Dear Vice President Biden,
During a White House meeting last Wednesday about rape culture on college campus, you said, “Men have to take more responsibility; men have to intervene. The measure of manhood is willingness to speak up and speak out, and begin to change the culture.”
I’m curious about two things. (1) Does this “speaking up and speaking out” that signifies manhood apply to all injustice? Or just the kind in which women are the victims? In other words, should men speak up about male injustice? (2) Are women culpable in any way when it comes to sex—on campus or anywhere else?
You used the word “responsibility” when referring to sexual liaisons and added this: “Our daughters, our sisters, our wives, our mothers, our grandmothers have every single right to expect to be free from violence and sexual abuse. No matter what she’s wearing, no matter whether she’s in a bar, in a dormitory, in the back seat of a car, on a street, drunk or sober — no man has a right to go beyond the word ‘no.’”
I agree, but this is where the word “responsibility” gets confusing. Few would argue that when it comes to forcible rape, and it’s perpetrated by a male, men should take responsibility. But what about all the other scenarios? The ones that are so murky neither you nor I honestly know what happened? Because those scenarios are the ones in abundance on today’s college campuses.
As I’m sure you know, the sex scene isn’t what it was in your day. In your day—heck, even in mine—men and women dated. They had relationships. Young people today don’t know even what that means. Or did you not get this week’s memo?
That’s largely because women no longer develop a relationship before having sex with a man. To prove their status as liberated women, they have sex “like a man”—so much so we now have a term for this new environment: the hook-up culture. This new dynamic between women and men can make it difficult, if not impossible, to determine who’s to blame when a sex act goes awry.
My question for you is: Why do you exempt women from all responsibility when their behavior is now identical to men’s? And why do you assume women are saying no and men are forcing themselves upon women anyway, when it’s just as likely—indeed, more likely—she said yes and changed her mind during the actual event, or even after the fact? And then cried rape the next day knowing full well the system is stacked in her favor?
Did you not know these things happen? Allow me to enlighten you.
The New White House report on rape and sexual assault ignores the growing problem of false allegations and relies on inflated rape statistics. Three peer-reviewed studies have found the rate of false accusations of rape to range from 41% to 60%, and a recent study of prisoners convicted on sexual assault charges found 15% of the cases lacked a DNA match to the victim. Your report was also released, ironically, just days after a Michigan judge sentenced Sarah Ylen to five years in prison for falsely accusing two men of raping her, labeling Ylen’s actions “diabolical.”
And now back to (1). I love the idea of encouraging people to speak up and out when they see injustice, but I only love it when it applies to both sexes. Here at Women for Men, we see male injustice everywhere—but your administration doesn’t. A great example is the fact that you and Obama have poured your energies into establishing a White House Council on Women and Girls but have yet to establish a White House Council on Boys and Men, despite a preponderance of evidence that shows males are suffering.
I know you’re only interested in justice for women since they voted you in, but here are the facts about the state of males in America today.
To remedy this grave problem, Dr. Warren Farrell put together a proposal for a White House Council on Boys and Men, and it’s my understanding it’s been languishing on some desk at the White House for two years. Why would that be? I thought you said the measure of manhood is the willingness to speak up and speak out. I can only conclude you mean men should speak up only when women are in trouble—but not when men are.
That must be what you mean because the alternative would mean your own manhood has now been called into question.
Editor’s note: This was originally published on Women For Men.