble.

In his book Tenured Radicals – How Politics has Corrupted our Higher Education, Roger Kimball describes the culture at Duke University, “For months nearly the entire faculty fell into one of two camps: those who demanded the verdict first and the trial later, and those whose silence enabled their vigilante colleagues to set the tone” (xxxi). Which of the two groups is innocent? When it comes to political disagreements, many faculty espouse the advice Polonius gave to his son Laertes in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, who says “give every man thy ear but few thy voice.” Which is generally a good professional policy, when disagreements are small. But when prejudice develops from an attitude among a scattered few to a connected subculture, when that subculture becomes entrenched, and when it metastasizes to the point that it manifests itself in institutionalized hatred and bigotry, there comes a point when remaining silent is no longer a virtue, or as a great man said, “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” The truth is that every member of the faculty and administration is a moral stakeholder in their respective universities. When it comes to institutionalized prejudice, and when it comes to civil rights, among those who have a stake in such a structure, there is no such thing as an uninvolved bystander.

Wendy Murphy, Empress of Evil
The events drew responses from academia outside Duke as well. As Roger Kimball reports in Tenured Radicals, “Syracuse University…decided not to accept as transfers any students from the Duke lacrosse team – not just the three accused chaps, mind you, but anyone contaminated by having played lacrosse for Duke” (xxvii). Law professor Wendy Murphy, an attorney and sex-assault victim advocate, was a frequent media spokesperson on the Duke case. At one point commented, “I’m really tired of people suggesting that you’re somehow un-American if you don’t respect the presumption of innocence, because you know what that sounds like to a victim? Presumption you’re a liar.” And in case anyone missed it, this is a person who teaches law, prosecutes people for sex crimes, and is regarded as an authority in the sex-assault victim advocacy community.

Wendy Murphy reveals a problem among many Feminists and sex-assault victim advocates: the pervasive belief that women who claim to be raped are always telling the truth. When the false accuser Crystal Gail Mangum was examined, “the doctors and nurses were unanimous in finding no physical evidence of the attack described by Crystal – that is, a brutal assault by three, five, or twenty varsity athletes, lasting half an hour. No bruises. No bleeding. No vaginal or anal tearing. No grimacing, sweating, changes in vital signs, or other symptoms ordinarily associated with the serious pain of which she complained” (Johnson 32).

But none of that mattered to the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, or SANE nurse, the last one to see Crystal. “Tara Levicy, the ‘SANE nurse,’ was to play a little-known but critical role in bringing about the prosecution of the lacrosse players. A strong feminist who had played a part in a Vagina Monologues production [which is a play hosted on many college campuses, which we’ll get to later] and who saw herself as an advocate for rape victims, Levicy was later to acknowledge that she had never doubted the truthfulness of a single rape accuser” (Johnson 33).

Tara Levicy, In-SANE Nurse
“Over the subsequent ten months, Levicy would repeatedly tell police that she thought Mangum had been raped, adjusting her theories to bat aside new evidence that the charge was false” (Johnson 34). Defense attorney Joe Cheshire later said, “Tara Levicy’s stridency and inability to even examine an opposite point of view had a lot to do with the genesis of this case. There are people like her in hospitals all over this country” (Johnson 378).

At the end of the ordeal, David Evans, one of the falsely accused, said, "This woman [i.e. Crystal Mangum] has destroyed everything I worked for in my life." Reade Seligmann left Duke and went on to graduate from Brown University in 2010, but as we will see, in terms of misandry, the culture at Brown is not much better.

You would think that after this event Duke would be content to lay low and let the dust settle for a while. You would think that if they did anything, at least it wouldn’t be rash, especially in the area of sexual misconduct. No. In 2009 Duke adopted a new sexual misconduct policy that radically broadens the definition of nonconsensual sex, in effect stripping many male students of due process rights. The policy states, “real or perceived power differentials may create an unintentional atmosphere of coercion.”

The vice president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said, "Members of the men'sbasketball team could be punished for consensual sexual activity simply because they are 'perceived' as more powerful than other students after winning the national championship.” The director of Duke university’s women’s center justified the policy by saying of rapists, "The higher [the] IQ, the more manipulative they are, the more cunning they are…imagine the sex offenders we have here at Duke—cream of the crop."

Given Duke’s history, it’s a wonder why young men continue to attend. I spend so much time talking about Duke because it is so emblematic of the culture of higher education. And when we view that culture for what it is, we perceive the source of a great many problems facing male students as a group. For example, why is that that, despite the incredible gaps in educational achievement between male and female students that have persisted for over 30 years, diversity administrators sit on their hands and do nothing, while continuing to pour funding and energy into programs for female students? Why is it that college-age students can parade around a banner reading “castrate” and faculty can say the most slanderous things about male students based on nothing more than their genetic code, and no administrator says or does anything, but little boys who are 9 and 6-years-old are suspended for sexual harassment for saying that a teacher is cute, or for singing “I’m sexy and I know it?” What is going on?

 Freshman orientation at Hamilton College
Our education system is overrun by a group of misguided ideologues who define their existence by words like equality and diversity, but have forgotten what those words actually mean. They live under the false consciousness that being progressive is not about eliminating prejudice and bigotry on the basis of sex, but about “redistributing” that prejudice and bigotry so that it changes sides, changes faces, and changes victims. 

But what about the more moderate among those in the academia? Surely not all of them are like that. In what I believe to be most revealing lesson the Duke case can teach us about the culture of higher education, that answer comes from the behavior of one of the most moderate members of the Group of 88. It is an element of the case that is almost never spoken of, and K.C. Johnson tells the story HERE.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Misandry in Education – Introduction

Misandry is sexism against men and boys as a group, or against individual men and boys based on their status as males. It can be expressed in a myriad of ways. One way is by expressing hostility - either by direct insults, or by implying that males are inherently unintelligent, unnecessary, or dangerous. It is expressed by speaking of men and boys as if they deserve our indifference, which has the effect of dehumanizing them and rendering them more vulnerable to the slings and arrows of the world. It is expressed by acting as if the well-being and vulnerabilities of women and girls are more important than those of men and boys, or by enforcing one rule for men, and another for women.

In education especially, misandry can be expressed by the assertion that a particular action, idea, body of knowledge, perspective or invention is illegitimate simply because it was created or performed by someone with a Y-chromosome. When certain individuals act like or claim that there is a dark side to male nature and a good side to female nature, while denying, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that there is a dark side to female nature and a good side to male nature by dismissing them as “just myths and stereotypes,” they are in effect saying men are bad and women are good, which is misandry. Misandry is the belief that the worst among males is representative of men and boys in general, or “normative masculinity,” or “male culture,” or whatever broad brush is used to tar men as a group.

I believe that suspending a 9-year-old boy for calling a teacher “cute,” or for singing “I’m sexy and I know it,” or for punishing boys – but not girls – who spank the bottoms of their classmates is also a product of misandry. In this sense, almost everything that I will cover in The War on Male Students – from the neglect of their educational needs, to the presence of anti-male hostility, to the systemic destruction of their civil rights - is a product or byproduct of misandry. But what I will address in this particular line of videos and blog posts titled “Misandry in Education” is not so much misandry in the form of actions, but misandry as it appears in the spoken and written word. And while it can be reasonably said that not all, or even most, faculty, administrators, or even students express sexism against men and boys, it also bears mention that they don’t have to. Prejudice and hatred for men and boys – just as it is for any other group – does not have to be consistently all-encompassing to create a hostile learning environment. All it has to be is consistently unopposed. 

Here, we will be unapologetically critical of the misandry of Radical Feminism and its influence in education. Moderate Feminists are quick to tell us that “not all Feminists are like that.” While that is certainly true - and I do name the exceptions – it is not a justifiable reason in and of itself to ignore or sweep under the carpet the sexism expressed by those who are like that. 

At first, the lack of opposition to misandry by faculty and administrators may seem understandable. Decades ago, like the frog in the boiling water, many of them could not even identify the problem. And also, most of the misandry in academia is a politicized form of sexism, and political disagreements are often best avoided.

But when prejudice develops from an attitude among a scattered few to a connected subculture, when that subculture becomes entrenched, and when it metastasizes to the point that it begins to eat away at the civil rights of those it targets, remaining silent is no longer a virtue. As we will see, misandry in education is not merely a collection of infrequent and disassociated anomalies arising from individuals uninfluenced by supportive or acquiescent peer groups. On the contrary, it is a culturally pervasive in education in a way that cannot be reasonably characterized as incidental, coincidental, or even accidental.

On a related note, there are good-faith efforts springing up within academia to help men and boys, particularly in terms of educational attainment. I created a video and blogged about one of them, which is Project MALES at UT Austin, which hosted two symposia which I attended, at one of which I volunteered. While good hearts and good minds are working in such groups, they do have limitations. First, many such groups and initiatives (with few exceptions, one of them being Project MALES) are isolated, poorly funded, and live only as long as they can produce immediate results, or as long as the particular educator who champions that particular cause remain employed at that facility, a phenomenon Richard Whitmire documented in his book Why Boys Fail

Second, absolutely none of them as of right now, September 2012, are addressing the destruction of the civil rights of male students, and none of them are investigating and developing the means to combat the subculture of misandry which contributes to a hostile learning environment for male students. And while these groups do have their hands full with the issue of educational attainment alone, the fact remains that we need a strong and networked voice in education to stand up for men and boys who are denigrated by sexism or have their civil rights violated, and currently no such voice in academia exists.

Furthermore, after reviewing the general culture and structure of academia for some time, I am convinced that groups which focus on the inequities in educational attainment for men and boys will never get enough funding for operations on a large enough scale, nor will they ever get the approval they need from the right people in the right places, nor will academia ever engage the lion’s share of its networking and funding potential to helping male students until the cultural barriers of misandry and careerism are weakened or removed.

And with that being said, let us begin.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Mission and Values

This post is long past due, and perhaps should have been the first post I made. Better late than never, I suppose. I’m not sure whether many will read it, but I feel it’s necessary to put it out there.

Men: overrepresented among the most brutal,  filthy, and deadly jobs
I am an advocate for equality for men and boys. Some people call me an  advocate for men and boys, an advocate for gender equity in education, or a men’s rights activist (or an MRA for short). My online name is TCM, which stands for “The Common Man,” which is indicative of the focus of the Men’s Movement on the inequities disproportionately facing men and boys at the bottom of society, such as men’s overrepresentation among prisons (~90%), military deaths (98%), suicides (80%), workplace fatalities (93%), homelessness (85%), illness, school dropouts and under-enrollments, and others. My specialization is education issues.

Mission and Values:

·   Educate the public on the issues and needs of men and boys, especially in academic matters.
·   Advocate the ideals of equality and social justice, question the assumptions of traditional gender roles that are limiting and harmful to men and boys, and compliment the current discourse on gender equality.
·   Take a stand against the phenomenon of misandry – sexism against men and boys.
·   Advocate a philosophy of non-violence.
·   Advocate the end of the zero-sum approach to gender equity by stressing that for every women’s issue there is a men’s issue, and that both sexes deserve our compassion and support.
·   Support and advocate – in limited and appropriate measures - civil disobedience in the face of unjust laws, codes, customs, policies, directives, etc.

Does the University of Waterloo Care about Male Students?

According to a notice on the University of Waterloo website:

“Waterloo Regional Police on Thursday announced that a sexual assault occurred on the University of Waterloo campus on Monday, Sept. 17. The statement from Waterloo Regional Police reads in part:

'As a result of investigation by Major Case Branch investigators, it has been determined that a rape described at the University of Waterloo campus on September 17, 2012 occurred.'

No charges have been filed.

False rape accusations are treated very seriously at the University of Waterloo. A guide to campus and community resources can be found at http://uwaterloo.ca/police/sexual-assault. The university appreciates the efforts of Waterloo Regional Police and the University of Waterloo Police Service in this investigation.”

Just kidding. The exact opposite happened. The real report reads:

“Waterloo Regional Police on Thursday announced that a sexual assault alleged to have happened on the University of Waterloo campus on Monday, Sept. 17, did not occur. The statement from Waterloo Regional Police reads in part:

'As a result of investigation by Major Case Branch investigators, it has been determined that the female’s initial allegations to police were not true. The sexual assault previously described at the University of Waterloo campus on September 17, 2012, did not occur. Investigators are appreciative of public assistance received during the investigation.'

No charges have been laid.

The University of Waterloo remains committed to ensuring the safety of all members of our campus community. Safety tips and a full outline of our campus safety services and procedures is available online at http://uwaterloo.ca/police/personal-safety-guide. Sexual assault is treated very seriously at the University of Waterloo. A guide to campus and community resources can be found at http://uwaterloo.ca/police/sexual-assault. The university appreciates the efforts of Waterloo Regional Police and the University of Waterloo Police Service in this investigation.”

Now, what did the initial report sound like? Did the university take a dispassionate stance, or did they automatically side with the accuser? If you have been following The War on Male Students, you probably already know the answer. But if you don’t, here it is, as well as something else besides:

“On Monday, September 17, between 10 and 10:30 p.m., a female student was sexually assaulted by two males while walking through the west cul de sac between Village 1 and Mackenzie King Village.
Police provided the following descriptions of the suspects, who fled after the assault:
  • Suspect 1:  male, white, 19 years old, 5’6”, with a heavy build, wearing a red hat
  • Suspect 2: male, non-white, 19 years old, 6’, black hair, slender build.
The ongoing investigation is being led by Waterloo Regional Police, supported by University of Waterloo Police. We will update the campus community as more information becomes available. Anyone with information is asked to contact Waterloo Regional Police at 519-650-8500 ext. 3310, University of Waterloo Police at 519-888-4567 ext. 22222, or call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.

The safety of our students and all members of our campus community is of paramount concern at the University of Waterloo. As a result of this incident, campus police have increased patrols in the area of the student residences. Students, faculty, staff and other members of our community are encouraged to be alert to danger and report any suspicious activity to campus police.
When walking,
  • Follow a major road at night, or a well-lit path
  • Walk at a steady pace and with confidence near the curb
  • Avoid dark entrances and shrubs
  • Do not walk home alone at night — make arrangements with a friend to meet and walk home together, call for a ride, or use one of the resources offered by the university.
Further information about campus safety resources, including our shuttle service, can be found online at https://uwaterloo.ca/police/safety-resources. The shuttle service is available from the first day of registration to the last day of exams. It leaves regularly from the Student Life Centre at about 7:00 p.m. in the winter, at 9:00 p.m. in the summer and runs until 2:00 a.m. Women have first priority for rides. Emergency intercoms, with flashing blue lights, are located throughout the campus.”

From a perspective of gender equity, some things come to mind:

In the final report, the university tells us that “sexual assault is treated very seriously at the University of Waterloo.” Here we have the usual: whenever a false rape accusation occurs on campus, instead of telling us how seriously they treat false accusations (which they can’t legitimately say because they don’t), the university tells us that they instead take very seriously the crime that was the subject of the false accusation. The same thing happened at my alma mater, A&M-Commerce: the initial report was spun as if an assault had absolutely occurred, and the final report focused primarily on the plight of rape victims, including a shadowy and fear-inspiring picture of a rapist (pictured below).

In addition to telling us that a rape had absolutely occurred, the initial report says that the suspect was “male, white, 19 years old, 5’6”, with a heavy build, and wearing a red hat.” I wouldn't like to be a male student who just casually came to school wearing a red hat that day, or a man who anyone in the university had ever seen wearing a red hat. Just think if a guy who had not seen the report was going to class and someone in the class said, “hey didn’t you wear a red hat last semester?” And regardless as to whether he did or did not respond by saying “oh yeah, yeah I did,” and regardless as to whatever the police said in a final report, it wouldn’t matter. Thanks to the university, he would already have been socially convicted.

Concerning the false rape accusation, the university tells us no charges have been filed.” That was a mistake. A commenter on Reddit argued that no charges should be filed against the accuser, for this reason: “This never got to a prosecution stage. Once she presses false charges with the police and prosecution, then it becomes serious.” 

I disagree, for this reason: punishments for false rape accusations - even light forms of punishment - deter future false accusers. Given that the lack of deterrence may promote future false rape accusations, and given that rape is such an emotionally charged accusation that it sometimes compels people to make vigilante attacks against the person accused (which may result in injury or death - see HERE and HERE and HERE), adopting a policy of deterrence in regards to false rape accusations - even if the punishment exists in light forms - is the best policy, given that it may save someone's life down the road. And it bears mention that when a university publicly presumes guilt against the person accused, it has the potential to put a man’s life in danger.

Rosa Parks
Lastly, in describing the shuttle services, the university tells us “Women have first priority for rides.” In case the University of Waterloo hasn’t noticed, men are the majority of victims of street violence, including and especially homicides. If whites were the majority of victims of violence, would they tell black students that white students have priority over blacks? Need we remember the case of Rosa Parks (pictured right), an African-American woman who sparked a national civil rights debate because she refused to give up her seat on the bus for a white person? In this case, male students aren’t being told they have to sit at the back of the bus; they can’t even get on the bus.

An imbalance in resources between male and female victims, a cultural crusade against male criminality with a casual indifference toward female criminality, and discrimination against male students on the basis of sex, these are things which we should see as a structural inequities. But to a modern university, none of these things are perceived as inequities or discriminations against male students; it is business as usual.

 Several things need to change at the University of Waterloo:

"In Harmony With Truth"
#1 – In the initial campus reports, Waterloo needs to stop reporting accusations of sexual misconduct as if they had absolutely occurred. The university’s motto is “Concordia Cum Veritate,” which ironically means “in harmony with truth.” It might be a good idea to practice that.

#2 - Charges need to be brought against the woman who made a false rape accusation. This needs to become standard operating procedure, and the University of Waterloo needs to advocate and support this.

#3 – Resources for the wrongly accused need to be in place at Waterloo and posted at the university’s website.

#4 – The shuttle service needs to stop discriminating against male students who wish to use the shuttles.

And there’s probably a few other changes Waterloo University needs to make, but that’s good to go on for now.

Students at Waterloo University need to speak up. They need to consult their administrators and tell them that what they are doing is not good enough for the needs of male students. If the administrators refuse, I have just the thing. College campuses across the west sponsor an event called “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.” The intent of the event is to raise awareness of female victims and to “stop men’s violence against women.”

Those crazy admins!
I propose that every University of Waterloo administrator who thinks that these things are ok be given a red hat that they will put on, and then (while wearing it) walk a mile through and around the University of Waterloo campus. We’ll call it “Walk a Mile in His Red Hat.” Sounds catchy, eh?
UCLA welcomes male students to campus
Perhaps some university administrator may protest and say that such a proposition is out of line. But why should they? Male students as a group have all sorts of hostile and denigrating messages directed to them every day, many of them approved by their university’s administration. Why should university administrators object to experiencing for a brief punctuation of time universities force male students to feel all the time?

Or maybe they just need to stop discriminating against male students and call it a day, eh? :D
If you want to visit the world’s largest blog giving a voice to victims of wrongful accusations of sexual assault, visit The Community of the Wrongly Accused at www.cotwa.info. If you’d like to learn more about discrimination against men and boys in education, visit the archive page for The War on Male Students.