Misogynist Betsy DeVos To Use Title IX For Republicans’ War On Women

The religious Republican war on women was, although relentless, somewhat diminished during President Barack Obama’s 8-year tenure in the White House, but that firewall came to a screeching halt on January 21, 2017. It is an understatement to say Donald Trump is a misogynist of the first order, but no more so than the evangelicals he installed in his Cabinet.

Two of Trump’s evangelical department heads are mounting an attack on women in the form of assisting perpetrators of sexual assault to rape with impunity. In fact, it was announced recently that Trump’s unqualified evangelical Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is poised to do as she promised and roll back Title IX protections to better conform to what evangelical men believe is right and proper; free reign over women.

At issue for DeVos is “repealing and replacing” Title IX protections to make it more difficult for victims of rape get a semblance of justice on college campuses. Even before DeVos took aim at Title IX, a “leaked” Department of Justice (DOJ) memo issued exactly six days after evangelical misogynist Jeff Sessions was sworn in as attorney general sought to change policy to favor male sexual abusers.

The DOJ memo’s authors “expressed concern” over the inequities faced by male students accused of sexual assault; one particular “policy shift” should please every misogynist alive and women should be absolutely terrified. The disconcerting recommended changes is that going forward during rape and sexual assault cases:

Every complainant’s sexual history may be introduced at the hearing. Currently, questions about the complainant’s (victim’s) sexual history with anyone other than the accused perpetrator are not permitted.”

That memo by Sessions is old-school misogyny when no matter the circumstances, it was always a woman’s fault that she was raped and men were always victims. The DOJ memo to the Education Department states its purpose is to rectify Title IX’s “disparate and unfair treatment and impact on male students accused of sexual assault.” That so-called “disparate and unfair treatment of male students is an oft-cited complaint of men’s groups renowned for harassing rape victims; the same groups DeVos appealed to for guidance and direction in her effort to “repeal and replace” Title IX’s protection for women.

It is noteworthy, but typical of this administration, that the DOJ’s policy shift violates every state’s rape shield law going back to the 1970s. Those laws were enacted specifically to prevent a male defendant’s attorney from airing a rape victim’s entire sexual history to portray her as a “slut” that deserved what she got. The DOJ’s recommendation also violates the federal version of a rape shield law known as the Violence Against Women Act (1994). The DOJ memo’s purpose is clear: shame rape survivors or shut them up to protect male assailants.

The concept of protecting men accused of sexual assault is most likely high on DeVos’s to-do list in unilaterally “repealing and replacing” Title IX to conform to an evangelical misogynist’s worldview. She has complained, often bitterly, that Obama-era directives gave the Civil Rights office at the education department intrusive and overreaching authority; likely because it enforces civil rights and women’s protections on college campuses.

DeVos gave an indication of how she will “replace” Title IX civil right protections early in her tenure when she met first with anti-LGBTQ activists for advice and recommendations. A month later she reached out and met with several “men’s rights groups” that harass rape survivors for advice on how best to change Title IX to stop them from being treated unfairly when they were accused of sexual violence. That “advice” is likely why DeVos says she wants to “rescind Title IX protections for women survivors of sexual assault.

During a speech Thursday at George Mason University’s Law School, DeVos proudly announced that “the era of rule by letter is over.” The “letter” reference is to a “Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) that was an Obama-era directive focusing on “how sexual harassment creates a hostile educational environment” that was officially part of “the 2011 Title IX Guidance.” According to the directive, for the purpose of a Department of Education (DOE) investigation, “one single instance of sexual violence is sufficient to qualify as creating a hostile sexual environment” that warranted an investigation.

DeVos laid out three reasons she is “repealing and replacing” sections of Title IX and they obviously came directly from the “counsel and advice” the men’s rights groups offered when DeVos “reached out” for their direction and guidance. She said that going forward “The accused must know that guilt is not predetermined;” school administrators can no longer be judge, jury and executioner when determining “whether or not” sexual abuse “really happened.” And she intends on putting the brakes on the “Office for Civil Rights” division practice of what she claimed was “terrifying schools and overreaching.”

Although DeVos has not yet issued her “repeal and replacement” of Title IX, it is almost certain to be as great a gift to misogynists as it will be a vile curse against women; particularly those who are victims of sexual harassment and rape. Coupled with the Sessions’ DOJ memo reversing course on “rape shield laws” and the Violence Against Women Act, and DeVos’ stated reasons for abolishing sexual abuse protections for women, her “replacement” will be devastating for women.

It is probably true that some Americans feared a Trump administration would wage a ferocious war on women, and not solely because there is no longer a woman’s rights advocate in the Oval Office. For dog’s sake, Trump is a serial misogynist and an admitted “pussy-grabbing” sexual predator, and his appointment of evangelicals with a misogynist bent to run the Education and Justice Departments almost ensured that misogyny would be rewarded and women would be in serious trouble.

DeVos’ announcement and the leaked Sessions’ memo nearly guarantee that the religious Republican war on women is escalating into a full-scale assault on women. Sadly, President Obama isn’t around to stop the dirty misogynists. This is not going to turn out well for whatever progress women have made over decades of struggle and as usual it is all down to religious Republicans’ who revel in waging war on women.

DeVos Embraces Misogynists “To Advance God’s Kingdom” Against Women

Anyone remotely familiar with the Christian bible, or the evangelical faith, is aware the religious mythology is as steeped in misogyny as it is brutal and deadly punishment for non-compliance to its edicts. In fact, nearly all religions are misogynistic in varying degrees, but “all religions” aren’t the purview of public school enemy Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. She is a dyed-in-the-wool evangelical whose stated goal in decimating public education is using her cabinet level position to “advance god’s kingdom.”

Since advancing her evangelical god’s kingdom has to include advancing the bible’s misogynistic dogma, it was no surprise that DeVos reached out and invited to some decidedly misogynistic men’s groups, replete with accused rapists, for a meeting at the Department of Education; apparently for misogynists’ guidance on how best to deconstruct as much of Title IX as possible in as short amount of time as possible. The misogynists know this is the best chance they have to turn back the clock on women’s rights and no better advocate for their cause than an evangelical fanatic with a powerful cabinet position than DeVos.

Title IX is a federal law as part of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 that states:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”    

It is noteworthy that this is the second time DeVos “reached out” to evangelicals to address their biblically-informed discriminatory needs. The first time was less than three weeks ago when she invited, commiserated, and pledged support for evangelical anti-LGBTQ hate groups as part of her effort to “advance god’s kingdom.” Having assured the religious that she will use the Department of Education to assist their anti-LGBTQ discriminatory lust, she turned her attention to the men’s misogyny clubs.

There is little doubt that men’s misogyny clubs believes DeVos will aid them in putting women in their place as defined by the Christian bible; in subjection to a man’s will. It is apparent that DeVos wants to help the misogynists because they have been overtly critical of Title IX policies with a particularly rigorous bent toward those enacted to help colleges and universities staunch the epidemic of campus rape. The policies the “National Coalition for Men” want eliminated were put in place by real President, Barack Obama because although he is a Christian, he understands the need to protect women on college campuses from sexual assault.

The National Coalition for Men has been around since the 1970s as part of the so-called “men’s rights” movement. And like the name suggests, the coalition exists solely to promote misogynistic ideals and wage war against women and their struggle for equality. Obviously, women wanting equal rights is one of many mortal sins among the evangelical movement.

For an example of the group’s intentions and glaring animus towards women in general, and their fight for equal rights, on the group’s North Carolina website it offers legal guidance for rapists and publishes photographs of rape victims claiming they are liars. Of course the tactic serves one purpose; to warn rape victims that if they report an attack and rape, they will be publicly besieged, exposed and intimidated. The message to women is clear: if you are attacked and brutally raped, you stay silent or face more attacks from the men’s rights movement.

For an idea of the mindset of  the “men’s misogyny club,” five years ago it gave its overwhelming endorsement and support for the Republican House version of the Violence Against Women Act because it eliminated protections for the LGBTQ community. It has also been “lawsuit happy” any time it notices an event organized specifically for women.

For example, it sued a strip club for allowing women in free during a “ladies night” promotion, as well as suing a company for not allowing men to attend an event organized to assist women’s networking. The “coalition” president, Harry Crouch, regularly lashes out at women for surviving domestic abuse that he claims is always their fault. He also vehemently defended former football player Ray Rice after he knocked his then-fiancée unconscious in an elevator and dragged her out like so much refuse. According to Crouch:

If she hadn’t aggravated him, she wouldn’t have been hit. They [women] would say that’s blaming the victim. But I don’t buy it.”

There is a good reason the National Coalition for Men and several other anti-women’s groups were invited to meet with DeVos; she appears more than willing to rescind the Title IX protections for sexual assault survivors.

When she sat in her Senate confirmation hearing and lied like a good evangelical, she said it “would be premature” for her to commit to upholding the federal protections for women. She claimed her reluctance is based on “conflicting opinions” about the need to protect women on college campuses from sexual assault. Obviously the “conflicting opinions” include those of the misogynist men’s groups with glaring animosity towards women; especially “those” women who believe they have a right to equality in education, or wages, or voting rights, or the right not to be raped at all, much less with veritable impunity.

There is also hope among the misogynists that DeVos will do their bidding because she has made donations totaling $25,000 to another anti-woman’s group, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) that regularly publishes articles “dismissive of sexual assault survivors.” One article stated:

Much of the feminist ‘war on rape’ has conflated sexual assault with muddled, often alcohol-fueled, sexual encounters that involve miscommunication.”

It is a typically male rape culture ploy to excuse sexual attacks, and as far as “involving miscommunication;” that is code for the attacker not accepting the word “no, please stop, don’t rape me.”

No matter what DeVos’ particular religious bent might be, it is abominable that she is using her cabinet position to “legitimize” hate groups whether it is anti-LGBTQ hate or misogynist groups fervently dedicated to “defending rapists, attacking female victims of sexual assault, and promoting the conspiracy theory that domestic violence is exaggerated.” But that abomination is exactly what the hateful evangelicals who put Trump in the White House expected as remuneration for their votes. Now with an evangelical monster like DeVos running the Education Department, those abominations are only going to get more ardently biblical; something anyone familiar with the Christian bible knows will be brutal.

Image: Elizabeth Brockway/Daily Beast

Trump’s Sexual Assault Talk Epitomizes Why Rape Culture Thrives

 

One of the benefits of a nation that welcomes people from around the world is that there are many diverse cultures that make up what it means to be an American. It is a sad fact of life, though, that there is one specifically prevalent culture in America that targets one major demographic and because Donald J. Trump is the Republican candidate for the presidency, rape culture is now front and center if the media would make it a national issue.

In its most basic form described by a very simple definition, “rape culture is the normalization of sexual assault in a society.” Another definition is “a culture in which rape and other sexual violence (usually against women) are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media condone, normalize, excuse, or encourage sexualized violence.”

That definition fairly explains all of the horrendous “rape apologists” rushing to defend or excuse the sexist Republican candidate for president. And it describes the American social norm perpetuating the idea that women are sexual objects, and that sexual objectification is simply a fact of life; so there is nothing “wrong” with Donald Trump’s behavior, or nasty “rape” talk. It is talk that perpetuates rape culture primarily because when it occurs no-one challenges the attitude the Trump-types exude when talking about women.

Trump’s talk was not locker room chatter, not in any typical locker room, and not the kind of talk normal locker room men would comport or allow to go unpunished. However, it is the kind of talk prevalent among a certain class of males; males that feel entitled due to wealth, family name, power, connections or celebrity. Remember, it wasn’t just Trump’s claim that he could “move on” or “grab” the genitals of any woman he wanted and do anything his perverted mind dreamed up, it was his justification that because he is rich, a “star” celebrity, and powerful that he and his class are entitled to “the right” to sexually assault women. It is not unlike the reasoning television celebrity Bill Cosby used to explain away his years of sexually assaulting young women. And in Donald Trump’s case it excused his assaults on his wives, strangers on airplanes, beauty pageant workers and women sitting in bars.

The truth is that if men like Trump were challenged, or beaten to within an inch of their perverted lives, when they boast about their sexual predation bona fides, that culture may cease being an attractive option for men like Trump. When Trump boasted to Billy Bush about his unwanted advances on unsuspecting women, Bush should have at least feigned outrage and besmirched Trump’s character and told him what a real man would do if Trump acted like an animal around a woman. Instead, he laughed in apparent agreement and encouragement leading one to wonder if he didn’t “high five” Trump for his “achievement;” he certainly wasn’t appalled like any decent human being.

The rape culture is perpetuated in many ways, but none more so than the “rape apologists” rushing to defend the perpetrators whether they are rich celebrities like Donald Trump, high school football stars carrying around an unconscious rape victim, rock celebrities or television stars. Of course there was no shortage of Trump defenders who excused his lewd description about how he commits sexual assaults according to the Justice Department definition.

It is exactly that kind of defense by his supporters and campaign surrogates using “creative excuses that normalize and minimize sexual assaults” That perpetuate and normalize rape culture. And it doesn’t matter who is guilty whether it is Donald Trump or any other male sexual predator. A despicable example was the co-chair of Trump’s New York campaign, Carl Paladino, who excused Trump’s remarks about sexually assaulting women as “something all men do, at least all normal men.” And according to rape culture, if it is “something that all normal men do” then it must be permissible in society and women who object must be sick, or at least they don’t really comprehend what “legitimate rape” entails. Yes, just uttering the words “legitimate rapeperpetuates America’s rape culture that sexual predators like Donald Trump thrive in.

There has always been a culture promoting rape in America simply because the nation is and always has been dominated by patriarchs that believe their “biblical superiorityover women excuses all manner of misogyny whether it is sexual assault, controlling women’s bodies, underpaying them, slut-shaming for using birth control or daring to come forward to unconcerned, mostly male, law enforcement to report a sexual assault.

In fact, another thing that makes rape culture “self-perpetuating” is that assaulted women are terrified to come forward and report their rapists out of fear of not being taken seriously or having “their characters ripped apart.” It is why so many victims stay silent to avoid having their motives questioned like Trump’s accusers or to avoid being accused of “asking for it.” As Laurel Raymond at Think Progress put it, “If we are to learn anything from Trump’s masterclass in rape culture, it’s that none of us [women] should keep quiet.”

If nothing else comes out of the revelation that Donald Trump is, by definition, a sexual predator and guilty of sexual assault according to his own words, it is possible that more Americans will become aware of rape culture and who is perpetuating it. It is true there are Republicans condemning Trump’s “remarks,” but one has to add that they are all the same Republicans guilty of perpetuating rape culture whether by slut-shaming contraception advocates or questioning the validity of a rape. It is something only a Republican still supporting Donald Trump is guilty of and as some people have noted are also guilty of wishing they were in Trump’s situation so they too could “move hard” on any woman with impunity because they are rich, famous or powerful.

Image: Gage Skidmore