It was an absolute shock to victims and students across the U.S. when Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spoke at George Mason University about the changes she hoped to make to parts of Title IX regarding sexual assault. She discussed how the Obama administration had “failed too many students,” referring to the sexual-assault and rape policies. I guess the Women’s Marches weren’t enough to communicate to DeVos that sexism and misogyny still reign in our society today.
Being a feminist, I can fully attest to the sorrow, anger and disappointment after hearing her words. Institutions have been dealing with this type of behavior for years. Most of time, the accused end up getting a mere slap on the wrist, as evidenced by the cases of Brock Turner, Jameis Winston and the Baylor University football team. Petrified victims who are forever-changed by what happened to them are now being encouraged further not to pursue help from their institutions. According to social scientists, only 2 to 10 percent of accused rapes are false. If the statistics are so low, why bother changing laws to help the accused? Does Trump’s administration not realize that this type of behavior is one the many reasons why victims who are in search of help are so reluctant to seek protection and justice from the law? DeVos, a person who was appointed to lead the country in education, is now insinuating that safety is no longer in the hands of schools and institutions.
During her speech at the university, she stated that “one rape is one too many,” but continued to discuss the mistreatment and horror that accused rapists go through at schools around the country. She also went on to compare different institutions sexual-assault protocol to “kangaroo courts,” obviously showing her ignorance and naivety. If the point of her speech was to reinforce the white-male elite society, she hit the nail on the head.
Victims of sexual assault are strong. They should know they are never alone and should be allowed to seek help from authority figures at their schools. Taking away a safe place is another step toward dictatorship and isolation.