By Ashley Young
October 21, 2017
TRIGGER WARNING: Sexual assault
From the day a person leaves their mother’s womb, they are their own person. And with that logic, nobody else has a say in what they say or do. A person is an independent. They are free to make choices of their own and no one else should have active participation in deciding. And when that person loses that opportunity, their rights are being taken away. The person is completely removed from their own autonomy, state of mind, and individuality. They have no control over themselves and are constantly ravaged by another’s thoughts and ideas. They essentially are not a person at all and only a mindless drone chained to their “master.” They are pinned to the wall, stripped of their clothes, and forced to endure however-long of a time until the invader is done away with them. It’s a raping of the mind. And it is without a doubt that sexual assault is wrong. An assault of the mind and an assault of the body are no different. The clothes of independence are torn to shreds and hard, throbbing opinions are forced inside. How can one simply believe this is okay? But both mind and bodily assault are simply taken as a there-is-no-difference-between-yes-and-no joke. And although she has not said it, as well as her supporters, Betsy DeVos shares the same attitude.
Recently DeVos decided to repeal the Obama-era policy that accused colleges of using “the lowest standard of proof…in deciding whether a student is responsible for sexual assault, a verdict that can lead to discipline and even expulsion.” Obama saw the incorrectness of campus safety when rape investigations were conducted, and therefore decided to “raise the stakes.” The former president realized that victims of assault should receive a much fairer chance of justice being served. The attacker shouldn’t simply receive community service or three months of jail time and be released based on terms of not wanting to ruin the rapist’s chances of having a career in sports. Betsy DeVos does not see rape in the eyes of the Obama administration. She sees it as an unfair wager towards the attackers rather than the victims. She believes that in order for a true investigation to be unbiased, there must be “clear and convincing” evidence of the horrifying act. Although DeVos decided to repeal Obama’s policy, she has stated that she plans to make new guidelines. While DeVos makes these rules, colleges are now allowed to participate in the “lower standard” rule, which requires the clear, convincing evidence in order for rape cases to be assessed.
What she has done completely sympathizes with the rapist. It adds ambiguity and lack of proper care towards the victim. Rather than a black and white, “he is guilty and he is going to jail ” there are more subjective elements added to the inquiry. “He/she was wearing tight clothes,” “He/she was flirting,” “He/she said they wanted it,” “He/she was asking for it,” etc. Rape is rape is rape. No matter what the person wore or what they insinuated, they said “no.” Whether it is in the heat of the moment or not, they did not agree to what happened. After they say “no,” going against that becomes your consequence. That person is an independent, and the moment you intrude on that independence, you strip them of their identity. Rape is not a “lower standard,” DeVos. It is a problem. She believes rapists are good people too and deserve a chance at a fair life. But how can they receive a fair life when they took fairness away from the victim? How can they have a fair chance? It is disappointing to see that DeVos has chosen to take this route, especially since she is a woman with power. The CDC stated in 2017 that “1 in 5 women have experienced completed or attempted rape” in their lifetime. Considering how profound such an act is performed on women, it is embarrassing and shameful that not only a woman, but a woman in power has made the decision to cover up these cases. She initially wants to create a more equal environment for both parties: the predator and the prey. It is without a doubt that this is a target towards women. “The move had been long sought by advocates for accused students, most of whom are men, who had complained that campus judicial processes had become heavily biased in favor of female accusers.”This is yet another agenda used by men to attack women. They use the words “equality” and “fair” to mask the harsh reality of their decision and manipulate people into thinking that taking these actions are for good. But these pretty words mean nothing and are detrimental to the safety of rape victims, particularly those that are female.
The decisions of DeVos, along with the rest of the Trump administration, are wrong. The independence of the individual is vital. One cannot simply manipulate or force someone to give up their own mind. What kind of a world would we live in if one’s actions were constantly stolen from them? Individuality is important. Without it, how are we expected to work as a sound mind, offer new ideas, self-respect, and love ourselves? How are we supposed to give ourselves a fair and equal life? Rape is not something where there is fairness. Nothing about the act is fair and the rapist definitely does not deserve any part in that fairness. Rape is rape. There should be justice, not excuses.