Punishing Women

A few days ago I wrote a post titled, Men, Shut Up. Now, just three days later, I can’t recall what exactly pushed me to write that. So many things have happened since then that have infuriated me and made me lost whatever had been the last straw then. So. Many. Straws.

The morning after I wrote that post I heard this piece on NPR on my way to school. This was the introduction:

The Trump administration is revamping rules on how colleges handle sexual misconduct cases. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says she’s correcting a system that’s stacked against the accused.

My inability to conceive of a ‘system that’s stacked against the accused’ is complete. I can’t even begin to picture it. It is so far from anything that has ever been known in our society (and most others) that it is simply unbelievable. The number of people who have committed “sexual misconduct” (and that’s a broad term) and walked away with no consequences is exponentially higher than the number who have actually had any sort of punishment or cost to their actions.

NPR reporter Tovia Smith interviewed Cynthia Garrett, co-president of Families Advocating for Campus Equality for this piece. As angry as it makes me to hear men dismiss sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, and rape, hearing a woman do it is even harder for me.

And here’s the point in the piece that nearly made me get in an accident or in some way wreck my car:

These are kids. I mean, they’re just learning how to negotiate the social world on campus. And they make mistakes. And I think this helps bring it down to reality. You know, let’s not be so easily offended.

From Cynthia Garrett

Those mistakes impact another person’s life for years to come. Quite possibly forever. And we’re upset that the person making those ‘mistakes’ might lose a semester of college or have to go to a different school?

Is it possible that under the Obama Department of Education rules we might see more men being punished and some men being punished when they did not do what is claimed? Certainly. I recognize that. We’re a country in which the death penalty is legal in many states and we know for a fact that we have executed people who were innocent. We’re okay with that but we’re not okay with this? It seems like the death penalty is a tad bit more of an issue if we know people are sometimes wrongly accused and found guilty.

I should also note that I am willing to accept some men being punished wrongly if it means we are punishing more men rightly. It sucks. Yes. It would be wonderful if we could figure out how to ensure we are only punishing people rightly. That would be ideal.

Instead, we’ve accepted that many, many men will get away with ‘sexual misconduct’ because we fear punishing even one wrongly. So many, many women are violated, traumatized, and permanently harmed because we can’t risk punishing any innocent man. We seem to be quite happy to punish women to avoid punishing men.


(I do realize that women can also be guilty of sexual misconduct of all sorts and that men are also victims of it. I’ve used genders in this way because it is the far more common occurrence.)

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