A Rebuttal: Bret Stephens Mansplains Campus Sexual Assault
Oh Bret, dear dear Bret-
You don’t mind if I call you Bret? Do you honey?
I was going to wait until I cooled off to draft a rebuttal — but it occurred to me that since Bret here is advocating for the “fair” treatment of young men everywhere who are so egregiously persecuted by false accusations of sexual assault and rape, since- come on- why should any young man’s life be ruined because he got a little randy and forced himself on some unsuspecting freshman who can’t hold her liquor and probably spreads for every guy on fraternity row right?
Surely a little half-cocked rant from some middle-aged, single female who probably can’t get a date shouldn’t damn me to the category of angry feminazi for life? Oh hell- I’ll risk it.
In his recent NY Times column, “Betsy Devos ends a Campus Witch Hunt,” Bret here feels it is appropriate to mansplain date-rape and sexual assault on campus to all of us out there, especially the female among us, who couldn’t possibly have any experience of this since “evidence of its epidemic proportions is sketchy and good numbers are all but impossible to come by….” (see article, Bret’s 6th paragraph)
Let me womansplain something to dear Bret. You don’t mind Bret dear, do you?
Clearly Bret has never been whistled at or cat called to.
Clearly Bret has never had a boyfriend or a girlfriend bar his only exit from the premises in the middle of a disagreement, with his or her considerably greater bulk.
Clearly Bret has never had the strange man dancing next to him in the nightclub stick his hand up his skirt and his finger inside him.
Clearly Bret has never heard the words, “come-on, I’m so hard right now. Just let me do it.”
Clearly Bret has never been suffocated by another person of such larger physical presence than yourself you can’t even breath let alone cry for help.
Clearly Bret’s social interactions with strangers don’t require that he first lift someone’s attention from his cleavage to the words coming out of his mouth.
Clearly Bret has never had his boss take him out for dinner to discuss furthering his career, to then be caressed and kissed by his boss, while the same boss promises to make all your dreams come true.
Clearly Bret doesn’t understand one fucking thing about growing up a woman in this world. To be frank, it seems neither does Betsy Devos.
I will now quote part of the “Dear Colleague” letter Bret references, and its lack of evidence:
“The statistics on sexual violence are both deeply troubling and a call to action for the nation. A report prepared for the National Institute of Justice found that about 1 in 5 women are victims of completed or attempted sexual assault while in college.3 The report also found that approximately 6.1 percent of males were victims of completed or attempted sexual assault during college.4 According to data collected under the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act), 20 U.S.C. § 1092(f), in 2009, college campuses reported nearly 3,300 forcible sex offenses as defined by the Clery Act.5 “ (Page 2)
Sexual assault is something far worse than epidemic. Within my own close circle of four or five tight-knit girlfriends, three have openly shared experiences of violent rapes at the hands of known acquaintances. I don’t mean unwanted touching or a little inappropriate innuendo- I mean violent, penetrating, bruising, RAPE.
These were never reported. Why? Bret sweety- if you can’t understand why evidence of sexual assault and rape is scant, than you really are living in a bubble. The patriarchal one.
Women don’t report these things because we have grown so accustomed to deflecting them. Furthermore, we have largely bought into the mansplaination of the patriarchy, that when we fail to deflect these aggressive behaviors it is somehow our own fault. Well young men are exposed and subject to this same ridiculous explanation as well.
Here’s a novel idea- maybe the young man in Bret’s article, who passed the polygraph test twice, is actually guilty! Maybe he’s able to lie guilt free about the assault he is accused of, because thanks to patriarchal geniuses like Betsy Devos and Bret Stephens he actually doesn’t understand that he did anything wrong, it was her fault.
After all, if a Vagina is in front of you- and no one is home upstairs- is that really non-consensual? These arguments are the ultimate objectification of women as vaginas and reproductive vessels devoid of sentient thought. The problem for the patriarchy is that Vaginas and Wombs are connected to living, thinking, feeling PEOPLE.
A woman walking down the street at night gets gang raped by 5 strangers, she’s a true victim (especially if everyone agrees the strangers were probably black, or possibly latino, but definitely not nice white boys whose lives could be ruined by such a stain on their reputations), but a young woman experimenting with alcohol, as most college kids do, gets diddled by one of the boys at a campus party, and Bret and pals’ most logical explanation is that she made the whole thing up.
Because, think about it, that’s really what dear Bret here is saying. He seems to hold the opinion, along with Betsy Devos and the rest of them holding up the collapsing patriarchy, that young college women wake up every morning and think- “hmmm whose life can I ruin today with a false accusation of sexual assault…. I know- that guy in my comparative literature class is always staring at my tits…. I’ll just tell the campus administrator that I blacked out and woke up with him inside me at that party last Saturday night, I know he was there….’cause I don’t have anything else to think about or do, like my academics, or sports, or any other life goals that aren’t about destroying someone else’s by making up a sexual assault….”
Wake up assholes. When I was in college I didn’t even have time to sleep, let alone brainstorm how to persecute and destroy the innocent boy in the room next to mine.
Articles like this, that label women’s fight to be heard as a “witch hunt” are exactly the reason women still need protections through title IX. It is darlings like Bret Stephens who provide the cover for men like Bill O’reilly, Bill Cosby and yes, dare I say it Donald J. Trump to take advantage of women with ceaseless impunity. ’Cause what’s a few rapes in the world as long as the good ol’ boys can still get ahead.
My heart of course bleeds for those vast numbers of poor falsely accused college boys….
Forgive me if it seems “evidence of its epidemic proportions is sketchy and good numbers are all but impossible to come by….”( beautiful sentence Bret my dear.)
Bret and his supporters here can’t imagine women in any salient capacity beyond the sexual. Therefore they assume we only strive via our vaginas. Give me a break!
I’m pretty certain if an intern sat down next to dear lovely Bret here at a lunch meeting and stuck her hand down his pants under the table, he wouldn’t offer her a list of excuses, like
“She was just confused by my behavior….”
“We both had too much to drink…”
“She’s just so young and vital- she didn’t mean anything by it…”
No way. Bret, baby, I bet you would be absolutely convinced she knew exactly what she was doing.
I know I know…take a moment Bret. I can hear you howling — this is in no way meant to condone rape or discourage women from reporting sexual assault! You are red and ranting about due process and the fifth amendment. How noble! How just!
So let’s take another look at the offending Dear Colleague letter. The letter makes numerous references to “the prompt and equitable resolution of sex discrimination complaints.” (Page 6, page 8 three times). Page 9 is an entire section with the heading: Prompt and Equitable Requirements, followed by a subheading of: Adequate, Reliable, and Impartial Investigation of Complaints.
How about this paragraph on Page 9:
“Throughout a school’s Title IX investigation, including at any hearing, the parties must have an equal opportunity to present relevant witnesses and other evidence. The complainant and the alleged perpetrator must be afforded similar and timely access to any information that will be used at the hearing.29”
Oh right- I forgot Bret, sweet Bret, you are worried about due process for alleged offenders. Let’s look at page 12:
“Public and state-supported schools must provide due process to the alleged perpetrator. “
Now my dear- you are going to accuse me of cherry-picking. So I invite you to show me the place in the letter that encourages schools to use biased and non-equitable means to conduct hearings and investigations.
Wait- I know, you are worried that schools are conducting civil investigations of criminal matters. Maybe. But we submit daily to the rules and governance of communities and institutions we wish to belong to or work for, separate and beyond the criminal code.
See, when we live in the real world, many of us work for companies, some large, some small. These companies, much like college campuses have their own rules and systems governing human resources and the arbitration and adjudication of disputes and accusations. They often have large staffs devoted solely to these tasks.
Newsflash- these places and departments are not governed by due process or the fifth or the sixth, or even the first amendment. They make their own policies. For example, many universities and companies alike have harsh policies regarding the use of controlled substances. If we choose to be part of that community, we agree to be governed by it, and its stated processes, or we may be thrown out of the community.
Bret would have us believe that young men are being rampantly convicted of felony criminal sexual assaults and sentenced without due process.
Young women are expected to take it on the chin…. No one has to know….
Oh but those poor falsely accused, promising young men…. He could have really been somebody, if she had only kept quiet.
This is right up there with Richard Spencer’s claim that white people are being persecuted for their superiority.
Maybe she could have really been somebody, if only he had kept it in his pants.
Dare I say- when you let roughly fifty percent of the population go unchecked with few consequences for sexual assault or harassment, and a new policy abruptly puts in place measures to hold the small number of offenders among that fifty percent accountable, that might feel like a witch hunt. In reality, you’ve just taken the lid off of the problem.
I’m going to take a breath, because a lot of you are going to accuse me of being a man-hater. So allow me to womansplain another thing to you:
I love men. I love SEX. And I have known considerate and caring lovers, who reached out to me thoughtfully and shared intimacy respectfully. There are many more examples in my life of men who genuinely respect women, than those who would assault, belittle, or mistreat us. The number of men in my life who view me as a whole person is far greater than those who have only seen me as an object or a vessel.
This is precisely why I am so angry at little ol’ Bret. He makes his whole gender look sooooo bad. Gents! Boys! Guys! Men! everywhere- he’s making you all look like raping insensitive misogynist pricks. I am so tired of hearing the argument that boys will be boys….it’s just a little locker room talk….as if acting like a sexist jerk who disrespects women is some rite of passage nice college boys are all entitled to go through, while nice college girls just smile and turn the other cheek.
Fortunately, I’ve known plenty of great men throughout my life. Men who only touch women respectfully and with their consent. Unfortunately, the burden seems to fall on these good guys to police their own. ’Cause I’m just gonna be castigated as a frigid, man-hating, feminazi spinster for writing this missive. BUT… If more of the wonderful men out there who genuinely support women’s bodies, minds, and spirits would speak out and tell Bret Stephens and Betsy Devos to go suck on a &*^#….
But they won’t you see. They won’t borrow my vulgarity. Instead, they will find bright and nuanced ways to convey their judgement on the lesser among them- because they respect other human beings for being just that: human beings. Women AND Men everywhere are counting on them.