Systemic sexism cracking under #MeToo

We’re in a #metoo cultural moment that’s removing blinders about systemic sexism. Let’s look at how we got here and explore what comes next. If we do that honestly, feelings come up — anger, embarrassment, shame, regret. There’s probably not one of us who doesn’t wish we had understood things better earlier, hadn’t gone along with some of the sexist confines of our culture, had behaved differently in particular situations, or had been heard by others sooner. This goes for both men and women. It’s important to recognize these feelings, and equally important to channel them into positive action. Anyone […]

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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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National Lawyers Guild honors Title IX shero

Like many of today’s undergraduates who have spoken up about sexual assaults and harassment on college campuses, a sense of outrage drove Pamela Price  to complain to Yale University officials after a male faculty member offered her an A grade in exchange for sex. Implying, of course, that he’d lower her grade if she didn’t submit. Her final grade: C. But that was in 1976, and the grade wasn’t the end of the story. Price and her allies filed the first legal complaint against sexual harassment under Title IX. Their years-long legal battle — known initially as Alexander v. Yale before the court reduced it to […]

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Hunting Ground documentary in crosshairs of history

The San Francisco Chronicle published my op-ed article about women finding their voices to speak out against sexual assault and harassment on campuses. It’s online now; look for it in print on Thursday, Nov. 19. This Sunday, Nov. 22, CNN will televise the documentary The Hunting Ground about the handling of sexual assaults at colleges and universities. You can watch or record it at 5 p.m. Pacific time (8 p.m. Eastern), followed by a discussion panel featuring the filmmakers and others. Director Kirby Dick and Producer Amy Ziering (creators of the Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated documentary The Invisible War) took some heat […]

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Uppity women changing UC Santa Barbara

A nearly 13-hour sit-in by female students and their supporters at the University of California, Santa Barbara produced promises of change from the administration, providing an example of how far we’ve come and how far we’ve yet to go under Title IX. The sit-in happened just as I was watching the 1999 documentary A Hero for Daisy about a dramatic 1976 protest by female students at Yale University who stripped off their clothes in an administrator’s office to reveal “Title IX” or “IX” written in bold letters on their chests and backs. Their leader, Chris Ernst, then read a statement of grievances […]

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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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Taking the mystery out of obtaining consent

I’m wondering how the new “affirmative consent” standard adopted by California in 2015 and by an increasing number of colleges around the country is working out so far. It basically says that a college student must obtain consent from an awake, sober person before having sex, or risk having that sex be considered an assault. It doesn’t sound too complicated to me, but some people seem to think so. Here’s an excellent explanation from blogger Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess, who brilliantly says, “If you’re still struggling, just imagine instead of initiating sex, you’re making them a cup of tea.” The rest is […]

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