In the four decades since Congress passed Title IX (the federal law against sex discrimination in education), the measure’s results have grown increasingly perverse. From its inception, the law started to weaken men’s athletics in the name of the great goddess Equality – despite the fact that sports matter much more to men than they do to women. After Obama’s election, the Department of Education began using Title IX to mandate date rape courts of injustice. And just this month, liberal groups have begun screaming “Title IX” to try to purge America’s campuses of speech that offends them.
Title IX has become a catch-all bludgeon for imposing feminist ideology on American universities. The threat of withdrawn federal funds – not to mention punitive damages – cows colleges into submitting, sometimes with great reluctance, to these socially destructive directives. But even conservatives seem to have forgotten that Title IX is just a law – a law like any other.
It’s time to repeal Title IX.
Though it does not mention sports, Title IX was initially used primarily to mandate equal funding for women’s collegiate athletics. It is statistically self-evident, however, that team sports attract far more interest from men than from women. To the gender studies crowd, that’s just another patriarchal social construct that can be engineered into oblivion.
Well, guess what? It hasn’t worked, and it never will. Title IX’s demand for parity in funding has had absurd results, such as when colleges pad women’s teams with unqualified and even uninterested students to try to keep up with the needs of men who wish to compete. College after college has been forced to eliminate cherished men’s programs such as wrestling and track, only to replace them with women’s fencing or softball or whatever. Anything to assuage the Title IX tiger.
Liberals, brace yourselves for what I am about to say: Men need sports. Women, by and large, don’t.
Broadly speaking, males are naturally much more likely to express aggressive impulses in group settings – whether on the battlefield or in street gangs. Channeling masculine combativeness into gridiron and baseball diamond exploits has tremendous benefit for civilized society.
But “sports equality” requirements are relatively trivial compared to the way the Obama Administration has been using Title IX. It issued guidelines in 2011 that require colleges to adjudicate sexual harassment and violence cases using a 50-percent-plus-one “preponderance of the evidence” standard, instead of the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard that civilized people have come to expect in criminal matters.
So students accused of sexual misconduct are being hauled before jerry-rigged tribunals composed of people who believe that false accusations are rare. The accused sometimes don’t have the right to counsel or even to confront their accusers – but their academic careers and thus entire lives can be ruined by panels finding that the evidence that “she said” is even a smidgen more compelling than the evidence that “he said.”
And now the Title IX juggernaut is coming after free speech. A complaint filed by the Feminist Majority Foundation (among others) against the University of Mary Washington (UMW) accuses the college of a “systemic failure” to protect female students “from a sexually hostile school environment,” which they claim violates Title IX.
But what’s going on at UMW that’s so sexually hostile that the school deserves harsh financial penalties? The women who submitted the complaint whine that during recent campus controversies, the administration did not prevent students from saying things they don’t like, both in person and anonymously on the social media app Yik Yak. Among the comments they decry are:
- “This feminist needs to calm the hell down.”
- “F*** the feminists!”
- “These feminists need to chill their t***.”
- Slurs like “bitches,” “hoes,” “feminazis,” and other unsavory terms that put down women.
All these words are unpleasant and I certainly wouldn’t have used them in campus dialogue. But they are unquestionably protected by the freedom of speech. There is no “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment. To require colleges to stamp out such comments even when made by anonymous students on the Internet would necessitate an enormous apparatus of speech policing and immediately impose a chilling effect on free expression in a place where it’s perhaps more important than any other.
After demolishing Title IX, legislators can take a fresh look at instances in which women are indeed treated unfairly on campus, and design a much more specific law providing common-sense solutions to those concerns. But enough with the federal practice of using Title IX to browbeat colleges terrified of losing funding into complying with ever-more-extreme regulations that even Gloria Steinem could not have envisioned when the law was passed.
David Benkof is Senior Political Analyst at the Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter (@DavidBenkof) or E-mail him at DavidBenkof@gmail.com.