Title IX in the Age of Sexism
August 15, 2020
by Sean Kullman
When Title IX of the Education Amendments Act was established in 1972, few doubted it would rightly help women earn greater opportunities at colleges nationwide. Title IX meant opportunities in all sorts of areas of university life and subsequent careers. As college became the gateway to a better life, Title IX accelerated the number of women attending and graduating from colleges in an unprecedented fashion.
While women saw substantial increases in conferred degrees, men saw more incremental ones. A natural increase in population, a changing economy that focused on college degrees, a deemphasizing of the nuclear family, a desire to get more women into the work force, and groups like NOW contributed to government sympathies and government funding. As a result, women’s programs exploded. (By 1982, women surpassed men in all conferred-degrees and have continued to overshadow men by a significant margin. In 2017, there were 664,243 more female graduates than male graduates.)
The evolution of women's sports and increased funding and support for women's programs was a necessary and healthy product of Title IX.
Increasing support for NCAA women’s sports while simultaneously cutting men’s sports programs over decades is not the intention of Title IX. Women continue to receive a larger share of the academic scholarships. There are “4 times as many scholarships specifically designated for women as opposed to those for men.” (This does not include scholarships available to men and women that ultimately fall to more women). The Pell Grant System continues to award women $6 billion more each year in grants than men in undergraduate programs. The tangential impact of Title IX has disenfranchised millions of men, which is not the purpose of the act.
We must recognize, however, the important merits of Title IX and distinguish them from the elements of bureaucratic sexism that created an apparatus of insatiable expansion at the expense of boys and men and a disregard for the status of men on campuses nationwide. This problem is recognized in all areas of education, but offices such as Harvard’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response embody a growing problem with hysteria, sexism, and those exploiting Title IX.
Title IX and Sexual Assault
When Secretary Betsy DeVos’s new Title IX regulations went into effect on Friday, supporters of the decision saw it as a long overdue order needed to restore due process and other protections when universities respond to allegations of sexual assault and harassment.
For decades, universities used Title IX to promulgate the hysteria of rape-culture on college campuses and gained tens-of-millions of dollars in federal funding to expand departments and programs while simultaneously decreasing full-time faculty.
Procedures on college campuses became even more dismissive of due process after the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter. An already punitive system with a disregard for due process intensified and expanded into unprecedented territory. From cases as grand as the Duke Lacrosse Scandal in 2006 to the less recognized Dr. Robert Frodeman case, a history of Title IX tribunals operated with unprecedented overreach symbolized by a character like Dolores Umbridge in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, someone Rowling later confided was based on a real person who she saw as determined to "punish and to inflict pain, all in the name of law and order."
Dr. Heather Mac Donald (The Diversity Delusion) recognized the long history of hysteria associated with college rape-culture, referencing the flawed research of Mary Koss that appeared in a 1985 Ms. Magazine article as a precursor to much of the hysteria today. It wouldn't be the first time a Gloria Steinem related entity would sacrifice the rights of men for an ideological purpose. In The Boys Crisis by Warren Farrell, Dr. Farrell (a three time NOW Chair) discusses a pinnacle moment for the National Organization of Women movement. As Farrell and others agreed that children needed their mothers and their fathers, NOW leaders, against the wishes of people like Farrell, knowingly acted on the side of increasing membership at the expense of children's well-being. Steinem and others feared supporting equal parenting-rights would "undermine its political base" and drive membership away. Politics trumped equal rights and subverted the needs of children.
It's not the first time societal ethics have taken a back seat to organizational objectives. The game plan that started nearly 50 years ago remains an integral part of an ideology rooted in organizational dominance and not feminism, a distinction we must make as the tenets of feminism are best expressed by equality for all.
Laura Kipnis (Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus) knows all too well the structural problems and power grabs that are radicalizing universities and denying equal rights for some (a reason the Big 10 is facing sexual assault charges by male victims that has gone unrecognized by Title IX offices for decades) while taking great liberties to address benign issues at any cost.
Title IX must remain an integral part of the educational system, but it cannot become a mechanism of tribunals without due process, lack of protections, and a gender-biased platform run with an ideological precept instead of a truly legal process with protections for all parties. DeVos's changes are a step in the right direction and has garnered the support of conservatives, liberals, males, and females.