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Valenti writes: "On Thursday, education secretary Betsy DeVos carried on in the grand American tradition of treating rape survivors like garbage, meeting with accused rapists and organizations that publish photos of women they claim are 'false victims.'"

Betsy DeVos. (photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)
Betsy DeVos. (photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA)

Why Is Betsy DeVos Enabling Rape Deniers?

By Jessica Valenti, Guardian UK

16 July 17

Trump’s education secretary will talk with dangerous anti-feminist groups that claim rape statistics are overblown and that women regularly lie about assault

n Thursday, education secretary Betsy DeVos carried on in the grand American tradition of treating rape survivors like garbage, meeting with accused rapists and organizations that publish photos of women they claim are “false victims”. Just another day in the era of Trump, where disdain for women and their rights trickles down from the “pussy-grabbing” president to all corners of his administration.

As part of her effort to examine the Obama administration’s widely lauded programs on campus rape, DeVos is meeting with survivors of sexual assault and organizations like the National Women’s Law Center and End Rape on Campus.

But in addition to meeting with groups dedicated to eradicating sexual assault at universities, the education secretary will also talk with dangerous anti-feminist groups that claim rape statistics are overblown and that women regularly lie about assault.

One organization, the National Coalition for Men, published the names and photos of women (“false victims,” the group called them) whose rape cases were dismissed by college disciplinary boards or not found credible by police – which doesn’t mean these women weren’t raped, just that they weren’t believed. Another group DeVos will meet with, Save, argues that invasive questions about a victim’s sexual history should be fair game.

Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise from DeVos, who appointed Candice Jackson as a civil rights official in the education department – a woman who denounced feminism and claimed she was a victim of discrimination for being white.

Jackson told the New York Times just this week that “90%” of rape accusations “fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.” (She offered no proof for the highly offensive claim.)

DeVos’ office also rescinded an invitation to the campus anti-rape organization Know Your IX after the group’s founders wrote an op-ed criticizing DeVos. They also later signed on to a letter, penned and signed by more than a 100 rape survivors, noted that DeVos has refused to commit herself to enforcing title IX, the law that bans sex discrimination in higher education.

“The administration already egregiously overturned 2016 guidance that protected transgender students from title IX violations,” it reads. “Now the administration has signaled that it is seriously considering further dismantling protections for survivors of sexual violence by weakening the oversight and enforcement mechanisms of the federal government.”

Campus rape victims have long been treated abysmally in the United States. They’re often disbelieved by peers, administrators and school adjudicators, shamed by campus police, or watch as their attackers go unpunished.

Women tell stories of their accused rapists even academically flourishing as they themselves fail classes or drop out to avoid seeing their attacker. Under the Obama administration, that tide started to turn. We started to talk about Yes Means Yes initiatives and teach enthusiastic consent. There was a national conversation about how to best serve students who need our help.

We all know that the Trump administration and appointees are eager to undo Obama’s work – but it shouldn’t come at the expense of rape victims, and of justice. your social media marketing partner


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+14 # chrisconnolly 2017-07-16 22:56
What a sick group of abusers. I imagine DeVos abuses her children, whether its 'just' emotionally or physically she has all the red flags for it. She just thinks she's holier than thou because she's never been punished by god by being 'not really raped'or some damn thing. How far back can they take us?
-7 # Citizen Mike 2017-07-16 22:58
I am sure that most rape victims are telling the truth. But it does appear that when hearings are held, the fellows who are accused are not allowed to defend themselves or be represented by counsel. This does seem unfair and is inconsistent with our legal traditions. Nobody should be penalized under a suspicion or accusation without proof and without an opportunity for defense. I strongly suspect that the problem of campus rape is connected to the problem of campus binge drinking, with both the accuser and the accused being in a state of diminished capacity when these disputed events occur. A good way to reduce campus rape would be to discourage heavy drinking as dangerous for everyone and a source of all kinds of trouble, including rape, fights and accidents. Getting very drunk leads to all kinds of trouble, bad behavior and injury. Both sexes should avoid heavy drinking for safety's sake.
+12 # Blackjack 2017-07-17 00:09
There are universities that take campus rape seriously, offer on-campus counseling services and off-campus referrals, institute policies that provide for on-going in-house training in dormitories (for both sexes), and generally look out for the welfare of all their students. That is the ideal, of course, but regrettably, is far from standard practice. Universities guard their reputations because they are in competition with other institutions of higher learning for students and the money derived from those students. Rape is a crime with high visibility for the institution once it is reported. So, the reputation of the university is often valued more than the student who reports the crime. There is also often a kind of sexual discrimination in such cases. Most administrators and law enforcement officials are male, so may have a propensity to see the issue from a male perspective. I suspect that Ms. DeVos, in her good Christian, male-dominated world is influenced by such sexism. I also suspect that she has been fortunate enough to have been spared having been sexually exploited. As long as the current administration is in office, I think this will be the prevailing attitude, though Obama, with two daughters, made some admirable strides in this regard.
-7 # Salburger 2017-07-17 03:03
Not to contradict the main thrust of this article, but when it says " rape cases were dismissed by college disciplinary boards or not found credible by police – which doesn’t mean these women weren’t raped, just that they weren’t believed" it is true, but it is also true that there might in some cases have been good reasons why they weren't believed. The percentage/numb ers of false accusations may be very small, but it isn't zero.
+5 # librarian1984 2017-07-17 09:33
Quoting Salburger:
but it is also true that there might in some cases have been good reasons why they weren't believed. The percentage/numbers of false accusations may be very small, but it isn't zero.

Sure, there are some GREAT reasons these women aren't believed: the guy is on the football team and they really need him this season; his daddy's rich; why should anyone suffer for "twenty minutes of action", etc.

This is like saying that women derail their college career and enter into this legal nightmare for .. what .. kicks? Because they were bored? Just to liven up the conversations with their friends? WHO would do this for any reason other than, you know, actually being raped?

Studies have found that false accusations of rape are in line with false accusations of all other crimes, about 2%, but when someone is mugged do you assume it's probably false? When a home is burglarized, do you say it might not have been if the owner didn't drink so much?

Yes, a false accusation can ruin a guy's life, but what about all the women (and men) who are victims? THEIR lives are REALLY ruined, as much by the system as the perpetrator. And we know rape is one of the most underreported crimes.

I can't believe we are STILL having this conversation.

I didn't think DeVos could be any more repulsive but she managed it.
+3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-07-18 05:15
The massive FBI report on rape and sexual assault in colleges says that only 1 out of 20 women who experience these crimes reports it. The report does what you say -- it attacks the women who don't report. It says they think they can handle it themselves or they make a judgement that they were in some respect responsible (i.e., they were drunk, too), or that they believe it will all go away if they do nothing.

The real truth is that the response by police to rape is designed to prevent women from reporting. Once a rape has been reported to the police, the woman's body is defined as a "crime scene" and the police take control of it and many retain control for as long as it takes to process the crime scene. This is just another rape.

Secondly, once someone has been accused of the crime of rape, he gains the benefit of the "presumption of innocence." he is innocent until proven guilty. The woman has no such benefit. She can be assumed to be lying by anyone who supports the "innocent" rapist.

DeVos is of no help. We need to try to understand that we have a system that is antithetical to justice.
+4 # joentokyo 2017-07-17 07:06
Because she is as dumb as a locust post?
+11 # ericlipps 2017-07-17 07:39
Why is DeVos even touching this issue? It seems more like a matter for the Justice Department, not that Jeff Sessions is any better.
+3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-07-18 05:30
DeVos is responding to the issue created by the Obama Dep. of Ed. In April 2011, the DOE sent the now infamous "Dear Colleage" letter to all college administrators saying that --

1. Title IX which mandates equality in education now includes sexual crimes against women.

2. The term "sexual harassment" is no longer to be used. "Sexual assault" is now the preferred term. All former "sexual harassment" policies must be updated according to new guidelines from the DOE.

3. All colleges and universities must hire a "Sexual Assault Specialist" trained by the DOE/FBI to handle cases of sexual assault and rape.

4. Rape is rampant on college campuses. 1 in 5 women will be raped during their college careers.

There's more. The DOE set out to transform sexual habits among college students. It redefined the meaning of "consent" to a very, very specific action on the part of women.

Most people thought this letter was too intrusive. It tred to force colleges to enter into the private lives of students. All faculty and students had to go through "sexual assault" training.

In reality, this was Obama's plan to displace the crisis of rape in the military. The Gillibrand committee was forced to add rape in college to its work on rape in the military. Effectively this buried the rape in military issue.

The Obama DOE created a mess. DeVos is an idiot and she'll make a bigger mess.

DOE letter
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-07-18 06:32
Just one more comment about why DeVos is even touching this issue.

The Obama DOE declared that the sexual experiences of women in college are a Title IX issue. Title IX is the 1972 act which declares that programs in college must be equal for men and women. It was originally passed to deal with sports and academics. But now the law of the land is that women's sexual experiences are Title IX.

To make this work, the Obama DOE declared that colleges were "hostile environments" for women where they are subject to discrimination and assault on almost a daily basis. This is a wildly exaggerated claim, but it is the problem the DOE wanted to create requirements to address.

All colleges are now required to do a "climate survey" one every two years. This measures the "sexual climate for women" on campus. We know from the history of propaganda that "climate surveys" were created to create climates, not to measure them. You can read a survey on line. You'll see the leading questions. In most cases, only women take the survey. They ask very intimate questions about a women's sexual experiences. This data is used by DOE and consultants.

This created a total mess and DeVos has inherited this mess. I'm sure she will make a much bigger mess. Essentially the Obama DOE move was a puritanical one. It did not understand and definitely rejected the idea that sex and be experimental or recreational. DeVos does not understand this either.
-8 # Citizen Mike 2017-07-17 07:43
Being wrongly accused of a crime at a hearing where you are not allowed counsel and cannot defend yourself,and are presumed guilty, must be every bit a bad experience as being raped. A lot of these incidents go down in a fog of alcohol and are ambiguous events. We need a campaign to discredit drunken revels on campus as a danger to everyone which invites accidents and destructive behavior of all kinds.
+3 # economagic 2017-07-17 08:46
Many, though not all, colleges have been implementing responsible drinking or anti-drinking campaigns for decades. Because of this society's love-hate affair with alcohol they have not been very effective.
+10 # IDReyes1937 2017-07-17 07:56
How did this pile of excrement get to be education secretary!? This is a rhetorical question. We know how. Only a pussy-grabbing slimeball would appoint someone of her ilk.
+6 # Blackjack 2017-07-17 08:56
Men can be raped, too, so I am not negating that fact, but it is usually women who are raped and many women choose not to even report a rape incident. . .for three reasons: 1. fear of not being believed, 2. even if believed, being blamed for it 3. the burden of proof on the woman and the experience can be so brutalizing that before it is over, they feel raped all over again. Women who have been raped and have been able to offer the proof necessary for a conviction sometimes report that the whole process of obtaining that conviction was not worth it. Substitute any other crime, i.e. burglary, assault & battery, etc., and the process involved for proof and conviction is rarely as brutalizing as that for conviction of rape. With rape, it is very easy to blame the victim.

Of course there are incidents of false reporting and those should be treated the same as false reporting of any other crime, but "she was drunk" is not a valid reason for dismissing a charge of rape. One cannot give consent when drunk!

That said, Ericlipps makes a good point. Why was DeVos even given responsibility for this task? One could go even further. Why was she named Ed Secretary in the first place?
+6 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-07-17 11:17
The factor that is never mentioned by DeVos and her kind or Obama's dept. of Education is that the biggest problem with rape and sexual assault on college campuses comes from fraternities. Frat culture is now of drinking and the abuse of women. But on many campuses, especially the older and more elite colleges, the frats are actually more powerful than the college administration because they have a cabal of powerful alumni, some of whom are also among the Trustees.

The case of the frat gang rape at UVA a few years ago is just typical. Almost everyone sided wtih the frat boys. The Wapo led the way. The author of the article and the woman who was gang raped were sued and are now facing millions of dollars in damages.

Who took the side of the rape victim in this case? Almost no one. And why? Only because the fraternity had very powerful connections to a Washington law firm which handled the case in the media and then in the courts.

If anyone wants to change the culture of rape on college campuses, then they will have to take on the frat system. My bet is no one will dare do that.
-2 # Caliban 2017-07-18 15:07
Try facts, RR.

The publisher of the discredited article was ROLLING STONE, not the Washington Post (or "WaPo").

And it was the author of the original RS piece who was sued (and settled the suit), not the supposed victim.

Sadly, I expect that you are correct about the persistence of campus frat culture.
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-07-19 06:39
Caliban -- my facts are correct.

I said it was the Wapo that led the attack onl the Rolling Stone article. The Wapo led the way in attacking the victim, calling her a liar.

Both the victim and the author were sued by many of the people accused in the article -- frat boys and even a UVA dean who did noting when the rape was reported. She won a case that ran into the millions of dollars. That was a year or so ago, and the settlement may have changed.

A court threw out one lawsuit against a group of frat members who were claiming that they could not get jobs because of their membership in a fraternity that had been slandered by "Jackie," the rape victim.

It all comes down to who you believe. I believe the woman told the truth.
0 # Caliban 2017-07-20 01:09
Sorry, # Rodion Raskolnikov. I apparently misunderstood what you were getting at. But I, too, believe Jackie.
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-07-20 11:05
Caliban -- good to hear it. I went to UVa. I know the frat scene there very well. I think Jackie told the truth, too.

When I was there, frat hazing was big. One fall, new pledges were taken out to a farm, everyone got drunk, the pledges were stripped naked, rolled is cow poop, and herded into the back of a cattle truck. The driver of the truck was drunk and crashed. Two or three pledges died and many were very seriously injured. The University pretended to come down hard on the Frats but it did not. It covered up for them -- though millions were paid in damages.

Of course, things are a little better now. But the arrogance of frats is still really bad.
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-07-17 11:19
" the Obama administration’ s widely lauded programs on campus rape"

They were certainly not lauded by many on college campuses. They were defintiely twisted but just in a different way than the DeVos approach. And the Obama DOE produced phony statistics.
+1 # chapdrum 2017-07-17 13:58
It seems like a bad dream.
Too bad it's real.
+6 # heartofnests 2017-07-17 14:45
We cannot rule out the possibility of her own hidden sexual motive in DeVos' prurient interest in listening to "falsely accused men". It has a lascivious and tasteless undertone to it. But it is largely just another small step in reverting to 19th Century family values — which is to say — women are property, have no rights, and must remain obedient, not only to their husbands [Arkansas' new law against married women] but also to lawmakers, police and violent men who believe it is their right to assault women of their choosing.
+3 # Femihumanist 2017-07-17 19:13
Some schools may think it looks bad for them to show a high % of campus rapes. My son's ex-college, is known as being highly progressive and attracts very progressive students. I saw a listing where it was had the highest % of reported rapes. Some conservative Southern schools showed none or few.

It would be obvious to anyone with half a brain that the former takes reported rapes seriously while the latter ignores and doesn't count them.
+2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-07-18 08:34
Yes, this is the Cleary Act. It requires all colleges to report to the DOE all crimes in which students are victims. Colleges must also make Cleary reports available to prospective students and parents.

And you are right. Many schools do all they can to minimize the crimes that are reported. If college administrators can persuade a women not to file rape charges, they don't have to file on Cleary. This is a real injustice as you say.
0 # MikeAF48 2017-07-18 15:25
Please don't bother to stop in Colorado we are doing just fine.

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