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Dear Prudence Meets Due Process

Former Slate advice columnist and Atlantic essayist Emily Yoffe takes on the campus rape crisis.

"There is no doubt that until recently, many women's claims of sexual assault were reflexively and widely disregarded," journalist Emily Yoffe wrote in a three-part series published in September at The Atlantic. "But many of the remedies that have been pushed on campus in recent years are unjust to men, infantilize women, and ultimately undermine the legitimacy of the fight against sexual violence."

These problems, Yoffe explains, are rooted in a set of directives from the Obama-era Department of Education, which nudged college administrators to adopt new procedures for adjudicating sexual assault disputes under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in higher education. While the goal of such changes may have been to protect victims and bring perpetrators to justice, the rules have in practice made it vastly more difficult for the mistakenly or maliciously accused to clear their names, obtain legal assistance, confront their accusers, or even make sense of the specific charges against them. What's more, Yoffe shows, many of these efforts were predicated on junk statistics and misconceptions about how human beings cope with unpleasant experiences.

The same week Yoffe's trio of articles went live, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced her intention to address some of these issues—a significant victory for supporters of reform. But this arena is fraught, as Yoffe has discovered. When in 2013 she wrote a piece encouraging young women to avoid the punch bowl at parties, it received a "wave of denunciation." Daring to suggest that campus assault claims be subjected to basic scrutiny, she says, can get a person branded a "rape apologist" or worse. But "I didn't get into journalism to be intimidated about writing about difficult issues," she adds.

Yoffe, 62, recently became an Atlantic contributing editor, following a nine-year stint answering letters for Slate's popular "Dear Prudence" advice column. In September, she sat down with Associate Editor Robby Soave, who covers many of the same topics at Reason, for an animated conversation about her work and why it's worth the risk of backlash.

Reason: Betsy DeVos recently announced that she wants to chart a new direction regarding the department's guidance to colleges on dealing with sexual harassment and assault. What was your takeaway from that announcement?

Emily Yoffe: For one thing, I was surprised. I kind of thought given Trump's own problems in this area that they might stay away from this. It's very strange to have an administration led by a president I find absolutely loathsome and a disaster for this country, and to listen to a speech by his secretary of education and find myself agreeing with many of the things she had to say.

I think a danger is that it just becomes a response to the Trump administration. Schools say, "We will resist," and there's a possibility that the worst excesses will get entrenched just because of who the messenger is.

The simple narrative is, "Trump doesn't think consent is important, so he's changing these guidelines to help people like him get off the hook for sexual assault." What's missing from that story?

The problem [with rape adjudications on college campuses] hasn't penetrated the public consciousness. This three-part series of mine just ran in The Atlantic, and as we were working on the first part, which was mostly about due process—how we got here and how things have gone off the rails—I said to my editor, "Isn't this kind of old? Don't people already know this?" But he was right. People don't know that a young man can be expelled from college without ever having received specific written notice of what he's alleged to have done wrong. They don't know that virtually any encounter with a sexual element, including a joke, can get someone in deep trouble.

You cover some of the really bad science that has gone unchallenged, like the idea that of course people who are traumatized are not going to recall things correctly. Can you talk about that?

This is the so-called neurobiology of sexual assaults. I've talked to scientists who actually do study memory and response to trauma. They say they believe this is a return to the "recovered memory" scandals of the '80s and '90s [in which therapists convinced people they had been suppressing memories of childhood abuse that never actually occurred], dressed up and given a neurobiology gloss.

The federal government [under Barack Obama] started saying everyone on campus must be trained in the neurobiology of trauma. Often there would be a little footnote to a study, so I'd go look at the study, and it would have nothing to do with what they were claiming was happening to young women on campus. I think one of the strangest things about this whole field is how literally one researcher with one perhaps methodologically not-entirely-sound finding can affect millions of people.

"The problem hasn't penetrated the public consciousness.…People don't know that a young man can be expelled from college without ever having received specific written notice of what he's alleged to have done wrong."

I found that the central thing was probably a lecture by Rebecca Campbell, who's a professor of psychology at Michigan State, where she laid out the principle that people who experience a sexual assault go into something called "tonic immobility," and then afterward, they can't tell what happened in a coherent way. And if they can't remember details, if they never tried to say no, or even if afterward they texted the alleged assailant and said, "Let's have sex again," all this is evidence of the trauma. Now, that is very concerning in a legal framework, and also, Rebecca Campbell's assertions are not based on actual neuroscience.

We've seen examples of that over and over again.

And the only people who can afford a lawyer are those with means. Fighting costs a lot of money, takes a lot of time. So we don't know how many people have been [wrongly accused] who just go away.

Many people who are liberals, who believe in due process for any other group of people—for suspected terrorists, for people on death row—for some reason, when it's accused college rapists, due process goes out the window.

That is a really essential point. The new number is that only 2–10 percent of rape accusations are false. Ergo, 90-plus percent are true. So we're good to go—if she says something, she's telling the truth.

The people who are asserting this, first of all, just take it as if it's actually fact. But if 10 percent of people on death row are innocent, that's all right? Hey, that's just the price of doing business? Betsy DeVos said one person assaulted is one too many, and one person denied due process is one too many. Certainly one person falsely accused and punished is one too many. Even if you're accepting their number—let's go with the high end, that 8–10 percent are false—that should be very alarming. Advocates for reform should be saying, we have to get it right or else this whole thing is delegitimized.

It's sort of the inverse of the principle on which Enlightenment justice is built, that it's better that so many guilty people go free to protect the one innocent person.

Absolutely. But when that question is put to people in this realm, they say, "Sorry, some guys are just going to be collateral damage. Too bad." That's shocking.

The other thing I think is important is that the use of the word false is troublesome in this context, because to establish an accusation as false, we're generally saying there has been an investigation by law enforcement officials who have decided this accusation is what they call unfounded. Now, it could be the person lied. Or it could be the person said, "I believe I was sexually assaulted," but when you get the facts of the case, it doesn't meet the definition of sexual assault.

There's a study from the insurance group United Educators, which looked at all the claims of sexual assault they dealt with over several years. The average complaint was brought almost a year [after the assault allegedly happened]. So someone brings a complaint a year later, and it's this murky, often alcohol-fueled situation. I'm very reluctant to use the word false. She's not lying. She genuinely feels something happened that was wrong and is just coming to realize that now. But even if in fact what happened was a misunderstanding, we turn it into a quasi-criminal event on campus.

Often you have people who are so drunk during these kinds of events that it's hard to arrive at the truth of what happened. It can be the case that you do things when you've had a lot to drink that you wouldn't do in other situations. That doesn't necessarily mean you didn't have the right to do those things at the time. I could say you're my best friend and then not think that later.

Everyone agrees: An incapacitated person—a person who is unconscious, slurring, vomiting, falling down—cannot consent [to sex]. But an intoxicated person can, and, unlike driving, there's no clear bright-line test. At many places, these rules are really confused. I don't know if it's deliberately unclear, but what happens is the male is held responsible for his drinking and his behavior, and the female is not responsible for hers, even if under a "reasonable person" standard [she fully consented]. Here's a text from her saying, "I'll meet you in your room. Do you have a condom?" and then she later says, "Well, I was really drunk and don't remember sending that." But are you incapacitated when you're capable of writing a coherent text that addresses an act you seemingly are consenting to?

"I'm very reluctant to use the word false. She's not lying. She genuinely feels something happened that was wrong and is just coming to realize that now. But even if in fact what happened was a misunderstanding, we turn it into a quasi-criminal event on campus."

So there's a level of alcohol consumption where you would not be OK to drive a car but you would still be able to consent to sex.

And legally consent to it! In the Occidental College case, eventually it was reported to the police. They investigated, and a female police officer and a female assistant [district attorney] both said, you know, this is an unfortunate incident with two drunk kids making a bad decision, but it's not a crime.

There's an after-the-fact presumption that the male is always the initiator.

It's very sexist and patriarchal. There's a larger cultural thing out there that females don't have sexual agency or desire, or they're only acted upon, and reluctantly. And that's ridiculous.

The third part of your series focuses on the fact that we don't know what the exact numbers are, but it certainly seems like there's a disproportionate number of students of color and immigrant men who are being accused of these issues.

No one's talking about race, but in the cases where the name comes out, you type in the name and it's a black guy, it's a black guy, it's a black guy. The way you get hard numbers is the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights demands that institutions of higher education report the race of students being punished, the way they do in the K–12 realm. But they don't. I think they don't want to know.

Emily Yoffe. Photo by Steven Biver.Emily Yoffe. Photo by Steven Biver.Let me put one little caveat on that. There's a danger. When you say we're going to collect information that could change behavior, it's not a neutral thing. So are schools going to say, "We've got to make sure we're accusing more white guys, because we could get in trouble otherwise"? That's not the outcome you're looking for.

But I talk about Colgate University, which was one of the few places you could actually get numbers because there was a race discrimination complaint brought. Colgate has about 4 percent black student enrollment, which means 2 percent black male. That year, 50 percent of the accused were black. And I had another example where the numbers were almost precisely the same at a large state school—about 2 percent black male enrollment, and the semester I was looking at, at least 50 percent of the accused were black.

In any other context, you would have people on the left saying this is a fundamental civil rights problem. We have this long history of good liberal jurisprudence fighting against the trope that aggressive black men are raping women because they can't help themselves.

That is one of the ugliest parts of American history. The majority of lynchings—Emmett Till—were because of accusations that a black man did something, whistled, walked, touched a white woman.

And obviously the situation on campus is not remotely the same as being lynched, but the people who are put through these accusations unjustly are losing thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands, of dollars. Their job prospects drop substantially.

In the state school case I'm talking about, kind of miraculously, a very good lawyer came in at an extremely reduced rate and represented the kids who had initially been found responsible [for sexual misconduct] and got that reversed. I talked to the mother of one of the young men, and it was such a wrenching interview. She said, "I really feel I failed my son. He grew up in a mostly white community, his high school girlfriend was white, his best friends were white, and I just felt he was operating in this world, and I didn't teach him about racism." After his adjudication she said, "This was the most racist experience I've ever had in my life." Everyone adjudicating was white. She said, "I was shaken to my core."

Just think of the message: Be really careful because white women are dangerous to you. This was a sexual encounter that was later regretted. The young woman didn't even show up at the hearing. She didn't want it to go forward. It all worked out, but at great cost. I have not talked to a single young man who's been through this who wasn't suicidal, and you hear people say, "Well, if he's a rapist, he should be suicidal." OK, but we don't know he's a rapist. And if he's not a rapist, we're OK with a system that is brutal and unfair?

When I talk to accused college students, I hear their frustration that they have no mechanism to clear their name, no way to tell their side of the story.

I hear, "Well, if it gets straightened out, it's all fine." It's not all fine. Often these young men, even after they're cleared, have lost a semester. I spoke to one, a black young man at a very elite school. He was going to be the school's nominee to some of the most prestigious national awards, he was doing two theses, he was double majoring. He was cleared, but he was suicidal, he went on very heavy medication, his grades plummeted, he did no honors thesis, he bombed his graduate school exams. That's a heavy price to pay for a false accusation.

What was the process like for getting this story published in The Atlantic?

I started reporting in November 2015, and the story has been through so many revisions for fact-checking purposes. It was supposed to come out just before the election, but they pulled it at the last minute, and thank God, because of the Access Hollywood tapes [in which Donald Trump is seen bragging about grabbing women's genitals]. Suddenly, the election appeared to be turning on the question of sexual assault. In the end it didn't, but I totally agreed with pulling the article because I had this vision of myself being portrayed as defending Donald Trump's behavior, which I was not.

The election turned out not the way I or the editors expected, and so what were we going to do with this story that was written during the Obama administration? In the end we rushed to get it online, and in a bizarre way the timing was absolutely perfect, since this was the moment where the country was kind of ready to try to understand what this Betsy DeVos speech was about.

Until a few years ago you were an advice columnist. When did you first start noticing this issue?

The first big story I did on this was a 2013 piece with the infamous headline, "College Women: Stop Getting Drunk." People thought it was an op-ed type thing, but I had actually spent months reporting, reading about the history of regulation of student behavior, reading about the science of alcohol consumption, etc. The story went up and within an hour, there was an international explosion.

At the time there were a bunch of very high-profile cases that involved charges of sexual assault against women who were either unconscious or very drunk. I started looking at binge drinking and the change with women kind of trying to match men drink for drink. In the piece, I came out very strongly against binge drinking for anyone—it is dangerous for men and women—but I said there is a particular danger that arises for young women. I'm not against drinking, but you've got to find your limit and stay within it.

A central notion of this whole movement to address sexual assault, which I completely agree with, is that everyone is entitled to their own bodily integrity. You cannot do something to someone else's body without their permission. But when you get incapacitated, you give up that integrity, because other people must take care of you.

"I have not talked to a single young man who's been through this who wasn't suicidal, and you hear people say, 'Well, if he's a rapist, he should be suicidal.' OK, but we don't know he's a rapist."

You can walk off a roof, which has happened. You can choke on your vomit, which happens all the time. So you're turning yourself over to other people, and let's hope they're all guardian angels, but they're not always going to be. They could be bad people, or they could be fellow drunk people whose inhibitions are lowered, and you end up together, and potentially he does something criminal to you.

I got a tidal wave of denunciation, followed by a counterwave of support. So that was my first foray, and a year later I did "The College Rape Overcorrection."

Why are the drinking norms on campus so scary these days? Does it have anything to do with the drinking age?

I went to Wellesley College, and on the weekend you could get a bus into [Boston]. I remember going with friends, freshman year, to the Copley Plaza bar, and ordering drinks. I'm so old—we were allowed to legally drink at 18 back then. And when you go to the Copley Plaza for a drink, you are not going to have 10 drinks. You can't afford it, and it's not going to be cool to vomit on the bartender. Alcohol was available to you, so you didn't have to drink a liquor store's worth before you set out for the evening.

I'm not saying there wasn't binge drinking back then, but I don't remember that being a thing. I understand Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the other forces that [worked to raise the drinking age to 21], but I think there's been this unintended consequence of the rise of "pregaming."

College students are also no longer drinking with authority figures. You used to hear people would have cocktail parties with their professors.

I did. We had our French professor over and we all had wine and cheese together, and we were college students.

You told me that you disbelieved the now-debunked Rolling Stone story about a rape at the University of Virginia from the beginning.

I was working on that 2014 "College Rape Overcorrection" story, and the Rolling Stone story comes out and just takes the country by absolute storm. You and I both know rape happens, and this sounds like a story of a truly horrific criminal act. So I sat down to read it, and by paragraph five I went downstairs and said to my husband, "This is complete baloney. I give it two weeks, because with the attention this story's getting, there's no way it holds."

I have no gift of prophecy. Or I only have gifts of prophecy for that particular Rolling Stone story; I wish I knew what the stock market was going to do. But a textual analysis [shows] the event was not biologically possible. A glass table breaks and a bunch of guys are raping a young woman on broken glass? Everyone would be in the hospital with serious blood loss. She would have been in a life-threatening situation, and it describes her getting up and walking downstairs and no one noticed. I mean, if you've ever broken a wine glass and tried to gingerly pick it up, you always cut yourself, and it hurts, and it bleeds a lot.

And then every quote was "Jackie said her friend said." Every assertion about what happened came from Jackie.

Unlike the vast majority of these cases, this one has been definitively disproven.

But to get back to the idea that only 2–10 percent [of rape accusations] are false, the chief of police in Charlottesville, when they investigated the case, had this press conference and was like, "There's no evidence any of it happened," but "we're not closing this case. We're not calling this a false thing. Maybe some new evidence will come out." He said, "We don't want to discourage other survivors from coming forward." So this case is not [counted] in any statistic as an unfounded case.

This topic is a hard thing to write about because it's so emotional. The crimes are horrible when they happen, and the deprivation of justice is painful to watch. How does it make you feel to be on this beat?

When I was doing the initial drinking story, everyone I knew said, "Don't write about it. It's a third rail." And I remember thinking, "I didn't get into journalism to be intimidated about writing about difficult issues."

There are a lot of concerns and interests of mine that come together in this story: abuse of power, junk science, fundamental fairness. Young women—it's mostly young women, but of course men can be victims, too—do get sexually assaulted, but we undermine the effort to properly identify and punish those wrongdoers by casting the net too wide.

I open this Atlantic series with a harrowing account of a young man named Kojo Bonsu, who was falsely accused of sexual assault. He was ultimately cleared, but again, he was in a state of physical and mental collapse. He got his life back on track, but when you capture someone like that in a system, and the system doesn't see that as an error, you've got something that is not helping victims. It's destroying innocent people.

Photo Credit: Steven Biver

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  • SQRLSY One||

    We will not have true sexual equality, till as many women are accused of raping men (and are punished for it), as vice versa,

    "Hey, come over here & rape me, willya? I promise not to turn you in!"

  • Qsl||

    I'm privy to the rape by staff at a prison.

    Every single male has been prosecuted. Every single female has been allowed to quit.

  • xobofawa||

    I'm making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

    This is what I do... www.netcash10.com

  • Procyon Rotor||

    Is this by any chance a juvenile facility? Because I hear there's an epidemic of female staff raping male inmates in juvenile facilities.

  • DajjaI||

    Also students are subjected to videos like this that indoctrinate them into the rape crisis hysteria. They say that getting drunk makes you rape and you might not remember it and just about everything is 'violence' and just hearing of a rape can be traumatic and make you leave school.

    You should investigate if freshman are still being indoctrinated during orientation.

  • Just Say'n||

    Also supposedly legitimate news outlets broadcast "The Hunting Ground" as if it is an actual documentary and not a glorified propaganda piece.

  • MikeyParks||

    Why does one hate Trump? Basically it's "I hate him because I hate him because I hate him because I hate him." Logical, rational reasons are hard to find, and when you do, they're based on misconceptions or just plain MSM lies. No president in history has ever been more reviled for less cause.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    There's a lot of truth to that, partially because he's probably the least engaging, magnanimous, respectful, and professional president in 40 years or more. I don't think that alone should necessarily condemn him, so the hatred for him is very often because he says things he really shouldn't say. Kind of a superficial reason I guess.

    But another reason people hate him is because of his nationalist policies, many of which appear to have racial underpinnings. And people in this country are hypersensitive to that shit right now.

  • Microaggressor||

    You're reading too deep into it. Most people hate him because they're socialized to hate him. When all your friends and role models won't shut up about hating him, you're going to get that impression too without actually paying close attention to anything he actually does.

  • Praveen R.||

    Why? he is a guy who weaseled out of payments to contractors, not all of them rich. Everything he does is about himself and no one else. His whole life has been about himself. Easy to hate. Now, his insults are funny and I dont get riled up about them as some others do. But when you look at those insults, one thing that I dont like about him is he can;t handle insults when directed at him. For a guy who likes to toss them around, he needs to have a thicker skin.

  • DarrenM||

    "Hate" is still a bit strong, though I notice some people use it very cavalierly when what they mean is they simply dislike something.

  • Sevo||

    Praveen R.|11.16.17 @ 6:58PM|#
    "Why? he is a guy who weaseled out of payments to contractors, not all of them rich. Everything he does is about himself and no one else. His whole life has been about himself. Easy to hate. Now, his insults are funny and I dont get riled up about them as some others do. But when you look at those insults, one thing that I dont like about him is he can;t handle insults when directed at him. For a guy who likes to toss them around, he needs to have a thicker skin."

    Why? Because Praveen, like the hag, like Tony, like turd, like Tom Steyer really doesn't like him! Not one bit!
    Praveen, do your think the world revolves around your opinions?

  • JoeBlow123||

    There are a lot of reasons to "hate" Trump. He has pretty much been a despicable piece of garbage since he started running. Little Marco, bleeding out the whatever comment, bragging about his dick being big, trotting out hose women to claim Bill Clinton is a rapist, etc. Since then his general asshole tweet of the week and generally destroying and semblance of respectability as President. Dude is all about himself, he tried to run as a Democrat with Jesse Ventura in the early 2000s, he really is a rich overprivileged bully.

    It's nice he wants to reduce regulations but with the general drama that surrounds him it is impossible to pass any legislation and consequently nothing has been done except executive orders. Oh yeah, he nominated a Supreme Court guy too! Whoopie.

  • Sevo||

    Joe, are you really still upset you LOST, loser?
    Grow up, or STFU.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    I think the fundamental issue here is that people are thirsty for blood. While it is of course important to identify wrongdoers and make efforts to stop what they're doing, one of the benefits of due process is that the "tie goes to the runner", so to speak. This is because there's a natural asymmetry -- failing to punish a guilty person is not as bad as punishing an innocent person. But when society's bloodthirsty compulsions reach the heights that they've reached in this country, things start to flip and then we start accepting that lots of innocent people are going to be caught up in the fray in our attempt to punish wrongdoers (by analogy, look at Hillary's comments to Goldman-Sachs re: Mosul). It's a historically conservative attitude, but that could be said of a lot of democrat policies.

    We can't lose sight of the fact that the democrats and republicans are two conservative factions of the same ruling class, but with different priorities and therefore different applications of their conservatism.

  • Microaggressor||

    It's the same justice principle applied by the Soviet Union. Better 100 innocents get sent to the gulag than one Enemy of the People walk free to continue their sabotage.

  • Curt2004||

    For an extreme example of where this leads look at the drug war in the Philippines.

  • Procyon Rotor||

    Of course, a legal standard requiring the affirmative expression of consent to sex will—inevitably—entail many false negatives, in the form of findings of unwillingness when in fact passionate desire was present. But the contrary standard now prevalent in American law will—just as inevitably—entail many false positives, assumptions of willingness and subsequent sexual intrusion when such intimacy was entirely unwanted. Section 213.3 reflects the judgment that the harms that arise under the latter standard present far greater reason for concern.

    That's from a draft of the American Legal Institute's Model Penal Code in 2014. There was a lot of internal disagreement, and in 2016 they rejected the affirmative consent standard by vote, but it's worth noting that there was enough support for it to be included in the draft. The majority of states enact legislation based on the MPC, so this is no idle exercise either. They euphemized the language a bit, but it's right there. Letting guilty men go free is "far greater reason for concern" than convicting the innocent.

  • Sevo||

    So false-positives are welcome to avoid an occasional false-negative?
    'We'll hang 'em all and let god sort 'em out'?

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    I'm not against drinking, but you've got to find your limit and stay within it.

    This is something that my father taught his sons. It's just not wise to get blind drunk around strangers or untrustworthy people; you are thereby placing yourself at their mercy. But when I say this to feminists they accuse me of being a "rape enabler".

  • Barbara Yarhead||

    That's why the best policy is to encourage women to drink more. You want to be an ally. If rapes go up, that's just proof women aren't getting drunk enough. Fight the Patriarchy, chug, chug, chug.

  • Microaggressor||

    Advising people not to walk through dark alleys with cash in their pocket makes you a mugging enabler.

  • Sevo||

    "...I kind of thought given Trump's own problems in this area..."

    I missed the memo; what "problems in this area"?

  • Barbara Yarhead||

    If my memory recalls, I think it's the pussy area.

  • Sevo||

    "If my memory recalls, I think it's the pussy area."

    The problem being?

  • Sevo||

    Still waiting for you to offer something other than hint an innuendo.
    Or are you a lefty who does nothing else?

  • Sevo||

    Gee, Barbara, here's it's been only, what, two days and a bunch and you STILL haven't given us an answer. Can we presume you're a fucking lefty liar?

  • L.G. Balzac||

    "Why does one hate Trump?"
    For me, it's his overuse and repetition of adjectives and his general disregard for facts.

  • GILMORE™||

    fantastic comment. excellent. i have always thought balzac was the best commenter, superb.

  • NicholasStix||

    Unlike Honest Obama.

  • Cloudbuster||

    "There is no doubt that until recently, many women's claims of sexual assault were reflexively and widely disregarded," journalist Emily Yoffe wrote in a three-part series published in September at The Atlantic.

    I think there's a lot of mythologizing about the acceptability of rape and sexual assault in the 70s and 80s. It wasn't acceptable. This was the period of the Tawana Brawley hoax orchestrated by Rev. Sharpton. People took that seriously, to the point of dragging innocent men through the mud. This was the period when powerful director Roman Polanski was convicted of sexual assault of a minor. If he hadn't fled, he would have served time.

    People got charged and convicted for rape and sexual assault regularly in the '70s and '80s. Women were liberated and had equal legal and voting rights. Let's not mistake 1975 for 1875.

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    People got charged and convicted for rape and sexual assault regularly in the '70s and '80s.

    *Some* people got charged. It certainly wasn't acceptable if the circumstances were bright-line enough, or high profile enough, but for ordinary schlubs it was often swept under the rug. The idea that some people are asking for it by how they dressed or behaved was IMO a lot more common.

    I can, off the top of my head, think of about 5 people I knew who were raped in the 80s, and not a single one reported it. There just wasn't a culture in which it was assumed that you would be believed and that the cops would do anything. One was told *by the campus rape hotline* not to report it. That would be unthinkable today, hopefully.

  • An Non||

    Hopefully, yes, but a decent chunk of the campus rape hotlines are run by the same kinds of feminists who think it's 'rape enabling' to suggest that perhaps it's wise for women to be responsible for their alcohol consumption and not binge-drink. Some make it a bit too clear if a male rape victim calls in that they consider it a 'prank' call...

  • Sevo||

    "I can, off the top of my head, think of about 5 people I knew who were raped in the 80s, and not a single one reported it."

    I can, off the top of my head, think of about 10 people who bullshit regularly.
    Sorry, I live in SF where sexual activity is (and was) quite common. And I'm calling bullshit.

  • JWatts||

    He probably really means women who got drunk, slept with a guy who was insistent, wouldn't take no for an answer and then regretted it the next day. There's always been plenty of those activities. Hence the whole No means No campaign.

  • Sevo||

    "Hence the whole No means No campaign."
    So the "No Means No" campaign means I get to put somebody in jail when I wake up and realize I'd rather not have done so?
    In my case, that meant the Coyote response. I never chewed my arm off, but I snuck out more than a couple of times.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    The drinking issue is critical. When the drinking age was 18, and there were no draconian penalties for serving a minot in your home, kids had the chance to try the stuff out while they were living at home, and (one hopes0 being watched over by the people who love them most. It didn't always work, but it could. I did my first drinking that way. In fact, I was given sips from both cordials (like Creme de Menthe and Grand Marnier) and beer (my Father favored a VERY dark beer). Since my young self found the tastes nasty, I didn't sneak any, ever, and only tried beer again when I was in my latter teens and doing heavy brush cutting on hot days and wanted something bitter to cut the much in my mouth.

    I did do some stupid drinking in college, but for the most part it was in very safe circumstances, and didn't snowball.

    The very idea of breaking apart the issue of Adulthood is dangerous. And micromanaging teenagers strikes me as a recipe for an ulcer.

  • An Non||

    Actually, there's still no penalties for limited, supervised serving of alcohol to minors--in part because some cultures have ritual consumption of alcohol. (This would be 'sips of cordials and beer,' though for me--and I cannot remember when the drinking age wasn't 21--it was spirits and wine, and I got the occasional glass of wine with dinner in my late teens...in a successful effort to ensure that I knew what GOOD wine tasted like and would not be amused with somebody trying to get me drunk on the cheap.)

    It's when you do things like supply the minors with enough alcohol to run a busy medium-sized bar and leave them to throw a kegger that you will get in trouble.

  • Sevo||

    "It's when you do things like supply the minors with enough alcohol to run a busy medium-sized bar and leave them to throw a kegger that you will get in trouble."

    Bullshit.

  • Kroneborge||

    excellent interview. Next time add some links so we an find the articles easier please.

  • GILMORE™||

    There is no doubt that...

    ...when people begin sentences with, "there is no doubt that...", that there is actually a tremendous amount of doubt and debate about exactly what they are about to claim, posturing moral certainty on a topic which in fact allows very little/none.

    of course Robby leads with his interviewee's most-robust "to be sure". when all you have is a hammer....

    'on the one hand, rape is bad' (duh) 'on the other hand, forcing colleges to become star-chamber inquisitors to every disputed bit of sexual hanky-panky at the point of a federal gun is unmitigated stupidity...but we can't quite say it in those terms because everyone wants to pretend "good intentions" are all that matter'

    on that last point

    The same week Yoffe's trio of articles went live, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced her intention to address some of these issues—a significant victory for supporters of reform

    as though no one's learned the lesson yet that intentions matter less than the details of how one intends to achieve them. Nothing is a 'victory' until you can measure some meaningful change in the status quo.

  • Mark22||

    It's very strange to have an administration led by a president I find absolutely loathsome and a disaster for this country,

    And why would I want to listen to what a narrow-minded, self-rigfhteous bigot like you has to say?

  • Dan S.||

    If she can listen to DeVos and agree with her despite her being appointed by Trump, maybe you can listen to Yoffe and not dismiss her statements out of hand just because you don't agree with her loathing of Trump. I do think Trump is a loathsome person, with his race baiting and so-called "locker-room talk", but I agree he has made some decent appointments, DeVos among them.

  • Mark22||

    In listening to a Trump appointee, Yoffe overcame her own bigotry and prejudice temporarily. Good for her. Once she listened to DeVos, she presumably found a persuasive and rational argument.

    I wasn't bigoted or prejudiced against Yoffe, despite the partisan organizations she has been associated with. But a few sentences into listening to her, Yoffe again veers off into her own bigotry and partisanship, and at that point, I lose interest in what she has to say.

    If you want people to listen to your arguments, don't pepper them with biogtry, prejudice, or partisan attacks.

  • Sevo||

    Dan S.|11.16.17 @ 1:53PM|#
    "I do think Trump is a loathsome person, with his race baiting and so-called "locker-room talk", but I agree he has made some decent appointments, DeVos among them."

    We'll keep that in mind when reading your opinions.

  • Dan S.||

    . I spoke to one, a black young man at a very elite school. He was going to be the school's nominee to some of the most prestigious national awards, he was doing two theses, he was double majoring. He was cleared, but he was suicidal, he went on very heavy medication, his grades plummeted, he did no honors thesis, he bombed his graduate school exams. That's a heavy price to pay for a false accusation.

    Maybe making people take heavy medication because they mention to someone that they have considered suicide isn't such a great idea.

  • Curt2004||

    But it's so much easier than actually listening to them and helping them through their problems. Plus the pharmaceutical graft...

  • An Non||

    It's easier to find a medication that works than a good match for them in shrinks--and it's actually really hard to find a medication that's a good match, and expensive, so usually it's not bothered with. Just get the GP to write a script for their favorite of the ones the patient's insurance covers...

  • DarrenM||

    Shoot. I've considered suicide....then decided it was a dumb idea after that consideration (mainly because it's really hard to change your mind).

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    These problems, Yoffe explains, are rooted in a set of directives from the Obama-era Department of Education, which nudged college administrators to adopt new procedures for adjudicating sexual assault disputes under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in higher education.

    Funny, because it seems to enable it.

  • True Scottsman||

    ^^^THIS

  • Queen Screwup||

    "an administration led by a president I find absolutely loathsome and a disaster for this country"

    "Donald Trump is seen bragging about grabbing women's genitals"

    Like all humans she's intelligent until she lets her emotions cloud her judgment. She hates Trump so much that she wants to believe he bragged about sexual assault instead of realizing he was talking about the power of celebrity and how it attracts women who will let you grab their genitals and other things just at the chance of getting a hold of what they covet: someone else's wealth and celebrity.

    It's sad that this woman thinks it's okay to destroy the reputations of people she loathes. Actually, it's more than sad - it's disgusting.

  • Red Tony||

    She doesn't, though. If you've just seen that clip and had no desire to investigate further, you probably think that Trump's a sexual abuser or at the very least guilty of sexual harassment. And besides that, if you read the article you can see that she's not okay with destroying people's reputations with lies; she's fine if it's TRUE, but not if it's a falsehood.

  • Mark22||

    It's irrelevant what Yoffe thinks: she is a person of no influence or consequence.

  • ApoxOnBothTheirHouses||

    Here's the problem I have with the idea that intoxication nullifies consent.

    Most of the times with alcohol induced cases, both the man and the woman were intoxicated. If intoxication nullifies consent, then he can't consent anymore than she can. So why does that make him guilty of rape, and not her?

    One of the cases where a young man was expelled involved a case where both were intoxicated, they went back to her dorm room and she performed oral sex on him. The University accepted as fact that he was so intoxicated as to have blacked out, but they still decided he was the one guilty of rape, no her.

  • Sevo||

    You probably ought to catch Brendan O'Niell on YouTube where he makes clear the oh, so fragile females in currect law and regulation.
    The poor delicate flowers must be saved from ANY male activity; they cannot possibly be moral agents!

  • Centralized Mind||

    Original comment typed:
    The author appears to be attempting to plead with liberals/feminist, that would otherwise denounce her, by focusing on racial implications. Hence, the references to lynching... And reference to disproportion in which this unjust process is levied against AAs. Or more simply, she appears to be race baiting to address a legitimate issue... Fairly brilliant tactic that stays true to her true blue form.

    Snarky Reason appropriate comment:
    So, leftists are okay with lynching black men if they're rapist?

  • josh||

    I enjoyed her series, and I posted them to Facebook without comment. Based on the response, that was my first mistake...

  • NicholasStix||

    Emily Yoffe completely misrepresents campus rape hoaxes, the Emmett Till case, and the history of lynching.

    All but two of the nationally publicized campus rape hoaxes I'm familiar with, involved a white coed falsely accusing a white man (or men, as in the Duke Rape Hoax). One other case, involved a white coed falsely accusing a South Asian man, and then there's Nikki Yovino, who may be Hispanic, and who falsely accused two presently unidentified football players of gang-raping her.

    Yoffe assumes that because black men are accused so often of rape that they must be falsely accused (by white women). She clearly does not care about the truth of interracial crime. Blacks commit 85-90% of interracial crime, and seven to ten times as much crime as whites. (Officially, it's seven times as much, but the Bureau of Justice Statistics distorts the stats by counting Mestizo Hispanics as "white.")

    Poverty does not explain this. "Availability" does not explain this. Black racism explains it....

  • NicholasStix||

    II.

    Carolyn Bryant did not say that Emmett Till merely "wolf-whistled" at her, but that he blocked her path and put his hands on her hips when he stayed after his cousin and the other black kids he was with left the Bryants' store, and demanded sex ("a date") from her, saying he'd "dated" other white girls.

    Till was not lynched, he was brutally beaten and murdered by a gunshot to the head. If his murder counts as a "lynching," then so do tens of thousands of black-on-white murders....

  • NicholasStix||

    III.

    Lynchings of black men for "whistling at," or "looking at" white women were statistically negligible. Lynchings were usually over charges of murder, rape, and felonious assault. The "whistling at"/"looking at" lynching is a pillar of "anti-racist" propaganda, as is the "white women lie about black men raping them all the time" myth recently revived by Ken and Sarah Burns in their Central Park Five movie and book hoaxes.

    Timothy B. Tyson, an anti-white activist passing as a "historian," has asserted that Carolyn Bryant privately confessed to him that she'd made up her testimony, but he has no credibility. Plus, the black kids who'd been with Till witnessed much of what Bryant said transpired through the store window. Tyson may have a professorship at Duke, but that means nothing. History professors lie all the time, especially about race, and get their jobs for purely political reasons. There is no independent corroboration of Tyson's assertion. Bryant has never spoken or written publicly.

    By the way, for a few years before the Duke Rape Hoax, black men made a sport of raping white Duke coeds, but no "historians" or "journalists" publicized this "issue."

  • Sevo||

    NS, you have a lot of claims to prove.

  • Hank Phillips||

    "Arm your daughter!" Robert Heinlein, Red Planet (get this!) 1949!!

  • Chris_Halkides||

    A very thought-provoking interview. KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor wrote an excellent book on this subject.