The recent saga at Yale University — regarding a complaint to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights by a group of female Yalies that the University “has failed to eliminate a hostile sexual environment on campus” — reminds me of the brouhaha over comments made by former Harvard University president Larry Summers.
When Summers suggested the under-representation of women in the top levels of science and engineering may be due to a “different availability of aptitude at the high end,” his feminist colleagues hammered him until he resigned – even though Summers actively sought ways to encourage more women to pursue these areas of study.
That’s how feminists operate — they’re bullies. As a result, colleges and universities (along with businesses and government) are forced to spend shocking amounts of time and money pacifying this powerful group of Americans. If allegations of a hostile sexual environment on Yale’s campus come to fruition, the University stands to lose billions of dollars in federal funding.
What are the details of the charge?
According to the complaintants and their lawyers, Yale has failed to “effectively address” various incidents of sexual misconduct which “has allowed a hostile sexual environment to persist on campus” that, in turn, has “limited Yale women’s equal access to educational opportunities.” The most publicized incident took place on October 13, 2010, when a group of Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity pledges chanted “No means yes! Yes means anal!” outside Old Campus, where female freshman reside.
As a result of this complaint, the Office for Civil Rights is currently investigating whether or not Yale is in violation of Title IX. Title IX is the controversial section of the Education Amendments of 1972, which is a simple, straightforward federal law requiring that schools and colleges receiving federal funds not discriminate “on the basis of sex.”
Sounds like benign legislation, but for years feminists have manipulated Title IX to belabor their argument that women are victims. Take college sports. Under Title IX, the ratio of female athletes is supposed to match the ratio of female students. To feminists, this would prove gender equality. Yet adherence to this absurd demand has created a nightmare for universities whose male and female students don’t sign up for sports teams in equal numbers.
It is equally absurd to lean on Title IX to prove sexual harassment. Doing so blurs the line between genuine sexual assault, which should be taken up with the law, and offensive discourse. Indeed, the debacle at Yale implies women are so fragile they can’t handle being exposed to brutes who chant sexual innuendos. As discomforting as this may be for some women, it is a wholly different experience than being raped. And it most certainly does not require a federal investigation.
The issue is not whether boorish behavior on the part of college men should be tolerated — the issue is whether or not such behavior should have legal implications. Yale has done its part. In October, DKE frat boys were forced to apologize to the board members at the Yale Women’s Center. In addition, the president of DKE published an article in which he admits the chants were “inappropriate, disrespectful, and very hurtful to others.” Finally, the Yale Daily Bulletin published a statement by President Richard C. Levin and College Dean Mary Miller, who expressed shock and dismay over DKE’s “demeaning behavior.” Even a new committee, set to begin discussions on July 1st, has been formed to address the concerns regarding sexual misconduct on campus.
So what’s the lesson here?
That shouting sexual obscenities on campus should not be condoned by universities, but it does not constitute the legal definition of harassment. Calling in the Feds — as if we don’t have enough for them to do in the real world — is ridiculous. But it sure proves the power feminists wield.
Suzanne Venker is co-author of the new book The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know – and Men Can’t Say.