Title IX and the #MeToo Liar's game | HBR Talk 53

Liar’s poker is a bar game started in the U.S., using the serial number on dollar bills as a medium for bluffing and to a degree, reasoning. Players each hold one bill, shielded from the other players, just as you would with a hand of cards. Each player then makes a guess or bid on how many of a particular digit is present among the whole set of bills. The next player then has to make a higher bid or guess than the last (a higher number of the same digit, or the same number of the next digit up,) and so on, until the bid is challenged by all of the other players. Then all of the players must show their hand. If the total number of the named digit matches the challenged bid, the bidder wins. If not, the bidder loses. I’ve seen different groups use different rules for the total matching the bid, but commonly there must be at least as many of the named digit as the bidder predicted. Most times I’ve seen the game played, if the bidder wins, he gets everyone’s dollars. If not, they go in the pot and the game continues until someone wins it. I’ve seen other betting rules online, but this is enough description to get the point. 

Feminists have created their own liar’s game, though one that is much more dangerous, with much higher stakes, and the bidder isn’t the only one taking that risk. They’ve even worked overtime trying to hedge their bets, stacking the rules in favor of accusers, just in case one’s bluff is called. The one thing they haven’t been able to eliminate is the weight of physical evidence against the bluff. Each time a woman lobs an accusation of sexual misconduct against a man, she is betting that he will not have some means of countering it… no witnesses, no retained communications from her proving her story false, no alibi should she claim an encounter occurred when it did not. Each is betting she won’t face scrutiny too thorough for her to bluff her way through. None expect themselves to be the liar whose case leads to a newsworthy or even precedent-setting lawsuit against her university. Most don’t even expect their bluff to be called at all.

But that’s not the really big bid, the more significant numbers game. That game is in feminists’ hands. They’re the ones betting on the prevalence and scope of sexual misconduct allegations resulting in “responsible” findings on college campuses. This speculation is the reason why they’ve spent so long stacking the deck. The goal is not to protect women from sexual predators or even just to create an increase in female power. It’s yet another quest for a set of statistics that can be presented as evidence of an epidemic of rape on university campuses, necessitating, of course, an ever-increasing industry consisting of advisors, consultants, and paid professionals on every campus whose jobs will consist of various responses to that supposed epidemic. 

A 1993 Toledo Blade article titled “Rape, the making of an epidemic” detailed earlier efforts in that quest. During the late 80s, feminists all over the U.S. were attempting to come up with a survey method to obtain statistics on sexual violence prevalence that could be used to determine the rate of occurrence on university campuses. The article examined that scene, and found an interesting spectrum of attitudes. Some, like Dr. Margaret Gordon of Northwestern University, were attempting to obtain accurate results. Others, like Ms. Magazine founder and feminist icon Gloria Steinem, were looking for statistics that showed a high rate of rape, either regardless of accuracy or under the assumption that statistics that did not show a high rate must be inaccurate. Of the research environment at the time, Dr. Gordon said she felt pressure to have rape be as prevalent as possible, and that the really avid feminists were trying to get her to say that things were worse than they really are. 

In 1987, Steinem published a report by Mary P. Koss, whose research method involved a survey of only female students, one that didn’t use the legal definition of rape, didn’t ask respondents directly about having been victimized, and didn’t allow for her conclusions to be impacted by respondents’ interpretation or assessment of their own experiences. Instead, respondents were asked questions that were more vague and did not overtly mention victimization. Koss then interpreted their responses based on her own standards. Her conclusions were at odds with the majority of her respondents, with 73% disagreeing with her assessment of their experiences, and 42% having gone on to have sex again with their alleged rapists. 

Establishment feminists ignored the range of differing results among various researchers, choosing instead to bet on hysteria to push their agenda through congress. Koss’s statistics were cited on the senate floor in 1993 in support of the Violence Against Women act, which passed and took effect in 1994. 

Though her methods have received widespread criticism, including citation of serious issues with her survey questions, flaws in her definitions, and faulty logic in her conclusions, Mary P. Koss’s methodology has been widely adopted by establishment feminist sexual violence prevalence researchers and even government agencies. The Centers for Disease control uses it for its National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence surveys, including Koss’s later update of her original rape definition, which excludes the method by which a female perpetrator is most likely to offend against a male victim: forcing him to penetrate. United Nations researchers use Koss’s methods in similar surveys all over the world. Law and policy in several countries has been based on recommendations by “experts” citing statistics garnered from such surveys… and of course, these recommendations involve the establishment of government-funded advocates and organizations to assist the multitude of female victims which must exist according to this feminist-designed, feminist-led research. Now they are trying to change both public attitude and legal standards regarding what constitutes predatory sexual aggression, trying to make complaint numbers fit the assumption that there must be so many victims.

The stack this entire industry sits on, however, is nothing more than a house of cards, feminism’s rape culture narrative, upon which they have wagered that at no point will the ridiculousness of the false allegation culture they’ve created lead the public to call them on their bluff.

They bet wrong on several levels, from the alarm sounded by the falsely accused themselves even in the beginning, to the courts and the current administration taking a wrecking ball to federal education department policy that was based on that bet. Now they are watching their narrative waver and shake, as case after case in which their speculation didn’t pan out ends up in the civil court system, as well as the court of public opinion.

The victim narrative is in a precarious position, and it looks like feminists are about to bring the entire house down on themselves. That is highlighted by Laura Dunn’s keynote speech at Rowen University’s Title IX conference, much of which was a lament of the loss of power that occurred when Betsy DeVoss overturned the previous administration’s Title IX guidance. Those who depend on feminism’s rape culture narrative for their living are trapped. They cannot go back to the bets they placed prior to the 2011 Dear Colleague guidance. They cannot backtrack on their claims, or their insistence that the kangaroo court system they created was necessary and fair. They cannot help but continue adding cards to their towering, unstable house, even as it teeters on the edge of collapse. They don’t know any other way to play the game. 

The only question is how high the bet will be when the bluff is called that finally brings the whole thing down.