Category Archives: women

The date-rape debate redux

Yes, I know that this blog has been gathering dust for a while, and I’ve kept meaning to come back to it.  I don’t know if I’m back on a regular basis (too much else on my plate right now), but I will try to blog at least part-time.

And I’ll start off with a follow-up to my recent Boston Globe column (April 14) on the new sexual misconduct policy at Duke University.  An excerpt:

The policy, introduced last fall but recently challenged by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, co-founded by Boston attorney Harvey Silverglate, targets “sexual misconduct’’ — everything from improper touching to forced sex. Some of the examples given in the text of the policy, such as groping an unwilling woman’s breasts, are clearly sexual offenses not just under university regulations but under the law.

But the policy’s far-reaching definition of sex without “affirmative consent’’ covers much more. Unlike the notorious Antioch College rules of the 1990s that required verbal consent to every new level of intimacy, Duke’s policy recognizes non-verbal expressions of consent. However, it stresses that “consent may not be inferred from silence [or] passivity’’ — even in an ongoing sexual relationship.

What’s more, consent can be invalidated by various circumstances — not just obvious ones such as being threatened or unconscious, but also being intoxicated to any degree, or “psychologically pressured,’’ or “coerced.’’ The latter is an extremely broad term, particularly since the policy warns that “real or perceived power differentials . . . may create an unintentional atmosphere of coercion.’’ As FIRE has noted, a popular varsity athlete may face a presumption of coercion in any relationship with a fellow student.

Meanwhile, women, the default victims in the Duke policy, are presumed passive and weak-minded: Goddess forbid they should take more than minimal responsibility for refusing unwanted sex. In one of the policy’s hypothetical scenarios, a woman tells her long-term boyfriend she’s not in the mood, but then “is silent’’ in response to his continued non-forcible advances; if he takes this as consent and they have sex, that is “sexual misconduct.’’ Why she doesn’t tell him to stop remains a mystery.

The man’s behavior may be inconsiderate. However, adult college students have no more of a right to be protected from such ordinary pressures in relationships than, say, from being cajoled into buying expensive gifts for their significant other.

On April 20, I received an email from my occasional sparring partner Barry, a.k.a. Ampersand, of Alas, a Blog.  Sayeth Barry (posted here with his kind permission): Continue reading

92 Comments

Filed under academia, feminism, rape, sexuality, women

My latest on (oh no!) Sarah Palin

She’s not the savior of conservatives.

And she’s not nearly as much a victim of the “liberal media” as her defenders make her out to be (at least if we’re talking about the mainstream media; there has been some incredible nastiness on left-wing blogs, though at least no one that I know of tried to claim that she left a trail of bodies in her wake).  About the mockery of her religion: yes, it was suggested with no real evidence that she believes the dinosaurs lived 5,000 years ago (it’s actually unknown whether she’s a creationist or not; she does support the teaching of both “intelligent design” and evolution in public schools).  However, I do think she got off rather easy on her connection to a witch-hunting African pastor (I suspect for two reasons: one, bringing up a wacko pastor connection would have inevitably called up the ghost of Jeremiah Wright; two, it might have seemed somewhat un-PC to make too much fun of a crazy pastor from Africa and his looney medieval beliefs).

Is it possible that in a few years Palin will reinvent herself as a brilliant candidate?  Perhaps; F. Scott Fitzgerald notwithstanding, there are second acts in American life.  But it would have to be one hell of a second act.  And if it is, I’ll gladly eat my words.  As I said in the article, and in other venues, I think there is definitely a place and a need for a conservative/libertarian/individualist feminsm that embraces female strength, femininity, family, and small government — and for the kind of female leadership Palin could have provided if she had lived up to her billing.

54 Comments

Filed under feminism, Sarah Palin, U.S. politics, women

LA trip update

I came back from LA Monday morning with a dead laptop, due to an unfortunate accident involving the spillage of a very small quantity of coffee.  (Why don’t computer manufacturers do a better job with protective covers or skins for keyboards if they’re that fragile?)  Because of that, and a bit of a crunch related to Obama’s upcoming trip to Moscow, I have yet to do a write-up on the domestic violence conference (all I can say is, it was a great event).

For those interested, here are several reports from Glenn Sacks:

‘Many female perpetrators are put in battered women’s shelters instead of batterers’ treatment programs’

‘Nobody will deal with violent couples, only men’

‘I asked abusive men’s wives if they’d been violent and got a lot of grief for it from the DV establishment’

Batterers’ treatment provider: ‘Nothing makes the therapeutic relationship more difficult than disrespect’

‘The violence really began in our family about 10 days after Ruth realized that she had all the power’

Leave a comment

Filed under domestic violence, gender issues, men, women

Fathers and “paternalists”

About a month ago, I had an op-ed in The Boston Globe about the rise of single motherhood and what it means for fathers — ironically, at a time when equal parenting as an ideal has been making a lot of inroads.  A couple of days later, there followed this commentary from Shannon LC Cate on the Strollerderby parenting blog.  I meant to reply to it sooner, but first I was busy with other things and then I decided to put it off until Father’s Day.  So, here is it.

Ms. Cate’s post is titled “Unwed Motherhood on the Rise; Paternalists on the Warpath.”  Evidently, to point out that in general, children are better off having a father (and that, among other things, the glorification of the mother-child family unit takes us back to the not-very-feminist notion of child-rearing as women’s work) is to be a “paternalist on the warpath.”

Continue reading

20 Comments

Filed under fatherhood, feminism, gender issues, men, motherhood, women

Barack and the women, Part II

My column on the “women’s issues” part of Obama’s Cairo speech is here.

See also this excellent piece by Christopher Hitchens on Slate.com on the same topic.

Leave a comment

Filed under Barack Obama, feminism, gender issues, Islam, Muslims, women

Barack and the women

As I said in my previous post, I had a largely positive reaction to Obama’s Cairo speech.  However, I agree with David Frum’s criticsm of Obama’s comments about women’s rights — which should have been a key part of an “outreach to Muslims” speech.  In contrast to Obama’s strong affirmation of the principles of democracy, his discussion of women’s issues and Islam was too general, too weak, and afflicted with excessive even-handedness.  (Contrary to what many readers on Reason.com’s Hit & Run blog believe, I am not really a champion of indiscriminate moral equivalence.)

Here is the passage in its entirety: Continue reading

15 Comments

Filed under Barack Obama, feminism, gender issues, Islam, Muslims, women

More about gender differences and competition

One of the truisms of the neo-paleo-conventional wisdom on gender is that women are less competitive than men. They choose non-competitive activities when given a choice, and don’t enjoy competition the way men do when they have to compete. They particularly don’t like to compete against men.

So, is it true?

A couple of interesting studies casting doubt on this proposition:

Gender differences in preferences for competition may have a large cultural component. Among the Khasi, a matrileneal and quasi-matriarchal culture in India, women are more likely than men to select competitive tasks and environments.

Women’s competition aversion may also be peculiar to activities in which men are commonly perceived to excel more than women. In other words, it may be related to “stereotype threat.”

Is this the final word? Does this prove that there are no inherent differences between men and women in level of (and enjoyment of) competitiveness? No, of course not. It’s just an interesting challenge to conventional wisdom.

2 Comments

Filed under competition, men, sex differences, women