Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Presidents, Amirite?

With an auditorium full of female students, Lincoln University president Robert R. Jennings offered the sort of fatherly advice he believes many of them need when it comes to sex and men.

"We have, we had, on this campus last semester three cases of young women who after having done whatever they did with young men and then it didn't turn out the way they wanted it to turn out, guess what they did," he began. "They went to Public Safety and said, 'He raped me.' "

His comments came back in September, at Lincoln's annual All Women's Convocation. The historically black university in Chester County holds separate convocations for women and men, an annual tradition started by the 63-year-old president to mentor each group in matters of behavior, dress, health - and sexual encounters.

More misery.

Oh, and there's video:


  1. Seriously need to be able to use reaction gifs. Mainly because I don't have words for how angry (and tired. And done) this makes me.

  2. I'm with SW here. The only response I could possibly think of to this sort of hateful horseshoe is to scream, and if I had been there -- well, I probably would have been in too much shock. (For some reason, my computer insists that it's "horseshoe" and not the word I keep trying to type there -- fine, that works too)

  3. Is what he said about the three false allegations true? According to the article "He said he was referring to three cases in which women falsely reported rapes as revenge against men who had been unfaithful ... All three cases were investigated by the university and reported to authorities, a university spokesman said."

    That does not make his comments appropriate. But nor can we pretend false allegations never happen on campus. And if they had three in one year, that's a high number. Their campus crime report states that they had three rapes in 2013. That's more appalling than the false allegations (if those did happen - the university spokesperson could be lying to cover up). Three rapes in one year is obviously a bigger problem than three false allegations. But that doesn't mean that false allegations aren't also a problem.

    Shouldn't someone e.g. a journalist attempt to determine if there really were three false allegations? Isn't that entirely relevant, maybe even critical, to the article?

    1. I'm not sure how one would ever determine something like that for sure. One can do one's best to make a judgment based on the preponderance of the evidence, or the presence or absence of reasonable doubt, but actually determine the truth beyond a shadow of a doubt? No human being can be sure of doing that in a situation as complex as (alleged) acquaintance or (ex-)partner rape.

      The other complication here is the HBCU setting, and the whole complex history of how rape accusations have been used against black men, and how the American justice system treats black men. Those factors tend to create an impulse for the community to pull together and take care of its own (and its own business) -- which I suspect is at least part of the impulse beyond Jennings' admonition. Of course, the counterbalance to that is that black women have their own long history of sexual vulnerability and abuse, at the hands of both white and black men, and feeding them the old line that they can somehow control male behavior via their dress (as one of the other speakers at the convocation did) suggests they have power to protect themselves that they simply don't have (in addition, though it's not nearly of the same import as rape, saying, basically, "men won't marry you if you wear short skirts" verges on cruel, given the existing demographic difficulties for college-educated black women who want to marry black men with similar backgrounds; that's another case where mislabeling a structural problem as resulting from personal choices just causes further pain to the people dealing with the problem). If the administrators were urging things like the buddy system and thinking hard about how much to drink in what situation, I'd be more sympathetic; while such precautions can't prevent rape -- and the lack of them doesn't justify rape -- they do put a young woman -- or young man -- in a better position to detect and evade some threats. But when such advice (if present) gets mixed up with the enforcement of supposedly morality-based sartorial guidelines, and the claim that false allegations of rape are a problem that the president apparently takes as or more seriously than rape itself, yes, there's a serious problem (since the young men were cleared, one could argue that the system worked -- assuming, that is, they were actually innocent, or at least not guilty). At the very least, these young women have as much of a right to protection as their male counterparts, and I fear their president is, instead, pressuring them to value their male colleagues', and perhaps the institution's, reputation higher than their own safety. That's wrong.

      Lincoln University educated, among others, Francis and Archibald Grimke, who were among the founders of the NAACP. I'd like to think they (whose mother was enslaved by their father, and who lived through the era of lynching) would have something a bit more nuanced to say about the situation than President Jennings.

    2. No one can ever know for sure; but that doesn't mean the justice system shouldn't try. No matter how hateful Jennings' comments may be, there is a deeper problem than the comments. Three rapes and three false accusations in one year, at a university of only 2,650 students, and apparently no police involvement whatsoever? I don't have any confidence whatsoever that Lincoln U is capable of identifying rapists - or false accusations. Clearly they see the problem of Jennings' comments, but not the much bigger problem of sexual violence and/or false reporting on their small campus.

  4. what's also depressing is how many comments on the linked article support him...