Monday, June 1, 2015

The Futility of Title IX

Activists and laws like Title IX require colleges and universities to take "immediate and effective steps to end sexual harassment and sexual violence."

Let's look at a specific example of these steps, as outlined by one Boston University student's letter to the editor:
My story is also a familiar one: it starts at a frat party and it ends seven months later with a thick folder of official paperwork and nothing to show for it except a figurative and patronizing pat on the head. My assailant will not be punished by the university for what he did to me.
I am not going to re-hash the details of my assault here; this letter is not about the violence that occurred on that one night (nor the emotional trauma it has caused me since then). It is about the ongoing violence of administrative negligence. It is an answer to the question, “why don’t more survivors report?”
At the end of the first judicial process, my assailant admitted to the investigators that he “made an assumption” and that he was “wrong.” The judicial committee found him responsible for rape and suspended him for a semester. I was relieved. I was proud of BU. It had taken most of my first semester, but they had come to the right decision. They told my assailant his behavior was unacceptable, and they thanked me for coming forward.
Then, my assailant was automatically granted an appeal based on no new evidence. For some reason, he was allowed to bypass a hearing board and appeal directly to the provost, eliminating any chance of appeal for me, something the Dean of Students and the investigators told me multiple times I would have. My assailant requested a stay of suspension from the provost. I sent an email to the provost asking what grounds he had for this request. She did not respond. This was on a Friday. I submitted my official response to his request on the following Monday (the time limit I was given for responding), and the provost approved his stay of suspension the next day, around lunchtime. He was once again allowed to take classes here.

The rest of the letter describes how BU has failed in this case by taking back the suspension.

Whether or not the university is right to take back the suspension is irrelevant - what is surprising is that a single semester suspension could possibly fulfill Boston University's Title IX requirements. One could imagine that the accused student is fighting this charge out of pride for his record and not out of want to avoid the pain of the punishment.

Anyone familiar with modern brands of feminism know that one dastardly sin to commit is to create a "rape culture". A "rape culture" can be grown from many things, but two important methods would include:
  • Creating "gradations" of rape.
  • Normalizing rape by regarding it as an accident that happens sometimes.
A single semester suspension from a university does both these things. Apparently there is a version of rape that is only punished by forcing the perpetrator to do something other than study for a while. Further, the punishment is mundane enough to be everyday. Legions of accused students could grow to accept the "semester off" as just something one has to do to placate the well meaning but toothless university administration and student activists.

There are many blessings in a semester away from school. It provides a lot of time to  research one's accuser and follow them around while looking for evidence that would undermine their credibility. And it's absolutely not illegal to visit any bar that students like and find another potential victim.

Actions taken by schools to keep Title IX and "feminist" advocacy happy is simply lip service paid to liberals that are confused by or outright despise the role of the police and the existing justice system. It would be fine to create a justice system in parallel, and use the same words for crimes, if it was not entirely incapable of protecting the public at large in any way.

It's only a matter of time until universities and campus "feminism" creates their own version of Willie Horton or Lakewood shooting. At some point, one of these banned-for-a-semester students will get in serious trouble off campus and all will be amazed how little the typical justice system was involved in their behavior.

Defenders of university administrations will use a reasoning used by vigilantes everywhere - "it's better to do something rather than nothing". Above that, it's well within the institution's rights and responsibilities to uphold its own moral code - whatever that may be.

The problem arises when the moral code overlaps with abhorrent criminality. If a person stole something from campus, it's hard to believe the action would be a consequence-free action as long as the person was not a registered student or employee of the university. The university would absolutely report the theft to the police - not merely brand the person a thief in its own records, render its own punishment and then forget about the entire affair.

At the same time, it makes sense to not push every problem through the police. Not every drunken vandalism at college or argumentative idiocy in a boardroom needs to be recorded as an infraction by the government and subject to penalty. Every punch thrown in a dorm room or at a frat party need not always end in formal assault charges.

Yet this logic does not apply to rape, as rape is presumed to be a serious crime. Universities cannot be in the business of stating simply that a rape occurred and doling out meager punishments to people it will label as rapists. This is worse than doing nothing, as it has the effect of doing nothing while wasting everyone's time. 

Advocacy for universities to force the primary punishment campus rape relies on three key things to be of a very specific nature. If these things are not just so, the institution either proves to be unwilling or unable to create an effective intervention.

A certain type of crime is necessary - the assault must not raise a campus-wide panic or have too much conclusive evidence. It cannot be a serial stranger rape at knifepoint behind a lecture hall. It cannot cause bruises or other injuries that would be visible during class. Witnesses at the time of the assault must not be too certain what had happened and must also not be a member of law enforcement or medical authority.

The crime also must occur somewhere near campus grounds. Universities probably will not be held responsible for punishing students for what they are said to have done over summer break. Luckily, rape usually happens in the fall and winter, right?

A certain type of victim is a part of the picture, of course, as the victim needs to be a student. Not a visitor, not a university employee, and definitely not a faculty member. There is perhaps some room for a non-student to petition for a student to be punished, but there is very little reason to suggest that many universities would carry the allegations any further than the police would as universities are not generally enthusiastic about acting as an primary intermediary between all matters concerning staff, students, alumni and outsiders.

A certain type of perpetrator is of the utmost importance. The perpetrator must be a student and must care about their future at the university enough to care about not being expelled or suspended, or subject to the limited number of punishments a university may invent. The perpetrator cannot be someone that actually intimidates any of the institution's staff. The perpetrator must not be a sociopathic recidivist. If the student may actually assault someone again and the university did not immediately ban them forever from campus grounds, the institution would be open to all kinds of future lawsuits about negligence.

The perpetrator must be disturbed enough to rape someone yet together enough to cut it out entirely when subjected to the most diluted scared-straight punishment available on the planet. A campus tribunal is intimidating only to those accustomed to punishment not being anything more than detention after class.

In some way, the campus interventions are doing alleged rapists a favor by creating the appearance of double jeopardy when there is none. For example, in the previous story wherein the institution, victim and perpetrator are presumably fine after the "semester off" is complete, what purpose is served by the actual authorities trying to punish the accused?

Instead of waiting for this trinity of stars to align to dole out some sad excuse for justice, universities should be in the business of actually creating the safe spaces many speak about but never define. That is, a "safe space" should not simply mean a space absent of any controversial opinions. A safe space ought to be what the words describe - a space where physical assault of any kind is actually less likely to occur.

Campuses are already safer spaces when compared to other environments (more on this in other discussions) but more can always be done to supervise the Tumblr generation that apparently only begins to face adult consequences for actions after completing a four year degree. Hire the staff needed to monitor alcohol use, escort students all hours of the day and audit the movements of people in dormitories. Identify the socially awkward penguins that will be a sizable portion of the population of both perpetrators and victims. Create mandatory lectures about acceptable human behavior and social skills that students apparently did not gather while in their creationist high schools.

What will pay for this effort?

Tuition fees. Raise them and pay for it. The institutions that do not do this can be publicly shamed as creating rape cultures or participating in rape apologia in the face of an "epidemic". If prospective students need to work a few years after high school to pay for these services, it would create a virtuous cycle by making universities less likely to have to manage people in their tumultuous teens or younger than a legal drinking age.

Despite the scary statistics and many concerned "journalists", nothing will change. Nothing will change as students and their guardians do not see university campuses as substantially more threatening than the ignored and irreparable disaster that is the final years of high school.

In an nation that has witnessed every type of violence descend upon primary schools, it is absolutely rational to not much care about how many symbolic days off a preppy fratboy receives for misbehavior. And "misbehavior" is the proper word in this context, as the institution places itself under no obligation to actually prove that a crime actually occurred.

It's a ineffective system for timid people with flimsy results.

Truly, a modern activist's dream.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Dick Is Too Forward

In June 2011, Rebecca Watson told a story to the world that would lead to a drama known as elevatorgate. Its creation was a description made of a man that asked her if she wanted "coffee" in his room after spending most of the night in the hotel bar. Describing his behavior, Watson lectured: "Guys, don't do that".

The event was one catalyst in a sort-of schism in the skeptic/atheist community that eventually led Jennifer McCreight to coin the term "Atheism Plus" in August 2012 to describe what was hoped would be a version of secularism without the vile bigotry like sexism and racism that the community had apparently not sufficiently eradicated.

The next months are filled with "social justice" rhetoric about how conferences need harassment policies to fix misbehavior. Very few allegations of anything criminal were made - the focus was on more nebulous patterns of behavior. The grand idea was not to prosecute any specific crimes, but to exclude the creepy white men that was keeping the "movement" from being "inclusive" and a "safe space".

Numerous enemies were named - Justin Vacula was making people feel uncomfortable at conventions, Audi was making problematic commercials, certain women were not towing the "feminist" line. The head of CFI was too pushy, certain men liked to pick up women a bit too much. Even worse, other men were talking too much about dongles. The word "stupid" was ableist and "trigger warnings" were to be applied liberally in order to create a gentler secularism.

Then an allegation of rape was made against a specific conference speaker in August 2013. The allegation was published by PZ Myers, who is apparently publishes anonymous accusations for people who cannot be bothered with creating their own Tumblr. The specific allegation and the resulting mess it created aside, it created a gigantic mass of "supporting evidence" that was absolutely mundane and absurd.

In comment threads, people claimed the accused was a womanizer that convention organizers knew about. One person wrote that the accused on a different occasion made sure her wine glass "stayed full", as if it were an indication of his focus on raping people while on the conference circuit.

Later in 2013, Bora Zivkovic, an editor at Scientific American, was accused of being aggressive in a sexual manner. Zivkovic left the magazine.

An easily excitable Stephanie Zvan took the opportunity to use the heat surrounding Zivkovic to accuse a young woman named Christie of the crime of being too aggressive with a man at a conference.

Later in 2014, people were writing about Richard Feynman being a bad guy for having affairs with married women.

Fast forward to May 2015, and a one Richard Carrier - the self described "intellectual artillery" of Atheism Plus -  writes a blog post titled: "Looking for a Date Middle of May".

A dramatic reading:

For most people, this is about as creepy as a man can get. And even many in "social justice" camps agreed.

Coming to the defense of his friend, PZ Myers writes:

So I read Carrier’s post, and no surprise, I was made terribly uncomfortable by it (no, really, sometimes I feel like a Victorian). But so what. I don’t define what Richard Carrier does.
I have one rule that gets me by: is it consensual? And what do you know, that whole damn post is about getting consent and setting personal boundaries and making crystal clear what he desires, and acknowledging the other participant’s autonomy. How can anyone complain about that?
If I sought to impose my sexual preferences on everyone else, that’s what would be creepy and wrong. If I tried to coerce others into sexual behavior that I enjoyed, but they didn’t, that would be worthy of condemnation. If I stood by while someone deprived another of autonomy so they could get their sick jollies off, I would be ashamed.
But this? Objectively fine. It’s a consentapalooza.

The absurd part of "objectively fine" is that objectivity has not mattered for the last four years.

It is a subjective evaluation of what is creepy that has dominated debate. This simply a fact. There is nothing objectively wrong about asking for coffee, having affairs or being a "womanizer". It does not alone undermine consent. It is a subjective reading of context and intent that leads things to be problematic. Rarely does the "problematic" debate of the hour actually resemble anything that would be described as sexual assault.

Many "social justice" activists believe the catalyst of hatred between them and the rest of the planet is that the rest of the planet disrespects consent. This is not true. What the rest of the planet disrespects is wordy self-rationalizing pseudoacademics that believe they are fundamentally better than everyone else.

Describing one's own crazy sexuality in a thousand public words does not make it more respecting of consent. In fact, the inverse may be true as Richard Carrier's verbose polyamory may be a deliberate self-serving defense against later accusations. Being "out and proud" in this manner preemptively kills the label "unrelenting sex addict" as reality is now clouded with euphemism. 

It is a realm dominated by white nerds of all genders that first and foremost is aroused by having their sex lives documented in words. Everything one does is "empowering", while certain populations participating in precisely same behavior is "toxic". It has nothing to do with what is right and everything to do with what is titillating - as witnessed in the immense capacity "social justice" has for gossip and shallow analysis.

The community that "social justice" is built on is one of plagiarists like CJ Werleman and Avicenna. Clickbait judges like Amanda Marcotte and Jessica Valenti. Accused rapists and doxxers such as Jason Thibeault and PZ Myers. Hopeless womanizers like Hugo Schwyzer and Richard Carrier. 

The message to these abusive "activists" is simple - 

"Guys, don't do that."

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Bisexual Rapist German at Columbia

Generally when there are a lot of allegations of sexual assault against a single person, the chance that person is a criminal tends to go up. For example, most everyone suspects Bill Cosby and Jian Ghomeshi might not be angels, for good reason.

However, each allegation stands on its own merits and must make sense independently in order to establish a pattern of behavior. One attempt in this exercise of justice is the case against a one Paul at Columbia university. Recently, Paul filed suit against the university - the complaint available here and here.

Writers at Jezebel are eager to point out there have been FOUR complaints against Nungesser:

With the suit filed by Paul and Jezebel's own reporting, we can establish the list of accusers:

  1. Emma, the visual arts major receiving credit directly related to her allegations against Paul
  2. Jane Doe #1, a woman that claimed Paul tried to kiss her at a party
  3. Jane Doe #2, Paul's first girlfriend at Columbia that apparently "felt obligated" to sleep with him
  4. John Doe, a queer black man that claimed Paul pushed him on a bed and sexually assaulted him

It could all be true - Paul could be that creepy exchange student with undefined sexual preferences that does not understand boundaries that thinks what happens in the United States stays in the United States.

But the underlying unfairness to Paul is when people hear the word "four complaints", a reader may typically understand that these complaints fit some sort of meaningful pattern of behavior. Instead, they are a confusing mashup of severity and subject, creating an unbelievable profile of the alleged assailant and showing how simple it is for something to be categorized as a "complaint".

Paul's defense is based on his accusers being vindictive and/or mentally ill liars. Additional complaints do not have to erode his defense - in fact, the carnival of complaints that publications like Jezebel like to run with make it look like a concerted effort to make something - anything - stick against Paul. Defenders of Paul can simply dismiss the circus as a conspiracy to save Emma's reputation.

As the UVA case has shown, it simply isn't true that "listen and believe" always has tactical value and more often than not it has collateral damage

Campus rape is not an issue to be "won" by the sheer number of Title IX complaints filed - in fact, "feminist" activism may be undone by the appearance of frivolous complaint inflation. When everything is problematic, nothing is.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Consent Catastrophes

Trying to compile the following mess into some sort of meaningful point is probably a fool's errand. Read it for yourself and make up your own mind.

Here are the stories -

The Three-Year Long Campus Assault

From this story:

Yes, he was her boyfriend. No, he hadn't pinned her down, or threatened violence. But Espinosa insists that he coerced her, psychologically and physically, into having sex against her will for most of their three-year relationship. She resisted, told him no, pushed him away. More often than not, he persisted and she gave in "just to get it over with," she says.
"I knew that it was sexual assault, but at the time, I felt extreme shame and was not ready nor willing to fully accept what was happening," said Espinosa, 24. "Like most unpleasant truths, I buried it until the end of my relationship, when I realized I was holding onto a relationship with a man who was abusive."
The relationship came to an end in February 2013. The next month, Espinosa filed a sexual harassment claim against her former boyfriend with her school, the University of Texas-Pan American, where some of the incidents occurred. The reporting process was traumatizing in its own right, she says, leading her to file a federal complaint against UTPA. The Title IX complaint, filed last week with the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, alleges that UTPA violated her right to an education free of gender-based discrimination by mishandling her report and creating a hostile environment.

Sorority blog's grey area

From a clickbait blog called  "TotalSororityMove" : "Is it Possible That There Is Something In Between Consensual Sex And Rape…And That It Happens To Almost Every Girl Out There?"

He slid inside me and I didn’t say a word. At the time, I didn’t know why. Maybe I didn’t want to feel like I’d led him on. Maybe I didn’t want to disappoint him. Maybe I just didn’t want to deal with the “let’s do it, but no, we shouldn’t” verbal tug-of-war that so often happens before sleeping with someone. It was easier to just do it. Besides, we were already in bed, and this is what people in bed do. I felt an obligation, a duty to go through with it. I felt guilty for not wanting to. I wasn’t a virgin. I’d done this before. It shouldn’t have been a big deal–it’s just sex–so I didn’t want to make it one.

Canadian politician booty call 

A Canadian politician shared her story about going to a colleagues' hotel room alone at 2 AM only to find that he wanted to... have sex.

After a night with a large group at a bar, Pacetti allegedly invited her for a nightcap in the hotel where he stays while in Ottawa.
“It was already 2 a.m., so I thought, another hour isn’t going to be a big deal, it’s already late,” she said.
Once in the room, she says she sat in a chair while Pacetti sat on the bed. Eventually, she says Pacetti patted the spot on the bed beside him, asking her to sit with him.
“I said no, I’m good here in my chair. I went to the bathroom to try to find a solution, to leave,” she said. 
When she returned to get her purse from the chair, she alleges Pacetti pulled her to him as she passed by. The MP won’t go into the precise details of what happened next, other than she froze, and blocked out the situation. She said she had previously been the victim of a violent sexual assault.
She alleges it was sex without her explicit consent.
Is she alleging rape then? The MP said she’s no expert in criminology, and so doesn’t want to put a legal label on it.
As it is, the Canadian politician has already labelled the man a slimeball so the r-word does not matter anyways, does it?

In another report, the woman told people she had handed the man a condom:
“He just grabbed me when I passed near to him, and then we had sex with no explicit consent from me. I froze, in fact,” said the MP, who explained she was a victim of assault in the past. “...It was late, I was tired… It makes you unable to think really fast, losing control of how to react.”
The NDP MP provided a condom and said she did not say yes or no to Mr. Pacetti’s advances. Initiatives launched in Canada in recent years, including at universities and by police forces, have stressed the importance of explicit consent as part of so-called “yes means yes” campaigns.
After intercourse, the NDP MP said, she dressed and left the hotel. She was in pain for three days afterward, she said, but chose not to come forward. “Sometimes talking about it gives you more trouble than trying to deal with it on your own with other medical support,” she said.
Apparently handing a man a condom isn't explicit consent. And really it shouldn't be, as there is some ambiguity in the situation. Maybe one is ready for sex, but on the other hand maybe one is ready for pranking other hotel guests with balloon animals.

For more on this absurdity, read this column.

Prevention through PowerPoint

In defense of expansion of Title IX requirements - or adherence to a strict view of existing requirements - a student has written her own story about assault on campus:
When I arrived in Hyde Park for my O-Week in September of 2011, I was woefully ignorant about sex. I did not have any form of sex education at my high school and never received any “sex talk” about sexual decision making, much less about the mechanics of sex.
[... O-Week = orientation week, presumably in one's first year of university]
So when I attended the Sex Signals presentation during O-Week, a nationally popular sexual assault awareness program whose inaugural college performance was given at the University of Chicago in 2000, I was unfamiliar with what consent meant in regards to sexual encounters.
[... clipped a very oddly specific description of a seminar held once in her first year... who can remember these things?]
At the subsequent Chicago Life Meeting titled UChoose, I received what other students called a rape whistle and participated in a 10-minute conversation about the Sex Signals presentation. Unfortunately, this discussion promptly moved on to other topics and non-sex-related campus safety issues. [...] 
This hasty glossing over of the reality of sexual violence was simply not enough to adequately get students on the same page in a group with varying levels of familiarity on the topic. I was left still unclear on what sexual assault encompassed or how it was defined, and I did not understand what my options were or where to turn if it ever happened to me. Because of the framing of the issue, assault seemed to happen rarely and I naively thought that it would never happen to me.
In my third year, it did happen to me; I was raped by someone that I went on a date with. While he was assaulting me, the thoughts running through my mind were variations of, “Why is he doing this when I said I did not want to do this,” “That really hurts,” “Why is he hitting me,” and “Why won’t he stop?” The words “sexual assault” and “rape,” however, did not initially come to mind as a way to think about my experience. I spent a few weeks in denial about my own assault because I had not internalized that I truly had autonomy over my own body. The preventative education from O-Week provided only a cursory understanding of sexual violence, without any sustained dialogue or examples of what constituted sexual harassment, dating violence, and stalking. In addition, it did not clarify that a lack of a sustained or verbal “no” was not indicative of a “yes.” This lack of education ultimately contributed immensely to my denial.

This has the appearance of making some sense - when is more education not a good thing? However, if a third year university student does not "get it", how is the answer yet another lecture for those that happened to spend the tens of thousands of dollars to attend a four-year in-person degree program?

Universities faced with this dilemma would be better served to exclude these students at the time of admission. Men and women that do not understand the fundamentals of basic human interactions - especially those related to sex and alcohol - make campuses dangerous. For this reason it makes little sense for colleges to accept students that need catch-up courses.

Universities do not teach one to drive. Universities do not fill one in on classes skipped during high school. Universities are not supplementary parenting.

Free drugs and accommodations does not equal consent!

Once upon a time, a woman travelled from Toronto to New York for a free stay by sharing a room with a man she had spoken to online:

Stan invited me to stay at his place after we had exchanged emails for about one week. I was unfamiliar with his work as a writer other than a publication he ran, which I had read and enjoyed on multiple occasions. He and I began exchanging emails daily, which contained playful updates on our lives, unpublished writing, and occasionally planning my stay at his place. He explained that there would be three other people staying in his apartment at the same time I would be there, and that I was “welcome to sleep in [his] bed if [I would] be comfortable with that haha.”
Stan made it clear that we would be going on a ‘bender’ throughout my visit, which, for the most part, I had no problem with. I have always liked drugs, and was definitely open to taking them for free.
That evening we were in his room sitting on his bed, and he began kissing me again. I felt unsure of how to proceed. I had no interest in making out with him or having sex with him, but had a feeling that it would ‘turn into an ordeal’ if I rejected him. I had never been in a situation where I was living with someone for a period of time who wanted to have sex with me, that I didn’t want to have sex with. I knew I had nowhere else to stay, and if I upset him that I might be forced to leave.

... this went on for a week. That's how much people would rather stay in New York than take the bus home.

Science’s Sexual Assault Problem
This is a rather tragic story wherein a woman was raped in Turkey while doing field work. The woman concludes that field work is more risky for women than men - and then ends up with the title "Science's Sexual Assault Problem".

It is slightly irresponsible to project this on to science - someone reading the title may think jobs in science are more dangerous, when in reality there is nothing to suggest field work is more dangerous than merely existing and travelling. Unfortunately, this is the reality.

However it's difficult to criticize the author as she has been victimized again - not by rapists in some far away land, but by "progressive" critics in her own. In her blog post response, she answers the most ridiculous of her critics:

Commenters have noted that my piece does not treat the multiple issues of race and class that intersect with violence against women. This valid criticism is a part of a much larger ongoing discussion examining the exclusionary history of mainstream feminism. I recommend this post by Ambika Kamath as particularly insightful about my piece; her follow up is also important.
Commenters have critiqued the Colonizer mentality that drove the reconnaissance that I attempted. This is absolutely valid. The idea that an establishing scientist must go into an unstudied locality and claim it as one’s own was a model in common use twenty years ago. Since then things have changed for the better, and my grantsmanship demonstrates how my own approach has evolved. The best international field programs are now shared ventures with extensive local participation. Scientific funding agencies actively promote and often require the prior establishment of international collaboration to support foreign fieldwork. The rise of the internet after Y2K made the process of opening correspondence with international colleagues immeasurably easier, and smartphones have made travel easier, and safer, as well.

Indeed, after reading about her rape in Turkey, "progressive" or "social justice" commentators had the courage to point out that the trip itself was problematic and her storytelling was not intersectional enough.

To some people, speaking to any particular point about the premise (i.e. science's 'problem' with sexual assault) is secondary to speaking to an external spiderweb of privileges and victimization that must be addressed first. Yet one only truly needs to check themselves if the critic is actually of a lesser privilege - white men asking white women about the circumstances of non-white, non-colonizer women can be ignored as derailment, of course.

Another absurdity is one of equivalence. One can acquire the blood of a stranger under their fingernails while doing field work in a foreign land. Alternatively, one could simply not saying no to an acquaintance just to make things "easier". In the eyes of many "feminist" thinkers, it is itself a crime to arrive at the obvious conclusion that these situations are different.

When it comes to rape, if one asks a white woman what she was doing in a "colonizer" study of Turkey, it's "social justice" criticism. At the same time, if one asks a federal politician why she handed another adult political representative a condom, it may be anything from "sexism", "misogyny", "victim blaming", "rape culture" or outright rape apologia.

Is this not odd?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Jackie's Awful Mother

One must be aware already that the UVA story told by one "Jackie" has imploded in a spectacular manner, as outlined in this CJR report

One detail about her mother stood out:

Yet Jackie could also be hard to pin down. Other interviews Jackie said she would facilitate never materialized. “I felt frustrated, but I didn’t think she didn’t want to produce” corroboration, Erdely said. Eventually, Jackie told Erdely that her mother had thrown away the red dress. She also said that her mother would be willing to talk to Erdely, but the reporter said that when she called and left messages several times, the mother did not respond.

As it turns out, Jackie's mother could have been a credible witness regarding another allegation:
Jackie meets with Eramo and says she was struck in the face by a glass bottle on April 6. Jackie says her roommate at the time, a nursing student, helped her remove glass from her face. When interviewed by investigators, the roommate denied this and described Jackie’s injury as a bruise consistent with having fallen.
According to Jackie, she also called her mother around the time of the attack. Phone records reviewed by investigators didn’t show that she made such a call.
Before we ask what this mother was thinking, let's see where the father was, from Erdely's original reporting in Rolling Stone:

Before Jackie left for college, her parents – a Vietnam vet and retired military contractor, and a stay-at-home mom – had lectured her about avoiding the perils of the social scene, stressing the importance of her studies, since Jackie hoped to get into medical school. Jackie had a strained relationship with her father, in whose eyes she'd never felt good enough, and always responded by exceeding expectations – honor roll, swim team, first-chair violin – becoming the role model for her two younger brothers. Jackie had been looking forward to college as an escape – a place to, even, defy her parents' wishes and go to a frat party. "And I guess they were right," she says bitterly.

By all appearances, Jackie's father is not dead or absent - it's rather strange that both parents seem quite silent for two years about what happened to their daughter.

Yet the mother has more culpability, as she's been mentioned as playing a crucial part in several elements of the story.

Jackie's mother could:

  • Corroborate the story about the red dress (e.g. that it existed and she discarded it)
  • Corroborate the story about the beer bottle attack
  • With Jackie's father, speak to her credibility and emotional state over the past two years
  • Pick up the damn phone when Rolling Stone was going to publish the story and make it a worldwide spectacle
These are things Jackie's mother could have done. What did Jackie's mother do? Absolutely nothing. 

One of three things are can be true:
  1. Jackie lied about and/or manipulated her mother
  2. Jackie's mother is neglectful and indifferent
  3. Both
Now, as a rule, we can say that #1 is not true and then #2 must be - Jackie must have been telling the whole truth about her mother's involvement. We know this is the case due to one simple fact - lying about child neglect is rare. According to FBI statistics that probably exist, we can say that the vast majority of children reporting their parents to Child Protective Services/Social Services are telling the truth. 

When do children lie about neglect? It almost never happens.

Therefore, using impenetrable social justice logic, we can conclude that Jackie's mother is a terrible person.

Not only is Jackie's mother indifferent and neglectful, her silence on this matter is buttressing the patriarchy and outright rape apologia. This is the worst possible form of child abuse and she deserves to be called out on it.

For evil to flourish, it only requires Jackie's mother to do nothing.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

How to hate men

Many words are spilled in the effort to convince people that feminists do, or do not, hate men.

In some view, it is a useful discourse. In all subjects, prejudice matters. Bias matters. Motives matter. And good activism relies on objectivity - if facts are always second to immutable feelings, it's hard to imagine any arguments standing up to critical analysis.

It's also true that feminism positions itself as a movement to end bias and gender-based hatred. Feminism, it is said, exists to end sexism and misogyny. It would obviously be a failure to exchange one contempt for another.

But there's a reason that "misandry" is not a word that seems to be catching on.

Some self-styled "feminists" that are fond of jokes about "male tears" and "manbabies" will say that their form of humor is a way to "punch up" and battle the oppressors. Others may say that it's a satirical expression that aims to show how feminists are perceived.

Perhaps the answer is simpler. Nobody cares about "misandry" because the hatred any feminist has for men does not even register. That is, perhaps feminist women cannot hate men more than men hate men.

Consider comedy that is fat-shaming or transphobic. The staple that puts a heterosexual man in bed as he wakes up to find that the person in his company is an individual that does not conform to the typical assessment of beauty and propriety. The joke shames women, while it also shames the man - ultimately he is culpable for his situation and his loss of social status. Entirely a product of his own choices, he now has a shameful secret to hide to the end of his days. The men in the audience can laugh at his demise while feeling comforted that his existence ensures other men are not laughing at them.

Second, the tired lament that women date "assholes" and not the "nice guys". Does this protest illustrate contempt more for women or fellow men? The phenomenon is not unique to men, as we know women also do not have one another's back.

This is not to suggest that men do not hate women, only to suggest when doing so men also find copious amounts of distaste for one another.

The feminist hatred of men, to whatever extent it exists, is not only drown out by volume of awfulness but also by its similarity. Consider that in some corners of the internet, men can be witnessed calling each other "manginas" and "betas". The 'feminist' side of this coin are the terms "neckbeard" and "angry virgin". The common denominator is a man qualifies as a loser when subservient to or not winning the affection of a woman. These words only exist as "faggot" is now thankfully passé.

The question of man hating is a tiresome debacle. If there is something interesting to see in self-styled "feminist" women, it is that they love men too much. Take for instance the coveted office of the CEO. As it turns out, there is not a lot of evidence that suggests it really matters how much these paragons of business dismiss, talk over or tie up women.

Attention focuses on the 'problematic' behavior of these abrasive, self-confident, pushy and wealthy men - but at the end of the day they remain winners. Their asses are firmly planted in the driver's seat, as they are impeccably dressed providers that will get invited back to a panel that will ask them politely for advice as to how more women could land a CEO job. The job can be naturally be assumed to be the CEO position at someone else's company, of course.

These titans of industry are mouthpieces of status quo uniformity, but look good in a suit. Brash, but bold. Sexist, but seductively stoic.  The boss critiqued by "progressive" pundits still epitomizes a man in control, simply given an opportunity to slap rationality into or whisper sweet-nothings for the horde of hysterical bloggers.

Whether men are loved or hated is at times irrelevant, as we have a common preoccupation. We all greatly admire and respect gender roles more than we're willing to admit. Even the most hardcore gender warriors live lives that are embarrassingly normative and old fashioned.  Some other woman is going to flip marriage on its head and put a ring on a bloke. Someone else's husband is going to be the stay-at-home dad. Someone else's workplace can be exactly 50% women. The next generation will be the one that finds a way to excel at both pregnancy and promotions. A systemic problem is continually someone else's problem.

There is more ambivalence than anger.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Does Sexual Assault Matter?

Recently an alarming study was published that concluded that twenty-one percent of high school girls have been physically or sexually assaulted by someone they dated. Ten percent of boys reported a similar experience.

This is oddly similar to the college statistic cited - that "1 in 5" women are "sexually assaulted" before completing their program. Even more concerning, we know that "young women who don't attend college are more likely to be raped."

Within this mix of factoids, we've gone from variations on partner violence, to statistics about sexual assault exclusively, to a definitive judgment of the likelihood of rape. All of these concerns are related, but not necessarily equivalent - something to remember as "feminists" are often great at escalating all concerns to the level of rape. For a specific example of this, note the recent mix up by Valenti and Al-Jazeera that gave the label of "rapist" to all those accused of "sexual assault".

Using the Wikipedia definition of "Sexual assault":
Sexual assault is any involuntary sexual act in which a person is coerced or physically forced to engage against their will, or any non-consensual sexual touching of a person. Sexual assault is a form of sexual violence, and it includes rape (such as forced vaginal, anal or oral penetration or drug facilitated sexual assault), groping, forced kissing, child sexual abuse, or the torture of the person in a sexual manner.

The label seems to apply in many circumstances. Perhaps one circumstance that may qualify is a situation in Florida where a man has demanded his four year old son be circumcised:

A South Florida woman fighting the circumcision of her son has fled with the boy and will face imprisonment for contempt if she doesn't allow the surgery to proceed. 
Palm Beach County Judge Jeffrey Gillen said Friday that Heather Hironimus could avoid jail if she appears before him by Tuesday with the child and signs paperwork needed to schedule the procedure.
The 4-year-old boy's father, Dennis Nebus, testified he last saw his son Feb. 19.
Court documents show that Hironimus and Nebus had a son together on Halloween 2010. Although never married, the couple is considered to be the legal and biological parents of the boy.
Hironimus and Nebus agreed to a circumcision in a 2012 legal document, but Hironimus later changed her mind and fought to prevent the boy's circumcision. Circuit and appellate judges have sided with the father.

In this circumstance, the boy is at the age or very near to the age to vocally opt-out of a foreskin removal. Despite that, the law says that what must happen to this boy's body is described in a legal document between his parents signed years ago. There does not seem to be any time limit to this agreement, so the boy may need to evade his father's hatred of foreskin another fourteen years before legally free from complying with this order.

The question is, what could this father do that would qualify as sexual assault?

To many, taking a knife to his son's genitals is not sexual assault. What would be sexual assault is if the man managed to kiss his ex-girlfriend against her will.

In this strange world we live in, the son of this man is to be circumcised without his consent, at an age where he would presumably remember a great deal of the impact of the procedure. A number of years later, he will borrow money to attend a school and learn what "sexual assault" in the first year of life in academic regret - as if his puny male brain did not know what violation truly was.

If circumcised, in the eyes of the majority this boy has not been "sexually assaulted". While we're on the subject, perhaps it it's helpful to point out that Janay Rice was not "sexually assaulted" either.

"Sexual assault" that gets the magnifying glass of concern occurs in some union of intent (sexual desire) and intrusion of consent and personal boundaries. If someone grabs a breast by mistake, it's not sexual assault. If someone receives a punch to the genitals out of pure rage, it's likely not sexual assault. If someone is forcibly kissed in a car commercial and does not hate it, then it's up for interpretation.

Revisiting the story of the boy in Florida, it would be simple to dismiss the case as a crazy southern state doing crazy southern things. But on this issue the most bizarre region may be New York. It turns out that in New York there are several people that choose to practice what is known as Metzitzah B'Peh. The practice is known to have given several infants herpes and may have been a factor in the death of a child.

To borrow lingo from the climate change drama, it turns out the "science is not settled" as to whether or not euphemistic oral suction of an infant's penis is the cause of herpes transmission. As an outrageous consequence of this, New York has failed to ban the practice outright. Further, it has even failed to establish a most basic structure of informed consent :

Under the agreement, the city will no longer require that a mohel obtain signed consent before the ritual.
Keep in mind this is of course not written consent from the impacted party - that is, the child - but informed consent from the child's parents.

It gets worse:
If a mohel is found, by a DNA match, to have infected an infant with herpes, he will be banned for life from performing MBP by the health department, officials said.
It does not say a proven infection will end the practice forever - as it probably should - it simply states that infection will end a single career in an industry of sexually transmitted disease.

Consider the baseline of violence that is constructed in youth. Routine genital cutting, bizarre and neglectful parenting practices, the impact of a boundary-free inquisitive sibling, the chaos that is high school.

Despite all this, the tradition that creates the scary statistics right now are the choices made during the ritualized prayer before the gods of Pabst Blue Ribbon at the local temple built on non-dischargeable student debts. After the pilgrimage is over, one can look forward to a web-based survey that asks about "unwanted sexual contact" (Appendix A, link via WP) that is then qualified as "sexual assault" possibly only by the authors of the publication and its concerned readers. There are some good reasons things are not as straightforward as asking a respondent to check yes or no to the question of "Have you been sexually assaulted at college?", but choosing to not be this direct sure makes a lot of tiresome false panic.

Reusing this rule that we need not the assessment of the victim to label an experience a sexual assault and the old social justice slogan that "intent is not magic", one can simply also brand circumcision as sexual assault. And one arrives at the answer to a mischievous title at the bottom of a cumbersome journey through disconnected experiences - of course sexual assault matters.

To their credit, our progressive journalists are concerned about both issues - campus sexual assault is an "epidemic", while having a foreskin removed is getting much too expensive. Even the CDC would tell the state of Florida that it's a tragic to have to circumcise a four year old, as it's much cheaper to circumcise an infant.

Does one tip a mohel that really makes an effort at oral suction?