President Obama’s Silly Task Force on Campus Sexual Assault is Wholly Based on a Fiction

Photo by Charlotte Cooper

Photo by Charlotte Cooper

For City Journal, Heather Mac Donald writes:  President Obama has become “acutely” conscious of the “limits of his power,”reports the New York Times, obviously sharing the president’s sense of pathos. Modern-day expectations for government have become so unmoored from common sense that a federal bureaucracy of nearly 3 million employees, erupting daily in mandates and directives, can be portrayed with a straight face as inadequate to the presidency.

[Heather Mac Donald‘s book, The Burden of Bad Ideas: How Modern Intellectuals Misshape Our Society, is available at Amazon]

Leave aside Obamacare and the unilateral Dream Act. In the last few weeks alone, the White House has alerted the nation’s schools that disciplining black students at higher rates than whites will put them at risk of a federal lawsuit and has created a new federal task force to “protect [college] students from sexual assault.” Both initiatives are based on fictions—that black students are no more fractious in the classroom than whites and Asians (despite a homicide rate among black-male teens ten times that of other ethnic groups of the same age combined), and that female college students are experiencing a rape epidemic of unprecedented proportions. Delusional or not, these directives will increase litigation, bloat already gigantic public and private bureaucracies even more, wrench schools and colleges further from their educational mission, and harden the patently counterfactual ideology of victimization.

 [More Books by Heather Mac Donald

Typical of all such churnings of the advocacy-government complex, the school-discipline and sexual-assault initiatives are drearily familiar, representing longstanding bureaucratic obsessions. But Obama’s announcement of his overstuffed sexual-assault task force for once did contain something new and noteworthy: a brief invocation of the chivalric ideal. Before examining that break from tradition, it’s worth reviewing the boilerplate that preceded it.

The materials accompanying the new sexual-assault task force recycle the usual feminist claims about campus rape: an “estimated 1 in 5 women is sexually assaulted at college,” proclaims a White House press release. Such an assault rate would represent a crime wave unprecedented in civilized history. By comparison, the 2012 rape rate in New Orleans and its immediately surrounding parishes was .0234 percent; the rate for all violent crimes in New Orleans in 2012 was .48 percent. According to the White House Council on Women and Girls, “survivors” of this alleged campus sexual-assault epidemic “often” experience a life of depression, chronic pain, diabetes, anxiety, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

And yet, the crazed push on the part of mothers (and fathers) to get their daughters into this maelstrom of predation begins earlier and earlier each year. Parents in Manhattan pay tutors $200 an hour to prep their tots for the elite nursery school admissions tests, all with an eye to college. These are many of the same baby-boomer parents who refuse to vaccinate their children or feed them genetically modified foods based on wholly speculative risks. If the college experience were in fact the tsunami of violence that the feminists proclaim, leading to widespread emotional dysfunction—a dysfunction nowhere in evidence among increasingly dominant female college graduates—there would have been a stampede to create single-sex schools where girls could study in safety. Instead, college applications from girls rise each year, and the chance of admission at selective campuses drops further under the press of eager petitioners. At Yale alone, the target of an Obama administration Title IX probe into alleged indifference to rampant sexual assault, applications rose from 13,000 in 1996 to 27,000 in 2011. Somehow, word about Yale’s “unsafe” environment for girls is not getting out. Imagine, by contrast, that one in five college girls would merely have their iPhones stolen at knifepoint at some point during her college career. A wave of preventive strategies would have emerged, but nothing comparable has arisen in response to the alleged rape crisis…

Read the rest…

City Journal

Heather Mac Donald is a contributing editor of City Journal and the John M. Olin Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.


2 Comments on “President Obama’s Silly Task Force on Campus Sexual Assault is Wholly Based on a Fiction”


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