Latest posts by Kate Harveston (see all)
- Why Can’t Abusive Men Just Straight-Up Apologize? - January 29, 2018
- The Distortion of “Strong Female Roles” in the Media - January 10, 2018
- What Are the Best Career Fields for Women Trying to Avoid the Pay Gap? - November 29, 2017
With every election comes a change in policy. This means that some people start to benefit from new changes and others begin to suffer. It happens every four to eight years on varying levels of impact.
It has become increasingly clear that women are not a demographic expected to benefit from the current administration’s policies.
You probably know that Betsy DeVos was picked by the Trump administration to be Secretary of Education. Her business background had the country weary of her leadership of the education department, and her first big action as Secretary proved those fears to be right. She immediately began to prioritize giving men who are charged with sexual assault a louder voice by working on tearing apart important Title IX protections put in place in 1972. What’s worse? She did so by working with men’s activist groups, commonly referred to as MRAs. Here’s why that’s such a terrifying problem.
They Technically Already Have a Voice
When someone is charged with sexual assault, they have all the same rights as any other citizen when faced with charges. They have a right to a lawyer and a right to free speech, which means they can speak up for themselves with the guidance of their lawyer. Equally, the assault victim can do the same, which means that the work that Betsy DeVos has begun isn’t introducing anything new.
Title IX essentially provides men and women the same protection from sex discrimination under federal law. This means that in sexual assault cases in particular, the female victims must be given the same level of investigation as a male victim would. After decades of implementation, DeVos is questioning this title because she’s concerned that the men who are accused aren’t getting fair treatment.
She’s Just Making Things Worse
At the end of September, she announced plans to specifically withdraw the guidance that Title IX provides on how to deal with sexual assault cases on campuses. Not only would this revert campuses back to guidelines they followed fifty years ago, it would also grant a voice and significantly more validation to MRAs.
Let me be clear — when I refer to MRAs, I’m referring to the men’s rights activists who are known for not actually being active for any kind of societal progress for men at all. Their movement was inspired not out of oppression, but purely out of child-like retaliation to feminists.
If you visit the main website of the feminist movement, you’ll find resources explaining actual issues like the gender wage gap or loss of reproductive rights. In contrast, the most popular website for the men’s rights movement, a site founded by well-known misogynist Paul Elam called A Voice for Men, is basically a website dedicated to bashing on every aspect of the female existence, and even goes as far as to defend sexual predators who have over 30 accusers and counting. They have nothing listed that they’re fighting for because they aren’t really being denied any rights. They’re just a bunch of pissed off sexists who need a place to let off steam.
If Title IX Goes, What’s Next?
MRAs having a forum to type out their testosterone-riddled gripes about women, although gross to watch unfold, is not the issue. Betsy Devos has turned to these people to give them actual political power and voices. They’re no longer a bunch of anonymous idiots hiding behind screen names — they’re at the forefront of a conversation that could change the lives of millions of collegiate women.
For women everywhere, it’s terrifying to see not just someone in power, but a woman in power, giving the “men’s rights movement” a voice. This issue doesn’t even come down to politics. While it’s easy to assume that the right supports Devos and the left does not, there’s actually a large number of people who are mixed, and many Republicans have denounced Devos as being incompetent.
Actually, many people on the right disapprove of her work entirely. From a legal standpoint, by removing the sexual assault protections of Title IX, people involved no longer have to get lawyers or go to court. For one Republican columnist who supports getting rid of the title, this immediate change dampens her support.
No matter what ends up happening to Title IX under DeVos, it begs us to ask the question: what happens next? If she’s unwilling to stand besides sexual assault victims and fight for them, what else will she do to roll back on rights that women have had to fight for? It’s a scary thought, and the reality will likely be facing us soon.
And as far as MRAs go, they should really only have one place — the internet — although I wish they didn’t even have that. But they’re allowed to think what they like and say what they please.
However, because their claims are unfounded and they have no solid evidence to back up their beliefs, they definitely do not belong in any form of government. Especially the judicial system. That should go without saying, but here we are having to talk about it. And is Betsy DeVos listening? Probably not, but I guess only time will tell.