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Friday, October 5, 2012

Rape Hysteria by Students, Part 2 / Misandry in Education

The University of Maryland is home to the Clothesline Project, which aims to empower victims of sexual assault by setting aside a space where they can write messages on t-shirts like “Every Day I Live Surviving Rape” and hang them up. And I have to say that this is actually a creative way for victims of sexual assault to have a voice, so I don’t disagree with the program in general; on the contrary, I would actually support it. What I do disagree with is that for 17 years students were allowed to use this event to accuse male students of rape by writing their first and last names on the shirts, and the male students who were accused – regardless as to whether they were innocent or guilty - were provided no platform with which to respond. An article on the WTOP Radio website tells the story:
A 17-year-old tradition is causing some controversy at the University of Maryland. “For the past 17 years, students have participated in a rape awareness program where victims and advocates against sexual violence hang T-shirts along a huge clothesline on campus. The program allows victims to turn their backs on the crime and have a voice. Some victims also write the names of their assailants on their shirts. But this year, university lawyers are instructing participants not to write names on shirts to avoid potential lawsuits.

"Of course in a form of protest, we still are going to hang the shirts [with the names on them]," says Khalifah, a UMd. student and member of the Student Advocates for Education about Rape. "This is just another way we're silencing sexual assault victims." The Student Advocates for Education about Rape group won't back down, Khalifah says. "If it means we have to go 60s style and do a boycott, and that's perfectly okay too," she says. Advocates plan to meet with university lawyers on Monday. Students will begin hanging the shirts on Oct. 11.

Linda Clement, UM's vice president of student affairs, emphasized that the campus would not seek to curtail individual student speech on campus, even potentially slanderous speech. But she said that as a formal sponsor of the event, the college had to consider its potential liability to people who might claim they were falsely accused. "It would be different if an individual were going to write something on a shirt and put something up individually," Clement said. "Then it would be free speech. But if it is an office sponsoring an event, I think we have to adhere to the law."

David Rocah, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, said the university's response is understandable. "Unless they were trying to censor the students' own speech, I can see why they would want to disassociate themselves from speech where they could potentially be viewed as the publisher," he said. “In defamation cases, courts can hold the author and the publisher liable for false statements that injure a person's reputation. Because the university officially endorses the clothesline project -- and provides staff, marketing and other support -- it might legally be considered a publisher, Rocah said.

That argument provided scant comfort this week to some students, who said they felt betrayed by the administration, which has taken steps in recent years to make sexual assault victims feel more comfortable reporting their experiences. "The general consensus is we feel the university is protecting perpetrators rather than victims," said Angela Boos, a junior. Norcross vowed that the banned shirts from this and previous years would be hung on campus. "I don't know exactly what we're doing, but these shirts will be displayed somehow."

Some students said they suspect the reason the university has taken action this year is because at last semester's clothesline event, a shirt was hung accusing a prominent former athlete. University officials said they sought legal advice last semester after someone complained. "The university's position is not influenced by any one individual," said spokesman Millree Williams. In the basement of the Stamp Student Union yesterday, tables were laid out with paint, markers and old T-shirts for students to come in and decorate for hanging. Affixed to a painter's easel was a note reading: "For legal reasons, the University Health Center has decided that no shirt will be hung if it contains both first and last names of perpetrators and/or specifically identifying information. Hanging from a clothesline on the other side of the room were shirts designed this week, several with messages aimed not at alleged perpetrators of sex crimes, but at campus administrators. A white shirt read: "University Health Center administration = Office of the Perpetrator Advocate."

So for 17 years at the University of Maryland, and perhaps at other universities that adopted this kind of event, female students had the unquestioned and absolute power to publicly brand any male student they wanted as a rapist. Any woman who wanted to get revenge at their partner for breaking with her, or cheating on her, or disagreeing with her, or not wanting to go out with her, or not paying enough attention to them, or because he didn’t take the trash out, was allowed to do so. And how did they rationalize this? Because female vulnerabilities are more important than male vulnerabilities.

And here we also see what anyone who dares to speak up for the wrongly accused should expect: to be branded a rape apologist by those who do not care one bit about the needs and vulnerabilities of the wrongly accused. It’s important to note that university administrators did not start cracking down on this because they care about male students who might be wrongly accused; they did it because not doing so might be a legal liability for themselves. This is something that everyone should understand about university administrators: if you have a genuine concern about the needs of men and boys, they will help you to a point. But if you really want them to make structural change for male students that may be politically inconvenient, they will do nothing, until you play hardball by finding ways to make not doing something a liability for the administration. Their weak spots are the potential loss of public image and funding, which they generally classify as liabilities.

There is also some misinformation spread by the Clothesline Project that adds to the hysteria. You can go to their website and see for yourself. For example,“Silence means no.” So a woman who wants to have sex can nod her head, she can write it on paper, she can wink, lick her lips, smile, grab a man’s penis and pull him into her, he can be completely drunk and do nothing but say yes and she could be completely sober and make all the initiating moves, but if she doesn’t say “no,” he’s a rapist. This is legally incorrect. There’s no other way to say it; it’s just not the law. And according to this definition I’m a rape victim myself. And so is my dad, my brother and all my other male relatives.

Another problematic item: “When someone says they are a victim of false accusations, BELIEVE THEM! It is not your role to question whether a false accusation occurred. The fact is that false reports occur more often than other forms of false reports.”

The claim that false rape accusations occur no more often than other false reports has long been discredited by a legal scholar Edward Greer in the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review. You can view the scholarship online HERE.

Whenever we automatically believe the accuser is a victim, we automatically presume the person accused is guilty until proven innocent. What if I walked around saying, “Whenever someone says they are a victim of a false rape claim, believe them!” Regardless as to whatever percentage of rape claims are false, is that right? Is that fair to the accuser? No. Neither the accuser nor the person accused is entitled to be automatically believed. They are entitled to be automatically considered. It really does all come back to treating people the way you would want to be treated, which is, by the way, equality. Do you want people to presume that accusers are guilty? No; so treat the accused the same way. To borrow their language, while it may be their role to advocate for victims of rape, it is not their role to suggest that men and boys should be guilty until proven innocent. And we should all find any implication that they are entitled to do so sexist and offensive.

At the end of this next article from the Baltimore Sun concerning the Clothesline Project, we hear of another problem at Rollins College in Florida:

The politics of the Clothesline Project - which encourages women to see themselves and other women as victims and to rage at the patriarchy - can unintentionally encourage young women to make spurious accusations. For example, during the 2005 campus-wide sexual assault awareness week at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., then-23-year-old Desiree Nall told police that she was raped by two men in a college bathroom. Fear and panic swept the campus as police initiated a manhunt for the rapists. Police noticed many inconsistencies in Ms. Nall's story, and one female police investigator stated that there was "no evidence to support the sexual battery complaint filed by Desiree Nall."
According to press reports, Ms. Nall, then the president of the Brevard County Chapter of the National Organization for Women, eventually told police that she was "not a victim of a sexual battery, as earlier reported in her sworn statements." Feminists' lack of concern over the harm caused by false rape allegations is evident in the fact that even today, Ms. Nall remains in the leadership of [the] Brevard County [chapter of the] NOW.

Something similar occurred at George Washington University. An op-ed in The Reading Eagle says,
Why would anyone fake a rape? A troubled conscience might have its reasons. That’s what Marian Kashani, 19, a sophomore at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., did. She not only lied about rape, she embellished her story with racist details. Kashani, a rape counselor who works on a crisis hotline, told a reporter for her school newspaper that she knew a white woman who was raped on campus at knifepoint by two black men “with particularly bad body odor.” When they were done, she said one of the men told the woman that she was “pretty good for a white girl.” A fake policeman backed up her story by phone.

There are goats aplenty in this sordid episode. Kashani is one, obviously. She insists she only wanted to bring public attention to [in her words] “the problems of safety for all women.” She got attention all right, but she’s less likely to contribute to the safety of women than to racial animosity and renewed skepticism toward women who cry rape.

An article in TIME magazine called, “When is it Rape?” tells us yet another story, and the motivations behind it:

A new twist in society's perception came in 1975, when Susan Brownmiller published her book Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape. In it she attacked the concept that rape was a sex crime, arguing instead that it was a crime of violence and power over women. Throughout history, she wrote, rape has played a critical function. "It is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation, by which all men keep all women in a state of fear."

Out of this contention was born a set of arguments that have become politically correct wisdom on campus and in academic circles. This view holds that rape is a symbol of women's vulnerability to male institutions and attitudes. "It's sociopolitical," insists Gina Rayfield, a New Jersey psychologist. "In our culture men hold the power, politically, economically. They're socialized not to see women as equals."

This line of reasoning has led some women, especially radicalized victims, to justify flinging around the term rape as a political weapon, referring to everything from violent sexual assaults to inappropriate innuendos. Ginny, a college senior who was really 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."

In what we will increasingly find to be a common theme, according to some Feminists, even when women commit criminal acts, they are never responsible for their own behavior; it is always a man who is to blame. It should be noticeable that there has been a change in the way some Feminists operate. They have come up with a new idea. Instead of going after people who commit sexual assault, they have decided to go after everyone who does not, with the presumption that they would rape, if they don’t get a memo about it. As an example, this poster says:

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips:

1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.

2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!

6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!

10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone "on accident" you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

Posters worded just like this are springing up on university campuses. After they were posted around Union College, New York, an article appeared in the Student Newspaper titled “Helpful Tips for Men Won’t Help Raise Sexual Assault Awareness.” The author, Nick D’Angelo, says:

Appearing across campus have been signs and posters labeled “Helpful Hints for Men” in regards to sexual assault and rape. Such useful and effective anecdotes include “Don’t rape people” or “If you cannot stop yourself from raping people, ask a friend to stay with you in public.” At a time when the mission of effective organizations like SAHC [the Sexual Assault Harassment Committee] is to promote the seriousness of a serious issue, such frivolity is counterproductive and even irresponsible.

People are talking about the signs—but not about the awareness it brings to sexual assault crimes on campus. Rather, the conversation has been one of harsh criticism directed at an individual or group that makes a poor attempt at poking fun at a grave issue.

And why is this directed at all men? Are all men now to be viewed as potential rapists? According to this effort, the answer is yes. The maneuver is blatantly and unequivocally sexist.

The response often by Feminists to that their critics of these posters is that they just don’t get the intended message, which is that for years, the onus has been placed on women to take measures to reduce their chances of being raped, which they believe (correctly, in some cases) is stupid and sexist. What they don’t realize is that their critics do get the message, and in addition, they get an idea that some Feminists have a hard time getting, namely: that turning sexism around 180 degrees is not the same thing as eliminating it. And these non-Feminists have gotten another message that some Feminists have a hard time getting: the worst way to advocate that society should not do something is by doing it yourself.

And there are more signs posted around higher education with the same style of message - that all men are potential rapists. Here’s one at UCLA, posted by the group “Bruin Feminists for Equality:” And here’s another one:

“There’s nothing that should be offensive to people who aren’t rapists,” says one Feminist. Very well then. Let’s try a little role reversal and see if the Feminists come out ahead. What if a student were to walk around campus saying such things?

Hey blacks: if you see someone on the street, remember not to mug them? I mean I know it’s hard, you know – I know it’s part of the social construction of blackness – but hey, just try. Hey Muslims: if you a go into building, remember not to blow it up. You know, or a crowd of people. Whatever you are tempted to blow up today. Hey Hispanics, stop stealing. I mean I know, just as men are socialized to see women as their property, Hispanics are socialized to see Texas as their property since it declared its independence from Mexico. Hey women, stop lying about rape; not some women, just every woman listening – just stop lying about rape.

I mean the only ones who would get offended would be the blacks who commit gang violence, Hispanics who steal, women who lie about rape, and Muslims who blow up buildings, right? Somehow I doubt that. Again, treat other people the way you would want to be treated. Reverse the sexes, replace the sexes with the races, and if it does not sound like something you can justify, don’t do it. It really is that simple.

Does anyone seriously think that those who have the intent to rape will choose to do otherwise because an unattended piece of paper told them to do so? Even if we cannot all agree that this is sexist, I hope we can all agree it this is just not constructive. It doesn’t do anything - realistically - to prevent sexual assault; it just adds to the bitterness in the world, it alienates potential supporters, and it wastes an opportunity to make a better statement.

The Vagina Monologues is a play which is performed on Valentine’s Day, which campus Feminists have renamed V-Day, “V” standing for the words “violence,” “vagina,” and “victory.” There’s a dissenting Feminist that I greatly respect named Wendy McElroy. She is of the school called iFeminism, or Individualist Feminism, and had this to say about the Vagina Monologues:

Since 1998, V-Day events have been sponsored on university campuses across America. The stated purpose is to raise awareness. In reality, V-Day embodies the same double standard and dishonesty that has characterized most feminist pronouncements for decades.

Consider the politically correct centerpiece of the V-Day events: "The Vagina Monologues," the award-winning play by radical feminist Eve Ensler that features women who literally represent vaginas that speak out in a series of monologues.

The play is meant to decry rape and other violence against women. Yet, the original performances of the play and the published book eulogize lesbian "rape" of a 13-year-old girl by a 24-year-old woman who plies her with alcohol. The pedophile section is entitled "The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could" — Coochi Snorcher being the nickname of the little girl's genitalia. Her vagina's tale of seduction begins, "She gently and slowly lays me out on the bed..."

After becoming more graphic, the little girl gratefully concludes, "I'll never need to rely on a man."

Both by statute and by feminist definition, the "seduction" scene is rape. Nevertheless, the Coochi Snorcher declares,"...if it was rape, it was a good rape."

Such idealization of child molestation would have created a firestorm of outrage if the offending character had been male. But the molester was female, so "The Vagina Monologues" won an OBIE Award on Broadway and noted actresses clamored to be included in the cast. When the New York Times reported the buzz about Ensler, it called her "the Messiah heralding the second wave of feminism."

However, audiences probably won't hear the Coochi Snorcher speaking of "good rape" in the 2002 performances. In past years, some sections of "The Vagina Monologues" have caused embarrassment to the organizers and university officials who have backed V-Day performances. The script has been changed.

One of the alterations: the 13-year-old vagina omits the more inflammatory passages.

In 2000, when Georgetown University's Women's Center sponsored a performance of the Vagina Monologues, the conservative Robert Swope — a regular contributor to Georgetown University's student paper, The Hoya — brought the Coochi Snorcher to national attention.

In The Hoya, Swope wrote, "why is rape only wrong when a man commits it, but when it's by a woman committed against another woman, who just happens to be 13-years-old, it is celebrated and a university club sponsors it?"

Swope was abruptly fired from The Hoya. Accounts of his dismissal appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Salon, National Review, the Washington Times, and the Weekly Standard, among others.

So instead of thinking about love and intimacy on Valentine’s Day, students are now told to think about partner violence and rape. Doesn’t make for a very romantic day. In fact, it kind of ruins the idea of having a day set aside for thinking positive thoughts about relationships. But such is a Feminist holiday. I know that when it performed at my campus, I really didn’t feel like doing anything with my partner at the time.

So the age of the girl who had sex with a lesbian was changed from 13 to 16, which, by the way, is still statutory rape in many (if not most) states.

Now remember that the intent of this event (supposedly) is to advocate against sexual assault. After all, that’s why the “V” in “V-Day” stands for violence. And this play made it to production as a full group effort, and performed all around the US, for years, before the age of the girl who had sex with a lesbian was changed from 13 to 16 (which, by the way, is still statutory rape in many - if not most - states) and before the 13-year-old girl stopped saying “if it was a rape, it was a good rape.”

And again, and as always, we have to ask: how does what we are seeing in help victims of sexual assault? And if it is not about helping victims of sexual assault, what is it really about?

Feminists certainly don’t mind making a public display of vaginas and making sure that everyone sees them. But what happens when a few Harvard students do the same? An article in the Harvard Crimson tells us:

When a few members of the Harvard crew team decided to build a snowy representation of the male anatomy on Feb. 11, they never imagined it would be so hard to keep it up. The 9-foot snow phallus, constructed in Tercentenary Theater, was torn down just hours after its erection. But its impression still sparked an intense debate, from dining halls to dorm rooms, over the appropriateness of public displays of genitalia. Even The Economist magazine weighed in on the discussion, offering the destruction of the sculpture as evidence of American prudishness on its usually staid pages.

But women’s groups on campus have led a chorus of complaints against the snow penis, arguing that such a display is demeaning to women. “It was offensive because it was pornographic,” said Amy E. Keel ’04, who said she and her roommate “dismantled” the giant snow penis. “As a feminist, pornography is degrading to women and creates a violent atmosphere,” she said. Keel said that her personal experience as a rape survivor makes this statue even more uncomfortable to observe. “Men think they have the right to force that on you,” she said. “It’s a logical extension.”

Women’s Studies Lecturer Diane L. Rosenfeld, who teaches Women, Violence and the Law this semester, said that the implications of the snow phallus go beyond the legitimacy of the statue’s presence. “The ice sculpture was erected in a public space, one that should be free from menacing reminders of women’s sexual vulnerability,” Rosenfeld wrote in an e-mail yesterday.

She said the snow penis follows a long line of public phallic symbols, including the Washington Monument and missiles. “Women do not need to be reminded of the power of the symbol of the male genitalia,” Rosenfeld said. “My guess is that they are constantly reminded of it in daily messages.” A discussion about feminist perspectives on the statue, sponsored by the Radcliffe Union of Students, will take place Tuesday night in the Adams House small dining room.

You see folks, sexual imagery is only pornographic when it is displayed by men. And not only is displaying an inanimate representation of male genitalia pornographic, it is by extension an advocacy of rape.

Why is it important to spend time talking about misandry by students? A post at the Community of the Wrongly Accused gives us a good answer:

When colleges go looking for students to serve on committees to discuss changing sexual assault policies, who do you think volunteers? Here's a hint: it ain't a starting running back on the football team. In fact, it's rarely anyone who wears a jockstrap out of necessity on a regular basis. It's generally a true believer feminist who thinks that there is an overarching "rape culture" on campus. She believes that school needs to be made safer for women. And she sees no need to balance policies designed to nab rapists with policies to protect innocent men from being punished with the guilty--"rape culture" already provides too many protections for both the innocent and the guilty, she believes.

Harvard is looking to revise its sexual assault policies, and has appointed student representatives to a special committee charged with reviewing current policies. Samantha A. Meier ’12, was one of the appointees to the review committee. Is Samantha Meier representative of the student body?

Meier believes this is an “opportune time” for Harvard to take a look at its own sexual assault policies.  She hopes to discuss changing the definition of consent used by the school. "Under most legal definitions, forced sexual intercourse can be considered rape or sexual assault only when the victim said 'no' or was incapable of doing so due to the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to Meier.  Meier said that she and other students on the committee hoped to push the University instead toward an 'enthusiastic consent' model, in which an incident can be called rape in the absence of affirmative agreement.

[By the way, “Enthusiastic consent” means exactly what it sounds like: that a man who has sex is guilty of rape if his partner was not “enthusiastic” enough in her participation.]

“The only people who lose out in this model are the rapists,” said another student, who also was selected to serve on the committee. “We all care a lot about these issues,” Meier said, “and we want Harvard to care about these issues and take them seriously.”

Who is Samantha Meier? She's a sociology "concentrator" who has taken a number of Women, Gender, and Sexuality classes. She's even organized and moderated a feminist blogger gathering at Harvard.

Are Samantha Meier's views typical of Harvard students'? I sincerely doubt it. "Enthusiastic consent" is unworkable as either a legal standard or an official university policy. It would punish men with expulsion, in all likelihood, even if actual consent -- agreement to proceed with a sex act -- were present so long as such consent wasn't sufficiently "enthusiastic." Men and women, of course, do not carry "enthusiasm meters" into the bedroom, and to punish young men (and, yes, young men are the prime target) for not conforming to an artificial and politicized construct that would be fairly impossible to gauge borders on the barbaric.

Until men -- and women -- of good will realize that they have a right, indeed a duty, to participate in the public discourse on these issues even though their views don't fit the preferred narrative, every sexual assault initiative will be steered by persons who want to re-engineer male conduct to fit a feminist ideal.  They will be steered by persons more concerned with engorging the definition of sexual assault by constricting the definition of "consent" than insuring that sexual assault policies don't punish the innocent with the guilty. It is time for men and women of good will to inject themselves into the public discourse, and push the extremists and ideologues to the side.

And also, at some point, we have to go beyond addressing these things individually and as they appear – at which point it is already too late - and start naming, exposing, and confronting the attitudes and culture in academia that creates and reinforces it. These students are not just randomly waking up one day and deciding to do these things. Where are they getting this attitude of indifference and hostility to men and boys? We will discuss that question in our next video/blog post, when we talk about misandry in the form of rape hysteria by faculty and administrators.

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