A Guide To George Will's Decades Of Attacks On Sexual Assault Victims And "Rape Crisis Feminists" [TW: Rape Culture, Enabling of Rape Culture, Sexism, Misogyny]
George Will has been dropped by a major newspaper and had a planned speech at a California college canceled for his recent comments dismissing the epidemic of sexual assault. The comments are nothing new for Will, who belittled victims, mocked efforts to codify consent, and attacked what he calls “rape crisis feminists” over two decades ago.
In 2014, Will Claimed Sexual Assault Victim Is A “Coveted Status” And Criticized Efforts To Combat The Epidemic
Washington Post's George Will: Sexual Assault Victim Is “A Coveted Status That Confers Privileges.” In a June 2014 column, Will suggested that college sexual assault victims — and people Will suggested were pretending to be victims — enjoyed “a coveted status that confers privileges.” He also disputed the statistic that 1 in 5 women experience assault on college campuses in the U.S., and dismissed the story of an individual survivor from Swarthmore College, whom he suggested didn’t qualify as an actual “victim.” He concluded by mocking efforts to combat the growing epidemic, criticizing the Obama administration for “riding to the rescue of ‘sexual assault’ victims.” [The Washington Post, 6/6/14, via Media Matters]
Will Refused To Back Down. After facing criticism for his remarks, Will told CSPAN he refused to apologize:
C-SPAN: You wouldn’t take back any of the words you used?
WILL: No, no. [CSPAN, 6/20/14, via Media Matters]
Will: “I Think I Take Sexual Assault Much More Seriously” Than U.S. Senators. When four U.S. senators criticized Will’s “coveted status” comments on sexual assault, he responded by claiming he thinks he takes “sexual assault much more seriously” than them, because he believes in a more narrow definition of the crime:
As for what you call my “ancient beliefs,” which you think derive from an ”antiquated” and “counterintuitive” culture, allow me to tell you something really counterintuitive: I think I take sexual assault much more seriously than you do. Which is why I worry about definitions of that category of crime that might, by their breadth, tend to trivialize it. And why I think sexual assault is a felony that should be dealt with by the criminal justice system, and not be adjudicated by improvised campus processes. [Media Matters, 6/12/14; The Washington Post, 6/13/14]
Will Criticizes Government For “Monitoring Sex On Campuses.” Will continued his criticism of efforts to combat the growing sexual assault epidemic on the October 5 edition of Fox News Sunday, where he said that the government shouldn’t be “monitoring sex on campuses.” From ThinkProgress:
Arguing that “government is not competent,” Will complained that it has “a monopoly” and “monopolies are not disciplined by market forces.” “You asked, can we trust the government to do its job? What isn’t its job nowadays?” Will asked on Fox News Sunday.
"It’s fine-tuning the curriculum of our students K through 12. It’s monitoring sex on campuses. It’s deciding how much ethanol we should put in our gas tanks. It has designed our light bulbs and is worried sick over the name of the Washington football team." He added, "this is a government that doesn’t know when to stop." [ThinkProgress, 10/5/14]
Two Decades Ago, Will Mocked The “Victimization Sweepstakes” And “Rape Crisis Feminists” Who Combat Sexual Assault And Harassment
Will In 1993: “Victimization Sweepstakes” Features “Rape Crisis Feminists,” Preoccupied With Consent. In 1993, Will highlighted in his syndicated Washington Post column the work of Katie Roiphe, who he praised for pushing back on “rape crisis feminists” for their “preoccupation … with explicit, verbal, step-by-step consent to everything sexual — anything less supposedly is rape.” Will also criticized what he called the “victimization sweepstakes,” in which “many prizes, including media attention and therapeutic preferences from government, go to those who succeed at being seen as vulnerable and suffering,” specifically for experiencing rape on college campuses, and dismissed Anita Hill’s testimony about her experience of sexual harassment:
In today’s victimization sweepstakes, many prizes, including media attention and therapeutic preferences from government, go to those who succeed at being seen as vulnerable and suffering. So hell hath no fury like that directed against someone like Roiphe, who casts a cool eye on the claims and logic of some women who consider their victimhood compounded by any calm analysis of their claims. This Roiphe provides in The Morning After: Sex, Fear and Feminism on Campus. It is giving some feminists the vapors.
The preoccupation of rape crisis feminists with explicit, verbal, step-by-step consent to everything sexual — anything less supposedly is rape — rests, Roiphe says, on antique assumptions about the way men and women experience sex. Men are supposedly lascivious; women are innocents who, like children, have trouble ascertaining or communicating their desires.
One pamphlet defines rape to include “a woman’s consenting to unwanted sexual activity because of a man’s verbal arguments not including verbal threats of force.” By means of “verbal coercion,” cunning rakes (the language of Victorian melodramas seems natural here) turn the pretty little heads of weak-willed women. No wonder feminists who think like this are so smitten with that quintessential contemporary victim, the woman whose story was so uncannily — or perhaps cannily — congruent with this latest fashion in feminism, the woman who herself said she passively followed her supposed sexual harasser from one job to another: Anita Hill. [The Washington Post syndicated column, 10/24/93]
Will In 1994: “Campus Sexual Assault Study” Is Based On A “Feminist Fiction.” In a 1994 column, Will criticized the Violence Against Women Act, and mocked the government for conducting a campus sexual assault study, which he claimed was based on the “feminist fiction” that women risk “life and limb just walking from dorms to libraries”:
The “Violence Against Women Act” genuflects at every altar in the feminist church. For example, it funds “gender sensitivity” training for judges. And the federal government is going to matriculate: It is off to college to conduct a “campus sexual assault study,” a monument to the feminist fiction that in a world infested with predatory males, women students risk life and limb just walking from dorms to libraries, not to mention the terrors of dating. [The Washington Post syndicated column, 7/14/94]
Will In 1996: Hyped Claims That ”Battered Woman Syndrome” Reinforces Stereotypes Of Women As “Frail Creatures, Easily Unhinged”; “Yes Means Yes” Consent “Patronizes Women.” A 1996 Will column opened by citing a Cato Institute study which dismissed women who said they suffered from Battered Woman Syndrome when charged with their husbands’ murders, implying that the use of the condition reinforced women as “frail creatures, easily unhinged” and had overturned “the traditional rule that deadly force can only be justified by an imminent threat.” Will’s piece went on to claim that feminists were defining sexual harassment too broadly, and to criticize “yes means yes” consent law, citing an unnamed feminist to claim the need for explicit consent “patronizes women”:
Weiss, a law professor associated with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and Young, vice president of the Women’s Freedom Network, argue that feminist jurisprudence is portraying women as perpetual victims in need of dispensations that seem to ratify some unflattering stereotypes. These include the neo-Victorian notion that women are frail creatures, easily unhinged, and perhaps having a single sensibility.
[O]bviously hostile environments exist and should be actionable.
But some feminists insist that harassment be defined as any behavior or ”environment” that causes any woman ”discomfort.” Mr. Weiss and Ms. Young compare that to replacing speed limits with a law under which one could be fined for driving through a neighborhood at any speed that made any resident uncomfortable. And is there not something amiss when, as in Minnesota, sexual-harassment law covers children from kindergarten on?
Regarding rape, for too long many courts considered rape complaints inherently less trustworthy than complaints pertaining to other crimes, and rape laws unjustly required proof not only of force but of resistance to force, a standard that required victims to risk additional physical harm. But now, write Weiss and Young, some states’ laws have eliminated physical force as an element of the crime. Others, virtually reversing the burden of proof, require the accused to prove consent as an affirmative defense.
In Canada, sex is rape when the man fails to “take reasonable steps” to ensure consent. Weiss and Young worry that rape law is sliding from “no means no” to “absence of a yes means no” to a strict criminal liability regime in which “all heterosexual sex is like statutory rape unless affirmative, explicit verbal consent given in a clear and sober frame of mind can be demonstrated.” They cite a dissenting feminist who says “the idea that only an explicit yes means yes” patronizes women by implying “that women, like children, have trouble communicating what they want.” [The Washington Post syndicated column, 7/18/96]
Will In 1998: “Hostile Work Environments” Are “Whatever Annoys A Particular Woman On A Particular Day.” A 1998 Will column lamented that a federal judge held “that use of gender-based terms such as ‘foreman’ or ‘draftsman’ could constitute sexual harassment.” Will also mocked the idea of “hostile work environments,” defining them as “whatever annoys a particular woman on a particular day.” [The Washington Post, 6/4/98]
Will In 2013: Government Efforts To Combat Campus Sexual Harassment Are “Censorship Regimes.” A 2013 column criticized the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Department of Justice’s efforts to combat campus sexual assaults and harassment by claiming they pushed “censorship regimes” to punish students:
Responding to what it considers the University of Montana’s defective handling of complaints about sexual assaults, OCR, in conjunction with the Justice Department, sent the university a letter intended as a “blueprint” for institutions nationwide when handling sexual harassment, too. The letter, sent on May 9, encourages (see below) adoption of speech codes - actually, censorship regimes - to punish students who:
Make “sexual or dirty jokes” that are “unwelcome.” Or disseminate “sexual rumors” (even if true) that are “unwelcome.” Or make “unwelcome” sexual invitations. Or engage in the “unwelcome” circulation or showing of “e-mails or Web sites of a sexual nature.” Or display or distribute “sexually explicit drawings, pictures, or written materials” that are “unwelcome.”
Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, says a single hypersensitive person could declare herself sexually harassed because she considers “unwelcome” a classroom lecture on the novel “Lolita” or a campus performance of “The Vagina Monologues.” Do not even attempt a sex education class.
Wendy Kaminer, a civil liberties lawyer who writes for the Atlantic, traces the pedigree of the OCR-DOJ thinking to the attempt by some feminists in the 1980s to define pornography as a form of sexual assault and hence a civil rights violation. Volokh, too, believes that the government is blurring the distinction between physical assaults and “sexually themed” speech in order to justify censoring and punishing the latter. [The Washington Postsyndicated column, 5/24/13]
Senators, Survivors, Media, And Women’s Rights Groups Have Slammed Will For His Recent Comments
U.S. Senators Criticized Will For “Trivializing” Sexual Assault. Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal, Dianne Feinstein, Tammy Baldwin, and Robert P. Casey, Jr. condemned Will’s “coveted status” comments:
Having an ongoing interest in ways to reduce sexual assaults on college campuses, we read your June 6 column on campus sexual assault with particular dismay. Your thesis and statistics fly in the face of everything we know about this issue. More egregiously, you trivialize the scourge of sexual assault, putting the phrase in scare quotes and treating this crime as a socially acceptable phenomenon. It is in fact a spreading epidemic, and you legitimize the myths that victims and victim advocates have worked tirelessly for decades to combat. [Media Matters, 6/12/14]
UltraViolet Called On Papers To Drop Will’s Column, Asks Post To Fire Him. Women’s rights group UltraViolet started a petition to tell the Post to fire Will, and asked five newspapers to drop his column:
The ads seek the removal of Will’s syndicated column from the Chicago Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, Orlando Sentinel, The Detroit News, and Richmond Times-Dispatch. The group has been running an online petition urging The Washington Post, Will’s flagship paper, to drop him as well.
"Rape is a crime that keeps women from having equal access to essential services, like education, and addressing that is essential to equality," Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet, said in a release. [Media Matters, 7/3/14]
NOW President Terry O’Neill: George Will “Doesn’t Deserve To Be In The Washington Post" After Rape Column. National Organization for Women President Terry O’Neill told Media Matters Radio that Will “doesn’t deserve to be in The Washington Post" after his column. She also told Media Matters the Post needs “to dump him”:
"George Will needs to take a break from his column and The Washington Post needs to take a break from his column, they need to dump him,” O’Neill told Media Matters in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. “It is actively harmful for the victims of sexual assault when that kind of man writes a piece that says to assault victims, ‘it didn’t happen and if it did happen you deserve it.’ That re-traumatizes victims. I can’t believe that Mr. Will has had this experience if he would put out such a hateful message.”
"We want him to back off and we want The Washington Post to stop carrying his column.”
O’Neill later added, “That is absolutely the kind of further attack on victims that just does such extraordinary harm … The media blaming women for the horrific rape of violence against women and sexual assault it is really shameful.” [Media Matters, 6/14/14; 6/10/14]
Lisa Sendrow, The Sexual Assault Survivor Will Dismissed: “I Absolutely Have Not Received Any Privileges From Sexual Assault.” Lisa Sendrow, the former Swarthmore College student and sexual assault survivor Will wrote about in his June column, blasted his rhetoric in an interview with Media Matters:
Sendrow also vehemently rejected Will’s claim that survivors might have a coveted status. “I absolutely have not received any privileges from sexual assault. [Will] has clearly never experienced the fear of sexual assault,” she said. “He clearly has no idea how hard it is to sleep, to walk around, thinking at any moment this person that you live down the hall from could come out.” [Media Matters, 7/1/14]
Washington Post's Erik Wemple Criticized His Paper For Only Having Men Edit Will's Column. In a June 20 blog post for the Washington Post, Erik Wemple wrote that no female editors reviewed Will’s column before the Post published it, a significant problem given that women are the predominant victims of sexual assault:
Were there any women in the group that reviewed Will’s piece? “On that day, there were three males, if that is important to you,” Shearer told us after a followup inquiry on the editing lineup.
It is indeed important. Women are the predominant victims of rape and sexual assault; therefore, they may have some insight on the editing of a column on sexual assault. A study by the Women’s Media Center showed that women staffers at newspapers are outnumbered. [Washington Post, 6/20/14]
Will Was Dropped From A Newspaper And A College Speaking Gig Over Latest Comments
St. Louis Post-Dispatch Dropped Will’s Column. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch dropped Will’s syndicated column after the editor reviewed the response to Will’s rhetoric and his “coveted status remarks”:
The change has been under consideration for several months, but a column published June 5, in which Mr. Will suggested that sexual assault victims on college campuses enjoy a privileged status, made the decision easier. The column was offensive and inaccurate; we apologize for publishing it. [Media Matters, 6/19/14]
Will Uninvited To Scripps College’s Conservative Speaker Program Over Column. The all-female Scripps College revoked an invitation for Will to speak as part of a program ”designed to promote conservative views on campus.” The college’s president said in a statement that sexual assault was not an ideological topic and that Scripps had chosen not to finalize the speaking agreement with Will after his “coveted status” column “trivialized” these cases:
Sexual assault is not a conservative or liberal issue. And it is too important to be trivialized in a political debate or wrapped into a celebrity controversy. For that reason, after Mr. Will authored a column questioning the validity of a specific sexual assault case that reflects similar experiences reported by Scripps students, we decided not to finalize the speaker agreement. [Media Matters, 10/7/14]
The Chicago Tribune: “The Column Was Misguided And Insensitive.” The Chicago Tribune said they had decided to not run Will’s “coveted status” column because it was “misguided and insensitive”:
"I thought the column was misguided and insensitive," Dold told Media Matters Thursday. “We didn’t publish it. Marcia Lythcott, the Op-Ed editor, made that decision and it was the right call.” [Media Matters, 6/20/14]
Cal Colgan contributed research.
#FlushRush: Top Democrat Urges Radio Stations To Drop Rush Limbaugh After He Suggested ‘No Means Yes’
A top Democrat is calling on radio stations to stop broadcasting The Rush Limbaugh Show after the conservative radio host made headlines for mocking Ohio State University’s new sexual assault policies, which require students to actively and explicitly agree to sexual activity. On his show on Monday, Limbaugh claimed that requiring affirmative consent is an unreasonable standard because guys know that “no means yes if you know how to spot it.”
In the segment, which was first flagged by Media Matters, Limbaugh claimed that “seduction used to be an art” and college campuses are now making it into something that is considered to be “brutish” and “predatory.” He suggested it’s unrealistic to require students to ask for permission every step of the way during a sexual encounter. “Are these not lawsuits waiting to happen?” the radio host said.
Limbaugh’s critics wasted no time calling for his removal, pointing out that his approach to sexual assault has no place in a society that’s currently grappling with the best way to respond to intimate partner violence and campus rape cases.
“There’s simply no excusing comments of this offensive nature, especially at a time where our country is having a long-overdue conversation about violence against women,” Democratic Congressional Committee Chairman Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) said in a statement released on Tuesday morning. “Plain and simple — Rush Limbaugh is advocating for the tolerance of sexual assault and should be taken off the air immediately.”
Limbaugh is no stranger to criticism along those lines, especially when it comes to issues of misogyny. In 2012, he infamously called law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” after she advocated for Obamacare’s contraception mandate. He also once said that single mothers are “semen receptacles” and that feminism was created to give ugly women a place in society. Over the past several years, petitions and boycott groups have urged Clear Channel to drop him, to no avail. Limbaugh has also been the subject of an ongoing campaign attempting to convince advertisers to stop supporting his show.
Limbaugh’s critiques of Ohio State’s affirmative consent policy aren’t entirely unusual. After California approved legislation that requires all college campuses to adopt a “yes means yes” standard of consent, critics rushed to argue that it was an over-reaching standard that would essentially “kill the mood” and turn everyone into rapists in the eyes of the law. In reality, affirmative consent simply encourages sexual partners to engage in open and honest communication to ensure they’re both interested in having sex with each other.
On “Generations Radio” this week, host Kevin Swanson brought Religious Right activist Jay Grimstead on the air to warn of the coming destruction of America, and the principles needed to “rebuild civilization” following its inevitable demise. Swanson and Grimstead agreed that society has become imperiled by the dissolution of Christian values at the hands of radical deviants.
“We are at the point where social security won’t provide, euthanasia’s coming on like a steam train,” Swanson said. “[Progressives] have destroyed the character of the next generation: they broke down faith, family and freedom, manhood, womanhood. And I’m at the point where I’m not playing patty-cake with the feminists and the homosexuals and the socialists…as many do.”
Later in the program, Swanson and Grimstead disparaged liberal arts colleges as minefields for Christian students that seek to dismantle the conservative values they were raised on. “A huge percentage of kids coming out of nice little red-state homes and churches get off to the blue-state universities, and they are corrupted again and again and again and again,” Swanson said. “How do we reform education, especially university-level education, where the kids who graduate aren’t more pro-feministic, aren’t pro-homosexual or pro-socialistic, pro-big government and pro-evolution, pro-everything that is anti-Scripture?”
In the face of secular adversity, Grimstead added that evangelicals must “prepare” and “protect” their children from the onslaught of liberalism, or else parents might as well be placing their children “into Nazi territory.”
To most University of Mississippi students and alumni, calling the institution “Ole Miss” is just natural. It’s what people say. University email addresses are @olemiss.edu, not @umiss.edu. But not everyone likes the name.
“Every black student in the room said that they had been called the ‘N-word’ at least once on campus.”
The university’s announcement on Friday that, as part of a review of race relations at the university, it would encourage “appropriate” use of the term won praise from some quarters but plenty of criticism. So did a series of other announcements by the university, which is hoping to change its association with symbols of the Confederacy. Reports commissioned by the university (which influenced Friday’s announcement) angered some students and alumni—particularly those with ties to the Greek system—by discussing the perceptions of some black students and alumni who are far more critical of university traditions and life at the university than are white students and alumni.
One of the reports, discussing a student focus group, linked the Greek system and the symbols of Southern history: “A number of students believe that the traditional fraternities and sororities serve as attractors, incubators, and protectors for students wedded to the symbols and beliefs of the South’s racist past. With few exceptions, the majority of the group, white and black, nodded in agreement. The African American students shared examples of indignities they have been subject to or witness of that involved the fraternities and sororities.”
“Every black student in the room said that they had been called the ‘N-word’ at least once on campus,” the report says. “From rejection of people of color into the organizations, chanting ‘The South will rise again’ at sporting events, to hurling racist and sexual epithets at innocent passersby, the Greeks are viewed as a major problem.”
The university announcement didn’t use language anything like that but talked about making the university more inclusive. The university announced a series of recommendations that it was endorsing:
- Create a new vice chancellor’s position for diversity and inclusion
- Develop “a set of standards for diversity and engagement”
- Deal “squarely” with issues of race. Provide more “context” in various ways for people to understand the history of race relations at the university
- Change the names of some facilities to draw attention to black Mississippi figures. For example, a road will be renamed to honor Lee “Chucky” Mullins, a black football player who was paralyzed and later died.
- Change the name of “Confederate Drive” to “Chapel Lane”
- Seeking “appropriate” use of the Ole Miss name
A statement from Chancellor Dan Jones said, “We will need to continue a dialogue on race at our university. Our unique history regarding race provides not only a larger responsibility for providing leadership on race issues, but also a large opportunity—one we should and will embrace.”
The University of Mississippi was segregated for decades and admitted James Meredith as its first black student in 1962 only after multiple court orders and federal intervention—and days of riots by white people opposed to integration. A statue of Meredith at the university—seen as a symbol of the institution acknowledging its history—was vandalized with a noose this year, and three fraternity members were accused of being responsible.
This is not the first time the university has tried to limit its association with Confederate symbols. In the 1990s, amid concerns that waving the Confederate flag at football games was discouraging black athletes from enrolling, the university adopted new rules designed to bar the flag (although the rules were not explicit about the Confederate flag to avoid violations of the First Amendment). A federal appeals court in 1990 upheld the rules (which barred all large flags or flags on sticks from football games) and the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal. While the university won the legal ruling, confederate symbols (many times unofficially) continued to be associated with the university.
The Ole Miss Name
The current review is broader than many of the previous efforts, which focused on specific practices such as flying Confederate flags. The university is now discussing diversity broadly, and history and symbols and names that have created strong emotional connections for many students and alumni. The Ole Miss name is a particularly contentious issue.
The university statement said this on the Ole Miss name: “UM’s longstanding nickname is beloved by the vast majority of its students and alumni. But a few, especially some university faculty, are uncomfortable with it. Some don’t want it used at all and some simply don’t want it used within the academic context.” The statement noted that the university did a national study of people’s responses to the name and found that most people view it only as “an affectionate name for the university” and that “a very small percentage of respondents associate the university, either as ‘Ole Miss’ or ‘University of Mississippi,’ with negative race issues.”
The statement said that “both names will be used in appropriate contexts going forward, with particular emphasis going to ‘Ole Miss’ in athletics and as a representation of the university’s spirit.”
The report commissioned by the chancellor went further in characterizing discontent with the breadth of the use of Ole Miss. The report was by Edward L. Ayers, the noted Civil War historian who is president of the University of Richmond, and Christy Coleman, of the American Civil War Center in Richmond. They noted the way the city of Richmond has overcome some tensions about its history not by trying to cover it up but by promoting better understanding of history, and they suggest the university do the same. The university has many symbols, they note in their report, but little context is provided, and it is badly needed.
“Such work would provide a more coherent narrative than currently exists, in which several isolated monuments, including the Confederate Memorial and the James Meredith monument, seem to stand at polar opposites, with vast blank spaces of time and struggle missing,” they write. “People are not told in any meaningful way about the world of slavery in which the University began, the decision for secession that shaped everything that followed, or the segregation that dominated life in the South for a century after the Civil War.”
Of the Ole Miss name, they note that some but not all who use the name are aware of its antebellum past (a name slaves would use for the woman married to the plantation owner). And while the report agrees that many students and alumni love the name, it adds that they see the nickname as a symbol that holds the university back. “Building a dialect version of ‘old’ into an institution that is built to prepare for the future strikes them as inherently problematic,” the report says. It also notes that many are reluctant to speak out publicly for fear of offending those who revere the name.
The report adds: “A nickname cannot carry the weight and gravity of the state’s name or convey the seriousness of purpose that an important institution of research, health care, and social mission deserves. In interactions involving grant proposals, job applications, or letters of recommendation in particular, we were told; faculty, staff, and students chafe at having the email address read ‘olemiss.edu.’ They think the University should identify itself as ‘umiss.edu’ in such contexts. This does seem worth considering for official university business and the university might well consider making ‘Mississippi’ or ‘The University of Mississippi’ the default. The nickname could be reserved, as it is for almost all other universities, for athletics and alumni relations.”
While that report and the university statement didn’t in fact ban the use of Ole Miss, asking only for consideration of the name’s use, many alumni took to Twitter to condemn Chancellor Jones for a ban he didn’t in fact issue.
A typical comment: “DAN JONES is a MORON and should be fired immediately!! He is CLUELESS and an embarrassment to MY OLE MISS!!!” Notably, some of the comments that praised Jones on Twitter for raising these issues expressed doubt that he could change some parts of the university’s culture, such as the name. Said another tweet: “If you think the name ‘Ole Miss’ is going anywhere, you are misinformed. BUT, what Dan Jones IS doing is overdue and courageous.”
Erasing the Past?
An open letter to the chancellor circulating, particularly among supporters of the Greek system at Mississippi, takes on many of the ideas in the new policies and in the reports commissioned by the university.
“Does changing our email address URL from “olemiss.edu” to “umiss.edu,” promote diversity?,” the letter says. “Or does it suggest that we are a school that is ashamed of itself and ashamed of its past? While the University of Mississippi has a history that we may not be proud of as modern Americans, the best approach is not to do what we can to erase the past. While it may seem like a noble idea to restrict ‘Ole Miss’ to the athletic field, the fact is that I will continue to refer to the school as Ole Miss no matter what. Does this make me a racist? Or does this make me a student that is fond of the nickname (or simply fond of fewer syllables)?”
But the letter took particular exception to the statements about the Greek system. “[T]he comments about the Greek system are the most offensive. Chancellor Jones, I understand that these comments are not necessarily your opinion, and may not even be the opinion of many. As an Ole Miss student … and an active member of my sorority, being referred to as a girl ‘wedded to the symbols and beliefs of the South’s racist past’ simply for being a member of a Greek organization is both offensive, false, and, to be frank, it is hypocritical of the University of Mississippi to post such comments in a report trying to promote diversity. Because of the actions of three fraternity members last semester, the entire Greek community is now subjected to the scolding looks of faculty, administration, and every non-Greek student. How does that promote diversity?”
Having lived in Mississippi for a while, let me tell you…. Ole Miss is the worst. Full of entitled, racist frat boys, and this stereotype isn’t the exception either. It’s the rule. The absolute worst people go to this school. More…
And the letter also expressed fear about creating a new senior position in the administration to focus on diversity, saying that “by trying to promote racial diversity, you are creating new problems.” By creating the new position, the letter says, “you are suggesting to the rest of the world that Ole Miss is inherently a racist school, and her students are incapable of change on their own.”
While various parties are debating the new effort on race at Mississippi, one observer on Twitter wrote that the chancellor, accused of denigrating tradition, might not be, at least in all respects. The comment: “Dan Jones is, in fact, preserving the most time-honored tradition at Ole Miss: arguing over tradition.”
Anti-Muslim groups have long been convinced that campus Muslim Student Associations have radical, sinister intentions…although at least one recent effort to find evidence of this came up comically short.
Now, Brigitte Gabriel of ACT! for America is hoping to fight Muslim Student Associations by launching campus chapters of her own group to serve as a “counterweight” to MSAs.
In a fundraising email today, Gabriel asks for money for scholarships to help college students come to her group’s annual conference and prepare them “to launch an ACT for America chapter at their university and start recruiting more students to get involved in protecting America.”
“It’s time the Muslim Student Associations (MSAs) in colleges across the nation have a counterweight,” she adds.
We want to be able to scholarship these young Americans and offer them the chance at experiencing this once-in-a-lifetime event – especially this year, as we gather to remember and honor the 9/11 fallen. This experience will also prepare college students to launch an ACT for America chapter at their university and start recruiting more students to get involved in protecting America. It’s time the Muslim Student Associations (MSAs) in colleges across the nation have a counterweight. You can help get this ball rolling.
Attendance at the 2014 ACT for America National Conference will be the event that will impress upon this younger generation the urgency of protecting our nation’s future.
A few years ago, an ACT! for America tried to get UCLA to ban its Muslim Student Association , although Gabriel tried to distance herself from the campaign once it started drawing attention.
h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW
Matt Barber: Parents Should Think Twice About Letting Their Kids To Attend Christian Colleges That Allow Gay Clubs
Matt Barber appeared on Janet Mefferd’s radio program yesterday in order to discuss a recent article in Politico Magazine entitled “Evangelicals Are Changing Their Minds on Gay Marriage" which both he and Mefferd, of course, dismissed as nothing but pro-gay liberal propaganda.
During the course of the discussion, Mefferd asked Barber what he thinks about the fact that gay groups are being allowed to form at some Christian universities, with Barber replying that parents ought to think twice before allowing their kids to attend such a school because they’d certainly never let them attend a school that allowed “a pedophilia-affirming club or an incest-affirming club” to form on campus.
"I would just ask parents to do a test," Barber said. "Replace LGBT or gay with any other sexual sin. If there’s an adultery-affirming club at your potential university where you’re sending your kids. Or a pedophilia-affirming club or an incest-affirming club. Well, homosexuality is among all of the sins, the sexual sins that are clearly itemized throughout Scripture in both the Old and New Testament. But for some reason, the propaganda has stuck and it’s this particular sexual sin that gets special treatment":
h/t: Kyle Mantyla at RWW
Right-wing media have launched a campaign of mockery, victim-blaming, and denial to dismiss the sexual assault epidemic, particularly on college campuses, and the Obama administration’s efforts to curtail the growing problem.
While Approximately One In Five Women Experiences Sexual Assault In College
One In Five Women Is Sexually Assaulted While In College. On April 28, the White House released a 20-page report detailing the Obama administration’s strategy to combat sexual assault on college campuses, noting that currently one in five women is sexually assaulted while in college:
One in five women is sexually assaulted while in college. Most often, it happens her freshman or sophomore year. In the great majority of cases, it’s by someone she knows - and also most often, she does not report what happened. And though fewer, men, too, are victimized.
The Administration is committed to putting an end to this violence. That’s why the President established the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault on January 22, 2014, with a mandate to strengthen federal enforcement efforts and provide schools with additional tools to combat sexual assault on their campuses.[WhiteHouse.gov, FACT SHEET: Not Alone - Protecting Students from Sexual Assault, 4/29/14]
Congress Exploring Proposals To Combat Sex Assault At Colleges. The Washington Post reported that Congress is working in conjunction with the Obama administration to explore proposals to combat sexual assault on campus:
Congress is exploring proposals to combat sex assault at colleges, months after taking action to overhaul how the military responds to sexual violence.
"This is an issue that has for far too long been swept under the rug," Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said Thursday at a hearing on campus sex assault.
Ideas include requiring colleges to survey students about sex assaults and other safety issues, giving the government more options to penalize schools that mishandle assault reports and simplifying the jumble of laws, regulations and federal guidance that colleges must follow. [Washington Post, 6/26/14]
Right-Wing Media Mock Sexual Assault …
Glenn Beck’s The Blaze Mocked Prevalence Of Sexual Assault With Skit Performances Labeled “Rape.”The May 27 edition of Beck’s program The BlazeTV acted out sexual propositions and labeled each skit “RAPE!” in an attempt to mock the prevalence of reported sexual assault, purporting that the epidemic is “completely untrue.” [The Blaze, The Glenn Beck Program, 5/27/14]
Fox’s Jesse Watters: Statutory Rape Of 16-Year Old Boy Isn’t As Bad If Female Perpetrator Is Attractive. During an Outnumbered discussion of a Florida woman convicted of having sex with a 16-year-old boy, Fox News producer Jesse Watters mocked the assault saying, “If you’re a 16-year-old kid and you have sex with your best friend’s mom, you usually get high fives.” Watters further dismissed the gravity of the crime by implying statutory rape isn’t as bad if the female perpetrator is attractive. [Fox News, Outnumbered, 6/11/14]
Fox’s Tucker Carlson: Men Understand That Getting Sexually Harassed By A Female Teacher Is ”The Greatest Thing That Ever Happened.” On the May 5 edition of Fox News’ Outnumbered, co-host Tucker Carlson mocked a student who was sexually harassed by his female teacher, asserting that men understand that such sexual harassment is the “greatest thing ever.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 5/5/14]
Carlson Responding To A Teacher Sexually Assaulting A Male Student: “Lighten Up, America, Come On.” During an earlier discussion of a teacher accused of sexually assaulting her male student, Fox’s Tucker Carlson insisted “it is not a crime,” and “there is no victim here.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 4/28/14]
Blame Victims For The Violence …
Washington Post's George Will: Sexual Assault Victim Is A “Coveted Status.” In a June 7 syndicated column, Washington Post's George Will dismissed the epidemic of sexual assault on campuses in the U.S., implying individuals were pretending to be victims because colleges have made victimhood a “coveted status.” [Washington Post, 6/7/14, via Media Matters]
The Weekly Standard Blamed Feminism For Sexual Assault. In a June 30 article, The Weekly Standard downplayed the seriousness of sexual assault by attributing the blame to women and feminism. Author and Hoover Institute fellow Harvey Mansfield claimed that feminism is to blame for sexual assault, writing that the movement caused sexual assault victims to abandon ”feminine modesty” which provided women “protection while they considered whether they wanted to consent.” Mansfield concluded that sexual assault is merely the result of feminism causing women to “drink themselves into drunken consent—in order to overcome their natural modesty.” [The Weekly Standard, 6/30/14]
Fox’s Tantaros Suggested Feminism Encouraged Statutory Rape Of Student. On the January 22 edition of Fox News’ The Five, co-host Andrea Tantaros blamed feminism for a statutory rape crime, claiming “There’s something about feminism that lets them know that ‘I can do everything a man does, I can even go after that young boy.’” [Fox News, The Five, 1/22/14]
Tucker Carlson: Reporting Statutory Rape Is “Whiny.” On the June 5 edition of Fox News’Outnumbered,Tucker Carlson criticized a student for reporting a statutory rape as “whiny,” diminishing the victim’s report, saying, “He went and tattled to the police.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 6/5/14]
NRO: Rape Is ‘Instinctive’ Among Some Young Men, So Feminists Are To Blame For Sexual Assault Increase. National Review Online's Mona Charen theorized that feminists are to blame for creating a collegiate climate of “sexual insensitivity and sometimes even brutality” where sexual assaults occur:
The young women who find themselves in a rough world of sexual insensitivity and sometimes even brutality are looking in all the wrong places to lay blame. They should look left; to the cultural left, that is, including the feminists.
The modern campus is a little hothouse of leftist ideas about human nature and the ideal human society. The universities are devout propagators of false nostrums about sex differences and sexuality. The world that the Left (very much including the feminist Left) has created is one that could have been designed by a poorly civilized teenaged boy. Far from teaching that women are more sensitive and vulnerable than men, the Left encourages a sexual free-for-all.
The current climate has encouraged the worst instincts among some young men and doubtless confused many others. Some may find themselves accused of sexual assault when they got mixed signals. Others are predators who pick off easy prey in a world without guardrails. Women have been brainwashed into thinking that this sexual sewer is empowering. [National Review Online, 5/9/14]
NRO: Sexual Assaults Usually Involve ”A Large Degree Of Voluntary Behavior” From Women. In a May 8 article, National Review Online's Heather Mac Donald accused the White House of “parroting over 20 years worth of feminist propagandizing” by releasing a sexual assault report echoing the fact that one and four women face sexual assault, and added that campus-rape could be “stopped overnight” if women stopped getting drunk:
But the main reason “survivors” don’t demand to bring their cases to criminal court is that they know that what they have experienced is something far more complex and compromised than criminal sexual assault, almost invariably involving mixed signals, ambiguity, and a large degree of voluntary behavior on their part.
Girls often drink themselves blotto both before and during parties precisely to lower their sexual inhibitions.
The alleged campus-rape epidemic could be stopped overnight if women’s advocates sent a simple message to girls: Don’t get drunk and get into bed with a guy whom you barely know. Keep your clothes on and go home to your own bed at night. And most controversially: Demand that any boy court you long enough to reveal his character and his respect for yours before you even think about having sex with him. [National Review Online, 5/8/14]
NRO: Efforts To Investigate Sexual Assault On Campuses “Poison The Atmosphere On Campus And Diminish American Life In General.” National Review Online's Thomas Sowell attacked the administration's investigations as “threatening colleges that don't handle rape issues the politically correct way — that is, by presuming the accused to be guilty.” Sowell characterized policies aimed at curbing sexual assault as institutionalized “lynch-mob mentality”:
Why are rapists not reported to the police and prosecuted in a court of law?
Apparently this is because of some college women who say that they were raped and are dissatisfied with a legal system that does not automatically take their word for it against the word of someone who has been accused and denies the charge.
There seem to be a dangerously large number of people who think that the law exists to give them whatever they want — even when that means denying other people the same rights that they claim for themselves.
Nowhere is this self-centered attitude more common than on college campuses. And nowhere are such attitudes more encouraged than by the Obama administration’s Justice Department, which is threatening colleges that don’t handle rape issues the politically correct way — that is, by presuming the accused to be guilty and not letting constitutional safeguards get in the way.
But those who are whipping up the lynch-mob mentality have shown far less interest in stopping rape than in politicizing it. Many of the politically correct crusaders are the same people who have pushed for unisex living arrangements on campus, including unisex bathrooms, and who have put condom machines in dormitories and turned freshman orientation programs into a venue for sexual “liberation” propaganda. [National Review Online,5/13/14]
WSJ Editor: Intoxicated Sexual Assault Victims Are Just As Guilty As Their Attackers.In a February 10 column, Wall Street Journal editor James Taranto claimed that cases of “‘sexual assault’ on campus” that involve alcohol are really victimless crimes in which both parties are equally guilty. [Wall Street Journal,2/10/14]
And Deny Reality Of Sexual Assault Prevalence
Daily Caller Downplayed Government Sexual Assault Statistic As “Bizarre And Wholly False.” The Daily Caller attacked the Center for Disease Control’s findings that one in five women are sexually assaulted while in college, arguing that sexual assaults are often falsely reported. [Daily Caller, 4/30/14]
Washington Examiner: One In Five Women Being Sexually Assaulted In College Is A “Ridiculous Statistic.” In an April 29 post, the Washington Examiner claimed that the CDC’s one in five statistic was “ridiculous” and claimed that it perpetuated “a culture of presuming that a man is guilty.” [The Washington Examiner, 4/29/14]
New York Post Dismissed Campus Sexual Assault Epidemic As “Regrettable Sex.” In a May 6 op-ed,New York Post columnist Naomi Schaeffer Riley denied the existence of a sexual assault epidemic, dismissing campus sexual assault as “sexual encounters fueled by bad judgment and free-flowing alcohol.” Schaeffer went on to blame the assault victims for “bad judgment,” describing assaults as “regrettable sex.” [New York Post,5/6/14]
NRO: Women Are Just “Being Taught To Believe They Were Raped.” In a May 19 piece, National Review Online contributor A.J. Delgado claimed that women are being “brainwash[ed] into believing they were raped,” adding that “for every legitimate, actual rape claim there may be another that was not: a girl who cried rape.” [National Review Online, 5/19/14]
In 2004, Landry worked over the summer for an ambulance company in Columbus, Ohio. One night, she was counting supplies in the back of an ambulance, when she says she felt the prick of a needle.
“I just couldn’t move and he came over and he took my clothes off,” she remembered. “I could still speak, so I was telling him, ‘No.’ And he raped me and my eyes filled with tears, but I couldn’t brush the tears away.”
Told that he “would do worse” to her 9-year-old sister if she didn’t come back, Landry said she had five more shifts, and was raped three more times, before she left for her freshman year at BJU.
Landry didn’t know the word rape; she only knew adultery, and liked the man’s wife, she said. Afraid of her attacker and deeply ashamed, she said she failed most her classes first semester, and kept her assaults a secret until her junior year.
“I just needed help,” she said. “I needed help really bad.”
Landry said she was referred to Jim Berg, then the dean of students. After she shared her story, she said Berg asked whether she’d been drinking or smoking pot and if she’d been “impure.” When he brought up her “root sin,” she said she raced out of the building.
“He just confirmed my worst nightmare,” Landry said. “It was something I had done. It was something about me. It was my fault.”
II. BitternessA page from the book, “Becoming an Effective Christian Counselor,” in the section on incest. BJU Press
BJU practices, preaches and instructs a version of Christian counseling that rejects “secular psychology.” In the school’s worldview, almost all mental problems – beyond the medical – are the result of sin. As explained in the 1996 book, “Becoming an Effective Christian Counselor,” “most people in mental hospitals are not sick; they are sinful.”
Written by Walter Fremont, who was the dean of education at BJU for 37 years, and his wife Trudy Fremont, a former BJU professor, the book specifically addresses incest and rape, advising counselors to emphasize that blame lies with the abuser. But the authors also make clear that being sexually assaulted is no excuse for the sinful feelings of discontentment, hate, fear, and especially, bitterness – unresolved anger that “in reality is rebellion and bitterness against God.”
In a 2009 BJU chapel service, former adjunct professor Rand Hummel recounts how he instructed a young woman to ask her abuser – her stepdad – for forgiveness for her bitterness, and that afterwards, he received a letter from her saying, “Finally, for the first time in my teenage life, I can smile.”
[Editor’s note: The below video is edited, because the original could only be found in clips, courtesy of Darrell Dow. The two cuts are clearly marked, and you can listen to the full audio of the sermon here.]
“I didn’t even know what sex was at that point,” she said. “All I knew was that it hurt and that I didn’t like it.”
When she started at BJU in the late 2000s, Sarah said she was haunted by flashbacks, nightmares and a deep fear of men, and was excited to finally get help. She was referred to Pat Berg, a professor of counseling at BJU and the wife of Jim Berg.Sarah was counseled by Pat Berg while a student at Bob Jones. America Tonight
“I would say that the impact of the two years of counseling I had with her is that I felt like I had been raped all over again,” she said.
In their many sessions, Sarah said Berg fixated on her “sin,” and then blamed her when she failed to “get better.” She said Berg told her that she needed to repent of any pleasure she experienced during her abuse. Since BJU doesn’t recognize psychiatric concepts like post-traumatic stress disorder, she said she was also told that she was choosing her trauma symptoms.
“I remember her looking at me and saying, ‘You know that the nightmares are your own fault, because you’re choosing to replay pornographic thoughts in your mind,’” she said.
According to emails, Berg also advised Sarah to call her rapist and ask for forgiveness. Sarah said Berg told her that if she didn’t forgive, God wouldn’t be able to “use her.”An email Pat Berg sent to Sarah giving her guidance on what to say to her rapist when she called him.
But talking to her rapist didn’t make Sarah feel better.
“Picking up that phone that day and calling him was one of the most gut-wrenchingly hard things that I ever had to do,” she said. “It didn’t bring me closure. Instead, it was like sticking a knife inside me and twisting it harder.”
Suicidal and overwhelmed by flashbacks and nightmares, Sarah said she kept going to counseling because “she was so desperate for some ray of light.” But instead, she said Berg told her that if she’d asked God’s forgiveness, she should be fine, and Sarah “walked out of her office for the last time with no hope.”
Through a BJU spokesman, Pat Berg said Sarah’s allegations were “patently false.” BJU wouldn’t respond to any of the other claims until the results of the independent investigation are released. Jim Berg has yet to respond to requests for an interview.
Writing through the university Facebook’s account, a school representative said, “We certainly encourage victims to report any illegal activity to applicable law enforcement agencies as these types of criminals may strike again.” None of the former students interviewed said that they were ever told their abuse was a crime.
This response to rape reports isn’t unique to BJU, according to Peter Janci of the Portland law firm O’Donnell Clark & Crew. In the dozens of sex abuse cases he’s brought against religious organizations, Janci says he’s found this type of victim-blaming reaction to be “all too common.”
"We’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg of the issue of sexual exploitation in Protestant churches," said Janci, who grew up in an evangelical home. "They haven’t been held accountable."
IV. GodlinessJim Berg was the dean of students at Bob Jones for 29 years, until 2010. But he remains on the faculty. www.bju.edu
The method of counseling at BJU ends up punishing victims far more than their abusers, according to Julia , a former BJU student, who was also counseled by Jim Berg.
“[The offenders] are able to quickly move on. They say they’re sorry, they’re repentant, so they go right back,” she said. “As the victims continue to struggle in the aftermath, we are the ones seen to be in sin. Struggling with fear, confusion, anger, talking about what happened, or any other reaction to trauma is seen as sin. We are expected to repent of those sins and live as though nothing happened.”
Twenty years ago, Julia received counseling from Jim Berg for an eating disorder. Growing up in a ministry, she was familiar with fundamentalist views on sexual abuse, and so never brought up the abuse she says she experienced as a child.
“You’re worthless if you’ve been abused,” she said. “I knew enough to never, ever, ever, ever mention what had happened.”
Berg said her eating disorder was “a lifestyle of sin,” and Julia graduated believing “God has spit me out,” she said. Seven months later, she says a co-worker and Bob Jones ministry student raped her. She thought of him as “the tool that God used to punish me.”
Within a week, she said Berg found the man responsible and expelled him, but three semesters later, he was allowed to come back. When she expressed her fear to an administrator, Julia said she was asked whether she would really want to prevent a “Godly man” from getting an education that would allow him to “serve the Lord.”
A couple years ago, Julia found out that her alleged rapist was in Christian ministry in another country, and was wracked with guilt that she never reported him.
“He’s a sex offender and he’s in ministry,” she said, “and what if he hurts somebody else?”
An ad for the counseling program Freedom that Lasts, which seeks to help “those enslaved in life-dominating sins or overcome by hurtful events of life.” Jim Berg serves as executive director.
At the request of BJU, the nonprofit Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE) is currently investigating the university for how it’s handled sexual abuse. More than 100 people have come forward to GRACE investigators, and the report is due out in the next few months. Boz Tchividjian, the head of GRACE, believes Christian organizations across the country have failed victims in similar ways, and that the Protestant world could in fact be “worse” than the Catholic Church.Boz Tchividjian, the director of GRACE, and his grandfather, the iconic preacher Billy Graham.Courtesy of Boz Tchividjian
When GRACE investigates an organization – usually churches and ministries – Tchividjian said the goal is the same: Get the institution to demonstrate “authentic repentance.”
After graduating BJU, Sarah took matters into her own hands and reported her rapist to the police. He was recently convicted of sexual battery of a minor under the age of 12.
“If you would have told me that dark day when I walked out of [Pat Berg’s] office with no hope, that one day my rapist would be convicted and sentenced to prison, that I would be living a stable, successful life and that I would be healing from my abuse, I would never have been able to believe you,” she said. “But those are the miracles that I have seen my God do.”
Last year, Landry, now 31, moved to New Orleans, and started a tour business of the city’s historic madams and brothels. She still has dark days, but says she has no anger toward BJU, or regrets about going there. She remembers in particular her Bible teacher telling the class about the Greek word “metanoia”: It’s translated as “repentance,” which suggests anguish; but more accurately, it means to completely change the way you think about something.
“I’m going to use the language that Bob Jones University should definitely understand here, when I say, I want you to repent, I want you to metanoia of your leadership,” she said. “I want you to repent, I want you to metanoia of covering up and protecting men who have sexually abused young women and children – and many. I want you to repent, I want you to metanoia this rape culture mentality that you have bought into and tried to sprinkle God over.”
WHAT THE F*CK OF THE DAY: Rape Victims At Fundamentalist Christian College Say They Were Told To Repent For Their Sins [TW: Rape, Sexual Assault, Rape Culture, Rape Enablism, Rape Apologism, Victim Blaming, Victim Shaming, Sexism, Misogyny]
Students say that school officials told them to “find the sin in your life that caused your rape” and ask for forgiveness from their rapists.
The students who attend Bob Jones University, one of the most conservative Christian colleges in the country, say that they’re often traumatized after seeking counseling from school administrators on the issue of sexual assault. According to an Al Jazeera investigation, Bob Jones staff members have responded to allegations of rape by telling rape victims they should repent for their sins.
Katie Landry, who was raped by a coworker several times during the summer before she started attending Bob Jones, didn’t tell anyone about her assault for several years. She was deeply ashamed and failed most of her classes her first year of school. When she eventually sought counseling, the dean of students told her that “we have to find the sin in your life that caused your rape.”
“He confirmed my worst nightmare — it was something I had done, it was something about me, it was my fault,” Landry said in an interview with Al Jazeera’s program America Tonight. The dean also asked her if she had done anything “impure” or smoked pot.
“I think they should have not heaped more shame on me. Because I was already filled to the brim with shame. I didn’t need any more,” Landry added.
Other students, who opted to speak to Al Jazeera anonymously, shared similar stories. One student says her school counselor told her to ask her rapist for forgiveness. “I would say that the impact of the two years of counseling I had with her is that I felt like I had been raped all over again,” that student recounted.
It’s not the first time that the fundamentalist institution — which teaches a literal interpretation of the Bible and expels students for having premarital sex — has been exposed for mishandling sexual assault. A previous Al Jazeera investigation documented similar cases of students who felt like the so-called “fortress of fundamentalism” was blaming them for their own rapes.
And in 2011, a Bob Jones trustee was forced to resign after allegations emerged that he had covered up the rape of a 15-year-old girl. He also made the girl apologize to her church congregation for being raped. After that scandal, Bob Jones hired GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment), a consulting group that helps religious institutions review their sexual assault policies, to conduct an outside investigation. More than 100 students came forward to share their stories of sexual assault with GRACE. But the school made headlines again when it abruptly fired GRACE before the review was completed andre-hired the group a month later.
Bob Jones isn’t the only right-wing institution that’s struggled with issues of sexual assault. Nonetheless, some of those Christian colleges aren’t required to follow the federal lawsintended to address campus rape because they don’t get any of their funding from the government.
Conservative approaches to sexuality can often create environments where victim-blaming is prevalent. “You’re worthless if you’ve been abused,” one anonymous student told Al Jazeera. Last year, Elizabeth Smart — the kidnapping and sexual abuse victim who was raised in the Mormon community — made national headlines for expressing the same sentiment, pointing out that an overemphasis on purity ultimately makes rape victims feel worthless. Smart said that’s exactly why she felt “dirty and filthy” after she was sexually assaulted, and now works to make sure that other rape victims feel supported rather than shamed.
Source: Tara Culp-Ressler for ThinkProgress
Elizabeth Warren says it’s ‘time to come back louder’ after Republicans filibuster student loan bill:http://bit.ly/1pP4ndu
WTF? of the Day from A**hole of the Day: Wash. Post 's George Will: Sexual Assault Victim Is Now A "Coveted Status" [TW: Rape, Sexual Assault, Rape Enablism, Rape Apologism, Rape Culture, Victim Blaming, Victim Shaming, Sexism, Misogyny]
Fox News contributor and Washington Post columnist George Will derided efforts on college campuses to combat the sexual assault epidemic as a ploy to “make victimhood a coveted status that confers privilege.”
In a June 7 syndicated op-ed which appeared in The Washington Post and the New York Post, Will dismissed “the supposed campus epidemic of rape, aka ‘sexual assault,’” arguing that the definition of sexual assault was too broad because it could include “nonconsensual touching” and disputing the evidence that shows 1 in 5 women experience sexual assault on campuses in the U.S., implying that individuals were pretending to be victims because colleges have made victimhood a “coveted status” (emphasis added):
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.
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.
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% of assaults are reported. Simple arithmetic demonstrates that if the 12% reporting rate is correct, the 20% assault rate is preposterous.
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.
Will also criticized colleges and universities for attempting “to create victim-free campuses — by making everyone hypersensitive, even delusional, about victimization.”
Despite Will’s dismissal of the statistics, a report on sexual violence by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed that “in a study of undergraduate women, 19% experienced attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college.” Moreover, the dangerous stigmatization of sexual assault victims has kept many from reporting these crimes — particularly because victims who do report can become the targets of vicious attacks. According to the FBI, people falsely report sexual assault only 3 percent of the time.
The American Enterprise Institute’s “Factual Feminist” podcast declared this week that while sexual assault on campus is a genuine problem, a “rape culture crusade” is a counter-productive and hysterical “solution” to it. In the podcast…
In 1991, Congress passed the Jeanne Clery Act, a federal law that requires all colleges in the United States to accurately and effectively collect and disclose reports of sexual crimes that occur on their campuses and help end sexual violence on college campuses. Today, as college activists work to hold their administrations accountable for their sexual assault policies, the Clery Law is one of the federal requirements that allows them to demand change. But not every campus is required to follow it.
Two institutions that do not comply with the Clery Act are Pensacola Christian College (PCC) and Patrick Henry College (PHC). The colleges are two of 65 candidates and members of TRACS, the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. And like many other colleges across the country, these institutions have been accused of mishandling rape cases.
Pensacola Christian College came under serious scrutiny after former student Samantha Field published the events of how PCC responded to her when she tried to seek counseling after a sexual assault. At one point, she was told by one of the five guidance counselors PCC has on staff to forgive her assailant because “bitterness will take seed and that bitterness will be so much worse than anything he could have done.”
At Patrick Henry College, a student tried to go to the office of Dean of Student Life to report harassment from a male classmate who had sent her an email that stated he “wanted to forcibly take her virginity.” As reported in the New Republic, the student was told that “the choices you make and the people you choose to associate with, the way you try to portray yourself, will affect how people treat you” and that she should “think about her clothing and ‘the kinds of ideas it puts in men’s minds.’”
College administrators at PCC and Patrick Henry have denied the students’ claims. But the alleged reactions of both institutions are classic examples of victim-blaming, and are indicative of the continuing rape culture epidemic that is exposing itself in colleges throughout the United States. The toxicity of rape culture extends extends even farther than victim blaming and reducing the agency of an individual. In some cases it has young women convinced that sexual harassment and violence are normal behaviors, which discourages so many from reporting these crimes.
Although student activism has been a driving force in seeking to address rape culture at universities, this activism is yet to be seen at Pensacola Christian College or Patrick Henry. When your student handbook cites Ephesians 5:22, which reads, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church,” it is not difficult to see how these college may view a woman’s autonomy. In fact, as one student told the New Republic, “Patrick Henry girls who are too loud, too eager for leadership roles, too political—no matter how appropriately they dress — are always kept at arm’s length. Boys refer to them as the ‘red leather stiletto girls’ or ‘political animals,’ and all but declare them unmarriageable.”
That right-wing environment may explain why students aren’t pushing for change. But why aren’t these colleges required to follow federal law in the first place?
A spokesperson for the Pensacola Christian College, Amy Glenn, told Think Progress that “though Pensacola Christian College applies [the] best practices in student services and care, we are not mandated under Clery Act and Title IX” because the school does not take federal funding. Patrick Henry College also maintains that it does not have to comply with the Clery Act for this reason, although a spokesperson from Patrick Henry was not available to answer Think Progress’s follow-up questions on the subject.
Abigail Boyer, a spokesperson from the Clery Center For Security on Campus, confirmed this exemption, explaining that all “public and private postsecondary institutions that participate in federal Title IV student financial assistance programs must comply with the Clery Act.” Title IV funding is any form of federal student aid, like Pell Grants or the Veteran’s GI Bill. The financial aid pages of both PCC and PHCstate that they do not accept federal forms of financial aid in order to uphold their Christian values. The financial aid websites do not disclose that these sources of federal aid are from Title IV and, therefore, that this position exempts them from the Clery Act.
This could be a miscommunication between the schools and their accreditation and oversight agency, the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. The president of TRACS, Dr. T. Paul Boatner, told ThinkProgress that “anything that is required by the federal government” is required of his member institutions, which includes abiding by all “standards set to federal regulations” like the federal regulation known as the Jeanne Clery Act.
Other TRACS institutes have worked to improve their sexual assault policies in recent years. For example, Bob Jones University (BJU) — which accepts Title IV funding, unlike PCC and PHC — was found to be in violation of the Clery Act, prompting an investigation by the organization GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). Now, Bob Jones University’s website features a page that details all available resources for students that have to report a sexual assault in compliance with the Clery Act. These resources are available in part due to a partnership with MinistrySafe, an organization that assists ministries and religious colleges in ensuring a safe environment and helps educates students and faculty about the issues regarding sexual violence.
While it is still legal for schools like Pensacola Christian and Patrick Henry to not comply with the Clery Act, the improvements made at Bob Jones University suggest that it is possible to maintain a Christian message while following federal regulations. And it would appear that leaving the address of sexual assault and rape to their own “best practices”, as PCC Spokesperson Amy Glenn put it, may not be the most effective course of action.
Mason Atkins is an intern for Think Progress.
The lawmakers who spent the past year pushing for military sexual assault reform are now setting their sights on college campuses. Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY), who introduced competing measures to change the way the military handles rape cases, are now working together to address the sexual assault crisis at colleges and universities.
The issue of sexual assault at higher education institutions has received increasing attention as students at dozens of schools have filed federal complaints against their universities, accusing them of failing to protect victims. At the beginning of this year, President Obama announced the creation of a new White House task force to find policy solutions in this area. California lawmakers have introduced legislation at the state level. Now, U.S. lawmakers are laying the groundwork for national reform.
This week, McCaskill sent out an “unprecedented” survey to hundreds of college administrators across the country, hoping to collect data about the current systems in place for dealing with sexual assault. The move comes just a week after she met with the Education Department and Justice Department to find out how they enforce federal laws regarding rape cases on campuses.
McCaskill wants to collect the survey results by the beginning of May. She told the Washington Post that she expects to find “a patchwork of processes and systems,” evidence of “dysfunction” between campus and city police departments, and a general “reluctance to empower victims.” She’s not sure what federal legislation may be necessary in addition to the existing Title IX and Clery Act requirements, but she plans on holding round table discussions in order to explore the potential.
Gillbrand has also recently indicated that she’s considering introducing legislation regarding campus sexual assault. And earlier this month, Gillibrand and McCaskill joined forces to push for increased funding to combat sexual assault at colleges across the country. They sent a letter to the leadership of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee calling for more staffing to enforce federal gender equity laws, and linking the issue to the problems in the military.
“I fear that, like the U.S. military, we’re going to find systemic problems on our college campuses — including very low reporting due to lack of protections and resources. Our schools must provide the highest level of responsiveness to ensure that victims are protected and empowered, and that perpetrators don’t get a free pass,” McCaskill noted.
Both McCaskill’s and Gillibrand’s staff told the Huffington Post that tackling the issue of rape on college campuses was a natural next step after working on the same issues in the military. “Through the course of that work, in the last couple months, we started hearing from students and advocates about the issue of sexual assault in college campuses. You start to hear some things that are eerily similar,” Gillibrand’s communications director, Glen Caplin, said. “They’re very different in terms of solutions, but you start to hear things that are systemic in nature.”
This issue is also gaining traction in the House of Representatives, led by Reps. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). Those two lawmakers have pressured the U.S. government to crack down on the colleges that are failing to adequately handle sexual assault cases, and are also urging U.S. News & World Report to update its influential college rankings to include information about rape on campus.
The vast majority of women who are victims of rape are assaulted before they reach their mid-twenties. Undergraduate women are most at risk during the first six weeks of their first year of college. By the time women graduate from college, one in five will be a survivor of sexual assault. But colleges’ lenient policies often allow rapists to escape punishment and go on to victimize more people.
Phyllis Schlafly Says 'Feminists Are At War With Mother Nature' For Encouraging 'Girls To Enter Boys' Fields'
Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly said today in her radio bulletin that the “the peculiar ideology of the feminists” is harming boys because it is encouraging “girls to enter boys’ fields” of study and employment. Apparently, some fields are reserved for boys, who Schlafly laments now “dislike school and have less interest in attending college” due to the nefarious actions of “a powerful network of feminists.”
“The feminists are at war with Mother Nature, and Mother Nature keeps winning, so the feminists are constantly angry at what they call patriarchy,” Schlafly added.
She also expressed concern about the emergence of a game called “Circle of Friends.” But as Slate’s Amanda Hess explains, “Circle of Friends” is just another name for freeze tag.
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW