Colleges and universities are being educated by Washington and are finding the experience excruciating. They are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous (“micro-aggressions,” often not discernible to the untutored eye, are everywhere), and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate. And academia’s progressivism has rendered it intellectually defenseless now that progressivism’s achievement, the regulatory state, has decided it is academia’s turn to be broken to government’s saddle.
I want to break this graf down, sentence by sentence.
Colleges and universities are being educated by Washington and are finding the experience excruciating.
I agree with the first half of this sentence, but not the second. Colleges and universities have been told by the President of the United States, after a comprehensive study, of the problem of campus rape. The problem – the offense – of Will’s introductory sentence, is that it’s not the response that’s excruciating. It’s the reveleations of the extent of rape on campus and the way colleges have turned a blind eye to the prevelance of campus rape that’s excruciating.
:They are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous (“micro-aggressions,” often not discernible to the untutored eye, are everywhere), and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate.”
This is the sentence that’s causes much of the ourtrage about Will’s column. He implies a number of things:
• Colleges and universities (they) have said that campus victimizations are ubiquitious;
• Many of the assaults are of no consequence (microagressions);
• Assaults are not visible most of the time (not discernible);
• They’re not obviously assaults (untutored eye);
• Colleges make victimhood a coveted status;
• Victimhood is a privilege;
• Victims who really aren’t victims may come forward (victims proliferate).
First, I doubt that colleges and universites can speak; rather, people within them can speak for them. Some of the people speaking for them are students and former students, women who’ve actually been raped while attending college. And they are saying that there is a problem. They provoked a study, and while it rewiewed other studies that use different methodologies and the numbers come out differently depending on which study is looked at, they all show that there is a problem of campus rape and that it’s interfering with some women’s access to higher education. Much of Will’s thesis is that the numbers from different studies don’t add up. He makes the case that because they don’t work like numbers in an accounting ledger, they should be dismissed. This is also offensive.
Will would have this be binary: rape (I presume his definition is closer to forcible rape; perhaps it is more broad) is part of a spectrum of sexual harassment, and that spectrum includes behaviors that rise to the level of assault. A whistle or catcall is harassment; groping is assault, and rape is rape. They all create a hostile enviroment for women to go about their daily business.
When it comes to visibility and consequence, Will’s just flat out wrong. I am a woman. I’ve been harassed and groped and raped. I saw it happen. I’ve also seen other woman harassed and assaulted. Like the time on the school bus, when a girl with large breasts was walking down the isle and several of the boys thought it was okay to cop a feel; they made a game of it. After that day, nearly every day someone would grab her. And we all saw it; most of the kids laughed at it. So this is also offensive. That girl had to live with that. It took an enormous toll on her psyche. Getting on the bus must have been pure torture for her.
The “coveted status of victimhood” is an intersting construction; and one I almost agree with. As a vicim myself, I covet the right to tell my story without shame. You all read it. You know what happened to me. I did nothing wrong; but I struggle every day with the shame of what happened to me.
And I want to tell Will straight out: Victimhood is not a privilege; standing is a privilege. Having the standing to tell what happened to you is a privilege. Being able to go out and about your life without being sexually assaulted or harassed is a privilege. But being a victim is not a privilege.
And as to the proliferation problem? I’m sure there are some women who might make up an assault story who haven’t really been assaulted. But for the most part, we’ve got plenty of stories, thank you, and we don’t need to make them up. What’s more likely is that women combine multiple stories into a single event, that they forget events completely, that they brush off actual harassement and assault as something else entirely.
And the last sentence from the opening graf: And academia’s progressivism has rendered it intellectually defenseless now that progressivism’s achievement, the regulatory state, has decided it is academia’s turn to be broken to government’s saddle.
I’m really not sure how to parse this. Yes, the standard of how universities handled rape on campus was intellectually defenseless – it should not be defended. It was horrible, so to my mind, defending it is pretty inexcusable. The ‘broken in the government’s saddle,” is really offensive, given that regulation to help better protect women while the attend college does not seem unreasonable to me, victim that I am, and the pathetic sexual inuendo implied by the whole ‘broken in the saddle’ bit. That’s really, really crude.
This is next:
Consider the supposed campus epidemic of rape, a.k.a. “sexual assault.” Herewith, a Philadelphia magazine report about Swarthmore College, where in 2013 a student “was in her room with a guy with whom she’d been hooking up for three months”:
“They’d now decided — mutually, she thought — just to be friends. When he ended up falling asleep on her bed, she changed into pajamas and climbed in next to him. Soon, he was putting his arm around her and taking off her clothes. ‘I basically said, “No, I don’t want to have sex with you.” And then he said, “OK, that’s fine” and stopped. .?.?. And then he started again a few minutes later, taking off my panties, taking off his boxers. I just kind of laid there and didn’t do anything — I had already said no. I was just tired and wanted to go to bed. I let him finish. I pulled my panties back on and went to sleep.’”
Six weeks later, the woman reported that she had been raped. Now the Obama administration is riding to the rescue of “sexual assault” victims. It vows to excavate equities from the ambiguities of the hookup culture, this cocktail of hormones, alcohol and the faux sophistication of today’s prolonged adolescence of especially privileged young adults.
This is sort of a precious retelling, because it invokes one of the oldest sexual tropes of all: once a man has had a woman, he has the right to have her again – consent one time is consent for all time. But guess what? No means no.
Now imagine, if you will, a young man, finally turned 21. He and some homeboys go out for some beers. Toward the end of the night, one of the boys runs out of money, so our young man lends buys a beer. Same thing the next week. And the week after. On the next week, the young men are again out, having beers, and the dude who’s always short of cash asks our young collegiate for his beer money; our collegiate says, “No.” So the dude who wants a beer just takes the money. Is that not theft?
But in the example above, Will questions that it’s not rape. She slept with him before; she got in the same bed with him. Most noticably, she didn’t fight him off; it was not forcible rape. But I gotta tell you; she still lost her beer money, didn’t she?
Finally, there’s a whole range of responses women exhibit while they are being raped. Some even fake orgasm so that they might send signal of ‘enthuastic consent,’ to get the experience over; some actually do have orgasms. But that does not change that they are actively being raped. If we want to progress enough in our understanding of rape actually is – that for instance, men can be raped by women, they can have erections, they can ejaculate, and it’s still rape and they still feel icky about it – then we have to open the door to the actual hosts of experiences women have while being raped, too.
The administration’s crucial and contradictory statistics are validated the usual way, by official repetition; Joe Biden has been heard from. The statistics are: One in five women is sexually assaulted while in college, and only 12 percent of assaults are reported. Simple arithmetic demonstrates that if the 12 percent reporting rate is correct, the 20 percent assault rate is preposterous. Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute notes, for example, that in the four years 2009 to 2012 there were 98 reported sexual assaults at Ohio State. That would be 12 percent of 817 total out of a female student population of approximately 28,000, for a sexual assault rate of approximately 2.9 percent — too high but nowhere near 20?percent.
We’ve already discussed this bit here, above. Counting rape is a messy business; methodologies differ. But there’s no doubt that all the studies show campus rape is common.
Education Department lawyers disregard pesky arithmetic and elementary due process. Threatening to withdraw federal funding, the department mandates adoption of a minimal “preponderance of the evidence” standard when adjudicating sexual assault charges between males and the female “survivors” — note the language of prejudgment. Combine this with capacious definitions of sexual assault that can include not only forcible sexual penetration but also nonconsensual touching. Then add the doctrine that the consent of a female who has been drinking might not protect a male from being found guilty of rape. Then comes costly litigation against institutions that have denied due process to males they accuse of what society considers serious felonies.
This is apples and oranges. There are standards that students agree to abide by in return for the privilege of attending school. There are whole hosts of activities you cannot do if you want the privilege of remaining in school. Threatening other students with bodily harm, disrupting classes, verbally abusing the cafeteria staff, there are all sorts of activities that will get you thrown out of school for a day or a week or forever. One of the things you agree to is not to harass other people. This is a different standard then that of the legal system, where evidence of guilt beyond reasonable doubt is required. I hope one of our attorney’s can better flesh this difference out for me.
Now academia is unhappy about the Education Department’s plan forgovernment to rate every institution’s educational product. But the professors need not worry. A department official says this assessment will be easy: “It’s like rating a blender.” Education, gadgets — what’s the difference?
This is just snide. I’m sure Will would like an idea of how seriously the college his granddaughter might attend takes campus rape. It’s market information, useful to people considering where to invest their college dollars; one of lifetime’s biggest investments.
Meanwhile, the newest campus idea for preventing victimizations — an idea certain to multiply claims of them — is “trigger warnings.” They would be placed on assigned readings or announced before lectures. Otherwise, traumas could be triggered in students whose tender sensibilities would be lacerated by unexpected encounters with racism, sexism, violence (dammit, Hamlet, put down that sword!) or any other facet of reality that might violate a student’s entitlement to serenity. This entitlement has already bred campus speech codes that punish unpopular speech. Now the codes are begetting the soft censorship of trigger warnings to swaddle students in a “safe,” “supportive,” “unthreatening” environment, intellectual comfort for the intellectually dormant.
He’s conflating to totally different topics here; this is on presentation of course material. As I recall, there was some consensus in our discussions about this that syllubus warnings were probably a good idea for some courses; and we also seemed to agree that it was a policy that could be taken to a comical extreme.
It is salutary that academia, with its adversarial stance toward limited government and cultural common sense, is making itself ludicrous. Academia is learning that its attempts to create victim-free campuses — by making everyone hypersensitive, even delusional, about victimizations — brings increasing supervision by the regulatory state that progressivism celebrates.
What government is inflicting on colleges and universities, and what they are inflicting on themselves, diminishes their autonomy, resources, prestige and comity. Which serves them right. They have asked for this by asking for progressivism.
“Be careful what you wish for” closing. Like, somehow, holding colleges accountable for women’s safety on campus is a bad thing. Somebody’s feeling threatened, and it isn’t just women in college.