NRO's Week Of Denialist, Victim-Blaming Sexual Assault Coverage

››› ››› OLIVIA MARSHALL & OLIVIA KITTEL

As the Obama administration prioritizes efforts to curb sexual violence on college campuses, National Review Online responded by spending the week victim-blaming and dismissing the epidemic of sexual assault.

Obama Administration Prioritizes Efforts To Curb College Sexual Assault

White House Issued Report On Protecting Students From Sexual Assault. On April 28, the White House released a 20-page report detailing their strategy to combat sexual assault on college campuses, which at least one in five women experience. This report and an accompanying website, NotAlone.gov, are the products of the Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, which President Obama formed in January:

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.

Today, the Task Force is announcing a series of actions to: (1) identify the scope of the problem on college campuses, (2) help prevent campus sexual assault, (3) help schools respond effectively when a student is assaulted, and (4) improve, and make more transparent, the federal government's enforcement efforts.  We will continue to pursue additional executive or legislative actions in the future.

These steps build on the Administration's previous work to combat sexual assault.  The Task Force formulated its recommendations after a 90-day review period during which it heard from thousands of people from across the country -- via 27 online and in-person listening sessions and written comments from a wide variety of stakeholders. [FACT SHEET: Not Alone - Protecting Students from Sexual Assault, WhiteHouse.gov, 4/29/14]

U.S. Department Of Education Released List of Higher Education Institutions with Open Title IX Sexual Violence Investigations. On May 1, the U.S. Department of Education released a list of the colleges and universities under investigation for possible violations of federal law over their handling of sexual violence accusations:

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released today a list of the higher education institutions under investigation for possible violations of federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. In the past, Department officials confirmed individual Title IX investigations at institutions, but today's list is the first comprehensive look at which campuses are under review by OCR for possible violations of the law's requirements around sexual violence.

"We are making this list available in an effort to bring more transparency to our enforcement work and to foster better public awareness of civil rights," Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon said. "We hope this increased transparency will spur community dialogue about this important issue. I also want to make it clear that a college or university's appearance on this list and being the subject of a Title IX investigation in no way indicates at this stage that the college or university is violating or has violated the law."

As with all OCR investigations, the primary goal of a Title IX investigation is to ensure that the campus is in compliance with federal law, which demands that students are not denied the ability to participate fully in educational and other opportunities due to sex. [U.S. Department of Education, 5/1/14]

National Review Online Responds With Dismissal, Victim-Blaming 

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 the sexual assault report, and said 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: Feminists To Blame For Encouraging Rape, Which Is 'Instinctive' Among Some Young Men. National Review Online's Mona Charen suggested 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: 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]

Sexual Violence On College Campuses Affects At Least One In Five Undergraduate Women

CDC: 19 Percent Of Undergraduate Women Experienced Sexual Assault While In College. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 19 percent of undergraduate women experienced attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college, and 37.4 percent of female rape victims were first raped between ages 18-24. [Center for Disease Control, accessed 5/13/14]

National Institute Of Justice: Women At Universities Are At Considerable Risk For Experiencing Sexual Assault. A 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study prepared for the National Institute of Justice found that college women are "at elevated risk for sexual assault," particularly sexual assault involving alcohol or drug consumption:

One subpopulation that is often believed to be at elevated risk for sexual assault is college students. Although methodological variation renders comparisons difficult to make, some previous studies suggest that university women are at greater risk than women of a comparable age in the general population (Fisher, Cullen, & Turner, 2000; DeKeseredy & Kelly, 1993; Koss, Gidycz, & Wisniewski, 1987). This pattern is likely due to the close daily interaction between men and women in a range of social situations experienced in university settings (Fisher, Sloan, Cullen, & Lu, 1988), as well as frequent exposure to alcohol and other drugs.

The risk of sexual assault related to alcohol and/or other drug consumption is particularly high among university women. [The Campus Sexual Assault Study, National Institute of Justice, December 2007]

National Institute Of Justice: More Than 95 Percent Of Rapes On College Campuses Go Unreported. The National Institute of Justice reports that fewer than 5 percent of completed and attempted rapes of college women are reported to law enforcement officials. This is far below the rate of the general population, where about 40 percent of sexual attacks are reported to police. [Rape, Abuse, And Incest National Network, accessed 5/13/14]

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