Thursday, February 12, 2015

Feminism Likes Big Buts

The subject of campus rape remains a subject of concern, as it should, and Amanda Hess wrote a decent article in Slate on the subject of drunk sex.

An interesting disclaimer was put into the article:
And I’m not raising the specter of false accusations, the rare phenomenon in which a vengeful woman “cries rape” after engaging in consensual sex (or no sexual activity at all).

The article linked to is a piece by Cathy Young, describing a case where a xoJane commenter completely falsified a story about a musician. Amanda Hess' piece wishes to speak about cases where both parties are drunk and what that means as far as legal consent is concerned. It's interesting to consider that the latter not being in the same category of "false accusation", as for an allegation to be false it does not actually need to be a lie with malicious intent.

That is, perhaps Brian Williams actually believes most of the things he says - this does not change the fact that they are false allegations when viewed in the perspective of any reasonable person.

This "but I'm not talking about false allegations" to keep the pseudofeminist hivemind at bay was actually not the biggest but in feminism-related commentary this week -


Where to even begin.

It seems odd that, at a moment when we’re finally making headway on campus assault – with White House-backed initiatives, rape victims sharing their stories, and students mobilizing to make their campuses safer and more responsive to sexual violence – the response from some quarters is to worry for men’s futures rather than celebrate women’s potential safety.

It seems odd we are to celebrate the posturing by the administration and universities that ultimately has not been shown to have made any real changes. "Potential safety" could not be a more accurate portrayal of what has been going on.

No one wants to see innocent people accused of horrible crimes, but there is a distinct lack of evidence that young men on college campuses – even the ones who have raped women – are suffering any harm due to the increased focus on ending rape.

Here is the but that Valenti thought was good enough to highlight in a tweet. It's a long way of saying the ends justify the means. Valenti admits that someone is going to be smeared with little evidence, then bemoans how little evidence there is that enough punishment is happening. Evidence is apparently something that matters only sometimes.

Rape remains a chronically underreported crime, and only 2% of rapists ever spend a day in jail. On college campuses, only 10 to 25% of rapists are expelled,less than half are suspended and many are given university-mandated“punishments” like writing a research paper or an apology letter.

This paragraph is ridiculous for a number of reasons. First, the efforts by the White House and campus tribunals have never even attempted to put more people in prison nor do they have the power to do so. Valenti knows this, so why it appears as a criticism here is bizarre.

Second, watch this phrase:
"only 10 to 25% of rapists are expelled"
This statistic comes from this link. Which then redirects one to this NPR article, which includes the following:

Colleges almost never expel men who are found responsible for sexual assault
Reporters at CPI discovered a database of about 130 colleges and universities given federal grants because they wanted to do a better job dealing with sexual assault. But the database shows that even when men at those schools were found responsible for sexual assault, only 10 to 25 percent of them were expelled.
The Center for Public Integrity reports it as such:

Though limited in scope, the database offers a window into sanctioning by school administrations. It shows that colleges seldom expel men who are found “responsible” for sexual assault; indeed, these schools permanently kicked out only 10 to 25 percent of such students.

NPR reported the people as responsible for "sexual assault". Al-Jazeera included this as a subheading of "male college rapists". Valenti went with Al-Jazeera's subheading.

Does Valenti and Al-Jazeera not understand the difference between sexual assault and rape? Do we need to explain this?

Let's say a woman files a complaint with a university officials that a fellow student grabbed her bottom at a campus bar. This would, in the English language, qualify as a "sexual assault". However it is not a "rape" by any means. Imagine the man is brought before the university administration and the institution finds him absolutely culpable, as it should.

In Valenti's feminist utopia, (borrowing from Filipovic for a moment) what ought to happen then is the man should be forever exiled from campus -- as he is a rapist. The statistics say so!

I also believe that the disproportionate worry for accused rapists over their victims boils down to a fundamental distrust of women.
[...]

The rape truthers’ belief that any increasing efforts to stop rape and hold more accusers accountable will hurt innocent men is, at best, magical thinking. While multiple female rape victims at 89 different colleges have filed suits citing Title IX violations and unfair treatment by school administrators, there has not been one recent public case of a wrongly-accused male student who suffered significant, permanent legal harm at the hands of a malicious accuser. That hasn’t stopped people from trying to identify one, though.

Ah yes, Title IX complaints. "Look at the Title IX complaints, they matter!" After already destroying statistics (Charles Blow and nearly everyone else also get the numbers wrong) we're going to spend time counting Title IX complaints.

The thing about counting Title IX complaints is that it is a metric that will never change. It's safe to say that every sizable school will screw up something worthy of filing a complaint on an annual basis. All large academic institutions can be thought of as permanently under investigation, as the government will always be asked by concerned parties to do so.

Perhaps it's time to make a wager. If a single school of sufficient size can have a record clean of Title IX complaints for a span of three years, then it's a metric worth following. There is no evidence to suggest that Title IX complaints are not simply the new normal, as even if mistakes are not made complaints will still be filed.

Revisiting this sentence:
"there has not been one recent public case of a wrongly-accused male student who suffered significant, permanent legal harm at the hands of a malicious accuser."

Notice how the words "recent" and "legal" makes the word "harm" nearly meaningless. According to this sentence, the accused are only truly damaged within the confines of a court of law -- and only within some time span that Valenti does not disclose. Those are apparently the only true victims of false allegations. There is some level of irony here.

Later, Valenti points out:
"no school has ever had their funding taken away because of a Title IX violation."
Why would this be infuriating? The threat of a funding loss does not mean that a funding loss needs to happen. It's like threatening employees with dismissal - it's entirely possible that compliance is achieved without terminating people to set an example.

All this said, Valenti's biggest critic remains Valenti:

The tagline:
"Reporting, prosecution and incarceration haven’t eliminated intimate partner violence. Some new solutions offer women hope"
Quote:
But some advocates say that the focus of mainstream anti-violence organizations – relying on statistics, reporting assaults to police and putting offenders in prison – while well-meaning, may be part of the problem. Grassroots activists believe this broad brush approach is a mistake, and instead are working on alternative methods, from restorative justice to iPhone apps, to tackle violence from a community mindset.

Yes, Valenti wrote a piece about how prison is not always a fantastic idea just a few months before demanding that more men go to jail. Valenti thinks the public at large disagrees with her as there is a  "fundamental distrust of women". Maybe people just cannot follow the incoherence of contemporary "feminist" activism.

"Restorative justice is great, but..."

1 comment:

  1. I have a question that maybe you have some thoughts on, because it's something that's kind of stumped me about American universities.

    If someone is accused of rape on campus, why are university officials expected to investigate it? Wouldn't the local authorities be called immediately? It strikes me as bizarre that a university, whose primary functions are research and academia, are expected to investigate criminal activity. Why is it this way?

    ReplyDelete