Domination Culture’s Assault on Title IX

Title IX protects from sexual crimes on campus are under threat.

Why is Education Secretary Betsy DeVoss fighting against the interests of other women by weakening Title IX protections from sexual harassment and violence in schools, narrowing the standards used to determine what counts as a crime and making it more difficult for victims to come forward? 

Some women accept the “patriarchal bargain” which bestows power and privilege in return for betraying their sisters. Others have unconsciously internalized patriarchy so that it simply seems natural and normal. Still others seek to advance domination culture because it richly rewards themselves, and patriarchy’s strong arm helps uphold that system. 

Domination culture in the US today is marked by the interconnecting power and privilege of various groups, including men over women, white over people of color, straight over gay, cis over trans, Christian over non-Christian, and the rich over everyone else. It’s a pattern that closely cleaves to the far right of American politics. In contrast to a partnership society that supports widespread equality, this scheme facilitates submission to powerful interests as widespread domination comes to seem natural and normal.

Ms. DeVoss’ long record of supporting big-money lobbyists who work to advance wealthy interests suggests that her underlying goal may be less buoying patriarchy, in particular, than strengthening that broader system of domination that buttresses the rule of the rich.

Yet both patriarchs and the wealthy can find their aims backfiring on them in unexpected ways.

On the one hand, rape and rape culture may bolster a sense of male power and privilege over women’s minds and bodies. Getting away with sexual crime further sustains male privilege and reinforces the patriarchy. If DeVoss gets her way fewer women will report, fewer men will be punished and more women will be assaulted. In this downward spiral patriarchy will grow stronger.

But are men ultimately more benefited than harmed? Women who are raped are more likely to be turned off from sex, which does not benefit most men at all. More broadly, the women men love — their partners, their lovers, their daughters and sisters and mothers, and their friends — are wounded and traumatized.

In this system men may be winning. But are they happy? Fortunately many men understand this and have become partners in the fight for equality.

Meanwhile, pillaging the poor enlarges wealthy reserves beyond anything that could ever be spent. Yet the plunder can actually impair the rich. Look at any third world country and see moneyed elites trapped behind barbed wire compounds that are marooned within impoverished landscapes. When the people can find no money in their pockets sales and profits drop and economies collapse. And “peasants with pitchforks” (as the old saying goes) are not a welcome sight.

The rich may be winning. But are they happy? Again, fortunately many wealthy Americans see this, too, and are partners in leveling the playing field.

In the meantime, the Department of Education is still accepting public comment on the proposed changes (until January 28, 2019). Please make your voice heard!

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on January 21, 2019, in rape and sexual assault and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. This post was very interesting and it truly brings awareness to the struggle that many sexual assault victims undergo because of the injustice that exists. It is already very difficult for women to speak out because of the fear that they will not be believed. It is very disappointing that as society progresses, women’s rights continue to be a struggle. As the blog introduces, the domination culture is because of the power dynamic between those who have privilege and those who do not. Connecting the power dynamic to sexual assault, if women are not believed not only are we letting the suspects get away but we are also giving them more power. It is completely unfair that there are so many women who do not speak out because they feel that they do not have enough power. We are living in a system that favors the characteristics of individuals when making decisions, not the truth. There are privileged individuals who can use their race, socio-economic status, and even gender to prevent them from facing the consequences of sexual assault. Title IX offers “protections from sexual harassment and violence in schools” (BroadBlogs); therefore, we must strengthen Title IX by narrowing “the standard to determine what counts a crime” (BroadBlogs).

  2. I think the second is a more interesting conversation.

    I understand the writers block having experience that a lot myself. Before i started doing a blog — That got me over it. But I would just write whatever came to mind and Ed it later. That’s how I got over writers block early on.

    I’m glad you had such good luck with that speech. Sounds like you have a lot of potential ”

    I guess you got to treat conversation like that a little, it’s hard, but try not to over think and just go with it. But I brought that up to relate to conversing. There isn’t something that I know called conversation block, but that’s how it feels compared to writers block. Yeah I have potential, if only I can put it all together with women I don’t know and approaching. Like I don’t feel nervous saying hi, I used to many years ago. What brings the fear is not even being rejected, everybody gets turned down. It’s the anxiety of looking so weird and not having anything to talk about after the first few things and like carrying the convo and directing it and keeping it fun and interesting.

    That’s no a problem when in my environment where my mind is free. The fear of feeling like a weirdo and that extremely uncomfortable pause or silence or break from convo that’s a bi too long freaks me out and get stressed thinking of that. I don’t have that fear when talking to people new at work or such, but a place where I’m trying to figure out things, good luck., Luckily I have a great friend who I’ve said is the extrovert and complete opposite of you and sometimes it’s good to have people who are the opposite of you. Just like yin and yang, sometimes people help bring out the other side that needs to come out. Anyway he doesn’t care about all that and told me, don’t worry about it. I need to stop caring, it’s true. But yeah, if I can put that potential in speech to that, I definitely would be gold ha. It means I have qualities that could translate well, because people who are good at speaking have an energy that people feed off of and humor and wit too, that often are things that attract women.

    • What I found works for me is to ask them something like what did they do on their last vacation – because you know that they probably went someplace that they are interested in and would like to talk about. They’ll say something and you just keep asking more follow-up questions on the same topic for a while. Or ask them about the last movie they saw and what they thought about it. Follow-up questions. The more you get someone talking about themselves and their interests the more charming they think you are. That used to what I found works for me is to ask them something like what did they do on their last vacation – because you know that they probably went someplace that they are interested in and would like to talk about. They’ll say something and you just keep asking more follow-up questions on the same topic for a while. Or ask them about the last movie they saw and what they thought about it. Follow-up questions. The more you get someone talking about themselves and their interests the more charming they think you are. That used to take a lot of energy for me but now it’s really easy.

  3. And just because someone is an extrovert doesn’t make them a good conversationalist. You can feel stuck with someone who goes on and on about how they fixed their car or their latest grocery shopping spree. Most people think you are a good conversationalist if you act interested in them – ask them lots of questions about themselves.”

    That’s true, often that’s like small talk. It just feels like you do that too much it becomes an interview and convo can go a boring route. I know women like guys who listen and such, but sometimes it feels tough finding something interesting to ask other than same stuff. It’s hard to not care, but you have to not care and just ask something randomly fun, i don’t know.

  4. because girls are much more encouraged in social skills from the time they are little kids (tea parties, Barbie and friends).”

    I find that interesting some times. You’d think women would be better than men with conversation then. But in my experience, girls often don’t put such social skills on display when on dates or approached by a guy even if they find him cute. I’ve had anxiety approaching girls at bars or whatever because even with some interested or seeming so. And then trying to be fun with chatting back and engage.

    I swear, more often than not, I feel the pressure and one having to carry the conversation, but make it engaging, funny and fun. I hate small talk as it feels boring. When in a place where I’m comfortable with someone it can be fine, but for like a cold approach. It just feels put on me and it’s tough when I don’t know some one. I’m outgoing and got a ton of personality, but am an introvert.

    The funny thing is many people who know me, but don’t know me like my close friends and family. They probably think I’m extroverted, because I’m very outgoing with company that I know or atleast in that environment whether workplace or a class room or something like that. Complete strangers and I’ll talk if someone comes by and looks friendly and wants to talk. But I don’t feel the desire to talking to people around I don’t know if they don’t seem to be outgoing or friendly or direct like that. My best friend, the ultimate extrovert. I don’t think like him talking to people he doesn’t know feels like much risk taking, but more of a fun thrill, because extroverts like to talk people and socialize. For me I can take it or leave it. I like to talk and can have fun, but I’m selective and there are conditions like I said to what would make me want to socialize with someone I don’t know. I’m not anti-social, just selective.

    • Well, on average women develop better social skills but that doesn’t always translate to being a good conversationalist. Partly because it’s on average. Take me for instance, I have been a horrible conversationalist until I got to college. That’s partly because I wasn’t interested in gossip or small talk and in college we talked about more philosophical things. But I also had to work and developing conversational skills. I am an introvert to. And I know plenty of men who have much better conversational skills than me. People say Bill Clinton had amazing social skills. But I think that women learn to get inside of other peoples heads and feel what they’re feeling more, and be empathetic. And that’s partly because of play like tea parties. What would you like? Might the tea be too hot? Even the fact that most literature, TV and movies have been written from a male perspective forces women to get in the hands of men when they read or watch movies.

      • Yeah it’s interesting though that the burden is usually or mostly on the men to not just initiate but steer the conversation and carry it. Even though women are supposed to be better at it usually. But yeah just because a woman doesn’t try carrying it doesn’t mean she’s not interested. Women can be shy or nervous, not because they don’t like the guy but maybe find the guy attractive. But yeah it sucks where just how it seems like the burden and guy gets blamed that he doesn’t have strong conversational skills if he doesn’t know where to steer things always when talking to someone he doesn’t know or new. I think strong conversational skills are part of learning to talk to new people and carry on. But I think there are many aspects to conversational skills to tally up together. It’s good to have it all together, but many people don’t including extroverts. I think of things like “floor” and ‘ceiling’. I don’t know if you know what that means. But it can be used in sports for abilities.

        A person with a high floor, they are more polished and may learn things very fast or naturally and some have high floor and “ceiling’, which is potential and upside. Having high range for their peak. But one can have a high floor, but not necessarily high ceiling. Sometimes a person can take longer, not as polished and maybe struggle or not learn as fast as the person with high floor. But when they learn or get going, they can do better than the fast learner. I’ve usually been fairly fast learned with academics, not everything. But like socially, that’s me. I see people that are extroverts and can take with people like it’s nothing and women because they love to talk to new people. It’s their strength, but the ironic thing is while it’s hard for me to do that in situations where I don’t see much to talk about or don’t know anyone. When I get comfortable even if it’s someone new, but in a situation like work where I don’t feel I have to think about stuff, because I have a reason to talk to whoever. And it can be around basically new people too or still maybe people I know but not for that long. It’s funny because I’ve been told or teased when some see me when I’m in my groove or joke about me ‘working the room”. I’m not trying to that just happens when my mind is free, but I can’t force it or fake it, it has to happen organically. But when it does, get your popcorn ready lol.

      • And just because someone is an extrovert doesn’t make them a good conversationalist. You can feel stuck with someone who goes on and on about how they fixed their car or their latest grocery shopping spree. Most people think you are a good conversationalist if you act interested in them – ask them lots of questions about themselves.

      • It’s like that for writing which is related I think to it. I often would get writer’s block as a student, and so I think there is a relation. There isn’t conversational block or never heard of the word, but that’s why it would be hard approaching a girl at the bar. I wasn’t scared of saying hi, it was how to carry things if she wasn’t giving much personality back or what to talk about. Small talk can be nice, but if too much, it can be too much like an interview which are boring to me, which is why people say that, but I don’t like to do to much small talk with someone new. But anyway as a student for a community college back when I was 19, so a long time ago ha. I did a speech class, as in public speaking. It was fun, but I remember the last assignment for that class was a fun one or where we could do one we wanted as long as it’s obviously appropriate and nothing indecent and such. God it was just a two paper thing and it took me much longer than it should have. I wasn’t trying to make it that spectacular or great. I wanted it funny, but it wasn’t taking me that long for that reason.

        My brain just wasn’t working for it, while other students already had it done ha. That happened so much in school when doing tests and having to write a paragraph or paragraphs and seeing students writing away and I’m just looking at everyone and wouldn’t even have a sentence down because writer block. But anyway for the speech class, when I had it done spoke in front of the class for my speech. Everyone was laughing and smiling and everybody said what a good speech it was and how funny it was. I also noticed even though people try to be polite and show respect and have eyes on the person speaking, it happens where a student looks down or away. But that felt good too was from the beginning to the end all the students had their eyes on me and kept on me and like were very engaged in my speech, so It wasn’t just th speech but I had a way of talking, whether body language or delivery that captured people’s attention. So it made think. Who is the one with better conversational skills. The person who can talk to people easily and is extroverted or an introverted person who has trouble talking or carrying a conversation right off the bat with new people, but when they get into their groove, they are funnier, charming and more witty than the funny outgoing extrovert? Aren’t those attributes also part of social, conversation skills? Certainly the person who is strong both ways it tops, but doesn’t always work that way.

      • I think the second is a more interesting conversation.

        I understand the writers block having experience that a lot myself. Before i started doing a blog — That got me over it. But I would just write whatever came to mind and Ed it later. That’s how I got over writers block early on.

        I’m glad you had such good luck with that speech. Sounds like you have a lot of potential 🙂

  5. Domination culture can never be a good thing!

    • It isn’t good for anyone. Except maybe despots. When people live in a culture where some dominate others it starts to seem natural and that makes it easier for rulers to rule everyone.

  6. This isn’t sexual assault, but deadly assault and I don’ think a coincidence that all the victims were women too. I think you heard about the shooting. So sad. The guy was a former correctional officer but resigned. Makes me wonder if an incel or like Elliot Rodger or That Brock guy who had some messed up blame and anger toward women.

    Jeesh, you’re just trying to make money for yourself and your family and just never know if some wacko who knows nothing of you, feels like taking his misery out on you. And then you think how women unfortunately are unjustly targeted by troubled men, many times.

    https://www.yahoo.com/gma/5-women-gunned-down-florida-bank-apparent-random-171013727–abc-news-topstories.html

    • Yes, I had the same thought as you that women were probably targeted. I know a lot of theories about why this happens but sometimes I just want to get inside someone’s mind, only for a short visit, to you see what these guys are thinking.

      • There are many things in common with men mass killers. But there does seem to be a common, “nihilism” I believe. This asks the question, why men (the bad men or troubled men carry out such actions), feel this way more often than women and as a result feel the need to take out their misery on other people? Especially women? I’m sure there are women who feel helpless, powerless, hopeless and just an existential lack of meaning to life, and there are women who do bad things too. But more often it’s men and more often it’s men who feel either “I’ve been wronged by society, women, the universe, whatever and they shall pay”. Or my life doesn’t matter anymore, I might as well take out everyone on my way.

        I read something that women, maybe because of culture. If women are depressed or their troubles are more often internalized. Self harm, cutting or to such where taken out or put these feelings on to themselves. Guys do too of course with suicides for men. I think men are more aggressive thus the more successful attempts than women which is why men commit more or shows with deaths. But I’ve read that such feelings are externalized more so by men, thus troubled men feeling the desire to take it out on others or anger and aggression on to others. But i do feel there is this “nothing else matters” nihilism like in this case or when I read about mass shooters. No excuse to fricking kill people obviously, but it makes me wonder what the hell is going on to first, why so many men and boys feel this nihilism and this need to hurt others even if they don’t know them because of this lack of hope and hurt they feel? Obviously there are plenty of men who feel hopeless and never do such thing, so there is obviously an insanity thing and sociopathic aspect too. But just makes me wonder.

      • Thanks for your thoughts on nihilism. That makes a lot of sense. Men are less likely to have a sense of community partly because they are taught to be more independent, partly because girls are much more encouraged in social skills from the time they are little kids (tea parties, Barbie and friends). Plus men are expected to be powerful but often don’t feel too powerful and want to create a sense of power over others. Put it all together and you get the sorts of crimes.

        Sometimes they are focused on women and sometimes they are not. When they are focused on women I suppose it’s partly because in a patriarchy women are looked down upon and so they seem like an “objective“ thing that is inferior to the men, making men feel better. Women are more often objectified making them more dehumanized and more objectified, which could also play a role. With the latter you get a sexual component. Maybe also men angry at women because they’re angry at their moms or women who have rejected them – with men always having to be the ones who make the first move and get the rejection.

        I appreciate hearing your thoughts. Let me know if you have any more.

      • “But more often it’s men and more often it’s men who feel either “I’ve been wronged by society, women, the universe, whatever and they shall pay”.

        Isn’t it obvious why? We live in a gynocentric society. Even the least desirable women can get the attention of men and get laid. There is no female equivalent of incels for a biological reason. And if there are children in the picture, there is no reason for a female murder suicide of the children, because the female always gets custody, most of the money, alimony and so forth. The man is left with nothing but a room at the YMCA, a big debt and a job for the next 20 years to pay it off. And if you’re young, single and broke? A woman can get knocked up, get government money, have a child and purpose in their life. What has a young single unemployed man got?

      • This is not evidence of a gyrocentric society. And some of it actually comes from male domination.

        We have a double standard that shames women for sexuality, which causes them to lose interest. Almost 1/2 of American women have low or no desire for sex. And that’s why. I’ve written about it more in depth on my blog.

        If you have one group of 100 people Who have a high sex drive and in the other group only 50 have a high sex drive is going to Be a lot easier for the people in the 50% group to get laid. But the double standard is born of patriarchy teaching us that men are free and women are not. And teaching women that they should feel shame for having a completely natural desire, and therefore are shameful and inferior beings because of their sinfulness.

        Women most likely get custody of children because that is a role that society has given women. Judges work on the “best interest of the child” policy and most children are closest to mom because mom is most likely the primary one taking care of them. If men want equality on this they should equally parent.

        You might notice that mom and dad is one of the few areas where the female comes first. Usually it’s men and women, boys and girls, brothers and sisters …

        That reflects the patriarchy but a switch in instances where the children are primarily cared for by their mothers.

        And most times men don’t contest the custody. When they do men are more likely to get custody, probably because they can afford more expensive and talented lawyers because they are more likely to make more money. Another sign of patriarchy.

  7. I feel like as a woman, even I sometimes feel like I am a submissive to a man. This idea of patriarchy had embedded itself into the minds of all woman, including myself, and I feel like it is hard for us to break away from that mindset. I think that is also why men get away with so many things. Most women believe that they cannot speak out against these injustice acts happening to them. Even if they do, they would be shut down or their character might be questioned. This is also true fo other things such as race and religion. White people have dominated over this land, taking whatever they want. I feel like their history has led other cultures and races to act as their submissive. Getting rid of this inequality will take a long time because we have to change the way society perceives these notions. Society has to become more accepting and make it okay for the minors in our country to speak out for themselves and not feel inferior.

  8. How exactly are Christians dominating non Christians? Enquiring minds want to know.

    • I don’t think they are dominating yet. Some are trying to. Some insist on prayer in public schools which will of course be Christian and not Muslim or Hindu. Abortion laws that are based on Christian belief about when life starts. Trying to take birth control away from women, which makes them more dependent on men. Laws against LBGTQ. Just to name a few issues.

      And it’s not Christians but right wing, fundamentalist Christians.

  9. This article surprised me because it made me aware of the fact that the supporters of domination culture are harmed by their own actions. Before reading this, I thought that wealthy people and rapists were exploiting others for their benefit while never experiencing any hardship themselves. Upon reading this article, I have mixed feelings. It is a relief to hear that many wealthy people and men are realizing that they are hurting themselves and are now fighting for equality. At the same time, however, I am upset to find out that many women simply accept domination culture and even actively support it. Furthermore, I am very distressed to hear that Ms. DeVoss is acting to weaken the laws protecting other women, rather than strengthen them.
    I think that everyone should live by equal standards and work towards common good, and I hope that more and more people will wake up to the fact that domination culture hurts everyone involved.

  10. Betsy DeVos is the anti-education secretary. Her awfulness just gets overshadowed by the cadre of grifters in the Trump cabinet.

  11. Why were these title IX guidelines on sexual assault ever a thing? We have the already existing law and legal system. For hundreds of years it was considered to give the right balance of rights to citizens. There is nothing special about universities that these rights and responsibilities should be changed. If there is something wrong with the existing legal system, the way is open to advocate in Congress for it. The idea of title IX is as terrifyingly dangerous as throwing out a millennium of legal practice and starting again with no legislation, no precedence, and no case law, and the result has been just as dystopian and regressive as one would have predicted.

    • Your comment doesn’t make sense. Title IX was passed by Congress and signed into law by Richard Nixon. Many laws have been passed overturning centuries of law, like laws against slavery. Laws against cruel and inhumane punishment. Laws against sexual harassment in rape. Etc. As humans evolve come to care more about the human rights of all.

      • Also, title IX is an expansion of rights for students at a school level that isn’t necessarily covered by other laws. Title IX makes it illegal to discriminate based on gender, sexuality, race, religion. Without this you would have boys lockers rooms that were new, and girls locker rooms that aren’t. You could have a teacher make disparaging comments about a religion they don’t agree with. Or so many other things. Title IX protects students in a more expensive way than just laws enforced by police.

        As for the sexual guidelines part of title IX it helps schools regulate their response to such things. Courts are overrun with cases and police can’t always be at every part of every campus. I work on a high school campus and there are so many grey away situations regarding sexual assualt or white and black areas that are filled with difficult choices for the school. Title IX helps with that.

      • Thank you for adding to the conversation. You make some bee good points!

      • Teverett28: If the police and courts are supposedly too busy to deal with this, then that is where you should look to solve it. According to your argument, vigilanteism is justified because hey, the police are busy. And again, if there are grey areas about sexual assault, then the way forward is to lobby Congress to sort it out, and/or take it to court so a judge can sort it out. We live in a society that is supposed to be governed by the social contract known as the rule of law, and to have unelected low level university beaurocrats deciding the entire futures of our young people based on their own personal beliefs and preducices is only one tiny step up from totalitarian dystopia.

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