According to the University of Michigan’s website educating students and others about forms of abuse, this constitutes “sexual violence” (boldface mine):
Examples of sexual violence include: discounting the partner’s feelings regarding sex; criticizing the partner sexually; touching the partner sexually in inappropriate and uncomfortable ways; withholding sex and affection; always demanding sex; forcing partner to strip as a form of humiliation (maybe in front of children), to witness sexual acts, to participate in uncomfortable sex or sex after an episode of violence, to have sex with other people; and using objects and/or weapons to hurt during sex or threats to back up demands for sex.
OK, let me see if I understand this. According to the University of Michigan, a man who is insufficiently attentive to his partner’s desires in bed is guilty of sexual violence, and the woman who tells her partner that the sex they just had wasn’t very good for her because he didn’t pay enough attention to her needs is also guilty of sexual violence. A person who asks for more sex than his or her partner wants to have is guilty of violence, as is a person who denies his or her partner the sex they want to have.
These people are out of their minds. They are making these kids into complete neurotics by educating them to think that normal sexual give-and-take is pathological, and even criminal. Who wants to risk a relationship when if things go wrong in perfectly ordinary ways, one can find oneself officially accused of sexual violence, with all the penalties that carries?
Of course very few men would
As for the definitions given by the University of Michigan, asked by The College Fix whether they are extreme and erroneous, campus spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said they stand when taken in a larger context.
“The definitions of behaviors of violence … describe most accurately what occurs in an abusive relationship,” he said in an email. “Those behaviors not in the context of violence are not abusive. A reader of this site would recognize that it’s described as one behavior in the context of a pattern of behaviors to maintain power and control over an intimate partner.”
[Janet] Bloomfield has a different take on what readers will “recognize” when perusing the website.
“Using the exact same logic and method of reasoning deployed by UMich – namely, that readers will recognize the behaviors within a larger pattern of behaviors – readers will also recognize that victims are implicitly female and perpetrators are male – even though the policy does not explicitly state that,” she said, adding such extreme examples essentially label normal relationship behavior “abuse” and throw men under the bus.
“Normal relationship behaviors are pathologized and framed as abuse when MEN do them,” she noted. “I am unaware of a single case in which the accused student is a woman and the victim is a man.”
As for the topic of the campus rape epidemic, she said she believes campuses are whipping up “rape hysteria” for a variety of reasons.
“It comes down to this: colleges are creating rape hysteria so college employees who run these sexual assault centers can keep their jobs and benefits. Women are encouraged to interpret normal sexual and relationship behaviors as abuse and encouraged to have the young men they are partnering with sanctioned by the college,” she said.
Bloomfield is a men’s rights activist who writes on this libertarian website — a place whose editors say that they have about as much regard for traditionalist conservatives (like me) as they do for feminists, which is to say, very little. Still, they’re absolutely right about this, and it frightens me for my sons. If one of them gets caught up in a college relationship with a manipulative woman, they could have their lives ruined if, after a breakup, she denounced them to the university as guilty of sexual violence. And it would be a woman who did this; very few men would be so lacking in self-respect as to complain to the authorities that their ex-girlfriends are guilty of sexual violence because they withheld sex, or whatever.
And I am scarcely less worried for my daughter. I absolutely do not want her to accept abuse from her partners. But at the same time, I absolutely do not want her to believe that she is so fragile that ordinary sexual behavior and verbal, um, intercourse amounts to abuse. And I absolutely do not want her to have that kind of power over the men she dates.
Initiatives like the University of Michigan’s infantilizes undergraduates, which is bad enough. It is emotionally and psychologically crippling to train them to see intimacy as fertile grounds for grievance. Worse than that, though, is the way it totalitarianizes the sexual relationships of students. At the University of Michigan, even ordinary words passing between lovers can be construed as on the same level as punching and hitting. How can you trust your partner when you never know when your partner might report you to the secret police for saying something that hurts her feelings? Every lover is a potential informant with the power to destroy your life.
It’s madness. It warps the mind.
UPDATE: A reader who is a mom writes:
Let me clarify for the UMich representative that students don’t, in fact, understand the ‘one behavior inside a pattern of behavior’ as my son was the recipient of an accusation of ‘emotional abuse’ based on his ‘withholding of sex and affection.’ As a young adult in his first relationship, just trying to figure out his feelings, it’s very likely he did withhold now and then. That’s pretty typical teenage behavior. However his ex obviously didn’t get the “behavior inside the behavior” message until she’d rendered her verdict and sent my son into a tailspin of despair, thinking he was the worst of the worst. Tellingly, the girl later apologized for her intemperate word choice but the damage was done.
You’re absolutely right: I now have a son who is leery of any relationship and finding out how difficult it is to trust someone who holds all the cards. We are leaving these kids so confused and abandoned with these mixed messages. And if this is supposed to help women, I can’t for the life of me see how.