Two important new books, one by a feminist formerly in good standing with feminist academia, and the other by two journalists who have done extensive work on the denial of due process in campus sexual allegations, challenge the way Title IX–a brief, 1972 statute banning sexual discrimination on campus–has been adapted to–well, to anything progressives and feminists want to do at the moment. The books, despite very different perspectives, cover some of the same territory.
Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, who did groundbreaking work on the Duke lacrosse scandal, now bring us The Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process in America's Universities. Stuart and Johnson set forth the book's premise in an excerpt from the book over at Real Clear Politics:
In the name of protecting college women from sexual violence — a noble cause, if done properly — the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has forced thousands of higher education institutions to revolutionize their disciplinary processes for alleged sexual assaults.
The federally mandated changes have demolished due process protections for the many innocent (as well as guilty) accused students. The financial costs of this regime to the universities alone probably approach or exceed $1 billion.
Our new book, The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America's Universities, describes how and why the Obama Administration joined forces with feminist activists and leftist academics who have for decades been claiming that America's universities are mired in a "rape culture," creating a deeply wrongheaded and costly regime of federally directed regulation of university discipline for sexual assault.
We argue that the Obama Administration's illegal (in our view, and that of many scholars) bureaucratic intervention in this realm was driven by politics as well as ideology. It began after the President, seeking to recover politically from congressional Democrats' disastrous defeat in the 2010 elections, decided on a series of aggressive executive actions designed to fire up his most passionate supporters. These included both feminists and campus activists.
The opening salvo was the April 4, 2011 "Dear Colleague Letter" to more than 7,000 federally funded higher education institutions. While technically offering mere “guidance” to schools, this letter effectively ordered them to make vast changes in their disciplinary processes to find more students guilty of sexual assault.
The other book is Laura Kipnis' Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus.
You don't have to be comfortable with Laura Kipnis' argument that it's fine for college professors to date students to be appalled by what happened to Kipnis after opining that in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Kipnis was hauled before the Title IX bureaucracy and accused of creating a "hostile environment." The Northwestern University professor was eventually cleared by her employer. In a review in the New York Times, Jennifer Senior writes:
You might be wondering how Kipnis wound up the subject of a Title IX investigation when the law was originally created to address gender discrimination in education. She had the same question, and soon found her answer: In 2011, the Department of Education expanded the Title IX mandate to include policing “sexual misconduct,” an idea so hazily defined it can apparently include publishing an essay — if the content is said to have “a chilling effect” on students’ ability to report sexual malfeasance.
The problems with this development are fairly obvious. “It seemed to pit a federally mandated program against my constitutional rights,” Kipnis notes.
As Senior writes, the book made Kipnis "the confessor to students and professors from all over the country who’d been brought up on Title IX charges, too, and what she discovers is disturbing: Subjects generally don’t know (as Kipnis didn’t) what they’re accused of until they sit face to face with investigators; they’re usually discouraged, if not forbidden (as Kipnis was), from bringing in outside counsel or presenting exculpatory evidence unless they’ve been charged with sexual violence."
Armed with Title IX and a new, academically fashionable definition of “consent” — which insists that sex is never truly consensual between adults unless they both have equal power — women can now retroactively declare they never truly agreed to specific sexual acts, even whole relationships.
“We seem to be breeding a generation of students, mostly female students, deploying Title IX to remedy sexual ambivalences or awkward sexual experiences,” Kipnis writes, “and to adjudicate relationship disputes post-breakup — and campus administrators are allowing it.”
Not surprisingly, the New York Times twined these two book for a review yesterday. Not surprisingly, the three heretic authors were skewered.
Read Jill Filipovic's review for yourself, but Kipnis' sin seems to be saying that men can be falsely accused and not being respectful enough of "our last president, several sitting senators, feminist activists and female college students," who say that there is a rape epidemic on campus.
She iseven harsher to Taylor and Johnson:
Johnson and Taylor describe the sexual histories and relative state of drunkenness — often according to bartenders or other observers not conducting breathalyzer tests — of the various female accusers, as well as the “flirtatious” nature with which those women either talked to or texted the men they later charged with sexual assault; the men are given no such treatment. Being falsely accused of rape, it seems, is just as common, and just as terrible, as being actually raped.
Of course, they never said or implied anything of the sort. They acknowledge the heinousness of rape but they also know that the cards are stacked against anyone, however innocent, who is accused and believe in due process is essential and matters over and above angry (and politically useful) feminist rhetoric.