A feminist administrator has finally admitted what many men and women who have woken up to the abuses of Title IX have known for a while: It was always intended as a weapon against men.
Diane Davis, chair of the department of rhetoric at the University of Texas-Austin, had signed onto a letter defending New York University professor Avital Ronell, a well-known feminist and lesbian, from accusations of sexual harassment. As The Daily Wire previously reported, feminists rushed to back one of their own after she faced accusations of sexual misconduct from a former student. They even went so far as to impugn the motives of the accuser, a gay male, using the same tactics they would otherwise condemn if the accuser were a woman and the accused were a man.
But Davis went a step further when she responded to a New York Times inquiry.
“I am of course very supportive of what Title IX and the #MeToo movement are trying to do, of their efforts to confront and to prevent abuses, for which they also seek some sort of justice,” Davis wrote in an email to the Times. “But it’s for that very reason that it’s so disappointing when this incredible energy for justice is twisted and turned against itself, which is what many of us believe is happening in this case.”
Turned against itself? Title IX is gender neutral, so how can it be “turned against itself”?
Before quoting Davis, Times reporter Zoe Greenberg paraphrased Davis’ comments about the letter she and her colleagues signed.
“Diane Davis, chair of the department of rhetoric at the University of Texas-Austin, who also signed the letter to the university supporting Professor Ronell, said she and her colleagues were particularly disturbed that, as they saw it, Mr. [Nimrod] Reitman was using Title IX, a feminist tool, to take down a feminist.” (Emphasis added.)
Reitman is the gay man who accused Ronell.
A quote from Dana Bolger, co-founder of Know Your IX, followed Davis’ in the Times article.
“I would say that the vast majority of Title IX cases are protecting male victims from male perpetrators, or female victims from male perpetrators,” Bolger said.
Greenberg also paraphrased Bolger as saying, “Title IX was intended to address a long history of sexual harassment and assault of women at school.”
Title IX, as written, is gender neutral. It states, in 37 words: “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.”
Of course, the statute has never been used in a gender-neutral way. From the beginning, it was used to ensure women had the same opportunities as men to participate in sports. When that was achieved, but women didn’t sign up for sports at the same rate as men, Title IX became a cudgel to accuse schools of discriminating against women somehow. Brown University was sued in the early 1990s, and the argument was, even though the university provided women more opportunities than men to participate in sports, discrimination was somehow taking place because women weren’t signing up. As Jessica Gavora wrote of the court ruling in the Wall Street Journal back in 2015:
The responsibility of the school wasn’t to provide equal opportunity to participate in sports — it was to educate women to be interested in sports. In effect the ruling said that Brown women didn’t know what they wanted. They only thought they were dancers or actors or musicians. They had to be taught that they were really athletes. They didn’t know what was good for them but the government did.
This lawsuit prompted the federal government, by way of the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, to issue a “clarification” that schools must achieve gender parity in sports participation, not just in opportunity. Schools still couldn’t get enough women to sign up, so they began cutting men’s sports to achieve the parity.
Over the following years, court rulings on Title IX morphed it into what it is today, what Bolger claimed it always was. Now Title IX – those 37 words – refers to protecting women from sexual assault, because women are the primary accusers and men are the primary accused. Schools allegedly sweeping sexual assault reports under the rug were committing discrimination by creating hostile environments that kept women – the accusers – from fully participating in their education. No one seemed to imagine that false accusations would then primarily affect men, so setting up campus kangaroo courts designed to find men responsible was also keeping one sex from fully participating in their education.
For her part, Bolger went on Twitter to clarify her statements from the Times article. Her actual quote is true, even if it may only be true because women are encouraged to see normal sexual interactions as assault while men are not. She began by acknowledging “that the quality of somebody’s scholarship has absolutely nothing to do with whether they harass their students.”
She continued her 7-tweet thread by reminding her followers that men also fall under the law’s protection.
Further, she stated that the positions of authors of the letter “shouldn’t be attributed to every feminist everywhere, many of whom vehemently disagree with them.”
She concluded her tweet storm by fixing her error and writing that Title IX wasn’t “initially intended to protect people from harassment. Feminist lawyers won that interpretation in the courts over decades.”
And she suggested a continued fight to change the law “to better respond to the harms people suffer.”
The law should have never needed to be “changed,” since it was always gender neutral and simple. As the courts and politicians got involved, it became twisted and discriminatory against men. The statements and defense of Professor Ronell prove that.
Even if, as Bolger says, many feminists disagree with those defending Ronell, they have stood silent – remaining complicit – as Title IX has been used to deny men their constitutional rights.