Posted on | May 23, 2015 | 73 Comments
Excuse my long spells of non-blogging this week, but I spent Wednesday and Thursday writing a 3,000-word post that still needs a few final touches. My sloth is more apparent than real and, also, I keep getting distracted by, y’know, news. Just a few odds and ends before I return to the Siberian salt mines . . .
The phrase “Feminist-Industrial Complex” was first used, so far as I can tell, in a 2008 column about Sarah Palin by Jonah Goldberg. I began using the phrase in 2014 without realizing where it originated, and if Jonah swiped it from somewhere else, let the claimant step forward or otherwise Jonah gets the credit when I publish the revised and expanded second edition of Sex Trouble in about three months.
Because the book is focused on academia — specifically university Women’s Studies programs, where radical feminist gender theory is propagated — I have used “Feminist-Industrial Complex” to refer primarily to these institutions. Removed from marketplace pressures, subsidized by taxpayers and protected by Title X from any opposition or criticism on campus, the academic Feminist-Industrial Complex is the intellectual bulwark of the entire movement. Speaking of which, Mark Hemingway has a nice a feature about how Christina Hoff Sommers has sparked furious reaction in her recent appearances on campus:
Before Sommers’s speech at Oberlin, 150 feminists signed a letter to the campus newspaper claiming that, among other libelous assertions, Sommers was a “rape denialist” for daring to poke holes in the improbable campus rape statistics bandied about. (According to an article in Slate last year, the commonly spouted figure that one-quarter of college women are victims of rape or attempted rape “would mean that young American college women are raped at a rate similar to women in Congo, where rape has been used as a weapon of war.”) The Oberlin letter was titled “In Response to Sommers’ Talk: A Love Letter to Ourselves” and urged students to boycott the speech and attend another event hosted in a “safe space.” While Sommers went on to address a full lecture hall, the Oberlin Review reported that “the alternative event, ‘We’re Still Here,’ was attended by approximately 35 students and one dog.” Disappointingly, the Review did not elaborate on how exactly Sommers’s presence on campus had managed to traumatize the dog.
The intensity of the opposition Sommers is facing may be new, but its seeds were planted a few years ago. Sommers says some of the opposition to her is a logical consequence of government policy. In 2011 the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice told campuses they were obligated under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act to protect women from harassment—even exposure to sexual language and innuendo—and that they had to lower their standards for determining guilt. “The colleges panicked, but it empowered that contingent. … The ‘drama feminists’ suddenly could hold the school hostage because they could threaten lawsuits under Title IX,” she says.
You can read the whole thing. The key point is that the sudden onlaught of “rape culture” discourse on university campuses in recent years did not happen coincidentally, or in response to an actual “crisis” or “epidemic” of sexual assault. Instead, federal authorities in the Obama administration undertook this initiative. Why? Believe it or not, because of National Public Radio:
[In 2010] reporters at National Public Radio teamed up with the left-leaning journalism organization Center for Public Integrity (CPI) to produce and promote a 104-page “investigative reporting series” (PDF) entitled “Sexual Assault on Campus: A Frustrating Search for Justice.” . . .
The executive director of CPI, Bill Buzenberg, summed up the plight of millions of young women on campus in a single word: “Nightmare.” According to the report, serial predators are roaming free on college campuses. . . .
The findings were widely and uncritically reported and won multiple journalism prizes, including a Peabody Award (known as the Pulitzer Prize for radio), as well as the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Justice and Human Rights Reporting and the Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma. . . .
Russlynn Ali, a little-known Education Department official, was galvanized by the NPR/CPI findings. . . .
On April 4, 2011, she sent her now-famous Dear Colleague letter to colleges across the nation providing detailed guidelines on the draconian steps colleges should take to fight what she called a “plague” of sexual violence. . . .
You can read the rest of that article by Dr. Sommers at the Daily Beast, including the fact that NPR broadcast the now-discredited claim that “one out of five college women will be sexually assaulted.”
This is simply not true, and yet if you point out what’s wrong with this bogus statistic (derived from a 2007 survey with serious methodological flaws) you are accused of being a “rape denialist,” as the feminists at Oberlin branded Dr. Sommers. The best estimates of the frequency of sexual assault on U.S. campuses put the number far lower. Even by the most elastic definition (e.g., “unwelcome” touching), it’s hard to find credible evidence that the number is worse than 1-in-40 which, as Dr. Summers notes, is “far too many, but a long way from one in five.”
Here we see a convergence of three separate but strategically allied forces — liberal journalists, campus activists and federal bureaucrats — whose combined efforts produced a myth about rape and, when the facts contradict the myth, feminists refuse to yield to reality. Instead, feminists falsely accuse critics like Dr. Sommers of being misogynists, indifferent to the suffering of victims.
“Feminist consciousness is consciousness of victimization . . . to come to see oneself as a victim.”
— Sandra Bartky, Femininity and Domination: Studies in the Phenomenology of Oppression (1990)
This is it, you see: Having obtained “consciousness of victimization,” the feminist makes victimhood the basis of her identity, so that she experiences an existential crisis if anyone points out that she is not, in fact, suffering from oppression. A student at Oberlin College (annual tuition $48,682) is actually a member of a privileged elite, yet feminists would have her believe — as she arrives on this picturesque 440-acre campus — that she is at risk of being enslaved by male supremacy and subjected to sexual brutality: Fear and Loathing of the Penis!
This paranoia has made it extremely hazardous for male students to pursue romance on the modern campus, as Paul Nungesser discovered at Columbia University. One of his accusers told her tale of oppression at the feminist blog Jezebel:
The incident happened my junior year at Columbia, when Paul followed me upstairs at a party, came into a room with me uninvited, closed the door behind us, and grabbed me. I politely said, “Hey, no, come on, let’s go back downstairs.” He didn’t listen. He held me close to him as I said no, and continued to pull me against him. I pushed him off and left the room quickly. I told a few friends and my boyfriend at the time how creepy and weird it was.
Creepy and weird, yes. Criminal? Therein lies the problem.
No one would condone the behavior alleged here — it’s clearly wrong — but as it happened at a party where, we may assume, everyone was drinking, this isn’t exactly startling. Back when I was in college in Alabama, a drunk guy who tried to “get fresh” that way might have gotten punched by the girl’s boyfriend, but I guess students at Columbia (annual tuition $51,008) aren’t the redneck type. At any rate, this girl didn’t decide to complain to university officials until after Emma Sulkowicz filed her claim that Nungesser raped her:
Then, a year later, a friend approached me and asked if we could speak privately. She told me she’d heard that Paul had apparently raped someone, and that the story had reminded her of what he had done to me a year before. . . .
My friend gave me the name and number of someone at Columbia I could talk to if I wanted to file a complaint. I wondered if what had happened between me and Paul was really sexual assault: there was no penetration, I had no bruises, I got away. But Columbia defines “Sexual Assault—Non-Consensual Sexual Contact” as “Any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any object without a person’s consent.” That is exactly what happened to me, and so I decided to file a complaint.
Dear God in heaven! She admits here to joining a conspiracy, a vendetta inspired by Sulkowicz’s desire for revenge against her former “love,” Nungesser. (Click here to read the Nungesser civil rights complaint against Columbia.) Her incident with Nungesser at the party — which, as I say, is nothing we would condone, if it happened as alleged — was just a “creepy and weird” encounter that she shrugged off until a friend of Sulkowicz encouraged her to file a complaint. However, universities now effectively criminalize “touching . . . without a person’s consent,” which would seem to require either:
- Romance devoid of spontaneity or impulse, in which lovers seek explicit verbal consent prior to each touch;
- A clairvoyant ability to know in advance whether any specific touch was welcome.
We try to imagine the conversations required by this policy: “Having complied with your prior request that I kiss your neck, Tiffany, may I now have permission to caress your lower back?”
Back in the day . . . No, I’m not going to waive my Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The Justice Department might institute some new policy where my alma mater would be forced to begin an investigation and retroactively prosecute me for trying to get to third base on the first date — if, hypothetically, I had ever done such a thing, which I can neither confirm nor deny until I have consulted with my attorney. These allegations that I engaged in sexual activity at Jacksonville State University are mere hearsay, your honor! I object to this line of questioning, and demand that this testimony be stricken from the record! Also, I must remind the jury that I was under the influence of dangerous hallucinogens during my undergraduate career, and therefore I was legally insane the whole time, as numerous witnesses will testify.
Having established my innocence beyond a reasonable doubt, then, what advice do I have for college boys nowadays?
- Think ahead. Regard all females as potentially hostile and always keep in mind that any girl who tries to flirt with you could be setting you up for a sexual assault complaint. Approach every male-female encounter with extreme caution, and always consider whether you could defend your actions in a court of law.
- Only speak when spoken to. Males have no right to initiate communication with females on the modern campus. Your attempt to make friendly small talk with a girl could be construed as harassment, potentially resulting in expulsion.
- Avoid elite schools. It seems that false rape accusations mostly occur at expensive private schools. Save your money and go to the nearest community college for two years, then transfer to a state university. Your diploma may not have the prestige of a degree from Oberlin, Georgetown or an Ivy League school, but you are less likely to encounter a raging feminist lunatic at a state school and it’s entirely possible that you could meet a normal woman who doesn’t consider heterosexuality a hate crime.
There are still normal women out there, allegedly. However . . .
Be careful, guys. You live in an increasingly dangerous world.
— Robert Stacy McCain (@rsmccain) April 13, 2015