Title IX critics huddle up for special treatment

When I read complaints that Title IX enforcement goes too far in dealing with sexual assault on campus, I think of football. Not because this topic is a political football being tossed around in the court of public opinion, though there’s that. In the history of Title IX, today’s complainers of government “overreach” in dealing with sexual assaults have a lot in common with college football teams and other men’s sports, but especially football. What they want, it seems, is for people to realize that they’re special, and that they deserve special rules. The government more than once has bent over backwards […]

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Students as sexual predators: the norm?

What do Title IX, the comedian Betsy Salkind, and the new film The Hunting Ground have in common? A historical thread that’s about to change one sorry aspect of U.S. society. Finally. I hope. The Hunting Ground opens in cities across the United States this week and offers the possibility of a fundamental cultural shift toward accepting that non-consensual sex is an assault even if it’s done by a peer, like a student with a student, and that schools must not hide, tolerate, or condone it. At least, I think that’s what the film may point toward. I plan to see […]

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Name it to change it

(Video: Title IX expert Bernice Sandler on why words matter.) We swim in a sea of cultural assumptions. Norms surround us like the air we breathe, scarcely noticeable until we find them toxic, and then hard to explain to someone who isn’t feeling their poisonous effects. Parting the sea, cleaning the air of sexist assumptions takes time and effort, and even the cleaners may feel residual toxic effects. Women from the early history of Title IX have described to me insecurities from internalizing the sexism around them in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Bernice Sandler initially believed a colleague when he told […]

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37 words that inspired thousands

Bernice Sandler wanted to be a professor. Patsy Takemoto Mink hoped to be a doctor. Meg Newman wanted to play baseball in high school. Emma Sulkowicz just wanted to feel safe on her college campus. Thirty-seven words make those dreams possible today — too late for some of these women, but possible for millions of others, and only because people like Sandler, Mink, Newman, and Sulkowicz fought back when the people in charge told them to go away. These battles are not over. They’re in the news every day. Those 37 words make up Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, […]

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