Saturday, November 25, 2017

Has The Movement Against Sexual Assault Itself Become A Problem?

Here's a great piece by Masha Gessen, "When Does A Watershed Become A Sex Panic?" In it she mentions something that I've been talking about for years now, but I've never seen anyone else acknowledge:
On college campuses, sex is also policed outside the normal mechanisms of law enforcement. Under President Barack Obama, the Justice Department directed campuses to adjudicate cases of sexual assault under the provisions of Title IX, which bans sex discrimination. In cases of sexual assaults, victims—both women and men—are often either reluctant or downright frightened to go to the police, and the courts are terrible at prosecuting sexual assault. Not only is the experience painful for the victim but the standard of proof for intimate violence tends to be de-facto higher than for other kinds of violence. On campus, the Justice Department ordered that a different standard be used: a preponderance of the evidence, rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Long before these guidelines arrived, campuses had begun instituting rules of “affirmative consent.” Halperin reminds his readers that when Antioch College introduced this standard—which requires explicit verbal affirmation of the desire to take every sexual step—it was “widely ridiculed.” That was in 1991. Now, the principle of affirmative consent has not only been adopted by countless colleges but has become the law for colleges in New York and California.
   It was one of the straws that broke the back of paleo-PC. It was even ridiculed on Saturday Night Live
   And here's why you should be very afraid: 
   What was unthinkably totalitarian, twisted and idiotic in the early '90s became the law of (much of) the land in the 2000s. 
   This is the logic of PC and the progressive left: push unceasingly for change, always in one direction. Win some battles, tie some, and lose some. When you win, secure the territory. If you tie or lose, bide your time and push for it again a few years later. Ceaselessly badger people in order to normalize the radical; once you've bullied them into submission on one point, start badgering them to accept the next point to the left.

   And there's also: 
   My answer: we've been overreacting to sexual harassment for 30 years.
   We've also been underreacting to it. Guys (and more than a few women) are getting away with it right and left, apparently. The typically shitty solution of the PC left is: well then let's institute some rules that redefine harassment down. They'll mostly be used against innocent guys...but busting innocent people is better than not busting anybody. "Hostile environment" policies now make a certain type of sexual harassment purely subjective. As long as someone (typically female) feels like it's harassment, it's harassment. Such judgments are, unbelievably, not subject to reasonable person standards. Back when I was in grad school, a group of graduate students at one school was accused of "hostile environment sexual harassment" for arguing philosophically against radical feminists in the department. It had nothing whatsoever to do with sex qua the act of sex. It was about sex qua a disagreement between the sexes...though not everyone on either side was all of one sex . So it had nothing to do with what the laws were written for. And it wasn't harassment at all, it was philosophical and political disagreement. This is the kind of madness we're talking about. What starts as an effort to protect people from pervs quickly becomes a tool of totalitarian thought-and-speech control.


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