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Embrace gender equality movement

| Monday, October 13, 2014

This is a response to Matthew D’Emic’s Oct. 10 letter, “Embrace the Men’s Rights Movement.” D’Emic argues that feminism “is concerned with the elevation of women at the expense of men,” which he supports with some gender-based statistics. However, based on the definition that the feminist movement advocates economic, social and political gender equality, D’Emic’s evidence is insufficient for discrediting feminism.

D’Emic, speaking on behalf of college men, states, “every night we go out we must be exceptionally careful of our actions. We can do our best to try and attain consent, but from a legal standpoint, any level of intoxication is enough to void any consent we thought we had received.” Whenever I, a female college student, go out, I must be exceptionally careful of not only my own, but everyone else’s actions as well.  Statistically, one in every four college-aged women has been a victim of sexual violence (oneinfourusa.org). Unless a woman clearly and clear-mindedly gives consent, then she has not given consent. If someone questions whether or not he has a woman’s consent, legally or otherwise, then he should assume that she hasn’t given consent. This means that if a woman cannot actively give consent due to intoxication, then that’s it — there is no consent — end of story. If you know that a woman is intoxicated and you know that, by law, she cannot give consent due to her mental state, then why would you even “try and attain consent?”

Moving on, D’Emic continues to list the consequences of such an action “when convicted,” including expulsion and jail time. By definition, when one is convicted, they have been declared “guilty of a criminal offense by the verdict of a jury or the decision of a judge in a court of law” (New Oxford American Dictionary). Thus, conviction necessitates legal guilt. Additionally, universities tell their students upon admission that conviction of a crime can warrant expulsion. These consequences are public information. If one wishes to avoid them, he or she should avoid committing the crime in the first place.

D’Emic expresses concerns about false allegations of rape. He references a study by Eugene Kanin that “demonstrated that 50 percent of rape allegations could be false and have estimated that 56 percent of those false allegations are filed as some sort of alibi.” According to the study, it was conducted in a “small metropolitan community” in which 49 out of 109 rape allegations were false — which is 41 percent, not 50. When the yearly average of sexual assault victims falls at 237,868 (rainn.org), a sample size of 109 cases over nine years is hardly representative of a large number of sexual assault cases.

Nevertheless, even if the accusation is false, accused offenders in sexual assault cases are rarely convicted. In fact, 60 percent of sexual assault cases are not reported to the police. Of the 40 percent of cases that are reported, only a quarter lead to an arrest and less than a tenth lead to conviction and time in jail. Overall, 97 percent of rapists will never spend a day in jail (www.rainn.org).

Other “male issues” include the slower learning rates of men and the decreasing male population in college, statistics that D’Emic claims to have found on Collegestats.org. I visited this site and read an article titled, “Why Men Are Falling Behind in Higher Ed.” One explanation given in the article is “men make up only 44 percent of college applicants. Colleges can’t accept students who don’t apply.” Moreover, “[o]f those who do enroll, only two-thirds of men do so right after high school, and less than half chose a four-year school… [R]esearch also suggests that men simply put less value on college than women do.” At no point in the article did I read that men did not have the opportunity to receive a higher education. Again, feminism does not insist that women take opportunities away from men for themselves, but that men and women both have equal opportunities. Men have to make their own decisions to attend college, just as women do.

D’Emic also mentions that “50 percent of restraining orders are given without any allegation of physical abuse and that 70 percent of all restraining orders are false.” A restraining order, by definition, is “a temporary court order issued to prohibit an individual from carrying out a particular action, esp. approaching or contacting a specified person” (New Oxford American Dictionary). This does not require physical abuse, nor should it. If anyone, be it a man or a woman, feels so uncomfortable that they need legal protection from another person, then he or she should be able to receive it, regardless of gender. On another note, I am not sure how a legal document could be “false.”

The source of D’Emic’s primary concern is found in the HeForShe Commitment, which states, “Gender equality is not only a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue that requires my participation. I commit to take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls.” Yet, D’Emic lists that “boys are five times more likely [than girls] to end up in juvenile detention,” as another “male issue.” If more males were to take action against violence faced by women, as asked for in the HeForShe Committment, this statistic would certainly decrease. Furthermore, those boys are not put in juvenile detention just because they are boys, but because they have been convicted of a crime; there is a difference.

Finally, D’Emic points out alarming rates of suicide and homelessness among the male population. These are human rights issues in themselves that need to be dealt with by both men and women for both men and women. It is a human rights violation for people to live with no shelter and no sense of safety. However, it is impossible for the homeless to overcome poverty or the depressed to overcome suicidal tendencies alone, just as gender equality is not possible without the participation of both genders.

Some of D’Emic’s evidence does show that there is a need for societal change, but it does not support the idea that feminism is not concerned with male problems or that feminism doesn’t need men to take action. If we want to live in a world where women do not have to fear rape, where men do not have to fear false accusations of sexual assault, where men’s education is valued just as much as women’s education, where boys are not expected to be aggressive and women are not expected to be submissive, then we have to work together.

Problems that affect men affect society, and society, in turn, affects both men and women. Until people begin to see that, we cannot make progress towards gender equality.

Jenna Wilson


Saint Mary’s College

Oct. 9

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