We've discussed numerous points on men's issues throughout our time at Honey Badger Radio. Much of our activity has been necessarily focused on naming, defining, and unpacking the problems we exist to address, and that is still needed. However, now we also have a chance to look at something else: We have a next step to take.
What's the real reason why feminists have so harshly attacked Betsy DeVos? She described how Title IX policy that codifies the 2011 dear colleague letter into law has negatively impacted both sexes. Why would anyone object to examining the causes of that harm, and coming up with reforms that would prevent it from continuing to happen?
While the grassroots may be getting led to believe that attacking Betsy is a way of protecting victims of sexual violence, feminist organizations are really just defending their political power and the meal tickets it provides them. Organized feminism's irons in this fire aren't just victims of sexual violence. They're not even just focused on the feminist-led campus initiatives that capitalize on this issue to create jobs for gender studies majors. The end goal is to establish standards in university policy and then use those to push for abandonment of due process standards in criminal court.
Because while feminist-led initiatives on university campuses create some gender studies jobs, the court system is a veritable gold mine for them with organizations, lobbying initiatives, social advocacy, and accuser services all existing to capitalize on that system. To do that, they need to get pesky obstacles like the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the right to face and question one's accuser in court, and the right to present exculpatory evidence out of the way... and slipping a pseudo-justice system of their own design onto university campuses is the perfect foot in the door. The practical application of Dear Colleague on university campuses could, if left in place, acclimate students to institutionalized, systematic dismissal of civil rights.
The process, whether intentionally or as a side effect, is designed to break down students' perception of and belief in the importance of those rights. From the process, students are apt to learn to accept the accused being considered guilty until proven innocent, subject to investigation and trial with legal consequences (but without legal assistance,) subject to sanction prior to any outcome of the hearing, deprived of the right to question his accuser, deprived of the right to present evidence in his defense, and then subject to double jeopardy should he prevail despite those handicaps. Should enough time go by with these standards in place and publicly accepted on university campuses, we would see a generation or two of individuals who would view them as normal and would not understand why they shouldn't also be applied in criminal court.
The federal mandate behind the university system, combined with its use by students instead of the criminal justice system or in response to not getting what they want from the criminal justice system makes it a substitute for that system. The federal government has no business mandating that any private institution penalize any citizen for a criminal offense that has not been proved in a criminal court to have occurred, and its act of doing so can only be reasonably understood as an effort to provide accusers with an alternate system when they don't think they'll get the result they want from the justice system - in other words, a replacement. Providing students with such a replacement would lay the groundwork for expanding the university system's anti-due-process standards into the criminal court system. Don't think it can happen? It has already started in terms of what evidence can be presented by the defense in a sexual violence cases.
We have seen the criminal standard pushed from "against the victim's will" ever closer to a Simon-didn't-say version of "without the accuser's consent."
A man's good faith belief, based on the accuser's active participation in a sex act, that she was a willing participant cannot be counted on to legally exonerate him of the crime of forcing unwanted sex on her.
We've seen the presumption of accuser victim status used to paint the accused as guilty until proven innocent.
We've seen the right to present exculpatory evidence denied if that evidence is part of the accuser's prior sexual history, such that if an accuser uses the claim, "I would never do that" to argue that an act was non-consensual, the accused must obtain a judge's permission to submit any past-behavioral evidence proving that statement to be untrue.
We've seen courts go from treating the testimony of both parties equally in he-said-she-said cases to giving the accuser's claims more weight - another way of presuming guilt.
These infringements on due process took place as a result of years of agitation and lobbying by feminist groups. The university mock-justice system is just a short-cut for the same types of attacks.
Betsy DeVoss has received much praise from the men's rights movement and taken a lot of flack from feminists for having the audacity to admit that due process is an inalienable, indispensable human right. For us, it's a victory in and of itself: We just had a public official acknowledge two very important things. First, that the falsely accused are victims of wrongdoing, and second, that government policy must not mandate institutional infringement on a civil right.
I cannot stress enough that this is a great thing. We have a government official acknowledging that government policy is hurting people and by people she doesn't just mean women.
What does that mean for us ?
It means we have an administration that is, at least in part, willing to examine the ways in which dysfunctional government policy harms not just women, but also men. It means we have an opportunity to bring our side of this particular issue to the table. It also means there is a strong possibility that we can see a reversal on the current trend of using policy in educational institutions to establish an avenue of attack on a civil right before that attack can result in acceptance of greater infringement. It could be the first baby step toward reform that would restore vital due process protections in criminal court... but before that, it gives us the opportunity to establish due process protections for university students accused of misconduct.
So what do we do?
We have to do at least some of what feminists do. As I have said before, DeVos needs to continue to hear from activists dedicated to the preservation of due process rights throughout her decision-making process... but we need to do another thing feminists do in order to prevent the importance of those communications from being obscured by the fact that they come from men's rights supporters. The men's rights movement needs to be visible.
We have to go a step further than feminists, however, and do it without being ridiculous.
We've previously mentioned stickering and postering as ways to put the issues under more public consideration, along with hosting showings of The Red Pill movie - even if you think feminists will try to stop you... but there's another thing we can do, and those red pill showings rely on it. Men's human rights activists need to organize, at least to the degree that Gamergate supporters did.
Gamergate didn't start lofty foundations or clubs with regular meetings and bylaws and officers, but we did organize campaigns to communicate our policy reform demands, and we did hold meetups in various locations. That has been international and is ongoing, and you do not have to be the administrative type to do it because Gamergate has no leader. Men's human rights activists can organize similar campaigns, and hold similar meetups. Meetups could even be done in conjunction with hosting showings of the Red Pill documentary.
The international men's issues conference has become an annual thing, and it should remain so. We can make it so by attending, by bringing our reasons for involvement with the movement with us, some by speaking, some by representing groups and initiatives there... or if we can do nothing else, by financially supporting it through donations, by spreading the word about it through social media prior to each event so others know it's available to attend, and by listening and learning at the event and then sharing that knowledge.
Why do we need to do that?
We have to do it because as long as the movement remains mostly invisible, it will remain easy to use exposure as a threat, and invisibility as an excuse for dismissal. The more noticeable we are, and the more it can be seen that we're not few and far between, the more obvious it will become that consideration for men's human rights is no less normal than any other human rights consideration, until it is understood that it is ridiculous for description of human rights protections to ever include "except for men."
So yes, keep contacting Betsy DeVos, President Trump, and your federal and state legislators about this particular issue, but don't let that be the only thing you do. Put the issues up in public places via stickering and postering. Write letters to the editor of local publications. Comment on news articles online. Join MHRAconnect.com and network with other MRAs. Most of all, if at all possible, get up, go out, and meet with like-minded people. Go to men's issues events. If you find that there's not a lot of opportunity in your area to do that, that's your cue to host. The more of us who are willing and able to step into the breach, the harder it will become to silence the movement, and slip things like Dear Colleague's massive attack on due process rights under the radar.