College Confidential

What all freshman (and their parents) should know about entering higher ed.

"Nonconsensual Sex": A Rape by Any Other Name

Is sexual violence a crime or a failed negotiation?

Well over a year ago, I wrote about the hookup culture and the context of sexual aggression, with specific reference to Yale University and the events that prompted a Title IX investigation.  It was more than appalling to discover, all these months later, that Yale’s Report of Complaints of Sexual Misconduct has a new way of photoshopping and defanging sexual violence by calling it “nonconsensual sex.”  Should we be calling enbezzlement “unauthorized borrowing?”  Or call assault “ a pre-emptive attack?”  Or kidnapping “detention without agreement?”  As preposterous as those suggestions are,  they are politically correct ( in the sense that you are, after all, considered innocent until proven guilty so shouldn’t we be getting rid of those damning terms?), blur the lines between victim and victimizer, and are generally more even-handed in precisely the same way as calling rape or other acts of sexual coercion “nonconsensual sex.”  After all, it worked with “friendly fire” and “collateral damage” for the military, didn’t it?

Worse still, it’s not just the nomenclature that signals that nothing at all has changed at Yale —boola boola, a football field isn’t the only place a Yalie gets to roll up a score —but what actually happens to a student who commits an act of what the University calls “sexual misconduct.”   I’m going to quote directly from the Yale report since, as a friend of mine is fond of saying, you can’t make this s**t up, and then offer a real-world translation of truth and consequences. (YC stands for Yale College. UWC stands for University-wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct.) 

 

  • A YC student reported that a male YC student had nonconsensual sex with her.  The complainant filed a formal complaint with the UWC alleging that the respondent, in the context of an intimate relationship,  engaged in certain nonconsensual acts during otherwise consensual activity.

Translation:  she was either overpowered or intimidated to perform sexual acts which she wasn’t comfortable with or which might have been degrading.  The UWC found these allegations to be true.

What happened:  He was given a written reprimand, was “restricted” from contacting the complainant and, I am quoting, “was encouraged to seek counseling for anger management.”

 

Translation:  Wow.  That’ll teach him about domestic violence.  And I’m sure he’s dealing with his anger management issues pronto.  And, in case you were wondering, that reprimand is filed in the deans’ office’s file but will disappear when he graduates.

Consequences:  No biggie as they say, for the guy at least.  The young woman has learned something else about consequences.

Lesson:  Boys will be boys.  It’s the testosterone, stupid.

  • A YC student reported that a male YC student had nonconsensual sex with her.  The Title IX Coordinator and the Chair of the UWC informed the complainant about the options for formal and informal resolution and she declined to pursue the matter at this time.  Noneless, the Title IX Coordinator met with the respondent and counseled him on appropriate conduct.

Update: The complainant subsequently filed a formal complaint with the UWC.  The UWC found sufficient evidence to support the allegation.  The respondent was given a written reprimand.

Translation: A young woman is raped.  She feels all the things rape victims feel which include shame, self-blame, and fear.  She is probably afraid of consequences, both social and otherwise, if she pursues a formal complaint.  She then decides that she has to take action and does, despite the fact that she knows this information will, inevitably, become public, and that people will take sides and gossip.

What happened:  The young man was given a written reprimand.  If he watches his p’s and q’s during the remainder of his time at Yale, he’s good to go.

Consequences:  See above.  The consequences for the young woman are enormous; she has been told by the University that rape is punished by not even as much as a slap on the wrist and that what happened to her isn’t important enough to warrant any real action. 

Lesson:  Violence against women is okay.  Don’t even bother complaining since no one cares. Women are less important than men.  Fill in whatever else you would like.

  • A YC student brought a formal complaint to the UWC that two YC students had engaged in nonconsensual sex with her.  The UWC found a violation of the University’s sexual misconduct policy.  Written reprimands were isssed to the respondents and measures were taken to limit the contact between the parties.

Translation:  A young woman was sexually violated by two young men.  She has to live on the same campus with them, even attend classes with them, and —unless they do it again and are actually charged — graduate with all the perqs a Yale degree bestows.  The University’s disciplinary actions, though, pretty much guarantee that the universal under-reporting of acts of sexual violence will doubtless continue or even increase.  Why bother?

Words fail me here so I’ll just type “speechless.”

If you haven’t read enough, here’s a link: http://provost.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/FINAL_Jul2013_Report_Sexual_Misconduct_Complaints_7-31-13.pdf

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 http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/tech-support/201203/dudes-and-sluts-the-context-sexual-aggression

 

Copyright © 2013 Peg Streep

 

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