I spent a weekend dog-sitting for a very frisky, very robust black Lab named Chance, as in there wasn’t a Chance in hell he was going to obey me.
We’re taking a walk, and he decides that he wants to smell the flowers on the neighbors’ lawn. I say No; he gives me the same look President Trump gives his advisers, then proceeds to drag me 30 yards toward the hydrangeas. I end up with bruises on both arms, big ones that don’t hurt but look fierce.
Chance and I have long since made our peace with each other, but I now appear to the outside world like an abused woman. On the subway, I catch riders glancing at my arms with surreptitious sympathy. At Wawa, the clerk gives me a knowing look, as if to say, “Dump the bastard, honey, he ain’t worth it.” And one of my feminist friends (I have a few, close your mouth) told me that maybe now I’ll have some empathy for the women who donned pink hats to express their disgust with Trump.
I realized that this is exactly what we can expect in the post-sexist society of knitted headwear, overwrought activists and the rush to wage an assault on the patriarchal fortress.
If I were a man and had the same misfortune to be yanked all over somebody’s landscaping, no one would even suggest that my bruises had been inflicted by an abusive partner. And yet, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, more than one in three women and more than one in four men in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner. But we have come to a place in society where we reflexively view women as an endangered species.
Nowhere is that more in view than on college campuses. For the last decade or so, we have seen an increase in allegations of sexual assault made by female students against their male counterparts. Some of these claims are obviously legitimate and deserve to be treated as rape. In fact, they should be reported to the police, instead of being adjudicated by college administrators with warped priorities.
Campus dating has gone from the process of creating actual relationships to the sort of “hookup” that would have made a resident of Sodom and Gomorrah blush. Alcohol and drugs have also complicated the whole getting-to-know-you scene to the point that one inebriated half of a hookup might think he’s gotten lucky, until the next morning, when he gets a call from a college administrator telling him he’s been accused of assault.
Up until recently, the momentum, sympathy, and benefit of the doubt have been with the accuser, who overwhelmingly tends to be female. Under Title IX, an accuser must only prove by a preponderance of the evidence that an assault has occurred. This is the classic standard used in civil — not criminal — cases and means that if someone can prove it’s just “more likely than not” that a rape occurred, the accused will be found guilty.
In most of these cases, the punishment is expulsion from the Ivory Tower and a large dose of character assassination that will follow the fellow throughout his life.
To the type of person who immediately believes a woman whenever she claims to have been victimized, this makes perfect sense. To lawyers, civil libertarians, and anyone who doesn’t hate men, this is an outrage. Title IX does not require that an accused party be given access to the evidence against him. It does not give him the right to legal counsel. It is, for all intents and purposes, an academic Star Chamber that sacrifices due process to some squishy idea that we need to “protect our women.”
This rush to throw fairness out the window picked up speed under President Obama, who essentially forced colleges to adhere to these constitutionally suspect policies and use the “preponderance standard.”
Fortunately, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has indicated that she wants to rescind that mandate.
And you know who’d applaud her on that? Armaan Karim Premjee, a student at the University of Southern California who was accused of raping a woman who was later proved to have initiated the sexual encounter. He’d be joined by Michael Cheng, an Amherst student who, while drunk, had oral sex performed on him by a woman who then amazingly accused him of raping her. The frat guys at the University of Virginia might be clapping, along with the Duke lacrosse players. And the guy at Columbia who was defamed by the woman with a mattress would be happy, too.
Protecting victims is important, but no more important than due process. It’s about time we took the blinders off and treated all victims equally.
Christine Flowers is a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News.
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